• Vulnerability of male spider crab Maja brachydactyla (Brachyura: Majidae) to a pot fishery in south-west Ireland

      Fahy, E; Carroll, J (Cambridge University Press, 2009)
      The Magharees fishery (Brandon and Tralee Bays in south-west Ireland) is 495 sq.km in extent, the majority of this area ≤20 m in depth. Since 1981 it has been occupied by a directed spider crab fishery yielding in some years all of the national catch of Maja brachydactyla. Maximum recorded landings were 336 t in 1999 and effort has numbered up to 10,000 pots annually. Increasing fishing capacity and declining opportunities have accentuated fishing effort on spider crab. This paper describes a catch census undertaken in the fishing season of March to August inclusive, 2000–2007 and a mark–recapture experiment, 2005–2007. A method of ageing the adult moult by attributing a chronology to the rate of erosion of the claw on the dactyl is introduced. Males migrated longer distances, moved into the fishery on a wider trajectory and demonstrated greater wear on the claw than females. Recapture rate of males was twice that of females. The conduct of the fishery changed in its 26 years in existence. Landings became more concentrated in the earlier months of the year and the recent summer fishery was characterized by fewer male captures. Larger males were quickly removed and none >140 mm carapace length survived in the fishery longer than one year.