Blue Crab Fishery

By Paul , John, Evan , Christian, and Josh

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Background


  • Blue crab are not known to speak to humans, contrary to this popular photo.

  • The Blue Crab tend to live three to four years in Brunswick and reach full maturity in 12-18 months.

  • Food: The Blue Crab eats fish, clams, oysters, mussels, snails, worms, and insects. They are also very cannibalistic.

  • Mating: The Blue Crab mates only in estuaries with low-salinity. Female crabs only mate once in their lifetime. However, a single female can produce up to 8,000,000 eggs in her life.

  • Blue crabs are sexually dimorphic, meaning sexes occur in distinct forms. Males have blue claws and a narrow abdominal apron (referred to as the Washington Monument). Females have red-tipped claws ("painted fingernails") and a broad abdominal apron (referred to as the Capitol dome).
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Georgia Estuary

  • More than 70 percent of Georgia's recreationally and commercially important fishes, crustaceans, and shellfish spend at least part of their lives in estuaries.

  • The major estuaries of Georgia generally connect with the Atlantic Ocean through large bodies of water called sounds, which lie between coastal barrier islands and separate them. From north to south on Georgia's coast, they include Wassaw Sound, Ossabaw Sound, St. Catherines Sound, Sapelo Sound, Doboy Sound, Altamaha Sound, St. Simons Sound, St. Andrews Sound, and Cumberland Sound.

  • Five major Georgia rivers that originate inland and flow to the coast: the Altamaha, Ogeechee, Satilla, Savannah, and St. Marys rivers lead to the Georgia estuaries

Recent Decline

  • Researchers found that a parasite called Hermatodinium Perezi was the reason for the huge decline in Blue Crab in Georgia.

  • According to the researchers, an important part of the puzzle is the effect drought has on the balance of saltwater and freshwater in coastal estuaries. Blue crabs spend most of their lives in brackish water. During a drought, less fresh water comes down the state's rivers to mix with salt water that tides bring in from the Atlantic Ocean. This raises the salt content in coastal estuaries. And it is in water with this higher percentage of salt that Hermatodinium thrives and spreads from crab to crab.

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Blue Crab Fishing

  • Fishing can be done year-round however peak season is in the summer because crabs make their way into shallow water to spawn.
  • ^The above picture depicts a typical crab trap used commercially and its specifications.
  • Recreational crabbing can use the same kind of trap but are limited to 6 at a time.
  • Popular crabbing spots include Tybee Island, Wilmington River, the small town of Darien, Jekyll Island, and cumberland national seashore.

Conservation and Conscious Fishing

In recent years, Georgia has experienced more and more rainfall, which will help the Blue crab get their water back to a more favorable level of salinity. However, it's no question that we are over fishing our waters and inducing an even more harmful effect on their populations not to mention that "Time heals all wound" is something to keep in mind for our crabby friends.

  • The current blue crab regulations are outlined on this website http://www.eregulations.com/georgia/fishing/shrimp-crab-shellfish-bait-minnows/ however I believe we could really add to these rules considering their ineffectiveness.
  • Blue crab is extremely popular however we can't let its popularity cause its eventual extinction, in simpler terms we need to fish for it less and extremely less for a while.
  • Peak season tends to be February to November but fishing is open year-round, for a few years It would be a good idea to give the blue crabs a chance to repopulate by reducing the legal catching season to just 6-months.
  • In addition to shortening the fishable time another important development would be to limit the amount of traps legal for recreational use from 6-3.
  • These mentioned rules are temporary fixes in hopes to give the crabs some breathing room to repopulate. Once they make it back to their 1998 level these rules would naturally subside and only come into play when the population shows significant dips.