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ASMFC moves forward with Jonah crab plan

MYSTIC, CT – If Jonah crabs are one thing and rock crabs are another, then what’s a sand crab or a grass crab or, especially in Maine, a peekytoe crab?

Rhode Island fisherman Brian Thibeault measures the carapace of a Jonah crab for the CFRF On-Deck Data Program. (CFRF photo)

Rhode Island fisherman Brian Thibeault measures the carapace of a Jonah crab for the CFRF On-Deck Data Program.
(CFRF photo)

Jonah crab.  Note the yellow spots on the carapace, which distinguish the species from rock crabs with purplish-brown spots.  (MA DMF photo)

Jonah crab. Note the yellow spots on the carapace, which distinguish the species from rock crabs with purplish-brown spots.
(MA DMF photo)

Widespread local differences in nomenclature and confusion over what to call the Northeast region’s two major species of Cancer crabs led the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) American Lobster Management Board to rein in its initial proposal to manage the broad spectrum of Cancer crabs and instead start off with just the kingpin – Jonah crabs.

“At our public hearing in Portland, ME, there was a great deal of confusion because of the Cancer crab designation,” said board member Terry Stockwell during an Oct. 28 meeting here.  “It took us a while to untangle it.  If the intent of the board is to focus on Jonah crab, we should be very specific about what that is.”

Back in September, ASMFC held five public hearings – four in New England and one in Maryland, where crab claw parts are important – to ask for industry feedback about the rapidly growing crab fishery and to help the commission decide whether to develop a fishery management plan (FMP) to regulate Jonah crabs, Cancer borealis, and rock crabs, Cancer irroratus (see CFN September 2014 for details).

Given the name challenge and early concerns about adding rock crabs to the mix, Maine board member Steve Train made a motion to go ahead with developing an FMP – but just for Jonah crabs…

Meta Slider - HTML Overlay - CFN_12_14-coverRead the rest of this story and much, much more in the December issue of Commercial Fisheries News.  Buy this issue or Subscribe.   

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