In Massachusetts, Jonah crabs were traditionally landed as bycatch of the American lobster fishery. Now a targeted species, Jonah crabs support one of the top ten most valuable fisheries in the state.
In 2015, over 9 million pounds of Jonah crab were landed in Massachusetts with a value of over $6.9 million. Over 60% of all Jonah crab commercially harvested in the United States is landed in Massachusetts.
In 2015, Massachusetts Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries) biologists measured and sexed 7,846 Jonah crabs as part of port and market sampling programs. The sampled catch was comprised of mostly males (99%) and crabs over 4.75 inches in carapace width (97%).
The average crab was 5.4 inches; the largest, 6.8 inches. Sampled crabs were landed by both inshore and offshore boats fishing in multiple statistical reporting areas.
MarineFisheries received funding to conduct two Jonah crab studies in 2015. The NOAA Saltonstall‐Kennedy Grant Program awarded $399,870 to the Rhode Island‐based Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF), of which MarineFisheries and the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association (AOLA) received roughly $103,000 to conduct a Jonah crab maturity study.
Work began in October to determine male and female gonadal and morphometric maturity in five regions (inshore Gulf of Maine, offshore Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, inshore Southern New England, and offshore Southern New England).
In another partnership with AOLA, MarineFisheries received $63,636 from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to conduct a tagging study.
MarineFisheries staff and commercial fishermen will tag 20,000 Jonah crabs to determine movement patterns, stock boundaries, and collect growth information. Crabs will be tagged in the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, and Southern New England.
source: Massachusetts Marine Fisheries 2015 Annual Report