DOVER (July 6, 2015) – Delaware’s commercial horseshoe crab harvest is approaching this year’s quota of 154,527 horseshoe crabs, prompting DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife to announce that, in accordance with Delaware law and regulations, the horseshoe crab fishery will close at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, July 9. Afterward, it is unlawful in Delaware to harvest horseshoe crabs this year.
Horseshoe crabs are managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Interstate Fishery Management Plan. Annual allocations for the Delaware Bay area states are determined through an innovative
adaptive resource management model which takes into account changes in both the horseshoe crab and migratory shorebird populations to address the nutritional needs of the shorebirds. Under the management plan, Delaware’s 2015 quota allocation was 154,527 male horseshoe crabs. Harvest of female horseshoe crabs is prohibited year-round in Delaware.
Horseshoe crabs are harvested in Delaware for use as bait in the whelk (conch) and American eel fisheries. Horseshoe crabs also play an important role in the ecology of the Delaware Bay, notably that migratory shorebirds rely on horseshoe crab eggs to fuel their long-distance migrations to their Arctic breeding grounds.