Ban extended on female horseshoe crab harvest

Red knots feed on horseshoe crab eggs in this 2009 photo from Mispillion Harbor, Delaware.
Credit: Gregory Breese/USFWS

Regulators have extended a ban on harvesting female horseshoe crabs from the Delaware Bay amid concerns that lifting it could harm the declining red knot (Calidris canutus), a migrating shorebird that relies on horseshoe crab eggs for food. A proposal would have lifted a 10-year-old ban and allowed the fishing industry to catch about 150,000 of female horseshoe crabs in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia for use as bait.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission had proposed lifting the ban, saying that the proposed catch would not damage the crabs or the birds. Conservationists argue red knots and other migrating shorebirds would be negatively affected.

In continuing the ban on female harvest, the board set a harvest limit of 475,000 male horseshoe crabs.

The crabs are separately used by the biomedical industry, which takes blood from them for use in medical testing and returns the crabs to the water.

Read more from the New York Times.