Native distribution

The Chinese mitten crab originates from east Asia, with a distribution from the Province of Fukien, China (approximately 26º N), northwards to the Korean Peninsula (approximately 40º N). It has since been introduced to many other locations around the world via ships' ballast tanks, its natural ability to migrate extraordinary distances aiding its spread.

When did it reach Europe and Britain?

The crab was introduced into Germany in 1912 and has since spread throughout northern Europe. It has been reported as far south as Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France.

The first British record of Eriocheir sinensis was in 1935 from the River Thames. A large population is now well established in the Thames catchment, with an autumn migration pattern, ovigerous crabs, juveniles and burrowing behaviour. This population continues to expand westwards with a new record (13 October 2007) from Boveney Lock, just upstream of Windsor.

Current records indicate the crab is also now common in the following rivers:

  • Medway
  • Ouse
  • Humber
  • Tyne

Isolated captures have been made from:

  • the River Teign near Exmouth
  • Dungeness in Kent
  • the Duddon Estuary near Morcambe Bay

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