New Jersey reinstates part of ban on horseshoe crab catch

October 23, 1997|By KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey's horseshoe crabs will be protected, after all.

Through a court settlement, the state Marine Fisheries Council has agreed to reinstate key portions of a horseshoe-crab harvesting ban that Gov. Christine Todd Whitman had imposed but that the council vetoed in September.

The action came after a coalition of environmental groups and the governor's office filed suit against the Fisheries Council, obtained a temporary stay against the council's veto, and raised questions in court briefs about the council's constitutional authority to veto a governor's action.

The settlement reimposes a ban on all horseshoe-crab harvesting in New Jersey waters using mechanical devices, dredging and trawling. It also reinstates certain restrictions on horseshoe-crab harvesting by hand on beaches.

But it removes a 100-crab-a-day limit on catching the crabs by hand that had been in Whitman's original ban, and it extends the hand-harvesting season from April through August, while Whitman's ban had limited it to May and June.

In addition, the settlement broadens the definition of who can qualify for a harvesting permit, increasing the numbers of qualifying fishermen from 35 to 135. Fishermen will be able to transfer their permits to members of their immediate families.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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