Ecosystem Considerations – MS Blue Crab

Habitat Impacts, Bycatch, and Discards

Habitat Impacts

Crab traps, the dominant gear used by the commercial fishery, are a relatively selective gear and are considered to have low impact on the environment due to static placement and use on low-sensitivity mud bottoms and oyster reefs (Guillory et al. 2001). To reduce habitat damage and to address ghost fishing, MDMR implemented a derelict trap cleanup program and MDMR agents pick up derelict traps on an as needed basis.

Bycatch and Discards

DSC_7643Crab traps do not cause high bycatch mortality and allow for live catch with minimal waste. Across the Gulf of Mexico, 23 finfish species, including recreationally significant species such as spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, and southern flounder have been documented in blue crab traps (Guillory et al. 2001). Other invertebrates may also be caught in traps.

Traps are relatively size-selective and target a limited size range due to the diameter of trap funnels. Mississippi commercial blue crab fishermen cannot keep crabs under 5 inches carapace width. This size limit is excluded for soft shell crabs, but landings of soft shells has been minimal since 2008 (Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center). Additionally, nursery areas have been closed to commercial fishing, minimizing the harvest of undersize crabs. No traps can be placed north of the CSX Bridge in all coastal counties.

Previous: History of Mississippi Blue Crab Fishery                                                                           Next: Species of Concern



Return to MS Blue Crab

Download the Audubon Gulf Seafood Guide mobile app:
Click here for the app tutorial on YouTube.
Sponsored and coordinated by Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Authorized by the five Gulf state marine resource management agencies.
NOAA Award #NA10NMF4770481.