Natural and Historic Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife/Marine Fisheries

Notice of Rule Proposal
Division of Fish and Wildlife rules; Horseshoe crabs, N.J.A.C. 7:25-18

Public Notice
Take notice that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Fish and Wildlife is proposing an amendment to N.J.A.C. 7:25-18.16 to continue the moratorium on the horseshoe crab commercial bait fishery. A moratorium was previously implemented on the harvest of horseshoe crabs, effective May 15, 2006 through December 31, 2007, for the purpose of improving conditions immediately for the threatened red knot (Calidris canutus rufa), as well as other migratory shorebirds whose survival depends upon an abundant supply of horseshoe crab eggs in Delaware Bay. The red knot population is in jeopardy, as data and modeling show high risk of species extinction within five years. Recent analysis of the effect of the 2006-2007 moratorium of crab harvest has shown conditions have not yet improved for the red knot and other migrant shorebirds that depend on horseshoe crab eggs. However, given a decade of intensive harvest focused exclusively on large, breeding-age crabs, two years is not long enough to assess the success of a moratorium on recruitment of new crabs into the population. It is, therefore, necessary to continue a moratorium until crab egg densities and shorebird abundances begin to respond to the increase in the number of younger-aged crabs coming into the breeding population.

The proposal is scheduled to be published in the New Jersey Register dated December 3, 2007. A copy of the proposal is available from: DEP web site; at County libraries, or by contacting LexisNexis Customer Service at (800) 223-1944 or www.lexisnexis.com/bookstore. Be advised that there may be a fee for obtaining a copy of the proposal from some sources.

Written comments may be submitted by February 1, 2008 to:

NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Gary J. Brower, Esq.
ATTN: DEP Docket No. 25-07-10/664
Office of Legal Affairs
401 East State Street, 4th floor
PO Box 402
Trenton, New Jersey 08625