The Horseshoe Crab Fishery in Florida
Horseshoe crabs are harvested commercially in the U.S. for three purposes: bait (conch and eel fisheries), marine-life (aquaria, research, etc.) and biomedical use (use of the crab's blood for bacteria detection). Compared to other states, Florida has a small bait fishery for eels and a large marine-life fishery. In March 2000, a series of management measures for horseshoe crabs went into effect in Florida. The regulations required a license to harvest and set a limit on the number of animals each licensee could harvest per day (25 to 100 animals allowed per day per person depending on the permit). In 2002, a biomedical permitting rule created a mechanism to allow for biomedical collection.
Florida horseshoe crab landings have been recorded since 1987. Bait and marine life landings have been recorded separately since 1997.