Horseshoe Crab Sanctuary Established in Delaware Bay, Senator Carper Wins Yearlong Fight for Protection

WILMINGTON, DE – Senator Tom Carper today announced a major victory in his yearlong fight to protect the horseshoe crab from extinction. The Department of Commerce established today a federal "horseshoe crab sanctuary" in the Delaware Bay which will encompass federal waters from south of Atlantic City, NJ to just north of Ocean City, MD and includes federal waters off the Delaware coast. "We are pleased to finally get the horseshoe crab sanctuary in place before the upcoming fishing season. Senator Carper deserves an enormous amount of credit for staying on top of this issue and making sure that the sanctuary became a reality," said Perry Plumart, senior policy advisor at the Audubon Society. The National Marine Fisheries service will ban horseshoe crab fishing in the 1,500 square mile area starting 30 days from today’s publication of the sanctuary’s guidelines in today’s Federal Register. By providing birds with additional crab eggs to feed upon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believes the sanctuary could also help reverse the declining number of migratory shorebirds who rest in Delaware Bay. "The establishment of this sanctuary is critically important for the preservation of horseshoe crabs, the well-being of migratory birds, and the commitment to preserve our ocean’s resources," Carper said. "We began this struggle under President Clinton and find it completed under President Bush. I thank both administrations and the Department of Commerce for their support." Carper started his fight for horseshoe crab protection while serving as Delaware’s Governor and continued his efforts as a United States Senator, most recently urging the Bush administration to publish this rule in the registry before the upcoming fishing season. Carper was joined in the fight by former New Jersey Governor and now EPA administrator Christie Whitman; Department of Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta; state, local, and community leaders from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia; the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Audubon Society; the Delaware Nature Conservancy; the Delaware Nature Society; the Ecological Research & Development Group and others. Carper praised the coalition for their hard work and unity of spirit. "The fight to protect the horseshoe crab brought out the best in so many people, unified in purpose," Carper said. "This new sanctuary demonstrates the value of commitment and consensus."