Last week I got schooled in the proactive side of fisheries management.

A "fishery" comprises a type of fish (lobster), the people who harvest it (lobstermen), a body of water (Gulf of Maine), method of fishing (traps), class of boats (lobster boats) and purpose of the activities (commercial harvesting). Fishery management plans dictate how much fish can be pulled from the sea without threatening the viability of the population. The plans are jointly written by scientists, regulators and fishermen, and can include maximum catch limits, fish size and sexual maturity restrictions, bans on certain types of fishing gear, licensing limits and closures of areas to fishing.

Usually, management measures in the Gulf of Maine center on threatened fish populations, hence the shrimp season gets canceled or the cod catch severely limited.

But in the case of Jonah crab – whose bulbous claws when steamed are easily snapped opened and the cache of sweet meat liberated from cartilage by an eater's teeth – the regulatory tables have been turned slightly.

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