Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Division of Marine Fisheries
251 Causeway Street, Suite 400
Boston, MA 02114
Fax (617) 626.1509
July 14, 2006
As specified in 322 CMR 6.34, the Division of Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries), with
approval of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission (MFC), is closing the bait fishery for
horseshoe crabs in the Pleasant Bay/Little Pleasant Bay complex effective Monday, July 17,
2006 through the remainder of 2006. The Pleasant Bay/Little Pleasant Bay complex includes Chatham Harbor North, Pochet Creek, Round Cove, Bassing Harbor, Ryders Cove, Crows Pond, Frostfish Creek, Muddy Creek, Quanset Pond, Namequoit River and Paw Wah Pond (see map below). This emergency action is necessary to ensure the sustainable management of the horseshoe crab fishery in the Pleasant Bay system. Note that this closure does not affect the biomedical horseshoe crab fishery, which may continue to harvest horseshoe crabs in these areas for biomedical applications. Harvesters collecting horseshoe crabs exclusively for use by the biomedical industry are reminded of the requirement to release horseshoe crabs alive in the area of capture.
MarineFisheries recently became aware of a substantial increase in bait horseshoe crab landings; horseshoe crab landings in the bait fishery increased from a reported 194 crabs in 2001 to 25,199 crabs in 2005. Although this increased harvest is seen in many areas of the Commonwealth, the spike in landings in Pleasant Bay indicate that current harvest in the Pleasant Bay/Little Pleasant Bay complex has reached a level of effort that is not sustainable. Furthermore, a majority of harvesters are failing to report their harvest levels within the required reporting periods, complicating effective management of a sustainable fishery.