Lummi Nation
Lummi Nation fishermen Steven Solomon Sr. and Taylor Solomon pull in a tangle net during the tribe’s 2021 fishery. Photo: K. Neumeyer
70,000+ European green crab captured inside Lummi Sea Pond
Invasive crab poses serious threat to Lummi tidelands, shellfish, and Dungeness crab
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Indianz.Com

The following is the text of a November 24, 2021, news release from the Lummi Nation.

BELLINGHAM, Washington — In recent months, more than 70,000 invasive European green crab (EGC) have been captured and removed from the Lummi Sea Pond during a multi-agency effort led by the Lummi Natural Resources Department (LNR). The EGC is an aggressive predator that consumes area shellfish and destroys salmon habitat.

“The appearance of the European green crab is a serious threat to our treaty fishing rights,” said Willie Jones Jr., chairman of the Lummi Nation. “We are taking quick action to address this problem.”

On Tuesday, November 23, the Lummi Indian Business Council passed a resolution declaring the invasion of EGC as a disaster. The resolution details the immediate and significant threat of EGC, establishes a Lummi task force to play a leading role in confronting the invasion and highlights the need for resources to support the development and implementation of a comprehensive response strategy.

Originally from Europe and northern Africa, the invasive EGC is an aggressive predator and highly adaptable shore crab, making it one of the most deleterious marine invaders across the globe. EGC has been implicated in the rapid decline of Maine’s soft-shell clam industry within the past decade, consuming juvenile clams before they reach harvestable age. The invasive species is also known to wreak havoc in nearshore marine and estuarine ecosystems, burrowing into marsh banks and uprooting eelgrass beds which are considered important nursery habitat for juvenile salmon. In addition, research has shown that EGC outcompete native crab species, including juvenile Dungeness crab, in nearshore areas where the species co-exist.

“Warming water temperatures due to climate change have only made things worse,” said Chairman Jones. “The warm waters make a perfect breeding ground for the invasive crab. Unless action is taken to contain and reduce the problem, we will see this invasive species spread further into Lummi Bay and neighboring areas of the Salish Sea.”

Although recent large-scale, multi-agency trapping efforts have been effective, the high numbers of EGC captured this summer and fall pose a serious threat to the Lummi Nation’s aquaculture operations, shellfish production, nursery habitat for juvenile salmon and Dungeness crab, and neighboring nearshore marine areas of the Salish Sea. With a temperature profile that might very well mimic future nearshore conditions in the Salish Sea, the Lummi Sea Pond is proving to be the perfect breeding ground for EGC: the invader has ample food, it is safe from predators, and the stable growing environment in the pond is ideal for population growth.

These conditions are why the handfuls of EGC first discovered in the Lummi Sea Pond in late 2019 quickly escalated to tens of thousands of EGC in 2021, an unprecedented population explosion compared to other affected areas in Washington State and along the West Coast.

“We need a huge increase in effort and resources to properly address the EGC invasion, and it’s going to take a coordinated response from tribal, state and federal partners,” said Chairman Jones. “There is no time to waste in getting this threat to our treaty fishing rights under control.”