ASMFC Horseshoe Crab Board Sets 2018 Specifications for Horseshoe Crabs of Delaware Bay Origin

ASMFC Horseshoe Crab Board Sets 2018 Specifications for Horseshoe Crabs of Delaware Bay Origin


harvesting horseshoe crabs, delaware bay, port mahon, leipsic, little creek, fishing pier
Collecting horseshoe crabs for market

Norfolk, VA – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Horseshoe Crab Management Board approved the harvest specifications for horseshoe crabs of Delaware Bay origin. Under the Adaptive Resource Management (ARM) Framework, the Board set a harvest limit of 500,000 Delaware Bay male horseshoe crabs and zero female horseshoe crabs for the 2018 season. Based on the allocation mechanism established in Addendum VII, the following quotas were set for the states of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, which harvest horseshoe crabs of Delaware Bay origin:


  Delaware Bay Origin Horseshoe Crab Quota (no. of crabs) Total Quota**
State Male Only Male Only
Delaware 162,136 162,136
New Jersey 162,136 162,136
Maryland 141,112 255,980
Virginia* 34,615 81,331

*Virginia harvest refers to harvest east of the COLREGS line only

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** Total male harvest includes crabs which are not of Delaware Bay origin.


Harvesting horseshoe crabs at Port Mahon, delaware, kent county, sussex county
Harvesting horseshoe crabs at Port Mahon.

The Board chose a harvest package based on the Technical Committee and ARM Subcommittee recommendation. The ARM Framework, established through Addendum VII, incorporates both shorebird and horseshoe crab abundance levels to set optimized harvest levels for horseshoe crabs of Delaware Bay origin. The horseshoe crab abundance estimate was based on data from the Benthic Trawl Survey conducted by Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech). This survey has not been funded consistently in recent years, but was funded and conducted in 2016. A composite index of the Delaware Trawl Survey, New Jersey Delaware Bay Trawl Survey, and New Jersey Ocean Trawl Survey has been developed and used in years the Virginia Tech Survey was not conducted. While continued, long-term funding of the Virginia Tech Survey is preferred, the recent revival of this survey also allows the composite index to be improved through “tuning” relative to additional Virginia Tech Survey data points. The Virginia Tech Survey has been funded for 2017 and is currently underway. Funding for future years continues to be explored.

Spawning horseshoe crabs at Pickering Beach … Photo credit James Blackstock

Terms of reference for the 2018 stock assessment were presented to and approved by the Board. Within these terms of reference were tasks specific to the horseshoe crab stock assessment, including assessments of regional populations of horseshoe crabs, incorporation and evaluation of estimated mortality attributed to the biomedical use of horseshoe crabs for Limulus Amebocyte Lysate production, and comparisons of assessment results with results from the ARM Framework used to annually set bait harvest levels for horseshoe crabs from the Delaware Bay region. The completed assessment is expected to be presented to the Board in October at the 2018 Annual Meeting.

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