For popular seafood menu items like Dungeness crab, there’s good reason to make sure that there is a healthy supply to meet demand. That’s just what the Oregon C.R.A.B. Project is meant to do. This budding research partnership is looking for ways to improve the long-term sustainability of the state’s crab fishery while building relationships with the fishing industry and local community.
C.R.A.B., which stands for Collaborative Research to Assess Bycatch, is funded by NOAA Fisheries’ Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program and the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. Researcher Noelle Yochum from Oregon State University is collaborating with local commercial and recreational fishermen to tag female and small male crabs that are caught and thrown back because, by Oregon law, they cannot be sold. Through this research, Noelle hopes to capture estimates of survival rates for these crabs along with an understanding of potential ways to increase survival.
Noelle’s collaboration with Newport crab fishermen was the subject of our cover story in last summer’s edition of Confluence magazine. The crab bycatch collaboration is one of many outcomes of a long-term Oregon Sea Grant effort, led by coastal Extension Sea Grant specialists, to bring the fishing fleet and scientists together for mutual understanding and benefit.