Lummi Nation declares disaster after invasive crab arrives

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — The Lummi Indian Business Council has passed a resolution declaring a disaster after more than 70,000 European green crab — an invasive species — were captured and removed from the Lummi Sea Pond in recent months.

The Tribe cultivates shellfish and juvenile salmon in the 750-acre sea pond surrounded by the most productive natural shellfish beds on the reservation. The crabs threaten hatchery operations, Tribal shellfish harvests and may have larger impacts if the infestation spreads, the Bellingham Herald reported.

“The appearance of the European green crab is a serious threat to our treaty fishing rights,” Lummi Nation Chairman William Jones Jr. said in a press release.

The council passed the resolution after a multi-agency effort led by the Lummi Natural Resources Department to remove the predator that consumes shellfish, destroys salmon habitat and is credited with the rapid decline of Maine’s soft-shell clam industry.

“Warming water temperatures due to climate change have only made things worse,” Jones said. “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.”

The crab is highly adaptable and preys on juvenile clams before they reach harvestable age, out-competes native crab species, and wreaks havoc on marine and estuary ecosystems.