An official website of the United States government.

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Chinese Mitten Crab

Scientific Name

Eriocheir sinensis (ITIS)

Common Name

Chinese mitten crab

Native To

Pacific coast of China and Korea (NAS Database)

Date of U.S. Introduction

1991 (West Coast); 2005 (East Coast) (NAS Database)

Means of Introduction

Ballast water (also possibly through intentional releases) (Cohen and Carlton 1997)

Impact

Interference with fish salvage operations, fish passage facilities, water treatment plants, power plants, and other facilities (Cohen and Weinstein 2001)

Current U.S. Distribution

West Coast; Great Lakes; Chesapeake Bay

Chinese mitten crab

Chinese mitten crab, adult

Credit

Photo by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

Find more images

Spotlights

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Clamps Down on the Illegal Mitten Crab Trade

    • Jun 23, 2021
    • DOI. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the completion of Operation Mitten Catcher, an international law enforcement investigation that prevented the illegal import of approximately 15,525 live Chinese mitten crabs into the U.S. Operation Mitten Catcher is the second national inspection operation initiated by the Service’s Wildlife Inspection Interdiction Team. The team consists of seasoned Service law enforcement professionals who are committed to closing international wildlife trafficking pathways, generating intelligence and coordinating national wildlife inspection efforts.

      If you suspect someone is illegally importing live mitten crabs or any other species, please call the Service’s wildlife trafficking tips line at 1-844-FWS-TIPS (397-8477) or email fws_tips@fws.gov. You might be eligible for a financial reward if your tip helps solve a case. Learn more about how to report wildlife crimes.

  • Rapid Response Plan for Management and Control of the Chinese Mitten Crab: Northeast United States and Atlantic Canada [PDF | 1.62 MB]

    • 2016
    • DOC. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; New Hampshire Sea Grant; MIT Sea Grant; Maine Sea Grant.

    • The Rapid Response Plan for Management and Control of the Chinese Mitten Crab is intended to guide efforts to mitigate the further introduction and spread of the Chinese mitten crab in the northeastern United States and Canada. Due to the unique challenges of invasive species introductions to marine and coastal ecosystems, the mitten crab and other existing and potential marine invasive species are more difficult and often more costly to manage or control than freshwater aquatic or terrestrial invasive species. This document focuses on the use of early detection and rapid response as a tool to prevent the introduction and spread of Chinese mitten crabs and other crabs belonging to the genus Eriocheir throughout northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada. The primary goal of this plan is to provide information needed to support local, state, and regional efforts to prevent and control the spread of Chinese mitten crabs throughout northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada. For more information on the development of this plan, see Early Detection and Rapid Response Plan for the Invasive Chinese Mitten Crab.

  • Mitten Crab Watch

    • Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

    • Are you a crabber, waterman, or concerned citizen? We need your help to detect and assess the status of Chinese Mitten Crabs. The "Mitten Crab Watch" website provides information on the invasion of the mitten crab and allows users to more easily report catches.

      Please help us detect live mitten crabs by reporting any sighting in North America. We are especially interested in collecting sightings from the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, Hudson River, and San Francisco Bay --- where the crab has been common in the past. Please visit the Mitten Crab Watch website to learn more about the crab and to report sightings.

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status

Federally Regulated

  • Injurious Wildlife Listings - Keeping Risky Wildlife Species Out of the United States

    • DOI. FWS. Fish and Aquatic Conservation.

    • Includes species listed as injurious wildlife under the Federal Lacey Act (18 USC 42), which makes it illegal to import injurious wildlife into the U.S. or transport between the listed jurisdictions in the shipment clause (the continental U.S., the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any possession of the U.S.) without a permit. An injurious wildlife listing would not prohibit intrastate transport or possession of that species within a State where those activities are not prohibited by the State. Preventing the introduction of new harmful species is the only way to fully avoid impacts of injurious species on local, regional, and national economies and infrastructure, and on the natural resources of the U.S.

      Injurious wildlife are wild mammals, wild birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, crustaceans, mollusks and their offspring or eggs that are injurious to the interests of human beings, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, wildlife or wildlife resources of the U.S. Plants and organisms other than those stated above cannot be listed as injurious wildlife. For more information, see What Are Injurious Wildlife: A Summary of the Injurious Provisions of the Lacey Act and Summary of Species Currently Listed as Injurious Wildlife.

Videos

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source.

Council or Task Force
Partnership
Federal Government
International Government
State and Local Government
Academic
Professional
Citations