On Tuesday, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced its recommendation
for a new horseshoe crab harvest ratio. Birders concerned about Red Knots
and their dependence on horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay likely will cheer the new recommendation.
To provide further protection to the Atlantic coast population of horseshoe crabs and increase the availability of horseshoe crab eggs in Delaware Bay to hemispheric migratory shorebird populations, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is implementing a 2:1 male to female horseshoe crab harvest ratio, effective April 1st. There is currently no sex ratio limit.
The State of Maryland has long taken a leadership role in the management of Atlantic coast populations of horseshoe crabs. In 1998, Maryland implemented actions to reduce its horseshoe crab landings by 72%. This leadership action led to the development of a coastwide horseshoe crab management plan through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in 1999. After 10 years, the Delaware Bay population of horseshoe crabs is showing signs of recovery. Unfortunately, similar signs of recovery of migratory shorebird populations are not evident and there is increasing risk of extinction to some species.
DNR is implementing this harvest ratio limit after conducting a technical analysis and reviewing public input on a range of management options, including closure of the female horseshoe crab fishery. This action will immediately increase the availability of horseshoe crab eggs to migratory shorebirds in Delaware Bay this May and June. Maryland watermen, both horseshoe crab harvesters and conch and eel fishermen who use horseshoe crabs as bait, will be impacted by this action but will retain their current harvest quota.
Labels: conservation, endangered