Putting Mittens on a Crab
N.H. Sea Grant leads efforts to prevent spread of the invasive Chinese mitten crab
N.H. Sea Grant, in concert with the Maine and MIT Sea Grant Programs, are working with local, state, regional and federal stakeholders to create an early detection network and a rapid response plan to prevent introduction of the invasive Chinese mitten crab into the Gulf of Maine.
Relevance: Preventing new invasive species from becoming established in marine waters has long been a challenge, and the difficulty and cost of eradicating established nonnative species is well documented. While populations of the invasive Chinese mitten crab have not yet been documented in the Gulf of Maine, it has been advancing steadily toward our coastal waters.
Response: N.H. Sea Grant is working regionally with the Maine and MIT Sea Grant programs to prevent the establishment of the Chinese mitten crab in the Gulf of Maine.
Results: In 2015, N.H. Sea Grant engaged 300 key stakeholders, including state agencies, harbormasters, aquaculturists, commercial fisherman and citizen scientists, in meetings, workshops and conferences as part of an early detection network, resulting in a total of over 1600 stakeholders reached since the start of the project in 2013. N.H. Sea Grant's outreach efforts included presentations on Chinese mitten crab life history, threats, identification and actions to take should a mitten crab be detected, a juvenile and adult voucher specimen, and distribution of a waterproof mitten crab watch card prepared by Sea Grant. N.H. Sea Grant oversaw the development of a regional rapid response plan that underwent review by 10 mitten crab and aquatic invasive species experts from the U.S. and Canada. The rapid response plan will be distributed to government agencies and organizations charged with invasive species detection and response throughout the northeast U.S. and eastern Canada to raise awareness and try to prevent the spread of this invasive to the Northeast.
NHSG establishes an early detection network for the invasive Chinese mitten crab
N.H. Sea Grant is working regionally with the Maine and MIT Sea Grant programs to prevent the establishment of the Chinese mitten crab in the Gulf of Maine. In 2014, Sea Grant engaged over 1,300 key stakeholders, including state agencies, harbormasters, aquaculturists, commercial fisherman and citizen scientists in meetings, workshops and conferences as part of an early detection network. Outreach tools developed by Sea Grant during the year included presentations on Chinese mitten crab life history, threats, identification and actions to take should one be detected, a waterproof watch card for use in the field, a slide deck of PowerPoint slides for presentations, and a juvenile and adult voucher specimen. A rapid response plan was also drafted and is currently under review.
N.H. Sea Grant and others seek to prevent Chinese mitten crab invasion
The Chinese mitten crab, native to East Asia, was first identified on the east coast in Chesapeake Bay crab pots in 2005. By 2012, a specimen had been found in Connecticut and resource managers are concerned that it will spread to the Gulf of Maine in the near future. N.H. Sea Grant is working locally with N.H. Fish and Game and regionally with the Maine and MIT Sea Grant programs on a multi-year project to prevent the establishment of this invader in the Gulf. During 2013, N.H. Sea Grant led the development of a regional early detection network and rapid response plan to prevent the introduction and spread of mitten crabs. The effort included planning meetings with MIT and Maine Sea Grant partners, meetings with state and federal agency staff to develop rapid response protocols and identify appropriate audiences for outreach activities, research in the peer-reviewed and other literature, and conference calls with scientists and natural resource managers in areas where the mitten crab has already invaded (e.g., Delaware Bay, Hudson River, San Francisco Bay, St Lawrence River). Initial outreach presentations have been delivered to state professionals (N.H. Department of Environmental Services Watershed Management Bureau) and citizen scientists (N.H. River Runners).
Website developed to help prevent spread of Chinese mitten crab
Working with the Maine and MIT Sea Grant programs in 2013, N.H. Sea Grant created a website focused on the effort to prevent the spread of the Chinese mitten crab into the Gulf of Maine. The website currently provides information about the project and contact information for questions or comments. The site will eventually serve as a repository for the products developed for this project, including outreach materials and the rapid response plan.
Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant
- Mitten crab watch card (2014)
- A regional approach to preventing the invasion of the Chinese mitten crab in the Gulf of Maine (2013). Alyson Eberhardt, Beth Bisson and Judith Pederson.