Fishery Interactions – AL Blue Crab

Recreational Interactions

Due to Alabama’s short coastline and an increase in water related activities, the possibility for user group conflicts has risen. Recreational blue crabbing is allowed in Alabama with a maximum of five traps. However, other recreational fishing methods are used for blue crabs, including dip nets and lines baited with chicken necks.

Commercial Interactions

Interactions between crab and shrimp gear are common. Blue crab is a bycatch species in shrimp trawls (Fuls et al. 2002), and gear interactions can be a source of conflict between the fisheries. Crab traps, either actively fishing or ghost fishing, are sometimes caught in shrimp trawls, which can cause damage to nets and lose of catch (Guillory et al. 2001). In Alabama, licensed recreational shrimp boats can keep a one-gallon container per boat per day of blue crabs for bait. Commercial shrimping boats are limited to one five-gallon container of legal size crabs in possession per boat unless the operator possesses a valid commercial “crab catcher’s” license. Shrimp trawl bycatch of blue crab was once thought to be a significant source of removal, but reduction in effort along with federal regulations for bycatch reduction devices in shrimp trawls put into place in the 1990s have decreased shrimp trawl bycatch (VanderKooy 2013). Additionally, ADCNR implemented several closed nursery areas for shrimp. Some of these areas are active crab fishing grounds and, though the primary intent is to protect shrimp nursery grounds, they do reduce the amount of interaction between the crab and shrimp fisheries (Ala. Admin. Code, r. 220-2.42 (1)).

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