Lawmaker supports bill that could lift horseshoe crab ban -

Lawmaker supports bill that could lift horseshoe crab ban

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For years, lawmakers have gone back and forth on whether or not harvesting horseshoe crabs should be illegal.

It's an issue the state of New Jersey has been battling for some time.

But one lawmaker is saying enough is enough. It's time to once again harvest horseshoe crabs.

"Only in New Jersey we put a complete moratorium and say you can't harvest them at all in New Jersey," said Senator Jeff Van Drew.

In 2008 the State Senate signed a bill that put a ban on horseshoe crab harvesting.

Now Senator Jeff Van Drew is supporting a bill that would lift the ban entirely.

"This was kind of a feel good legislation, makes people feel like they are saving the crabs and the birds, but they are not."

The prehistoric crab has been noted as a vital part of the eco system because migratory birds, some of which are considered endangered, feed on the horseshoe crab eggs.

This is why Roland Scardino, a student at Atlantic Cape Community College is petitioning the bill.

"They are 450 million years old and I don't expect to see them vanish during my life time."

So far Scardino's petition has six hundred signatures. A number he hopes will grow and change the minds of neighboring states that harvest the crabs and their eggs to use as bait.

"I feel like other states should follow suit in New Jersey. I know in Delaware any male is allowed to collect horseshoe crabs. I don't believe that's good," said Scardino.

According to Van Drew if the ban on harvesting horseshoe crabs is lifted, fisherman would not be able to harvest them while on the beach, only when they are in the water, making it likely that their population would not suffer.

"There are only about 37 fishermen that actually catch the horseshoe crabs, and they would catch them by hand."

Van Drew also says that the 37 fisheries that depended on the horseshoe crab business lost their license because of the ban.

The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor is working to restore horseshoe crab habitats destroyed by Hurricane Sandy before the migration season is here.

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