New species of crab – another invasive species in Poland

Nowy gatunek kraba

On the Sobieszewska Island last December, a blue calico – a rather large crab – reaching up to 20 cm wide, with a distinctive blue coloration – was observed. This is quite an unprecedented sight in the Baltic Sea, as the species naturally occurs in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Such an exotic visitor may be an attraction, but its appearance in Poland, not for the first time, is a serious problem.

This is because the blue crab is an alien species, and an invasive one at that. This means that, first, it does not occur naturally in our ecosystem. And second, it is adapting well enough to displace domestic animal species, occupying their ecological niche. For now, the calliope has been observed sporadically in the Baltic Sea, but its presence is a potential problem for the native shore crab. Invasive species pose a serious threat to the environment. So important that it is subject to regulation at the national and EU levels.

Threat of foreign species – new regulations

The latest Council of Ministers Dec. 9, 2022. On the list of invasive alien species posing a threat to the Union and the list of invasive alien species posing a threat to Poland, remedial actions and measures to restore the natural state of ecosystems, which is an implementing act of the Alien Species Act, came into force a month ago, ie. December 17, 2022.

The regulation includes lists of threatening, invasive alien species (IGOs) – both plants and animals – one prepared by the European Commission and another, the Polish one. Each of these lists, respectively Annex 1 and Annex 2 to the regulation, is divided into a group of species that are subject to rapid eradication and those that have spread widely. The regulation also includes a series of recommended “countermeasures” for plants and animals, divided into physical (including altering water relations, creating buffer strips, trapping, electrocution – in the case of fish) and chemical measures. For species that require rapid eradication, the action is to remove individuals, while for those that are widely distributed, it does not necessarily lead to eradication, but only to control and inhibit the spread.

It is worth noting that hunters have the right to hunt IGOs. According to the Hunting Law, the protection, preservation of diversity and management of game populations also involves eliminating birds and mammals belonging to invasive alien species from the environment through hunting.

As of December 29, 2022. The Decree of the Minister of Climate and Environment dated December 7, 2022 on determining the requirements for labeling and making photographic documentation of individual characteristics of animals belonging to invasive alien species also came into force. The regulation sets out the requirements to be met by keepers of IGO animals that pose a threat to the Union or Poland. These animals, in order to enable their identification, are subject to mandatory marking by implanting a microchip.

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