Advisory Notice: Chinese Mitten Crab

Chinese mitten crabs are present in the Walney Channel.

Chinese mitten crabs are an invasive non-native species and are listed as a Species of Union Concern under EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) it is an offence to release Chinese mitten crab. They must not be imported, transported, permitted to reproduce or grow, or released into the environment.

Anyone found guilty of this offence is liable to legal proceedings and hefty fines. It is in your interest and the prospect of future fisheries and markets to follow this advice.

There is a risk of presence of Chinese mitten crab amongst the mussel in Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Estuary.

You are advised to treat the movement of mussels with the utmost caution, especially mussel going for relaying so that you do not transport Chinese mitten crab to other areas.

Use the advice in the Bangor Mussel Producers ‘Mussel Code of Practice for seed mussel movements’ to inspect your catch before moving it from the bed.

The level of risk depends on the time of year and life stage. Over the winter the greatest risk is from adults, which can be identified from the ‘furry mittens’ on their claws – see ID guides provided at the links below: ID Guide ID Card

Life Stages Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar
Larval X X X X L
Juvenile L L L L L
Adult H H M M M

H = High Risk; M = Medium Risk; L = Low Risk; X = no Risk

NWIFCA will monitor the Morecambe Bay mussel beds as frequently as possible. However, as responsible gatherers, you are the eyes on the ground, and there are steps you can take to minimise risk:

  1. When gathering at night use lights to help spot any Chinese mitten crab amongst the mussels.
  2. Use the ID card to help.
  3. Follow the Check Clean Dry good practice to help prevent the spread of Chinese mitten crab to other areas from your fishing equipment and boats.
  4. If you suspect the presence of Chinese mitten crab you should keep any specimens you find in a sealed container and return the mussels immediately to the area from which they were fished.
  5. Please alert NWIFCA as soon as possible on 01524 727 970 or [email protected]