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Document Type

Book Chapter


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Gordton H. Kruse, Nicolas Bez, Anthony Booth, et al

Publication Date


Book Title

Spatial processes and management of marine populations : proceedings of the Symposium on Spatial Processes and Management of Marine Populations, October 27-30, 1999, Anchorage, Alaska


University of Alaska Sea Grant College Program


Fairbanks, Alaska


Alaska Sea Grant College Program report, AK-SG-01-02.


Sanctuaries can potentially protect a significant fraction of the spawning stock, and thereby sustain heavily exploited populations. Despite the worldwide use of marine and estuarine spawning sanctuaries, the effectiveness of such sanctuaries remains untested. We therefore attempted to quantify the effectiveness of the spawning sanctuaries for adult female blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) in Chesapeake Bay. We used baywide winter dredge survey data to estimate the potential spawning stock prior to the major exploitation period, and summer trawl survey data to estimate spawning stock abundance within the Lower Bay Spawning Sanctuary and adjacent Bayside Eastern Shore Sanctuary during the reproductive period. Hence, we were able to approximate the percentage of the potential spawning stock that was protected by both sanctuaries after exploitation. On average, approximately 16% of the potential spawning stock survived to reach the Lower Bay Spawning Sanctuary and Bayside Eastern Shore Sanctuary. Even under a best-case scenario (i.e., crab residence time of 2 weeks), the sanctuaries only protected an estimated 22% of the potential spawning stock, which is well below the percentage recommended by recent stock assessments for sustainable exploitation (28%). In the worst case, a mere 11% of the potential spawning stock survived to reach the spawning sanctuaries. Hence, we recommend a substantial expansion of the spawning sanctuaries, as well as the complementary protection of other life stages in critical habitats, such as nursery grounds and dispersal corridors. Furthermore, traditional fisheries management measures (e.g., effort control) should be used in concert with sanctuaries to thwart impediments to effective implementation of the sanctuaries, such as redirected fishing effort.

Efficacy of blue crab spawning sanctuaries in Chesapeake Bay