The Jonah crab is found in coastal and shelf waters along the Atlantic coast of North America from Newfoundland to Florida.
Males of the species are typically larger than females. Several studies have indicated that larger individuals generally move into deep water with males occupying deeper areas than females.
Jonah crabs support important fisheries along North America’s Atlantic Coast. Traditionally landed as bycatch of the American lobster fishery, Jonah crabs are now a targeted species.
In the USA, Jonah crab landings and value increased rapidly between 2000 – 2015. By 2014, landings exceeded 17 million pounds with a value exceeding $12 million.
Leading states for Jonah Crabs include Massachusetts and Rhode Island with the vast majority of Jonah crabs being caught in traps and pots.
A small but historic claw fishery exists off New England and the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware/Maryland and Virginia).
The U.S. Jonah crab fishery is managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council (ASMFC) under an Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP).