New Jersey's 8th Legislative District

Senator Jean Stanfield

Senator Jean Stanfield

Stanfield Resolution Protecting Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crabs Clears Senate

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The Senate today advanced a bipartisan resolution sponsored by Senator Jean Stanfield and Senator Bob Smith that would help protect the horseshoe crab population in the Delaware Bay.

The Senate advanced a bipartisan resolution sponsored by Sen. Jean Stanfield and Sen. Bob Smith that would help protect the horseshoe crab population in the Delaware Bay. (Pixabay)

New Jersey has a moratorium on the harvesting of horseshoe crabs, but the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission ASMFC, which has managed the crab population in the Delaware Bay since 2013, approved a policy change in January that may allow for harvesting female horseshoe crabs.

Stanfield’s resolution (SR-67) urges the ASMFC to continue prohibiting the harvest of female horseshoe crabs, except for research or vaccine development.

“Lifting the female crab harvesting ban is a bad idea that could jeopardize the fragile Delaware Bay ecosystem,” said Senator Stanfield (R-8). “Female crabs make up less than 25 percent of the bay’s horseshoe crab population, and the survival of the 350-million-year-old species rests in the balance. This is an unnecessary risk with potentially devastating results.

“The Delaware Bay is the spawning ground for the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world,” Stanfield continued. “The commission should think twice about removing the vital protections in the bay.”

While several bird and many fish species feed on horseshoe crabs and their eggs, humans benefit most from the crabs’ blood. It is a vital ingredient in a compound used by pharmaceutical companies to test drugs for purity, ensuring that bacteria and other pathogens are not tainting the medicine.

“Every drug manufacture depends on the blood of horseshoe crabs to ensure medications are free of potentially deadly bacterial toxins,” said Stanfield. “Crab blood played a key role in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. Health care in this country and across the globe relies on a robust horseshoe crab population.”

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