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The size structure of the population of the Dungeness crab Cancer magister was studied at six sites in or near Glacier Bay, Alaska, before and after the closure of commercial fishing. Seven years of preclosure and 4 years of postclosure data are presented. After the closure of Glacier Bay to commercial fishing, the number and size of legal-sized male Dungeness crabs increased dramatically at the experimental sites. Female and sublegal-sized male crabs, the portions of the population not directly targeted by commercial fishing, did not increase in size or abundance following the closure. There was not a large shift in the size-abundance distribution of male crabs at the control site that is still open to commercial fishing. Marine protected areas are being widely promoted as effective tools for managing fisheries while simultaneously meeting marine conservation goals and maintaining marine biodiversity. Our data demonstrate that the size of male Dungeness crabs can markedly increase in a marine reserve, which supports the concept that marine reserves could help maintain genetic diversity in Dungeness crabs and other crab species subjected to size-limit fisheries and possibly increase the fertility of females. ?? 2004 by the American Fisheries Society.
Additional Publication Details
Dramatic increase in the relative abundance of large male dungeness crabs Cancer magister following closure of commercial fishing in Glacier Bay, Alaska