Fishery Interactions – MS Blue Crab

Recreational Interactions

Recreational blue crabbing is allowed in Mississippi with a maximum of six traps per household (MDMR). However, other recreational fishing methods are used for blue crabs,  including dip nets and lines baited with chicken necks. Recreational crab fishermen cannot keep a crab less than five inches carapace width, and there is no bag limit. However, traps are limited to six per household (Guide to Mississippi Saltwater Fishing). Additionally, there is conflict between recreational fishermen and the blue crab industry over derelict crab traps. MDMR’s efforts and volunteer clean ups have greatly reduced the number of derelict traps in Mississippi waters (Derelict Trap Task Force 2008).

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 loss of catch (Guillory et al. 2001). MDMR has taken several steps to reduce these conflicts: implementing the Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program to reduce the number of lost traps that may interact with the trawl fishery, a trap tag system requiring the ID of trap owner be placed on each trap, buoy and line requirements on traps for more easy identification in the water and prevention of floating lines, and areas of restricted use for both the crab and the shrimp fishery which reduces navigational hazards and fishery interactions (Derelict Trap Task Force 2008, MDMR Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program, MDMR 2013). In Mississippi, licensed commercial shrimping boats are limited to three dozen blue crabs for personal consumption and must adhere to recreational size limits (Guide to Mississippi Saltwater Fishing). 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).


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