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Horseshoe Crab Research Center provides information to improve management

Blacksburg, Va., -- Virginia Tech introduced its new Horseshoe Crab Research Center (HCRC) today. With more than 200 adult crabs, it is the largest captive system in the nation. The research center has been established to provide information necessary to improve the management of this important species

"Over the past several years, management of the horseshoe crab population has become increasingly controversial," says center director Jim Berkson. "Fishermen catch horseshoe crabs for use as bait in the lucrative eel and conch fishery.

Biomedical companies catch and bleed horseshoe crabs to produce a chemical (LAL) used to detect the presence of bacteria in injectable drugs and implantable devices. Environmentalists are concerned because migratory shorebirds depend on horseshoe crab eggs to fuel their migration to their arctic breeding grounds each year. The battle over this ecologically, economically, and medically essential species has become one of the most heated environmental issues on the east coast in recent years."

Participating in the dedication were officials from three federal agencies involved in horseshoe crab research and management, agencies responsible for horseshoe crab management in several states, environmental groups, including the Audubon Society, and biomedical companies including the largest producer of LAL, BioWhittaker Inc. .

The HCRC was founded on the belief that developing effective management strategies requires an understanding of all three dimensions of the horseshoe crab issue: fisheries, shorebirds, and biomedical companies.

The HCRC combines faculty members, students, facilities, and expertise from Virginia Tech's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences in the College of Natural Resources, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Conservation Management Institute, and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute.

These HCRC's partners have formed the only research center in
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Contact: James M. Berkson
jberkson@vt.edu
540-231-5910
Virginia Tech
25-Oct-2001


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