Position Statement on The Negative Effects of Maryland Style Crab Pots on Diamondback Terrapin Populations and the Use Bycatch Reduction Devicesas a Practical, Inexpensive Solution
Diamondback Terrapins are estuarine turtles whose range and habitat overlaps with the use of blue crab traps (also referred to as “crab pots” in some parts of the country) used widely in the commercial and recreational harvest of blue crabs. Crab traps have been shown to substantially, negatively affect terrapin populations in multiple states, and the bycatch problem with crab traps is pervasive throughout the terrapin’s range along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Massachusetts to Texas. In every study to date, a simple bycatch reduction device (BRD) has been shown to reduce terrapin bycatch mortality in crab traps, with the net crab catch across all studies largely unchanged. Therefore, it is the position of the Diamondback Terrapin Working Group (DTWG) that all commercial and recreational blue crab traps be fitted with a BRD on each entrance funnel into the crab trap. Further, all states with commercial and recreational blue crab fisheries within the range of the Diamondback Terrapin must have regulations requiring all blue crab traps manufactured, sold, or used within the state to be fitted with BRDs when fished. Finally, states should enforce BRD compliance with routine checks of commercial and recreational crab traps when fished.
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