[Federal Register Volume 68, Number 107 (Wednesday, June 4, 2003)]
[Notices]
[Pages 33522-33524]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 03-13995]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service


Availability of a Draft National Management Plan for the European 
Green Crab

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of a draft Management 
Plan for the European Green Crab, Carcinus maenas, for public review 
and comment. Comments received will be considered in preparing the 
final Management Plan for C. maenas, which will become the basis for 
cooperative and integrated management of the European Green Crab, C. 
maenas, with the involvement of Federal, State, Tribal, and local 
resource agencies.

DATES: Comments on the draft Management Plan for the European Green 
Crab should be received by July 31, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Mail written responses and requests for copies of the draft 
management plan to Fred Kern, Chair, Green Crab Control Working Group, 
NOAA National Ocean Service, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, 904 South 
Morris Street, Oxford, MD 21654. The draft Management Plan for the 
European Green Crab is also available on the ANS Task Force Web site 
(http://www.anstaskforce.gov). You may also request copies of the draft 
plan by calling or writing the person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Fred Kern, Chair, Green Crab Control 
Working Group, at 410-226-5193 or by e-mail at fred.kern@noaa.gov or 
Sharon Gross, Executive Secretary, Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force 
at 703-358-2308 or by e-mail at sharon_gross@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The European green crab, Carcinus maenas, is 
one of the most ecologically and economically damaging predators in 
nearshore coastal communities of both eastern and western North 
America. Native of northern Europe, green crabs colonized eastern North 
America in the early 19th century and now occur abundantly from Nova 
Scotia to Maryland. In contrast, green crabs are a recent arrival to 
western North America, where they successfully colonized San Francisco 
Bay, CA, in 1989-90. Their impacts on both natural ecosystems and 
commercial fisheries are well

[[Page 33523]]

established, as is their ability to rapidly expand their range.
    The western North America invasion has undergone a rapid range 
expansion, with green crabs expanding their range by more than 750 km 
in less than ten years since their initial invasion. Green crabs are 
now firmly established in every significant bay and estuary from 
Monterey Bay, CA, to Gray's Harbor, WA, and have the potential become 
established from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja, California. The uniformity 
of the green crab distribution strongly suggests that green crabs can 
rapidly expand their range once they are established. In 2000 they 
continued to expand their northern range in eastern North America by 
invading the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Prince Edward Island, Canada.
    Green crabs are both eurythermic and eurohaline and can survive a 
temperature range from freezing to 30 [deg]C while utilizing a broad 
range of habitat types. They exploit a wide range of prey types, 
including molluscs (clams and snails), crustaceans, annelids, fish, and 
algae. Several native species have declined significantly as a direct 
result of green crab predation in western North America. Green crabs 
have had substantial impacts on some commercially important clam 
species, Mya arenaria, and Mercenaria mercenaria, and on the scallop 
species, Argopecten irradians. Green crab predation in invaded 
communities may indirectly affect feeding rates and foraging efficiency 
of shorebirds.
    Recognizing the ecological and economic impacts, as well as 
expanding geographic range of the green crabs in North America, 
Carcinus maenas was the first marine organism to be designated as an 
aquatic nuisance species in 1998 by the Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) 
Task Force. In 2000, the Green Crab Control Working Group was appointed 
by the ANS Task Force to develop a Management Plan. The management 
strategies available in the plan to limit the impact of the European 
green crab, as well as that of other invaders, include a combination of 
prevention, eradication, and control measures. This plan is the result 
of several years of planning and research and has identified the 
following management options for prevention, eradication, and control 
of Carcinus maenas in the United States:
    [sbull] Prevention and Containment
    [sbull] Detection and Forecasting
    [sbull] Eradiction, Control, and Mitigation
    [sbull] Information Access and Data Management

Prevention and Containment

    This option provides a detailed description of the priority 
activities that the Working Group has identified to prevent further 
spread of the green crab. The goals of prevention and containment are 
to:
    [sbull] Identify pathways of invasion and quantify the risk of each 
pathway; and
    [sbull] Identify management options available for reducing the risk 
associated with each pathway.
    The Management Plan also discusses the types of information needed 
to accomplish this management option, as well as the strategies that 
may be most effective.

