Page 9 - June 23, 2021
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{ 8 }  SNJ Today  |  JUNE 23, 2021                                                                                   JUNE 23, 2021  |   { 9 }
     dant in the remaining suitable habitat. But   earthworms or mining organic matter from                        studying crabs, conducted a gut content
     the egg densities tell another story. Currently   the soil while growing a crop. Imagine a                    study of all fish in the Delaware Bay. Nearly
     there are only 8,000 eggs per square meter   farmer who does nothing to nurture a crop                        all fish and shellfish ate horseshoe crab eggs
     versus a capability of 50,000 eggs. Egg den-  and then wonders why it fails.                                  and young. However, small fish like killifish,
     sities will grow only if the killing of female   So how can this be fixed? As part of the                     the so-called forage fish, ate the lion’s share
     horseshoe crabs ends.                ASMFC ARM committee, I have worked                                       of horseshoe crab eggs. Killifish serve as for-
        Climate change will also be blamed. And   for over 20 years with regulatory and fed-                       age for all the fish we love to eat, so if we lose
     it is indeed an existential threat to all life.   eral agencies to recover horseshoe crabs                    the horseshoe crabs, it impacts many fisher-
     Still, horseshoe crabs breed from Florida   by limiting harvest quotas. Unfortunately                         ies and communities up the food chain.
     to New Hampshire, so ocean warming   it hasn’t worked, because the agency has                                    For example, until the 1990s, just before
     changes nothing for crabs except distribu-  little idea of who is killing 1.4 million adult                   the horseshoe crab overharvest, recreational
     tion, and the Delaware Bay will always   female crabs every year. This is because all                         and commercial fishers took over 3 million
     remain the crab’s preferred habitat. The   the agencies, state and federal, fail a basic                      pounds of weakfish each year. Now they
     bay is relatively shallow, allowing quick   lesson in ecology, one all farmers would                          take 40,000 pounds a year. As the weakfish
     warming to optimal water temperature.   understand. To harvest, you must sow. The                             fishery collapsed, so did many marinas, tack-
     Mostly unpopulated beaches surround   only way to grow the crab population is to                              le stores, and restaurants. These businesses
     the bay, providing a near-perfect blend of   stop the killing altogether.                                     fell because a few horseshoe crab harvesters
     naturally coarse sand, good tidal range, and   Just like any living system , an ecosys-                       used the crabs to make extraordinary prof-
     mostly gentle wave action. It’s no accident   tem must be nurtured. We cannot sell off                        its. Most of these profits went to investors
     the Delaware Bay still has the largest popu-  the herring, shad, eels, squid, menhaden,                       and politicians (Republican and Democrat),
     lation of horseshoe crabs in the world.   and yes, horseshoe crabs without regard to                          not to the fishermen who risked all or
        The Delaware Bay is dominated by one   the impact on the marine ecosystem and                              to the communities who once depended
     of the country’s most prosperous ports   still expect the bay to magically produce                            upon them. No one considers the impact of
 and focused on Delaware Bay females.   which treats all levels of the bay’s food   abundant weakfish, stripers, flounder, and   marine overharvests on local communities.
 The ASMFC management board argued chain as marketable commodities with lit-  shorebirds. The overharvest of horseshoe   There are many ways to help the red
 that the harvest could not harm a popula- tle regard for maintaining that ecosystem.   crabs is especially destructive.   knot and the Delaware Bay stopover, but
 tion the size of Delaware Bay’s horseshoe  Everything is sold off, mostly to foreign   Recovery of the bay’s productive base   there is only one that will create results:
 crabs, but the data tells another story.   markets—eels, menhaden, conch, herring,   is crucial to all people living on the bay.    Stop killing female crabs in all states,
 When the horseshoe crab population   nearly all the basic building blocks of a   In 1969 Carl Shuster, an academic at the   GRAPHIC: CU MAURICE RIVER AH WHY   from Virginia to Massachusetts, as soon
 crashed 20 years ago, the ASMFC initiated  productive biome. It’s like farmers selling   University of Delaware who spent his career   KNOT WINNER THEO DIEHL  as possible. n
 the Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Trawl,
 a dedicated at-sea survey. Numbers fluctu-
 ated, at times showing improvements, but
 currently the survey numbers are no differ-
 ent than when the crash occurred.
 The success of this survey is its longev-
 ity. During its 20-year life, Virginia Tech
 used the data to estimate the size of the
 population each year. Over time they have
 shown that, on average, 1.4 million new
 adult females per year mature into the              What We Do
 adult population. After nine years of matu-          Financial Planning
 ration these new females should be driving              Investments
 population growth, yet the number of adult             Mutual Funds
 females stays the same.                               Income Planning
 Why do numbers of mature female horse-                  Tax Planning
 shoe crabs fail to increase? Because someone           Medicare Plans
 or something is killing females as fast as they         Fixed Rates
 mature. The regulatory and federal agen-                401K, 403B
 cies are happy to make bold assumptions in            Wealth Transfers
 estimating the quotas to kill crabs, but no one       Charitable Giving
 explains or offers data to explain this funda-       Trust Management
 mental data conflict. Instead, the agency’s          Retirement Planning
 management board ignores it. Usually, they            Educational Plans
                                                        Life Insurance
 resort to the usual litany of causes and pro-         Health Insurance
 vide no data or reasonable justification. The        Disability Insurance
 ASMFC management board often cites habi-  609-852-2470  Long Term Care
 tat loss, ignoring the decades-long beach res-
 toration projects conducted in New Jersey.   Investment products and advisory services are offered through Sorrento Pacific Financial, LLC.(Member FINRA /SIPC) and SEC
 The habitat loss argument also fails basic   Registered Investment Advisor.Shore Wealth Management, LLC is not affiliated with Sorrento Pacific Financial, LLC.
 wildlife science. If crabs were being limited   WWW.SHOREWEALTH.COM
 by habitat loss, the crabs would be overabun-
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