DISEASE, PESTS, AND POLLUTION
The management theme, disease, pests, and pollution, encompasses a wide range of topics ranging from land-based pollution sources, to invasive species impacts. Marine diseases have been increasing in recent years, in part due to climate change, and can cause significant economic loss among fishing communities (24). Pollution from land-based sources is an ongoing issue, particularly for inland basins such as Puget Sound, and even with effective mitigation strategies, chemicals can persist in sediment for years (25). Lastly, managing for invasive species is highly complicated given the large variation in distribution and wide range of damage they can cause (26).
Dungeness crab can be affected by a wide range of diseases across their life history. Zoea are particularly susceptible to infection. Adult C. magister tend to be more resilient to disease (23). Regardless, the PCRG is interested in assessing disease presence, particularly for needle disease (Table XX) (27). Regarding pests, the main invasive species that is of concern in Washington waters is European green crab (Carcinus maenas). The full potential of European green crab invasion in Washington state has not yet been realized, and dedicated monitoring efforts have found limited numbers in inland Washington waters (28). However, if the population becomes more established, green crab have the potential to decimate critical Dungeness crab habitat and negatively impact the fishery (29). In addition to monitoring efforts, it is essential that management decisions include potential losses due to ecological effects (30). Identifying these ecological effects is a role the PCRG could potentially play.
Marine pollution from land use has been reduced in recent decades through mitigation activities in Washington state (25). However, aside from the impacts of pesticides and trace metals (31), there has been limited research performed on other sources of pollution on C. magister. The PCRG members are interested in the extent of a broad range of pollutants, including those from personal care products and prescription drugs that make their way into waterways via sewage systems (32). There are large gaps regarding different pollution sources on Dungeness crab, which can limit management responses.
In general, managing disease, pests, and pollution requires baseline information to identify the extent of the problem at hand. For marine pollution, it is most effective to foster a pathway for researchers to disseminate information to managers, and for managers to provide feedback in return (33). This is likely true for pests and disease as well, given the potential need for rapid response strategies. The PCRG can assist in information production to inform management for these themes, as well as intake new feedback if co-managers see it fit.