Harvest of Horseshoe Crabs for Medical Use up for Discussion

FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2000 file photo, technician Tom Bentz prepares a group of horseshoe crabs for bleeding at a lab in Chincoteague Island, Va. Environmental regulators studying the harvesting of horseshoe crabs that are drained of some of their blood for biomedical use say they need to get a firmer handle on how many die as part of the process. The prehistoric-looking crabs typically are taken to labs, are drained of about a third of their blood and then are released alive into the same bodies of water where they were found, a spokeswoman for the commission said on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

FILE – In this Aug. 1, 2000 file photo, technician Tom Bentz prepares a group of horseshoe crabs for bleeding at a lab in Chincoteague Island, Va. Environmental regulators studying the harvesting of horseshoe crabs that are drained of some of their blood for biomedical use say they need to get a firmer handle on how many die as part of the process. The prehistoric-looking crabs typically are taken to labs, are drained of about a third of their blood and then are released alive into the same bodies of water where they were found, a spokeswoman for the commission said on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

UNDATED (AP) – Interstate fishing regulators who want to get a firmer handle on how many horseshoe crabs die as part of their harvest for biomedical use are meeting this week to discuss the issue.

The crabs are harvested for their blue blood, which is used to make sure medical products aren’t contaminated. Their blood contains a chemical that can be used to detect bacteria.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted this summer to propose taking into account the death toll associated with medical harvesting when determining how many horseshoe crabs can be harvested from the Delaware Bay.

The commission is meeting on Wednesday to discuss next steps.

The medical harvest is about 500,000 crabs per year.

They have also been harvested commercially from Maine to Florida over the years.

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