DV-16-12 Impact of claw removal on Jonah crab survival

Jason Goldstein
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve
342 Laudholm Farm Rd
Wells ME 04090
jgoldstein@wellsnerr.org

In recent decades, landings of Jonah crab have more than quadrupled in New England. During harvesting, it is a common practice for fishermen to remove the claws of freshly caught Jonah crabs and subsequently return them to their environment. The biological implications of this harvesting method on Jonah crab health and survival remains unknown. The development of a successful fishery management plan will rely on the collection of important biological data.

As part of this pilot project, researchers addressed two key questions: (1) how does claw removal impact foraging behavior and overall activity of Jonah crabs and; (2) at what rate, if any, does claw regeneration occur? They developed a sensor to assess claw force as a proxy for health and a device to remove crab claws thereby reducing overall mortality. The results, while still preliminary, were presented to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to inform successful management practices for this commercially important, yet understudied fishery. Publications are pending.

Sea Grant funds $2,300