Fisheries Regulators Choose Short-term Economic Interest Over Species Survival

For Immediate Release

American Bird Conservancy
Contact: 

Darin Schroeder, American Bird Conservancy
202 234-7181 ext 209
dschroeder@abcbirds.org

Gavin Shire, American Bird Conservancy
202 234-7181 ext 207
gshire@abcbirds.org

Fisheries Regulators Choose Short-term Economic Interest Over Species Survival

WASHINGTON - Today the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries
Commission's (ASMFC) Horseshoe Crab Management Board once again failed to take
the necessary action of approving a moratorium on horseshoe crab fishing in key
states. In doing so, they acquiesced to the short-term interests of a few crab
fishermen while ignoring the immediate and long-term needs of an imperiled
shorebird, which relies on the crabs' eggs for its survival.

Instead of imposing
a ban on horseshoe crab take, the board opted to maintain current fishing
quotas, still permitting each state to take 100,000 male crabs per year.

 "By maintaining
harvest levels rather than adopting a temporary moratorium on all horseshoe
crab take, the Commission has dangerously underestimated the needs of both the
crab and the Red Knot," said Darin Schroeder, Vice President for Conservation
Advocacy at American Bird Conservancy. "The ASMFC Management Board has failed
to live up to its responsibility as an environmental steward, and ignored the
Red Knot's economic benefits. Each year birdwatchers flock to beaches in
Delaware, New Jersey, and Virginia to see the staging birds. Soon, there could
be no more knots to watch, and it will be too late to act."

The knot relies
almost entirely on horseshoe crab eggs during an annual stopover in Delaware
Bay on its arduous 10,000 mile migration from the tip of South America to the
Arctic. Without the fat-rich diet of horseshoe crab eggs, the bird's ability to
successfully complete its long-distance migration to its breeding grounds in
the Arctic is severely compromised. A drastic increase in the take of horseshoe
crabs in the mid-1990s for use as bait in conch pots has significantly
diminished their numbers in the Bay, and consequently the bird's food supply.
The decrease has jeopardized the Red Knot to the point where scientists have
predicted that it could go extinct as soon as 2010.

"There is a
fundamental change required at the ASMFC Management Board. Their inadequate and
blinkered mandate needs to be widened to include all marine resources
affected by their actions, not just limited commercial interests," said
Schroeder.

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