History of Mississippi Blue Crab Fishery

history02While the landings of blue crab from Mississippi may be a small part of total Gulf harvest, they are important to the state both economically and culturally (FINFO). Harvest of blue crabs steadily grew through the mid-2000s, and the fishery is almost exclusively hard shell harvest. Some fishermen independently sell softshell crab. Historically, an average of 61 fishermen participated in the fishery. Licenses have fluctuated since then, and have been as high as 291 in 2010. However, the average number actually participating in the fishery is 52 (Perry and VanderKooy 2015). Landings have fluctuated greatly over the last two decades, and the fishery has been subject to several disasters from 2006-2011, including Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 oil spill, and the opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway in 2011. In 2006, Mississippi landings were around 1.1 million pounds with a value of $927, 000. In 2013, landings were 360, 000 pounds with a value of $416, 000 (NOAA OST). The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) has projects in the proposal phase that are based on receiving future fishery disaster funds from 2011. These projects will utilize the blue crab fishermen and focus on improving blue crab habitat (personal communication).


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