New Jersey has a robust blue crab fishery that supports a year-round commercial and recreational fishing. It ranks within the top five fisheries in the state for total harvest in pounds. It also ranks in the top five for total blue crab harvested across the east coast. Blue crab is indigenous to the Atlantic Coast and has been harvested as far back as the 1700s (Rick et al., 2015). On July 1, 1977, New Jersey’s blue crab pot/trotline license and then on July 27, 1977, the commercial dredge license, were brought into effect. Today, harvest of blue crab is managed through gear, size, season, and location restrictions. Commercial harvest is collected monthly and is used to monitor blue crab populations. Regulations are put in place so a fishery may continue to be sustainable or recover to a sustainable level.
New Jersey conducts five state operated surveys that collects blue crab data across New jersey’s blue crab population range. Data collected consists of weight length sex and water quality which can be used in future stock assessments. Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Delaware Bay blue crab stock assessment in 2021 states the Delaware Bay blue crab stock is at high levels of abundance and at low levels of fishing mortality, and to be in excellent condition relative to historical measures dating back to 1978. The more data that can be provided from various life stages and habitats, the more robust each assessment will be. Sound assessments provide biologists with better management tools, allowing individual states to adjust their regulations accordingly, to preserve the local population.
More information about this species can be found below:
- olive to blue/green above
- claws bright blue underneath: females have red tipped claws
- shell twice as wide as it is long
- 9 marginal teeth; 9th is a long strong spine
- last pair of legs, called swimmerets, are paddle shaped
- up to 9 inches from tip of longest spines
- Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Uruguay
- important commercial species
- breed in salt water
- migrate to deeper waters in winter
- females only mate once in their lifetime
- average lifespan is 3 years