DEEP: Revised 2007 Guidelines for the Commercial Hand-Harvest of Horseshoe Crabs

Revised 2007 Guidelines for the Commercial Hand-Harvest of Horseshoe Crabs

4/18/2007

New regulations that became effective March 1, 2007 implemented significant changes to the Connecticut horseshoe crab hand-harvest fishery. In addition to the existing requirement of a commercial license to take horseshoe crabs by hand, the new regulations implement limited entry to the hand-harvest fishery in the form of endorsement letters, changes to the open season, closed areas and clarified restrictions on the use of tools and assistants.

Eligibility:

In order to engage in the horseshoe crab hand-harvest fishery, a person must possess both:

1. a valid commercial license that allows the hand-harvest of horseshoe crabs (either a Commercial Finfish License or a Commercial Horseshoe Crab Hand Harvest License), and

2. a Horseshoe Crab Hand-Harvest Endorsement Letter bearing the license holder’s name.

Both of these items must be immediately available for inspection by law enforcement officers when engaged in the hand-harvest of horseshoe crabs.

Endorsement Letters:

Horseshoe Crab Hand-Harvest Endorsement Letters will be issued annually only to fishermen who possessed a commercial license that allowed the hand harvest of horseshoe crabs during the horseshoe crab open season in at least one year from 1999 through 2006, and who reported in their Commercial Fisheries Catch Logbooks the hand-harvest and landings of horseshoe crabs during at least one of those open seasons.

2007 Horseshoe Crab Hand-Harvest Endorsement Letters have been mailed to qualified fishermen. If you do not receive an endorsement letter or are denied a letter, you may request reconsideration in writing to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection. Requests for reconsideration must be sent to the DEP Marine Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 719, Old Lyme, CT, and must be received by July 1, 2007. The only cause for reconsideration is that the Department erred in concluding that the license holder did not meet the criteria above. Catch reports received by the Department after the date of the regulation public hearing (November 13, 2006) will not constitute grounds for reconsideration.

Commercial Fishery Season:

No person shall harvest horseshoe crabs from the waters of this state or, regardless of where such animals are taken, possess live horseshoe crabs on the waters of this state or on any parcel of land, structure, or portion of a roadway abutting tidal waters of this state from July 8 of any year through May 21 of the next year, inclusive. During the open period from May 22 through July 7, inclusive, no person shall take horseshoe crabs on the waters or shores of this state or on any parcel of land, structure, or portion of a roadway abutting tidal waters of this state from 06:00 pm on any Friday through 06:00 pm on the following Sunday, inclusive (weekend closure).

Closed Areas:

No person shall engage in the hand-harvest of horseshoe crabs from the following areas:

(1) Menunketesuck Island in Westbrook; and

(2) the region known as Sandy Point in West Haven from the West Haven boat ramp on Beach Street south to, and clockwise around said point, including the breakwater, tidal flats and embayment and southeastern facing barrier beach to the groin adjacent to the intersection of Beach Street and Morse Avenue; and

(3) the region known as Milford Point in Milford, Connecticut, including all beaches and adjacent sand bars and tidal flats to the west of, and including, the spit that lies south-southeast of the southern terminus of Francis Street.

Possession Limit:

In the hand-harvest fishery, the limit is 500 crabs per license holder per 24-hour period that begins at 12:00 noon.

Restrictions on Tools:

The use of any tool, including, but not limited to, nets, rakes, tongs, hooks, poles, gaffs or spears to take horseshoe crabs is prohibited. However, the license holder may wear gloves.

Assistants:

Any person that does not hold both a commercial license to take horseshoe crabs by hand and a Horseshoe Crab Hand-Harvest Endorsement Letter is prohibited from entering the water to assist a person so licensed and endorsed. Such unlicensed or unendorsed persons are not prohibited from carrying crabs that have been placed on the beach by the license holder to a storage container or vehicle or taking crabs from a license holder for storage while remaining in a boat.

Reporting Requirements

All fishing activity must be reported monthly in the Connecticut Commercial Fishing Catch Logbooks supplied with your license (even fishing effort that results in no catch). A logbook must be filled out at the end of each trip and horseshoe crabs must be reported in numbers of animals, not in pounds. Reports must be submitted to the Department by the 10th of the following month regardless of whether horseshoe crabs were taken. A report indicating "did not fish" for the month is required if you did not engage in any fishing activity.

Fishermen who sell their catch out-of state, on consignment, or directly to the public, must now report those transactions (date, port landed, quantity, price, market category and disposition) to the DEP. In the case of direct sale to the public, modifications have been made to the logbook to eliminate the need for a separate report.

If you are selling on consignment, you must contact the DEP Marine Fisheries Division for further information on how to report.

Failure to report or submitting incomplete reports will disqualify you from obtaining a renewal of your license. For information or assistance regarding your reporting requirements, contact the DEP Marine Fisheries Division.

More Information: If you have any questions, please contact the DEP Marine Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 719, Old Lyme, CT 06371 or by telephone at 860.434.6043 between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.   (N07-12)