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Profile updated on 5 May 2022
Blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) are distributed along western Atlantic coastlines from Nova Scotia to Argentina (Casler et al. 2011). Two different populations have been found according to mitochondrial DNA, one from the USA to and including Venezuela, whereas the second is distributed from Brazil to Argentina (Santos and D'Incao, 2004 in (Alaniz Rodrigues et al. 2017)). It is present along the entire Venezuelan coast, but it is more abundant in the Maracaibo System (Venezuelan Gulf and Lake Maracaibo) (Arocha and Andrade De Pasquier 2021). There is limited conclusive understanding regarding genetic stock structure for blue crab both generally (Miller et al. 2011; Hutardo et al. 2018); and specifically for the population in Venezuela (Schubart et al. 2001); however, a 2014 study found substantial differentiation between populations found in Gulf of Mexico versus Venezuelan waters (Yednock and Neigel 2014).
The most commercially important species in Western Venezuela (De Pasquier et al. 2009), the blue crab is heavily exploited in the Maracaibo system (Gulf of Venezuela, El Tablazo Bay, Maracaibo Strait, and Lake Maracaibo). The blue crab resource in Venezuela is reserved by law for the artisanal sector and is processed primarily in canning plants for export to the international market (Perdomo et al. 2010). Wire traps were the primary gear used to harvest crab until 2002 when their use was replaced with more efficient longline gear (Molina and Yedra 2018).