A Test of Bycatch Reduction Devices on Commercial Crab Pots in a Tidal Marsh Creek in Virginia
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The effectiveness of bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) on commercial pots designed to capture blue crabs Callinectes sapidus was tested in the York River on Felgates Creek (37.2667 N, −76.5850 W) over the period 4 June through 31 July 2009. For each of 10 pairs of pots, one had BRDs affixed to all four entrance gapes and the other had none. Pots were baited approximately once each week but were sampled for blue crabs and bycatch 6 of 7 days each week for the duration of the study. More than one fourth of 1,643 total crabs were caught on the first day after baiting, and for these 7 days, no statistical difference was detected between either the number or size of legal-size crabs caught in BRD versus non-BRD pots. Of 51 Malaclemys terrapin and 44 fish caught as bycatch throughout the study, all but three fish were captured in non-BRD pots. BRDs exclude bycatch and may reduce incidental mortality of crabs in pots that are not tended regularly.
KeywordsDiamondback terrapin Excluder Recreational crabbing
Thanks to B. Bronner and T. Russell for field assistance and to the Chesapeake Program Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit, J. Pulver and C. Wilson, DoD/Navy Chesapeake Bay Program, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Environmental for logistical support. Funding for A. S. Morris, E.F. Dever, and S.M. Wilson came from the W&M Monroe Scholars Program, a DTWG research grant, and an HHMI Science Education Program grant to the College of William and Mary, respectively.
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