Detection and Forecasting

    This option provides a detailed description of the priority 
activities to be undertaken as soon as possible to implement a 
comprehensive program to detect new invasions and range expansions of 
the European green crab and to forecast pollution irruptions at invaded 
sites. The goals for this option are to do the following:
    [sbull] Outline specific procedures for detecting the presence of 
juvenile green crabs in previously uninvaded areas. This will provide 
an ``early warning'' of new invasions and provide additional time for 
restricting activities that would potentially delay further spread. It 
also allows time to develop local education/outreach efforts or other 
activities aimed at heightening public awareness in order to minimize 
the probability of unintentional movement of green crabs;
    [sbull] Track the approximate abundances of green crab populations 
in previously invaded areas to allow forecasting of ``outbreak'' years. 
The ecological and economic impacts of green crabs are directly related 
to their abundance, so if outbreak years can be forecasted, this would 
provide an important warning for resource managers, production 
fisheries, aquaculture, and others that may be negatively affected by a 
large year class of green crabs. This would also provide additional 
time to jumpstart necessary management activities, and increase 
education and outreach efforts that might ameliorate the impacts of 
these species in years of high abundance;
    [sbull] Monitor uninvaded areas to detect new invasions and range 
expansions. This would most effectively be accomplished by detecting 
the presence of postlarval green crabs and/or the presence of young-of-
the-year (YOY) juvenile green crabs. To detect the presence of green 
crab postlarvae, biweekly to monthly sampling between April and June 
would be involved. Postlarvae can be sampled by deploying bag 
collectors attached to docks, moorings, and buoys at replicate sites in 
harbors and bays. Bags are exchanged at the desired interval, and 
collected organisms are rinsed off the collectors, sorted, preserved, 
and counted. Young-of-the-year (YOY) juvenile green crabs are best 
sampled by deploying baited minnow traps in intertidal areas at 
replicate sites in harbors and bays in August and September; and
    [sbull] Monitor invaded areas to forecast ``outbreak'' years. This 
is most effectively accomplished through monitoring the abundance of 
postlarval green crabs, including juvenile as well as adult crab 
populations.

Eradication, Control, and Mitigation

    The Management Plan has identified and discussed various actions 
for this option. These actions are dependent upon the data, population 
abundance, and control tools currently available. Just as crab 
abundance differs by location, so too may the tools available for 
controlling the population be different. For example, early detection 
of new invasions may permit successful rapid response and extirpation 
at a local level. Small populations with no local recruitment may be 
easy to eradicate by selective harvest, chemical control, biological 
control, or genetic control measures, while population established with 
local recruitment may need control and containment in addition to 
selective harvest, chemical control, biological control, or genetic 
control measures. However, if the invasion has proceeded to the point 
that achieving population control on a broad scale is either perceived 
to be insurmountable or is not presently being addressed, mitigative 
control measures may be used in concert with broader regional or local 
control. Cooperative research on the seasonal dynamic of green crab 
recruitment and predation, along with field tests on the efficacy of 
various mitigation measures, should be conducted in those areas where 
green crab are abundant.

Information Access and Data Management

    The objective for this component of the management plan is to share 
the information source(s) and data management needed to efficiently 
implement the national management plan. The objectives for this 
component of the plan are to:
    [sbull] Provide current information on the research and management 
activities being conducted under the plan;
    [sbull] describe standardized research and management protocols 
that allow others

[[Page 33524]]

to participate and contribute to full implementation of the plan;
    [sbull] sustain a current synthesis of regional, national, and 
international results in the areas of research and management 
activities;
    [sbull] create a directory of relevant contacts, activities, and 
information in support of the plan at the local, state, and regional 
levels; and
    [sbull] develop educational outreach components in support of the 
plan.
    The following three elements are discussed in detail in the 
Management Plan to meet the objectives for this component: (1) A system 
for information management and dissemination, (2) an advisory committee 
to guide development of the information system, and (3) a core group of 
scientists to provide syntheses of current research and management 
information. The implementation section of the plan has identified 
possible funding source(s), lead organization(s), and estimated cost to 
implement each task element identified and discussed in the plan.
    This document was prepared by the Green Crab Control Working Group 
of the ANS Task Force, as authorized by section 4722(c) of the 
Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990 (16 
U.S.C. 4701 et seq.).

    Dated: May 7, 2003.
Everett Wilson,
Acting Co-Chair, Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, Acting Assistant 
Director--Fisheries and Habitat Conservation.
[FR Doc. 03-13995 Filed 6-3-03; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-M