Speak Up: Responses to horseshoe crab question


The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission announced that it will not adopt a proposed bait harvest for female horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay. Crab numbers have plummeted since the 1990s, and many had expressed alarm on the effect the harvest would have on declining numbers of red knots, which feed on the eggs of the crabs during their migration. What should the state of Delaware and the fishery commission do to protect the crab, the red knot and other wildlife in and around the Delaware Bay?

  • When they are gone, they will be gone. Conservation now to preserve what we have is important and needed. Take care of our beaches and animal life now to ensure future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy them, as well. With a little bit of effort now, we can enjoy the future for some time. — Vincent J. Deskiewicz Sr.
  • Birding is a huge attraction for tourism, as well as for Delaware citizens, in part because of the horseshoe crabs and migratory birds they attract. The harvest of horseshoe crabs is depleting a needed food source for the threatened red knot shorebird. Delaware should put a moratorium on the harvest to allow the red knot population to recover. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission should also do all in its power to promote a larger, stable horseshoe crab population and protect female horseshoe crabs from harvest until populations stabilize at higher levels. — Audrey Lyke
  • In the early 1970s, then-Gov. Russell W. Peterson organized citizen scientists around the goal of preserving Delaware’s pristine coastline for posterity. Back then, the issue concerned heavy industry spoiling Delaware’s natural wonders. Today, the issue is the same. Will Delaware squander its unique gift as host to one of nature’s most extraordinary natural events, the symbiotic relationship between a living fossil and one of the world’s longest migrants? Delaware should be doing everything in its legislative power to preserve the horseshoe crab and red knot. — Nancy Carol Willis
  • The moratorium on harvesting horseshoe crabs for fish bait would be an obvious first step in preservation. — Jim Green
  • The aftermath of the overkill of horseshoe crabs during the 1990s resulted in an extreme example of environmental injustice. The fishing industry, the party responsible for the horseshoe crab crash and the near disappearance of the red knot, was given license to dictate the terms of the rectification. Rather than being required by Delaware to make indemnification for the harm that was caused, the industry was allowed to set the terms by which it would continue to deplete the population of horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has made it crystal clear that recovery of the red knot is not its concern. It ought to be a concern of the state of Delaware because the disappearance of the red knot from the Delaware Bay shoreline negatively impacts the state’s tourism industry. The depressed horseshoe crab population has already taken a toll on the state’s sportfishing industry. Delaware has nothing to gain by continuing to allow a horseshoe crab bait harvest, but it has much to lose. Delaware must implement a horseshoe crab bait harvest moratorium during the 2023 legislative session, while there still is a chance to prevent the star attraction red knot from reaching the point of no return. — Delaware Audubon Society
  • Ban the harvesting of horseshoe crabs until the red knot is removed from the endangered list and then decide whether to allow it or not. — Franklin Newton
  • Close the beaches to trucks and pedestrians. — Charlie Harper
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