horseshoe crabs do not have many natural predators, only sharks and loggerhead
turtles. However, there are other different kinds of threats to the horseshoe
crabs that live in the Delaware Bay. One of the bigger threats is overharvesting.
People are taking too many crabs to be sold and used as conch and eel bait.
People can get as much as $1 for just one female with eggs.
Another big problem is horseshoe crabs sometimes get stranded on the beach.
in Massachusetts have a different kind of problem. Many people in Massachusetts
are concerned about the amount of shellfish that horseshoe crabs eat. So,
since Massachusetts has a home rule law which gives the authority to regulate
shellfishing to the individual coastal community, each town develops
its own rules and regulations, including control of predators such as the
horseshoe crab. In the past while most towns put bounties on horseshoe
crabs, not all did. The bounties were in existence for as long as
anyone can remember, probably a hundred years or more. Some of the
older fishermen have said that the bounty (three cents/tail) ended in the
mid to late sixties when towns began their own predator control programs.
However, at least eight of the fifty five coastal towns still have regulations
requiring fishermen to destroy horseshoe crabs.
Horseshoe crabs remain a heated issue in Massachusetts. One group feels that the crabs are endangered, and any harvest will threaten the crabs and the food supply for shorebirds. Another group feels that the crabs are quite abundant and are a major shellfish predator and need to be controlled.
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