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Inslee issues emergency order over green crab infestation

A live green crab, captured Thursday, May 13, on top of several mesh bags of frozen green crabs that were caught over the past few months in Grays Harbor on the Washington coast.
Alex Stote
Courtesy of Washington Sea Grant Crab Team
A live green crab, captured May 13, 2021, on top of several mesh bags of frozen green crabs that were caught over the past few months in Grays Harbor on the Washington coast.

Gov. Jay Inslee has issued an emergency order to address the exponential population growth of the invasive European green crab within the Lummi Nation’s Sea Pond, Makah Bay, Grays Harbor, and Willapa Bay.

The emergency order was issued Wednesday in an effort toward eradicating the invasive species and preventing permanent establishment, which would particularly harm endangered species, impact resources that are part of the cultural identity of Washington Tribes and Native peoples, affect small businesses and low-income communities, The Bellingham Herald reported.

The order directs the Department of Fish and Wildlife to start implementing emergency measures with funding already available, directs the Department of Ecology, and asks the Department of Natural Resources and the State Parks and Recreation Commission to identify European green crab management as a high priority on state-owned aquatic lands and to facilitate implementing the emergency measures.

The order also urges the Legislature to provide additional emergency funding as requested by the Department of Fish and Wildlife as soon as possible.

The crab — native to Europe and northern Africa — is highly adaptable and preys on juvenile clams before they reach harvestable age, out-competes native crab species such as Dungeness crab, and wreaks havoc on marine and estuary ecosystems near shore.

Green crabs showed up on Washington’s outer coast around 1998. Lummi Nation officials have been trying to fend them off since several dozen were found in a saltwater pond on Lummi Bay in 2019.

In November, The Lummi Indian Business Council declared a disaster and formed a task force for eradication after over 70,000 European green crab were captured and removed from the pond.

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