A year and a half ago, the National Marine Fisheries Service created a horseshoe crab sanctuary off the mouth of Delaware Bay. In the late 1990's, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland enacted tough regulations limiting the harvest of horseshoe crabs, most of which are used as bait for eel and conch. In spite of these actions, horseshoe crab numbers continue to fall alarmingly, almost certainly headed for a population crash. Of particular concern is the decline in females of breeding age, as evidenced by the paucity of eggs which are an essential food source for several species of long-distance migratory shorebirds. Anyone who was fortunate enough to witness the tens of thousands of red knots, semi-palmated sandpipers, sanderlings and ruddy turnstones refueling along the shores of Delaware Bay a decade ago can attest that their numbers are a shocking fraction of what they were then.
Our partner in conservation, New Jersey Audubon Society, has taken the lead in fighting for a complete moratorium on the harvest of horseshoe crabs to replace the limits currently in place for our state. WCAS is proud to join them in this effort and we have pledged our commitment to help make this campaign a success. We urge our members and friends to join in this effort. Here are some facts you should know:
What you can do: Write a letter to Gov. James McGreevey asking him to declare an emergency order to stop the harvest of horseshoe crabs. Ask him to (1) immediately institute a moratorium on NJ horseshoe crab harvest; (2) support regional efforts with other states, including Delaware, to better address this shared resource; and, (3) support an Atlantic coast (Maine to Florida) and New Jersey horseshoe crab stock assessment. Write to: The Honorable James McGreevey, Governor of New Jersey, State House, P.O. Box 001, Trenton, NJ 08625-0001. For the salutation, "Dear Governor McGreevey." You must include your name and address on your letter. For a sample letter and other information, visit the NJ Audubon website www.njaudubon.org.
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