Blue crab from the Chesapeake Bay trotline fishery is a Seafood Watch® Best Choice, while the pot fisheries of the U.S. Atlantic Coast, Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico are a Seafood Watch® Good Alternative.
Blue-Claw Crab, Hardshell Crab, Kani, Softshell Crab
Only crabs caught in U.S. waters can be sold as blue crabs. Imported blue swimmer crabs are a different species. Blue crab is known as kani when prepared as sushi.
Environmental Defense Fund has issued a consumption advisory for blue crab due to elevated levels of mercury and PCBs.
Blue crab is found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts in state waters. Each state independently manages the blue crab populations within its waters.
Most blue crab is caught in pots, with the exception of the Chesapeake Bay fishery which uses "trotlines." A trotline is hookless; the bait is tied to the line. Crabs are brought in by hauling the line, resulting in zero bycatch. The blue crab pot fisheries, however, have the potential for bycatch - primarily immature blue crabs and diamondback terrapins - a species decreasing in most of its range. New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland have specific terrapin bycatch reduction regulations but more could be done to minimize accidental catch.
Most states coordinate crab pot removal programs to reduce terrapin and crab bycatch associated with ghost fishing (lost and abandoned pots), which is the primary threat to the habitat and ecosystem .