Management Recommendation 1: Population Analysis and Management Document Updates



TPWD annually monitors the blue crab stock based on trend reports of independent sampling data and landings from the Trip Ticket Program. There is no formal schedule for full stock assessments of blue crab in Texas waters, and assessment updates are conducted as-needed based on priority of available resources.

The first and most recent quantitative assessment for Texas blue crab was conducted in 2007. Ref­erence points, in the form of EMSY, were determined and used informally by management to support continuation of effort reduction programs (Blue Crab License Buyback Program). Blue crab license numbers have now reached a level below the EMSY determined by the 2007 assessment. Since 2007, there have been advances in assessment techniques and modeling. Therefore, an updated stock assessment could now include additional factors, such as environmental influences and pre­dation, which were not addressed in the 2007 assessment. It is recommended that TPWD update the assessment to account for changes in the fishery since 2007.

There is a Texas Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan (Cody et al. 1992) in place for the fishery; however, this plan has not been updated since it was adopted in 1992 and significant changes have occurred in the fishery since that time. An updated stock assessment report for the Texas blue crab fishery would also serve as a document updating management goals and objectives for the fishery, presenting management options based on information provided through the assessment update.


GSMFC is a regional organization that coordinates fisheries management between state and feder­al management agencies across the Gulf of Mexico. GSMFC is not an authoritative entity, but can make recommendations to the Gulf States regarding the management of fisheries. TPWD currently collaborates and participates in regional research with GSMFC. GSMFC also coordinates a crab subcommittee under its Interjurisdicitonal Fisheries Program (IJF).

The GDAR01 regional assessment was completed through GSMFC in 2013 (data through 2011) with cooperation of TPWD staff, and found Texas blue crab to fall within a larger Western GOM stock that includes Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. At this time, reviewers of the GDAR01 and the GSMFC TCC Crab subcommittee agree that stock definitions are based on limited data; more research and analysis are required before regional stock determinations are adopted. Given these findings, the stock-wide reference points developed in the GDAR are a valuable tool in continued inter-state collaboration, but do not provide state-specific references for management needs. Until such time as research fully supports regional management units, blue crab stocks should be man­aged locally, especially given the short lifespan and immediate effects of local pressure on popula­tions. Therefore, we recommend that TPWD move forward with an updated state assessment until such time as a regional assessment and management plan is able to effectively meet management needs.


1. Conduct an updated stock assessment for Texas blue crab, including factors such as predation and environmental influences.
2. Determine an assessment cycle for regular updates of TX blue crab population analysis.
3. Continue collaboration on research through the GSMFC IJF program to determine biological stock definitions.
4. Update management objectives/goals for the fishery (based on population update) into a revised or new management document.
5. Publish updated management document in Management Data Series.


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