Since 1998, the horseshoe crab fishery has been managed cooperatively by Atlantic coast states through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The ASMFC recognizes this resource as having multiple objectives, including supporting populations of shorebirds. Because much of the concern about a reduced horseshoe crab population centered on the ecosystem services (food for shorebirds) provided by high abundance of horseshoe crabs within Delaware Bay, a traditional single-species assessment was not sufficient for managing harvest of the Delaware Bay population of horseshoe crabs. In order to factor in shorebird needs, an effort began in 2007 (Breese et al. 2007) to develop a multi-species approach to managing horseshoe crabs by employing the tools of structured decision making and adaptive management. This effort provides recommended harvests that are optimal with respect to the objectives of maintaining the crab fishery and providing sufficient resources to maintain viable populations of Red Knots.
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