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According to Wikipedia [0], about 500,000 Horseshoe crabs are bled each year, with a mortality rate of 5-30%, depending on the source. In contrast, about 1,000,000 Horseshoe crabs are used as fishing bait each year, in the United States alone.

This fishing practice has been banned in New Jersey and South Carolina, and partially banned in Delaware. It remains legal elsewhere in the United States.

Personally, I'd much rather see the fishing-bait use reduced than the biomedical blood use reduced, since the fishing-bait use seems less essential. Of course, I'd love to see the synthetic option reach the same level of trust that the blood now enjoys, at which point both reasons to harvest Horseshoe crabs could be reduced.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_crab#Harvest_for_blo...

It looks like they drain 1/3 of the blood of 500k crabs a year and use 1m crabs as bait a year. Why can't they just take 100% of the blood of 500k/3 crabs a year and then give those crabs to be used as bait?

I think it's one of those convenient lies we tell ourselves so we can all feel better but doesn't survive real scrutiny. Saying 500k crabs will be drained with most of them surviving sounds better than 175k dies for sure... and we are giving the dead bodies to the fishing industry. The math is going to work out to be the same in the long run (and in fact better in your scheme) but one sounds better as a one-liner than the other.

That doesn't pass the smell test. We keep animals in effectively torture-houses then kill them to eat them. I doubt that anyone would actually give a fuck if they just killed a bunch of horseshoe crabs. I mean, like, vegans would, but vegans' concerns are already ignored by everybody else.

I mean.... we do try to use literally every part of those animals we kill, from their tenderloin to their skin and bones.

If we're killing 175k crabs per year, it'd still be better to use their bodies for bait (if the alternative is to throw them away, and kill another 175k + the rest for bait).

Neverminding the ethics, it would perhaps be ecologically better if we could farm horseshoe crabs, and fine-tune the bleeding regimen to manage the externalities as one does with lumber and forestry.

Exactly, this just appears to be a war of well monied groups. Group A makes a billion a year bleeding horseshoe crabs and group B wants in on that and has come up with a synthetic alternative. The group that wins will be the one that lobbies the best. This round appears to have gone to the horseshoe crab bleeders. The proponents of the synthetic alternative most likely have financial incentive to do so.

Maybe a drained crab makes poor bait?

This right here is smart. Maybe there are good reasons why that isn't possible but in the mean time we should be asking that question.

Probably because the bloodless crabs start immediately decomposing

Are "100%" drained crabs are effective bait?

> This fishing practice has been banned in New Jersey

No, non-medical fishing is banned, they are still harvested in NJ for crab blood.

If we switched to using the synthetic alternative, fishing would be allowed again and we'd be catching them to grind into bait and fertilizer like in the old days.


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