About the project

The project „Active protection of the noble crayfish in the lakes of Pomeranian Association of Landscape Parks” is financed and supported by the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2009-2014, as a part of PL02 Biodiversity Programme: „The protection of the biological diversity and ecosystem”.
Eligible costs of the project – 1 084 750,00 PLN
European Economic Area (EEA) grants − 922 038,00 PLN 
Pomeranian voivodeship − 162 712,00 PLN
Project implementation: years 2014 – 2016
Active protection of the noble crayfish in the lakes of Pomeranian Association of Landscape Parks
In the beginning of the XX century, the noble crayfish Astacus astacus was harvested at 474 sites. Nowadays, about 29 sites of the occurrence of this species are known. The dynamics of the disappearance of this species indicates its extinction during next 50 years (Śmietana 2013).
However, if the expansion of alien invasive spiny-cheek crayfish is not reduced, the noble crayfish will become extinct in next 10 years. According the results of the studies, the noble crayfish is a very sensitive bioindicator of anthropogenic changes in habitats.
In the Pomeranian region, the importance of this species in nature protection should be the same as of all species of animals listed in Annex II of the EC Habitat Directive. The aim of this project is to save the noble crayfish using current knowledge and experience of the applicant in this area. The implementation of the project includes the restitution of this species in several water bodies and watercourses in the Pomeranian region, taking advantage of natural habitat conditions in the Natura 2000 areas. Achievement of the defined objective, i.e., permanent restitution of the species, requires implementation of the series of actions. 
These actions can be grouped into several categories: inventory surveys, research studies, restitution (introduction) actions, and raising public awareness.
• As the result of the inventory surveys, the data base on the waters, where the noble crayfish occurs, as well as on the water bodies, where it is not has not been recorded, but habitat conditions are favourable and within ecological requirements of this species, will be up-dated. 
• As the result of the research studies, the quality of existing populations of the noble crayfish will be determined in order to assess their suitability as the source material for restitution. Because we developed our own method of restitution, and this method will be applied, then it seems reasonable to run the genetic studies aiming to determine intra- and interpopulation genetic variation. Such knowledge is essential in preparing the source material of the maximum genetic differentiation, which as a rule will comprise large number of related individuals. 
This category includes also the examination of health and physical condition of animals, and the studies on habitat quality of the noble crayfish, as well as potential sites for its restitution.
• During restitution actions, noble crayfishes will be released to the selected waters. Introduction will be based on the individuals bred from eggs incubated by females and later bred in captivity for 3 months. During the initial phase of the project, we plan to use the potential of the only three existing breeding centres in Poland that were established to breed native crayfish species. These are: breeding centre no 0006 at the Lake Sominko, centre Grzybowo in the buffer zone of Wdzydzki Landscape Park, centre for raising and breeding of native crayfish species in Pilchowo; all of them work according to the results of the research studies and under the supervision of the competent authority from the University of Szczecin.
The cooperation with local fishery authorities and fish farmers to implement the method of breeding and raising the noble crayfish for restitution is also planned. This plan includes several steps. During the first one, the declarations on cooperation with the aforementioned institutions will be signed. As we expect great interest for taking part in this project, then out of all interested parties, only 4, which fulfil the criteria of effective action, will be chosen. After this decision is taken, an agreement will be concluded defining the conditions of the cooperation. Basically, the farmers will be trained in raising the source material for the noble crayfish restitution. The applicant will provide know-how technology on raising the noble crayfish, the mother material and part of the equipment necessary for the raising/breeding of this species. While the farmers will share their facilities for the breeding purposes and commit to give away the part of the obtained breeding material free of charge to the applicant. This transfer will be based on the following rules: 100% of the material after the first year of breeding, 75% in next two years, and 30% in the following years.
• As the result of the actions aiming at raising public awareness, the spread of the knowledge on native species of crayfishes will be ensured, which then would be translated into particular attitude and actions supporting the conservation of the species. One of the aspects of this particular action is the dissemination of the knowledge on the noble crayfish and the threats to this species resulting from the water-use. Another one is the enhancement of the breeding of native species of crayfishes and restitution actions. These specific actions will be addressed to fish farmers, fishing waters users, fishermen, owners and tenants of the ponds and/or lakes. The final results of the project will be following: 
- the up-dated assessment of the population status of the noble crayfish in this part of the Pomerania;
- defining restitution potential of the species;
- systemic implementation of the production of breeding material by local producers obliged to transfer part of their production;
- accomplishment at least 10 restitutions of the noble crayfish;

- dissemination of the knowledge on the noble crayfish and its importance to gain the extensive support for the actions aiming at the protection of endangered species from the local community.