History of Texas Blue Crab Fishery

In Texas, blue crab is the second-most commercially important species (Sutton and Wagner 2007). In 2013, approximately 1.9 million pounds were landed with a value of $2.3 million (NOAA OST). The commercial crab fishery of Texas consists primarily of the hard shell blue crab, with a small portion of the fishery comprising stone crab claws and soft shell crab. Stone crab claws encompass only about 1% of total crab landed in Texas in pounds, but can account for 3-5% of total value of crab landings (NOAA OST). The fishery is conducted primarily with wire-coated traps, which account for 99% of catch. Shrimp trawl bycatch of blue crab accounts for less than 1% of total commercial blue crab landings. Other gears, such as crab lines, are legal but essentially unused in the commercial fishery. Texas blue crab fishermen constitute 3-10% of total blue crabbers in the region. Landings of crab in Texas peaked in 1989 at approximately 11 million pounds, which was about 17% of total landings across the Gulf. In 1994, there were 345 blue crab license holders in Texas, but that number has steadily dropped. In 1998, Texas implemented the Crab License Management Program due to con­cerns of resource overutilization, resulting in a 28% reduction in licenses from 1998-2005 (Sutton and Wagner 2007). In 2011, landings were about 3 million pounds and 5% of total Gulf landings.


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