Twenty-two years after the first record of the snow crab in the eastern Barents Sea, this invasive species has rapidly spread north-westerly. Because of its dual nature as an invasive species and potential exploitable resource, the snow crab’s expansion in the Barents Sea has important ecological, economic and political implications, both nationally and internationally. Although available evidence suggests that large decapods play a role in structuring benthic communities, studies considering long-term changes on the structure and function of the ecosystems impacted by large invasive crustaceans are scarce. There is thus an urgent need for empirical data and modelled predictions on the impact of the snow crab in Arctic systems, to ensure that robust management decisions can be implemented to support sustainable value creation and Blue Growth. EISA addresses this challenge in 4 scientific work packages that will use state-of-the-art methods (sampling, ecosystem modelling, genetics and metagenomics and machine learning) to generate cutting-edge knowledge on 1) the changes the crab causes on the structure and function of the benthic communities, including other commercial species (WP1); 2) the dynamics of the snow crab population in the Barents Sea, including the origin of the invasion (WP2); 3) predictions on the snow crab dispersal and impact, in the framework of climate change (WP3); and 4) synthesise all results in a socio-economic and governance framework that can inform management guidelines (WP4). EISA progress and results will be shared with academic fellows, management authorities, industry and society through a dissemination and communication plan to ensure that the latest knowledge on the snow crab is available for the development of robust ecosystem-based management measures and increased sustainable value creation in the Arctic region. The EISA consortium includes 8 leading research teams and benefits from a dedicated postdoc.
Project leader: Paul Renaud
Institution: NORSK INSTITUTT FOR VANNFORSKNING