By Priscilla Feral
Originally published in The Stamford Advocate
Friends of Animals has been asked over and over recently why Atlantic horseshoe crabs are killed in Connecticut. A bill to stop their seasonal slaughter, which FoA helped draft, has been introduced by Rep. Joe Gresko (D-Stratford) and is now moving through the legislature.
Connecticut residents are shocked when we explain to them horseshoe crabs are chopped up into pieces by fishers to bait eel and whelk pots so people can eat conch fritters and smoked eel. There are currently 16 commercial bait fishers licensed to kill horseshoe crabs in the state. Each one could kill a staggering 4,950 horseshoe crabs this season.
In addition, hundreds of thousands of horseshoe crabs living up and down the Eastern Seaboard are rounded up each year by pharmaceutical companies. They are drained of much of their blood — used to develop vaccines — and returned to the ocean, after which many die. While horseshoe crabs are currently not being rounded up for their blood in Connecticut, they could be targeted in the future, which is why it is crucial this year’s bill move forward without a carve-out for the pharmaceutical industry.