Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Keep the ban on killing Horseshoe Crabs

Harvest ban on horseshoe crabs lifted by council
When we discuss the "harvesting" of Horseshoe Crabs, the wonderful, ancient creature that breeds on the beaches of Delaware Bay & Raritan Bay in late Spring & early Summer, let's not pretend there's some venerable, old lifestyle & culture to be preserved, generations of salty baymen following their fathers on to the water in heirloom boats. Horseshoe Crabs didn't go into serious decline until the export eel market to Japan opened up in 1980's. Japanese men crave eels because they believe eating them makes their weenies larger, they've decimated their own eel fishery, & they're not satisfied with whale sushi. Female, egg-bearing Horseshoe Crabs are the best eel bait. Killing Horseshoe Crabs became profitable. Thus began the wholesale slaughter of Horseshoes in Delaware Bay & off the coast, which resulted in a precipitous decline in the species. This, combined with the loss of the beach habitats where the Crabs deposit their eggs, endangered the millions of migrating birds that stop in Jersey every year for the sole purpose of fattening up on Horseshoe Crab eggs. Among these birds is the Red Knot. Our Red Knots migrate from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic tundra & need to eat at least 24,000 little Horseshoe Crab eggs per day. I don't care if one of the great experts on Horseshoe Crabs, Carl Shuster, approves of reinstating a limited Horseshoe Crab harvest. He says that in ten years there'll be so many of the crabs people will complain about them. Hell, Carl, people complain about them now. You're just not worried about the survival of the Horseshoes anymore, & there's a big Crab preserve off the coast named for you. But what about the migrating birds? Even if we take the coldly economic position that eco-tourism dwarfs the commercial eel & Horseshoe Crab "harvesting" business in the amount of money it generates for New Jersey, supports thousands of a jobs, & is much better industry to protect & grow.

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Interesting fact: horseshoe crab serum is part of the manufacture of a clotting product for hemophiliacs.

Horeshoe crabs. That's what I like about coming here. I never know what I'm going to get.
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