Ecosystem Considerations – Species of Concern – MS Blue Crab

Species of Concern

DBT_Maritime Aquarium and Norwalk

Diamondback terrapin

Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) share some habitat with blue crabs, and concerns have been raised by environmental groups over incidental catch and mortality of terrapins in blue crab traps. There are several subspecies of terrapin across its range, which extends along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Mississippi diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin pileata) is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Mississippi and is included as a Tier 2 species of high priority in Mississippi’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. It is illegal to take, possess, transport,  purchase, or sell diamondback terrapins in the state of Mississippi (MS Code 49-5-107). MDMR has encouraged the use of terrapin excluder devices (TEDs) in crab traps on a voluntary basis, distributing them free of charge during blue crab license sales (Gulf Coast Research Lab 2007). As of October 2014, MDMR had distributed over 13, 000 TEDs to commercial and recreational fishermen. MDMR representatives,  through the GSMFC Crab subcommittee, are working with the Gulf Coast Region Diamondback Terrapin Working Group to discuss potential management options for reducing diamondback terrapins mortality in crab traps and a meeting between the two groups occurred in February of 2015. The Diamondback Terrain Working Group is also working with the blue crab industry and managers across the Gulf of Mexico to address concerns of terrapin interactions and mortality in blue crab traps (Diamondback Terrain Working Group).

Marine mammals

NOAA’s Office of Protected Resources considers the Gulf of Mexico blue crab fishery as a Category III (remote likelihood/no known) threat based on the level of interaction with marine mammals (NOAA Office of Protected Resources).


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