Jonah crab has long been considered a bycatch of the lobster industry. In recent years, however, markets for Jonah crab have increased, causing concern that targeted fishing pressure will compromise the health of the fishery.
Jonah crab has no stock assessment or fishery management plan of its own, due in part to limited data on its population, growth rates, distribution, and sexual maturity. In addition, the limited dealer reports available often don’t differentiate by species, confusing Jonah crab (Cancer borealis) with rock crab (Cancer irroatus).
As Jonah crab increases in value to the region, protecting the resource from decimation becomes progressively important. According to NMFS data, 4,089.8 mt of Jonah crab was landed in New England in 2011 with a total ex-vessel value of $5,530,388. In fact, the harvest has increased steadily over the past decade. While Maine lands the greatest amount of lobster in New England, Massachusetts, followed by Rhode Island, has landed the greatest amount of Jonah crab in the region for the past three years. In 2011, Massachusetts landed 2,440.30 mt of Jonah crab, Rhode Island landed 1,152.30 mt, Maine landed 497.10 mt, and Connecticut landed 0.1 mt.
FIP Work Group
Chair: Ray Swenton, Bristol Seafood
David Borden, Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association
Josanna Busby, Delhaize America
Lanny Dellinger, Rhode Island Lobstermen’s Association
Bill Gerencer, M.F. Foley Company
Bryan Holden, Cape Seafood LLC
Derek Perry, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
David Spencer, F/V Nathaniel Lee
Steve Train, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
Rick Wahle, University of Maine
Jon Williams, The Atlantic Red Crab Company
Jonah Crab Work Plan
The FIP Work Plan was informed by an MSC pre-assessment that was commissioned by the Work Group.