Collecting Fishers’ Knowledge to Inform Jonah Crab Research and Management (2018)

Principal InvestigatorTracey Dalton (URI CELS)

Collaborators: Corinne Truesdale (URI CELS), Conor McManus (RI DEM), Jason McNamee (RI DEM)

Funding SourceU.S. Fish and Wildlife State Wildlife Grant

The Jonah crab fishery in Southern New England has experienced rapid growth since the 1990s. In response to growing concerns about the sustainability of the resource, the first Fishery Management Plan for the species was published in 2015 by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. This document lists many data types that are necessary for the creation of a range-wide stock assessment for Jonah crab, including biology and life history information, economic description of the fishery, and habitat preferences of the Jonah crab. Available data on the Jonah crab is sporadic, and many of the data types requested in the FMP are not available for the species across its range.

It is increasingly recognized that fishermen are an often-untapped source of knowledge on the fisheries in which they participate. In this project, researchers will interview Jonah crab fishermen throughout Southern New England to collect information on the life history and biology of the Jonah crab as well as social and economic aspects of its fishery. Interviews will be analyzed and compared with the literature to evaluate consistencies and to highlight potential areas for targeted future research. Results will be shared with Jonah crab scientists and fishery managers to inform the forthcoming Jonah crab stock assessment.