The blue crab is a crustacean that is found in the Hudson River that is of ecological, recreational, and commercial importance. They have five pairs of legs, the first pair are modified as claws for eating and defense, while the last pair of legs are modified for use as swimming paddles. Blue crabs are omnivores, eating things such as mollusks, live or dead fish, and aquatic plants. This makes them a fun and fairly easy species to catch which are very popular to eat. The Latin name of the blue crab is Callinectes sapidus, which means "beautiful savory swimmer" and is very fitting with regards to their impressive swimming skills coupled with their culinary popularity.
For more information on recreational and commercial crabbing regulations, click the links below. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us at the email link to the right of the page.
- Summary of recreational crabbing regulations
- Summary of commercial crabbing regulations
- Full commercial crabbing regulations (leaves DEC's website)
Unlike striped bass, river herring, American shad, and Atlantic sturgeon that are cooperatively managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the NYSDEC is solely responsible for the management blue crabs throughout the Hudson River.
Long-term Monitoring Program
In 2004, the NYSDEC began a tagging study to gain information on the seasonal movements of the blue crab spawning population. Each year, blue crabs are collected using baited crab pots and length, sex, and stage are recorded for each crab and annual catch rates are calculated. Before releasing each crab to the river, a yellow tag is secured across the back of the crab. The tag legend has the tag number, NYSDEC research, and a phone number (845-256-3009). If you catch a tagged crab, please call the phone number to report the catch information or visit the Guide to Hudson River Fish and Blue Crab Tags for more information. This recapture data is recorded from call-ins from recreational and commercial crabbers along the Hudson River and marine waters. We are also looking to estimate fishing and natural mortality with our current data.
Please be on the lookout for the Chinese mitten crab. The Chinese mitten crab, a non-native species from East Asia, is a costly and environmentally damaging invader in Europe and San Francisco Bay. One was caught in June 2007 in the Hudson River (Tappan Zee region 27 miles upstream from the mouth). This is among the first caught in the eastern United States coastal waters. A few others have been caught in the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay and the Hudson. If you see or catch one of these crabs, please click here for instructions and contact information for reporting it.
Please visit the Department of Health's website for a blue crab cooking and eating guide (PDF; 1.20 MB, link leaves DEC's website) and a blue crab consumption advisory (link leaves DEC's website) from the Hudson and other waters of New York.
Looking for More Information?
The Hudson River Blue Crab Guide (PDF, 383 KB) provides additional information on the natural history of blue crabs and fishing information.