Chinese mitten crab


Have you seen Chinese mitten crab?

Be on the lookout for Chinese mitten crab and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection helps protect Queensland's natural marine environment, the businesses that rely upon it and our way of life.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Chinese mitten crab is an invasive and prohibited marine pest not found in Queensland waters. They can be introduced via ship's ballast water, as biofouling on boat hulls and through internal seawater systems.

Shell is smooth and up to 8cm wide with hairy 'mittens' on claws unlike any Australian crab. The Chinese mitten crab has successfully invaded temperate regions in central and northern Europe and North America.

You must report any suspected sightings to Biosecurity Queensland.

Scientific name

Eriocheir sinesis

Other names

  • Shanghai hairy crab


  • Hairy 'mittens' on claws unlike any Australian crab.
  • Four spines on either side of eyes.
  • Four sharp spines in-between eyes.
  • Shell is smooth and grows up to 8cm wide.


  • Burrows into mud on river banks, estuaries and coastal areas.
  • Lives mainly in freshwater, but adults move into estuarine waters to mate.
  • Lives in temperate and tropical waters.


  • Not found in Queensland waters. The Chinese mitten crab is native to Asia – China to the Korean Peninsula.

Life cycle

  • During their fourth or fifth year in late summer, the crustaceans migrate downstream and attain sexual maturity in tidal estuaries.
  • After mating, the females continue seaward, overwintering in deeper waters. They return to brackish water in the spring to hatch their eggs.
  • After development as larvae, the juvenile crabs gradually move upstream into fresh water.

Affected animals

  • Native aquatic animals



  • Alters food webs and competes with native crabs and crayfish.


  • Damages fishing gear and impacts aquaculture activities.
  • Blocks cooling systems or power plants and damages agricultural crops and infrastructure (irrigation channels).


  • Can negatively affect the visual amenity and our way of life. Marine pests can:
    • lead to depleted fish stocks
    • lead to boating and fishing restrictions in affected areas
    • impact significantly on the marine industry that many people rely on for employment and recreational purposes.


Look. Report. Protect.

Marine biosecurity – everyone plays a part

  • Clean your boat regularly.
  • Check for marine pests on structures and surrounds.
  • Report any suspected marine pests.

Slipway operators, vessel inspectors and vessel owners should regularly and thoroughly check and clean vessel hulls looking out for pests or growth. Pay particular attention to the nooks and crannies of your vessel including internal seawater systems.

Inspect, clean and dry equipment and gear before moving to a different location. This includes pots, nets, fishing or diving gear, anchors and ropes.

If you think you have seen Chinese mitten crab, report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23. Take reasonable and practical steps to prevent it from spreading until an authorised officer contacts you.

Legal requirements

  • Chinese mitten crab is a prohibited invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • Report any suspected sightings to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 immediately.
  • Biosecurity is a shared responsibility and by law everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to avoid introduction or spread of marine pests.

Further information