First Observation of Invasive European Green Crabs in Alaska

Juneau – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), with the Metlakatla Indian Community (MIC) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) would like to inform the public that invasive European green crabs (Carcinus maenas) have been verified within Alaska for the first time in the Annette Islands Reserve in southern Southeast, Alaska. As of August 9, 2022, MIC Department of Fish and Wildlife has trapped 32 live European green crabs from Tamgas Harbor. Surveys in adjacent Smuggler’s Cove have resulted in detection of only dead invasive crabs. European green crabs are classified as a banned invasive species in state regulations.

European green crabs are considered one of the top 100 worst invasive species globally. As highly competitive, voracious predators, these crabs have decimated shellfish populations, displaced native crabs, and reduced eelgrass and saltmarsh habitats in areas where they have become established outside their native range. Unless controlled, they can significantly reduce biodiversity and abundance of inter- and subtidal species and destroy nearshore ecosystems.

For nearly two decades, ADF&G has supported early detection monitoring for European green crabs by providing technical assistance and traps. MIC has conducted an early detection program around Annette Islands Reserve for the past three years. Since discovery of European green crabs on July 19, 2022, MIC has implemented eradication protocols by increasing trapping effort, partnering to collect samples and data for research, and expanding monitoring and outreach. NOAA Fisheries has provided technical and financial assistance for the MIC program. This fall, ADF&G will survey for presence of European green crabs in vulnerable estuaries and embayments in southern Southeast, Alaska.

You can help by reporting invasive species. Visit the ADF&G website for information about how to identify these invasive crabs. If you find a crab or crab shell you suspect to be a European green crab, rather than collecting it, take many photos of the crab next to a key, coin or credit card for scale. Banned invasive species may not be collected, possessed or transported without a valid permit. To report your observations, visit https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=invasivespeciesreporter.main or call the Invasive Species Hotline: 1-877-INVASIV. To submit photos and for more information about invasive species contact: Tammy Davis, ADF&G Invasive Species Program coordinator: tammy.davis@alaska.gov or (907) 465-6183.

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