Horseshoe crab. (KymLens via Shutterstock)

In a move to protect the dwindling population of horseshoe crabs, Gov. Ned Lamont held a bill signing ceremony on the shore of Long Island Sound to commemorate the adoption of a new law implementing a total ban on the harvesting of horseshoe crabs from Connecticut waters.

The legislation comes as a result of mounting concerns over the population of horseshoe crabs, which has seen a dramatic decline in Long Island Sound in recent years. Advocates say that this ancient species, which predates the dinosaurs, was on the brink of extinction due to overharvesting. Thousands of these crabs were captured each year by fishermen for use as bait and by the biomedical industry for vaccine research.

Organizations dedicated to bird conservation have also expressed concerns, noting that certain migratory shorebirds, such as the red knot, depend on horseshoe crab eggs for nourishment during their annual migration to the Arctic.

“The number of horseshoe crabs in Long Island Sound and throughout the Atlantic Coast has been severely depleted in recent years, raising concerns that this ancient species could be driven into extinction from overharvesting,” Governor Lamont stated during the ceremony. “This law says that we need to take a break and let this species regenerate and get back to a state of good health.”

With the enactment of this ban, Connecticut joins Delaware, New Jersey, and South Carolina in implementing similar restrictions to preserve horseshoe crab populations. 

The law also provides a provision for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to issue permits for limited harvesting for scientific and educational purposes, provided that it will not harm the overall horseshoe crab population.

Environmentalists across the nation have applauded Connecticut’s leadership in marine conservation and are hopeful that this ban will inspire neighboring states to follow suit. The preservation of the horseshoe crab population is considered vital for maintaining the ecological balance of the region, and the new law marks a significant step towards safeguarding this unique and vital species for generations to come.