pollution threatens blue crab industry Essay

Pollution Threatens Blue Crab Industry Essay

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The seafood market has always been a large part of the eastern coastlines economy. A very sufficient part of this economic state is due to the callinectes sapidus, blue crab. States on the eastern coast average millions of pounds of blue crab per year. Crustaceans are prized as food all over the world. Major fisheries exploit many types of shrimp lobster, and crabs all of which bring a high price. Much of the crab habitats are over fished today. We have made great strides to attempt to protect the blue crab and other marine life. There is still a lot that needs to be accomplished, to preserve the callinectes sapidus way of life. These marine species are predators and scavengers, which spend much of their time on the soft bottoms of estuaries. This unfortunately exposes these crustaceans to all the pollution on the sea floors. The average life span of a blue crab is two to three years. This paper determines the blue crabs economic value, pollution of its habitat, and how to preserve the blue crab. The Callinectes sapidus has a huge economical impact in the states of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. In our state of North Carolina the market has grown considerably. In 1973 our fisheries pulled ten million pounds of blue crab ;this grew to about thirty nine million pounds in the year of 1981. (Refer to graph) With this dramatic growth it is important to monitor the amount to be taken. We want to make sure that the amount pulled from the waters does not affect the existence of the blue crab. The edible blue crab inhabits, estuarine waters from Cape Cod to Mexico. These crabs have even been found as far away as Nova Scotia. Callinectes sapidus has an annual value on the east coast (1967 to 1971) of 8.55 million dollars ex-vessel price to crabbers. Other than shrimp, blue crab is the most valuable crustacean in North Carolina waters, with an average value of 1.4 million between 1967 and 1972. This has now become a multimillion-dollar industry or should we say industries. In actuality there are two blue crab fisheries, one for hard-shelled crabs and one for soft-shelled crabs. Soft-shelled crabs are not a separate species of crab, but are blue crabs that have shed, molted their hard outer shells in preparation for growth. (Crustaceans and Mollusk Aquaculture in the United States p204) During the 1980’s, over 73.9 million kg (162. 6 million lbs.) of hard shell crabs were landed with a value of more than $35 million ;soft-shelled crab landings totaled 861,825 kg (1896, 015lbs.). Valued at $2.4 million for the same period of time. (Crustaceans and Mollusk Aquaculture in the United States p204) The blue crab is characterized as a coastal in habitant ranging from the shoreline to approximately 90m of water, but primarily inhabits shallow water up to 35m in depth. Although callinectors sapidus is considered a scavenger, its regular diet consists of a variety of materials, including fishes, benethic invertebrates, and plant material. (Crustaceans and Mollusks Aquaculture in the United States p205) So this crustacean is more properly classified as an omnivore. This has now become a multimillion-dollar industry or should we say industries. Crabbing has provided jobs, and not just for those who set the crab nets. Jobs have been created for crab picker, to managerial jobs, regulatory committees, and restaurant owners. This market is still increasing in North Carolina. Pollution has affected the life of the Blue Crab. Callinectes Sapidus have been over fished affecting the stock of the following year. This does not just effect the population of the species, but it also interferes with the economy of states, which rely heavily on this added income. Industries have developed their businesses on land along the coastline. Many of these companies dispose of waste in our waters, polluting crabs and other species. Much of the pollution settles on the bottom, causing high levels of pollution to all marine life, which lives on the floors of our waters. Run off also effects our bays and rives. This run off of water usually has fertilizers and pesticides, which infest the waters that crab live in. These run off toxics have effects of much of the life in the estuaries, not solely crabs. Another problem, which the Marine Protective Agencies has acquired, is littering of the waters. Beach goers and boaters alike have been polluting the bays with trash. Boaters have been releasing human wastes from their septic tanks, and spilling gasoline into the inhabited aquatic life. Crabbers in the past have been catching smaller crabs, which have not had the chance to fully develop. All of these contributing factors have resulted in a population decline of the blue crab in the past. We as society have polluted these waters, causing mass destruction to marine life. This has given crabs as well as other marine life diseases. Blue crabs have been infested by ciliate. This disease was first called “gray crab disease”, because of a characteristic grayish translucent appearance of the ventral side of the body and appendages. It occurred in crabs from seaside bays of Maryland and Virginia, where it caused death among captive crabs. Sick individuals were sluggish, and died a few minutes after removal from seawater. One processor reported that 20-30% of crabs in shedding tanks died with signs of this disease. (Principal Diseases of Marine Fish and Shellfish p152). Another disease that has been affecting the blue crab is Lagenidium callinects. This disease is a fungus, which parasitize eggs of blue crabs from the lower Chesapeake Bay. Infected eggs either fail to hatch or gave rise to abnormal zoea larvae. Infection levels were as high as 90% of a sample of ovigerous female crabs, and up to 25% of the eggs in a sponge were parasitized. (Principal Disease of Marine p 319). These diseases threatened the existence of the callinectes sapidus, which threatens the economic of our fisheries. Prevention is our only chance to combat the destruction of marine life in estuaries. We must write to legislature, to protect our waters. The government can do this by monitoring industries waste disposal. They can also set stiffer penalties against these who pollute. People also need to change their attitudes and be more optimistic. The overwhelming opinion about disease in marine life pollution is that little can be done about it. In the book Principle Diseases of Marine Fish and Shellfish they offer four beginning steps, 1) the transfer of susceptible animals into epizootic areas, or of individuals from such areas, should be prevented. Because each disease is discreet in term of transmission and infectivity, risks of transfer will vary as well. 2) Disease-resistant stock should be developed by selective breeding of survivors. This is a good idea because diseases have apparently produced increase resistance among survivors. 3). Basic information about the life history and ecology of the disease agent must be accumulated, to define vulnerable stages or restrictive environmental requirements. 4). Production could be maintained in artificial environments where disease can be controlled. I believe these steps are a good start to give us a true understanding of the diseases, which affect the callinectes sapidus and other estuary life. Although the most important step is to change our perception of these problems, and realize that we need to pay more attention to marine life. We can make a change, we just have to hope we do not wait too long before we make a valid attempt.

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