HFN Lands and Natural Resources work to remove invasive species, European Green Crab

Photo of European Green Crab by Huu-ay-aht First Nations Lands and Natural Resources Team.

Huu-ay-aht’s Lands and Natural Resources team has been working to manage and obtain an understanding of the European Green Crabs distribution in Huu-ay-aht ḥahuułi. European Green Crab are an invasive species that thrive in warmer waters near freshwater inputs. On the West Coast of Vancouver Island, green crabs dig through the sediment while foraging for clams. By digging up the sediment, green crabs uproot important eelgrass. Eelgrass habitats are becoming rare and are an important nursery habitat for young sea creatures. As a result, European Green Crabs are linked to declining salmon populations because they remove the nursery habitat the juvenile fish hide in during their outmigration.

In March 2023, the Lands and Resources team started an initial winter investigation within Bamfield Inlet, Grappler Inlet, and the Sarita Estuary. Over three weeks and using a series of 40 traps, the team captured 25 European Green Crab and removed them from the environment. Green crabs migrate to deeper water in the wintertime, so despite relatively few captures, the results are concerning. In other locations of Barkley Sound, the Coastal Restoration Society has captured hundreds of green crabs in a single day! The Lands and Natural Resources team will head out for another trapping effort to monitor how the warmer summer months impact the European Green Crab population.