A trap has been installed in a Lincolnshire village with an aim to catch an invasive species of crab. Brits have been warned of the risk of an invasion of Chinese mitten crabs – crustaceans that can damage riverbanks, have a negative impact on the fishing industry and give a painful bite if threatened.
The warning comes after the invasive species was spotted in Peterborough, with a number of sightings around Ferry Meadows Park. The crustaceans, which first appeared in the UK in 1935, were also seen around London and Cambridgeshire recently, reports The Mirror.
Scientists have installed a trap at Pode Hole near Spalding which aims to prevent the crabs migrating to breeding grounds. While the crabs are generally not dangerous to people or pets, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the burrowing of the crab could erode riverbanks.
According to Defra, this crab is among 30 species of invasive non-native animals listed as a concern due to “its invasiveness and the ability to establish in several nations across Europe”. In 2016, it was included in the list as being “widely spread” across the UK.
Defra also said it could have an impact on the fishing industry and recreational anglers by feeding on fish stocks and damaging nets. The green-grey crustaceans, which have dense “fur” around their white-tipped claws, have been found across mainland Europe and caused carnage in Germany.
And the species, originating from Southeast Asia, have also been known to attack native crabs and compete with them for food. They live in inland waterways, such as rivers and canals, and are most frequently found by fishermen.
Residents are now being urged to report sightings of the crabs. A spokesperson for the Nene Park Trust, which runs Ferry Meadows, said: “We’ve had a few reports of Chinese Mitten Crab over the past week, particularly around Orton Water in Nene Park.
“As an invasive species that has been established in the UK for a number of years there is little we can do about them, although we do continue to monitor their presence with the support of partners. These recent sightings have been reported to the relevant authorities. They don’t pose any direct threat to people or dogs but may give a nip if anything gets too close, so we would advise visitors to keep their distance if they come across one.”
A spokesperson for The Marine Biological Association said the crabs can be identified by their white-tipped, furry claws. They added: “It is important that their spread is monitored and therefore we encourage the public to either submit sightings.”