The Pacific Northwest Crab Research Group formed in response to pressing research needs for the Dungeness crab fishery in Washington state and the greater Pacific Northwest region.
The group's current priorities* are pursuing collaborative research to:
*These priorities may be adapted over time as the interests and needs of fisheries managers evolve.
Monitor Dungeness crab populations and develop tools to forecast abundance.
Better understand and sustain the ecological role of Dungeness crab.
Produce information addressing multiple critical data gaps for Dungeness crab.
In order to guide research and planning efforts, PCRG identified specific prioritized research questions that will contribute to the development, implementation, and refinement of long-term studies that improve the information available to crab managers in our region.
Read more about the group's current priorities in the 2020-2025 PCRG Research Guide.
The projects developed and implemented by PCRG and its collaborators include three phases: (1) comprehensive research planning; (2) coordinated, standardized research; and (3) communication of research results to resource managers and other stakeholders. Through these projects, we aim to address critical knowledge gaps while also aligning with fishery management priorities.
Why Dungeness Crab?
Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic and cherished native species. It is a vital member of the marine food system, has served as an important food source for indigenous communities for eons, and has been harvested commercially and recreationally since the 1800s.
Though it is one of Washington State’s most highly valued and heavily exploited fisheries, its management is based on hindsight, not foresight, by relying on the amount of crab caught in years gone by, instead of forecasting what the population can sustain, based on crab biology and distribution. The result - a fishery that is highly vulnerable to swings in crab abundance resulting from dynamic ocean conditions and access to essential habitat.
With an added understanding of the life history, distribution, and population structure of Dungeness crab in our region, fishery managers can develop much needed adaptive management strategies that promote the long-term resilience of crab populations in a changing climate.
Larval Crab Monitoring
Initiated in 2019, our regional monitoring program aims to provide crucial insight into larval Dungeness crab dynamics, as well as the relationship between larval crab and adult crab abundance.
To investigate the connectivity of Dungeness crab populations between the outer coast and Salish Sea, as well as within the basins of inland waters, PCRG launched a genetics study.
Collaboration & Outreach
At it's core, PCRG functions as an information-sharing and learning network, and we believe that building knowledge collaboratively will ultimately yield more effective management outcomes.