ACTION ALERT: New Jersey Audubon Needs Your Voice

Action Alert

NJ Audubon Action Alerts help to keep you updated on important issues and assist you in making your voice heard.

Please review the following alert and take the recommended action if this is an issue you care about!

New Jersey Audubon Needs Your Voice

New Jersey Audubon opposes the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) proposal to increase the harvest of horseshoe crabs:

  • As a member of the Horseshoe Crab Recovery Coalition, New Jersey Audubon stands in strong opposition to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) plan to change its Horseshoe Crab Fishery Management Plan, a move that would raise quotas on the killing of horseshoe crabs for use as bait by potentially reopening the harvest to include female horseshoe crabs.
  • Under the current framework there is no female crab harvest until female abundance reaches 11.2 million crabs or until the Delaware Bay total red knot stopover population reaches 81,900 birds. The proposed revision would allow the resumption of the female harvest, even though neither the red knot nor female horseshoe crabs of Delaware Bay are close to satisfying either metric.
  • Based on field work, including egg density studies conducted by the Delaware Bay Shorebird Project and other organizations, we do not believe that horseshoe crab populations are recovering from their population crash in the 1990s. Egg density data is the most reliable indicator of the horseshoe crab population, and importantly, it is the most reliable index of value for red knots and other shorebirds. Yet ASMFC has never included these surveys in its modeling. ASMFC also does not include field survey data for Red Knots, and these show that Red Knot populations are at historic lows. In the 1990s, more than 90,000 could be found along Delaware Bay. This year, only 12,000 were counted, and in 2021, the number was estimated at an all-time low of 6,800. Evidence is now emerging that Red Knots are bypassing the Delaware Bay stopover altogether in search of life-sustaining food sources elsewhere. This makes their migratory journey all the more perilous.
  • The joint collapse of red knots and horseshoe crabs is not inevitable. But this proposal propels them closer to that grim reality.

NJ Audubon encourages your comments to ask the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to maintain critical protections for horseshoe crabs. The deadline for public comments is Friday, September 30. Please copy the below into an email to [email protected] – Subject line: Horseshoe Crab Draft Addendum VIII.

I join NJ Audubon in opposing the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) proposal to increase the harvest of horseshoe crabs, including a harvest of females for the first time in over a decade. This action will have a significant impact on the federally threatened Red Knot and other shorebirds that depend on horseshoe crab eggs during spring migration stopovers in Delaware Bay, putting them at risk of further population declines.

Thank you!