Industry Recommendation 1: Create an Organized Industry Group for Blue Crab


In order for proposed rule changes to move forward, TPWD and TPWC weigh the level of industry support on various issues to determine whether or not a change should be implemented. There is an annual public hearing held by TPWC each August where members of the public can bring issues of concern to the attention of the Commission. By having an official blue crab industry organiza­tion whose members are elected by their peers, groups could discuss issues and ideas for change amongst the industry, make public comment at TPWC hearings, and more efficiently work with TWPD and TPWC towards modifying regulations.

Other fisheries in Texas have industry-led organizations that may serve as examples for the blue crab fishery regarding the structure and benefits of such groups. For example, The Port Arthur Area Shrimpers’ Association is one pre-existing fishermen’s organization that is active in professional education. Run by the Port Arthur International Seafarer’s Center, the group organizes industry meetings to provide updates on regulations, safety trainings, and boat and gear inspections. Port Arthur is also an active area for the blue crab industry, and the Port Arthur Area Shrimpers’ Associa­tion is open to the development of a division for crabbers within the Association. Another example of an industry-led fishermen’s organization in Texas is the Texas Shrimp Association, which educates consumers, lawmakers and others about the importance of the Gulf shrimp industry.

In the past, TWPD and TPWC have convened species-specific committees of stakeholders to dis­cuss certain issues, but they have been dissolved once the issue is addressed. One example is the Blue Crab Advisory Committee (BCAC). The BCAC was created to assist in the development and implementation of the Blue Crab Management Plan, but the committee is no longer active. TPWD does maintain a Coastal Resources Advisory Committee (CRAC) comprised of several stakeholder groups, including recreational and commercial fishermen. The CRAC meets a few times a year to advise TPWD on a variety of coastal issues, including proposed fishery regulations. Currently, of the approximately 25 members on the CRAC, few are commercial fishermen, and there is no represen­tation from the blue crab fishery.

*NOTE* Only the Chair of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission can designate official advisory committees. The proposed industry group would function as an independent working group.

Many of the recommendations resulting from the SBR and industry interviews for the blue crab fishery of Texas would be best addressed by a group of organized fishers and stakeholders. The issues addressed include:

1.  Better notification of regulation changes across all recreational and commercial fisheries in Texas.

Changes in one fishery may impact a different fishery, and several industry members expressed concern over not knowing when regulations have changed. An industry group could serve the role of disseminating new information on fisheries that may impact the blue crab fishery.

2. Representation at TPWC and TPWD meetings to voice concerns for the industry and make recommendations for industry improvement.

Regulation changes, such as a change to stone crab regulation allowing the take of either the right or left crusher claw, need industry support during public comment at meetings.

3. A forum for the sale of blue crab licenses.

Blue crab in Texas is a limited entry fishery, and TWPD is not issuing any new licenses. If a fisherman is interested in selling his or her license, he or she can either sell it to an interested person, or sell it back to TPWD through the License Buyback Program. Currently, word of mouth is the only way a fisherman indicates his or her intention to sell the license. An organized industry group could serve people getting into the fishery, by connecting someone interested in buying a license with someone looking to sell one.

4. Increased marketing of blue crab.

Marketing initiatives through the organization (such as social media, branding, and networking) can serve to raise the profile of the fishery and increase market access. Formal marketing for Texas products is done through the Texas Department of Agriculture. TPWD does not have authority to address seafood marketing. Currently, shrimp is the only seafood marketed by the Texas Department of Agriculture, and the money that funds this marketing is drawn directly from shrimp licenses.

5. Predation concerns due to increases in populations of finfish.

During interviews, several industry members raised concerns that increased populations of game fish may be impacting blue crab populations. Blue crab are a common prey item for many species of finfish, including red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), black drum (Pogonias cromis), Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), gafftopsail catfish (Bagre marinus), and hardhead catfish (Ariopsis felis). (See Predation for more detail.) An industry group can act as a liaison for the blue crab fishery. Leaders within this group could coordinate a meeting with TPWD to address the need for further research on the effect of game fish and other finfish populations on blue crab abundance.

6. Addressing stone crab claw take.

Interviews with several industry members indicated that when blue crab harvest is low, stone crab claws provide a valuable resource for fishermen to maintain business until blue crab harvest increases. By changing current regulation, which only allow the harvest of the right claw, to permit harvest of only the crusher claw from either the right or left side, fishermen can always harvest the more valuable claw and have a steadier stream of income. A proposal by the blue crab industry, with several members present to voice their support, is more likely to result in a regulation change.


1. Create a sub-division of the Port Arthur Area Shrimpers’ Association that is for the blue crab industry.
2. Engage Sea Grant in the process of formalizing a blue crab industry group.
3. Better publication/notification of management and industry group meetings so that broader representation can be present.
4. Explore other meeting areas outside of Port Arthur to make the group more geographically inclusive.
5. Submit a proposal to TPWC to include a commercial blue crab fishermen on the existing CRAC.


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