-- University of Southern Mississippi scientists at the Gulf Coast
Research Laboratory have launched a $320,000 research project to
answer basic questions about ensuring future blue crab populations
in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay.
Dr. Jeffrey Lotz and Dr. Robin Overstreet are investigating the
status of disease and the genetic structure of blue crab populations
in the gulf as part of a national Blue Crab Advanced Research Consortium.
Established through funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce, the consortium
is on a mission is to develop - through basic research - new approaches
to sustain and increase harvests of blue crabs.
consortium members on the gulf and on the Atlantic will share new
knowledge and technologies, but how they use what they learn will
address different problems.
part of our research is developing effective procedures for rearing
blue crabs from eggs," Perry said. "The biggest challenge
is juvenile grow-out. Once we have met that challenge, we will have
a dependable supply of juvenile crabs as test animals for disease
studies and experiments on pond stocking and grow-out."
She said the
Chesapeake is recruitment limited and research there is focusing
on stock enhancement. In the gulf, disease that has the potential
to severely impact blue crab population levels is an emerging issue.
the consortium are the GCRL, the University of Maryland Center of
Marine Biotechnology, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center,
the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and North Carolina State
Perry is technical
director of the crab consortium's GCRL component and director of
the Center for Fisheries Research and Development at the laboratory.
She has pioneered much of the blue crab research of the northern
on the project are also at the top of their fields. Lotz, professor
in the Southern Miss Department of Coastal Sciences headquartered
at GCRL, heads up the laboratory's national marine aquaculture research
and development programs. Overstreet, also a professor of coastal
sciences, is an international authority on marine parasites and
be using the tools of modern biology and biotechnology to study
and better understand the fundamental processes involved in the
blue crab life cycle," Perry said. "That new knowledge
will be the foundation for developing, assessing and validating
strategies to achieve the consortium's ultimate goal - increasing
blue crab harvests."
the Department of Coastal Sciences and the fisheries center are
part of the university's College of Marine Sciences.