Fishers’ Knowledge and Perceptions of the Emerging Southern New England Jonah Crab Fishery

Corinne Truesdale, Tracey Dalton, Conor McManus

North American Journal of Fisheries Management 39:951–963, 2019


Jonah crab Cancer borealis commercial landings in southern New England have increased approximately fivefold since the early 2000s. However, management of the Jonah crab fishery was not initiated until 2015, and it lacks the fisheries-independent data and life history information necessary to conduct a thorough stock assessment. To directly assess data gaps and address perspectives on the species and its fishery, we collected fishers’ knowledge by interviewing 15 participants in the southern New England Jonah crab commercial fishery. Fishers’ knowledge provided insight into biology and life history aspects of the species that are not well characterized in the scientific literature, including its habitat preferences and seasonal distribution. The interviews also identified topics that remain poorly
understood by both scientists and harvesters, including stock structure and spawning seasonality. Fishery management perceptions and concerns varied among participants, but several predominant themes emerged, including a divergence in management concerns between fishers working on small, inshore vessels and those working on large, offshore vessels. Such findings emphasize the need to consider the
Jonah crab fishing industry substructure when implementing management strategies. This study demonstrates the utility of fishers’ knowledge for providing insight on species’ biology and life history, unique insight into the structure of fishing industries, and pertinent information for future management considerations.