Clint Johnson Kendrick, a resource management officer for Gwaii Haanas, discovered an invasive European green crab on Saturday, July 4, 2020 in Daajing Giids. (isawthistoday/iNaturalist photo)

‘A grave concern’: European green crabs discovered on Haida Gwaii

Aggressive invasive species discovered in Skidegate Inlet; working group formed to decide next steps

Gwaii Haanas resource management officer Clint Johnson Kendrick was out walking his dogs on July 4 when he saw something strange along the gravel beach at the Haydn Turner Campground in Daajing Giids.

To his horror, he had laid eyes on a dead European green crab (EGC), an aggressively invasive species that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) counts among the top 10 most unwanted species in the world.

“The ecological damage that these crabs can cause is a grave concern,” Kendrick told the Haida Gwaii Observer, adding they are a “scourge to ecosystems outside of their home.”

ALSO READ: COVID-19 restrictions may aid B.C.’s ongoing battle against invasive mussels

He quickly reported the sighting to the Haida Gwaii Invasive Species Group and based on his photo, DFO confirmed the dead crustacean was an adult male EGC, making it the first confirmed discovery of EGC on Haida Gwaii.

What’s worse, DFO spokesperson Lauren Girdler told the Observer initial site visits and trappings confirmed the presence of EGC in addition to the one found by Kendrick.

ALSO READ: Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Girdler said a working group including DFO, Parks Canada, the Council of the Haida Nation, and the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has been working on a preliminary plan to determine the extent of the invasion and decide next steps. Additional surveys will begin this week.

“EGC may pose a serious threat to marine ecosystems as they are voracious predators and can negatively impact economically and culturally important species and habitats, including eelgrass beds that provide food and cover for juvenile salmon and herring,” she said in an email.

Girdler also cautioned that there are many types of native crabs that are green in colour, but only the EGC has five spines on the outside of each eye.

She asked that anyone who finds a suspected EGC document the location where it was found as well as the date captured, and submit a photo and any other capture information to DFO at AISPACIFIC@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

For more information on identifying features, visit the DFO website.

ALSO READ: Haida Gwaii oceans project tracks alien invaders

According to DFO, EGC were first found in Canadian waters in 1951 in New Brunswick and have since expanded to many other locations in Atlantic Canada.

EGC are believed to have arrived in B.C. between 1998 and 1999 through larval transport. Since then they have been found along the entire west coast of Vancouver Island from Barkley Sound to Winter Harbour with isolated populations on the central coast.

In June, the Lax Kw’alaams Band near Prince Rupert reported that EGC larvae had been confirmed in the area.

ALSO READ: Spread of invasive species in Canada costs billions, changes environment

After hearing about the discovery of adult EGC on Haida Gwaii, Josh Temple, founder of the Coastal Restoration Society, told the Observer he believes more federal funding is needed to tackle the problem.

He said his society has been working on trapping and removing EGC within First Nations territories in B.C. for years, including projects throughout the south and west coasts of Vancouver Island.

“It’s unfortunate to hear that you guys have discovered them up there,” Temple said. “There’s going to be a real need for an aggressive response before they take hold.”

He reiterated that the crabs are “horrible destroyers of eelgrass beds” that are critical for rearing salmon, other fish and bivalves, and he believes the federal government should provide more resources for monitoring and control efforts.

Temple’s society expects no financial contribution from the First Nations they work with — “I don’t think it would be fair to rely on the First Nations to pay … to clean up a mess they didn’t create,” he said — primarily relying instead on fundraising from private and marine industry partners.

“I would hope to see more dedicated funding allocated for these programs,” he said.

ALSO READ: Haida Nation dives into 3-year project to restore marine habitat around old logging sites

Do you have something we should report on? Email:
karissa.gall@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dogs are matched with the person, not the person matched to the dog – Prince Rupert SPCA

Prince Rupert SPCA does their due diligence in adopting dogs to suitable human companions

Photo Gallery: Memorial totem pole raising in Prince Rupert

The memorial pole stands in memory of Prince Rupert carvers mother on Second Ave. West

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

External community engagement process launched to help implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title

Memorial totem pole raised in Prince Rupert

The memorial pole was a two year project led by local carver Lyle Campbell

Heart of our city – Fighting for the road to recovery

World champion kick-boxer wins at Trinity House recovery program

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read