Predating dinosaurs, the horseshoe crab has roamed the earth for 445 million years, surviving five mass extinctions and three ice ages, but overfishing and habitat loss pose the greatest challenge yet to the survival of Long Island Sound’s “living fossils.”
A new state ban on horseshoe crab harvests aims to turn the keystone species’ declining numbers around.
Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, a nonprofit that helped draft the new law, said that she is hopeful the total ban on horseshoe crab harvesting will give the population a fighting chance to recover.
“There are 15 anglers that had licenses to capture horseshoe crabs. Those 15 are not getting licenses anymore. They won’t have permits. They won’t have motivation — that sets the stride for what should happen,” Feral said.
New Jersey implemented its own ban in 2008 and other harvesting restrictions are in place in Delaware and South Carolina. Feral said the next step is to “complete the picture for Long Island Sound” and get New York on board.
“We’re working with New York legislators to get it done in New York, too. It’s going to be tougher there. We know they’re already nervous about the progress, but Connecticut leads the nation and I think it’s critically important for the birds, for the crabs, and for humanity,” Feral said.