The Horseshoe Crab Fishery
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American Horseshoe Crab

 

Contact

​Stacy Epperson
Education Specialist
Aquatic Resource Education Dept
Chesapeake and Coastal Service
MD Department of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Ave., E-2
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: 410-260-8775
stacy.epperson@maryland.gov​

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The Horseshoe Crab Fishery

The Fishery

Waterman showing two types of whelk potsPeople have harvested horseshoe crabs for centuries. Prior to the European colonization of North America, native tribes used the telson as spear tips and used the shell as containers. These small and localized harvests had little impact on horseshoe crab populations.

Today several different groups take advantage of the economic benefits horseshoe crabs provide: watermen use horseshoe crabs as bait to harvest other commercial fisheries species; the biomedical industry bleeds the crabs to obtain a pharmaceutical product; and, birders visit spawning areas to view the migrating shorebirds.

Each of these user groups (stakeholders) depends on the long-term stability of the region's horseshoe crab population. Of these, the bait fisheries are the largest user of the horseshoe crab population.