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Depending on Horseshoe Crabs and Bait for Nutrition

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Recently, various user groups have relied on horseshoe crabs for bait and nutrition. While concerns have arisen that the horseshoe crab populations are declining, management of the American species of horseshoe crabs has been surrounded by controversy (Davis et al., 2006). Historically, horseshoe crabs have been considered a “trash-fish”, not worthy of resources to establish their population data. As a result, reporting regulations and harvest restrictions associated with this fishery have been lacking (Baker et al., 2004).
Catch records for the Limulus commercial fishery in the Delaware Bay declined from 4 million horseshoe crabs per year to less than 100,000 between the 1870s and the 1960s (Shuster and Botton, 1985). It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that a commercial fishery on horseshoe crabs developed to provide bait for use in catching eel (Anguilla rostrada) and whelk (Busycon spp.) (Ferrari and Targett, 2003). The horseshoe crab commercial fishery has increased dramatically beginning in 1990 (Berkson and Shuster, 1999). A variety of methods are employed by fishermen to capture horseshoe crabs: trawls, dredges, hands, and gillnets (Berkson and Shuster, 1999). Entire beaches covered in horseshoe crabs can easily be harvested by hand since these animals have essentially no defense mechanism (Berkson and Shuster, 1999). Overall, one million Limulus were landed on the Atlantic coastline between 1989 and 1992. This number grew to over two million by
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