This intricate natural balance has been disrupted by the biomedical industry, further impacting this mighty little shorebird that has experienced a 75 percent decline in population since 1980.
Pharmaceutical companies collect the horseshoe crabs from South Carolina beaches during spawning and drain their blue blood for use in medical research and testing. The harvesting of this key red knot food source denies the birds access to the eggs and threatens their survival.
In 2021, more than 700,000 crabs were bled in the U.S. alone, even though a synthetic alternative exists and is widely used in other countries.
The settlement provides for GPS tracking and court-monitoring of the harvest for the next 5 years and requires additional permitting conditions that enhance protection of horseshoe crabs during the collection process. The settlement also provides the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources with additional data from fishermen on the health of the crab population.
This legal win sets into motion a key solution to help restore the delicate relationship between the threatened rufa red knot and the horseshoe crab in South Carolina.
— Southern Environmental Law Center