European Green Crab Quarterly Progress Report – Winter 2023: (October 1 to December 31, 2023)


Published: March 1, 2024

Pages: 45

Executive Summary

In response to the ESSB 5693 (2022 c 297) legislative budget proviso directive, this report has been authored as the sixth in a series of ongoing quarterly progress reports (Q6). This report will serve to outline the successes and challenges of ongoing European green crab (EGC) emergency response efforts in Washington state from October 1 to December 31, 2023. In addition, this report will put the work during Q6 in the context of the previous work completed (Q1-Q5).

The previous quarterly progress reports are available at: and on WDFW’s European green crab webpage.

In 2021, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), co-managers, tribes, and partners identified an exponential increase of invasive European green crab, Carcinus maenas, in the Lummi Nation’s Sea Pond within the Salish Sea, and in outer coastal areas including Grays Harbor, Makah Bay, and Willapa Bay. On Dec. 14, 2021, WDFW Director Susewind submitted an emergency measures request under RCW 77.135.090 for EGC response to Governor Jay Inslee. On Jan. 19, 2022, Governor Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation (#22-02) to address the exponential increase in EGC populations across Washington’s marine shorelines. The proclamation directed WDFW to eradicate, reduce, or contain EGC in Washington. The Washington State Legislature approved $8,568,000 in emergency funding during the 2022 Supplemental Budget to facilitate increased EGC management efforts. In response to the legislative budget proviso directive, this report is the sixth in a series of ongoing quarterly progress reports (Q6). The Q6 report will outline the successes and challenges of ongoing EGC emergency response efforts in Washington state from October 1 to December 31, 2023.

An Incident Command System (ICS) was established to deal with the complexities of the EGC management effort. Support for and coordination with co-managers, tribes, and partners is essential, as the scale of the EGC emergency is such that no one entity could ever hope to implement successful statewide management strategies alone. Washington Sea Grant (WSG), the Lummi Nation, the Makah Tribe, the Shoalwater Bay Tribe, shellfish growers and various other entities have continued their ongoing efforts managing EGC populations, closely coordinating with WDFW. The ICS also resulted in the creation and distribution of various updates including reports to the governor every 10 days and Situation Reports (SitReps) based on monthly operational periods to provide information on and ensure transparency regarding management actions taken, grant funding allocations, EGC catch numbers, trapping efforts, media outreach, and other relevant information. These Situation Reports were synthesized for the public, media, and other external audiences in bi-monthly EGC Public Updates published and distributed through WDFW’s EGC Management Updates email list as well as Department webpages, communications, and social media channels.

Representatives from many entities participating in EGC management have joined the ICS Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group. The MAC Group provides a forum for these representatives to share information, establish a common operating picture, develop long-term priorities for the EGC emergency, and commit and allocate funding and other resources to enhance emergency measures responses.

Trapping activities in Q6 declined in response to the onset of colder weather and the end of the peak trapping season. However, many co-managers, tribes, and partners (CMTP) maintained substantial boat-based trapping efforts due to the surprisingly high catch levels from trapping in deeper water during the limited cold weather in 2022.

During the Q6 period, the collective effort of all organizations resulted in approximately 127,679 EGC removed from Washington state marine waters, with 127,043 from the Coastal Branch and 636 from the Salish Sea Branch. Since January 1, 2022, approximately 646,576 EGC have been removed from Washington state marine waters, with 559,240 removed from the Coast Branch, and 87,336 removed from the Salish Sea Branch. In addition to active control trapping, Q6 trap deployment for early detection monitoring occurred in areas where EGC had not previously been detected. EGC has not been detected in the Salish Sea Branch south of the northern Hood Canal. Data on EGC abundance, body size, sex ratios, and reproductive status were collected for future analysis, along with DNA and RNA samples to assess connectivity between EGC populations.

WDFW, WSG, co-managers, tribes, and partners achieved significant progress in EGC management efforts. The EGC Research Task Force continues to coordinate with EGC researchers across the Pacific coast of North America to determine research priorities to support EGC management efforts in Washington state and throughout the region. Additional progress was also made on public education and community engagement to support EGC awareness, with WDFW representatives engaging approximately 1,700 individuals at public events and producing new outreach materials. While challenges remain (e.g., planning for the 2024 Managers Symposium, creation of a 6-year statewide management plan), the continued efforts of all parties and the clear organizational structure set previously will allow for continued success for 2024.

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