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Working Together to Fight the Invasive Green Crab

30 May 2014

CANADA - Since green crab was first detected in Placentia Bay, Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) Unifor and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have been working together to limit the spread of this aquatic invasive species and reduce its impact on local marine ecosystems.

FFAW-Unifor and DFO are pleased to welcome Vale to their partnership.

Through a C$100,000 contribution from the natural resources company Vale to FFAW Unifor, the Vale Placentia Bay Stewardship Project will see local fishermen set traps to catch and remove green crab from the ecosystem.

FFAW Unifor and DFO, in partnership with the Placentia Bay Integrated Management Committee, will also seek opportunities to involve local community groups and schools in the Stewardship Program through shoreline surveys.

“Vale developed a stewardship strategy aimed at supporting initiatives in Placentia Bay that contribute to the sustainability of the fishery. The knowledge gained through the pilot program on green crab will be of benefit to many stakeholders including fish harvesters, aquaculture operators and research institutions,” said Don Stevens, General Manager of Vale’s Long Harbour processing plant.

Green crab was first detected in North Harbour, Placentia Bay in August 2007. Populations have also been established on the west coast of Newfoundland and recently found in Fortune Bay.

“Green Crab have caused significant damage to eel grass beds, a refuge for juvenile cod, in Placentia Bay. Green Crab are also a predator of juvenile lobster. Both the lobster and cod resources are very important contributors to the local economy. Thanks to the significant stewardship contribution by Vale we hope to slow the expansion of Green Crab throughout the bay and reduce the population to a level that will allow the environment to begin to reverse the damage that this invasive species has caused,” said Earle McCurdy, FFAW Unifor President.

Beginning in May 2014, FFAW¬ Unifor will work with DFO’s Dr Cynthia McKenzie, who specialises in aquatic invasive species, to begin preliminary trapping for green crab and lobster to identify potential overlap of the animals.

Direct removal of green crab by trapping has been determined to be an effective method of controlling its impact on fisheries. Continuous trapping gradually reduces the average size of green crab, eventually shifting the green crab from being primarily a predator to a more vulnerable size as prey for several native predators (e.g. shorebirds and some larger crustaceans).

In areas where targeted trapping takes place, the native rock crab species numbers often increase over time, and eelgrass beds recover.

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