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Feminine horseshoe crabs shielded from bait harvest in Delaware Bay


    The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Fee voted final week to quickly halt the harvest of feminine horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay, an important nesting space and stopover habitat for endangered Purple Knots and different migratory shorebirds that feed on the crabs’ eggs.

    However the fee additionally authorised a deeply flawed mannequin that can permit elevated horseshoe crab harvests — together with feminine horseshoe crabs — in future years.

    The Heart for Organic Variety helped arrange efforts to cease the feminine horseshoe crab harvest. The fee was flooded by greater than 34,000 public feedback opposing any enlargement of harvests, particularly of feminine horseshoe crabs.

    “Permitting feminine horseshoe crabs to be harvested would have been a disaster,” mentioned Will Harlan, a scientist on the Heart. “I’m grateful that the fee responded to public and scientific enter and pumped the brakes on feminine horseshoe crab harvests. Sadly, the combat is way from over as a result of the fee left the door open to feminine horseshoe crab harvests after subsequent yr.”

    Horseshoe crabs — brown, body-armored beasts with lengthy, spiked tails — reside fossils which have survived for a half-billion years. Every spring, horseshoe crabs crawl ashore and lay thousands and thousands of eggs alongside Atlantic Coast seashores.

    A Purple Knot stands on the seaside behind a flipped-over horseshoe crab within the early morning daylight. Picture by Ray Hennessy/Shutterstock

    Purple Knots, whose 19,000-mile annual migration is among the longest on the planet, journey from the southern tip of South America to the Canadian Arctic annually to breed. Purple Knots time their journey north to coincide with horseshoe crab nesting alongside the Atlantic Coast. The knots gorge on protein-rich horseshoe crab eggs, offering a necessary refueling for the beleaguered birds. Birds that miss this egg feast often die or fail to breed.

    Purple Knot populations plummeted following the overharvest of horseshoe crabs within the Nineties. The Heart for Organic Variety helped safe Endangered Species Act protections for the shorebird in 2014.

    Horseshoe crab populations additionally stay traditionally low. Neither horseshoe crabs nor Purple Knots are near restoration targets. However the mannequin authorised by the fee has not been launched publicly or obtained unbiased scientific evaluate.

    “The fee should deliver this flawed mannequin out of the shadows earlier than any future harvest will increase are thought-about,” mentioned Harlan. “Purple Knots proceed to say no, and horseshoe crab populations haven’t recovered from overharvesting. Growing horseshoe crab harvests threatens their survival and pushes Purple Knots even nearer to extinction.”

    Because of the Heart for Organic Variety for offering this information.

    To save lots of a crab, volunteers reTURN the Favor

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