Evaluating the Population Genetic Structure and Diversity of Dungeness Crab (Cancer magister) (2014-16)

Kathleen O’Malley
Hatfield Marine Science Center
Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station
Oregon State University
2030 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport, Oregon 97365
Phone: 541-961-3311

Co-PI: Curtis Roegner, NOAA

The Dungeness crab (Cancer magister) fishery is the most valuable single-species fishery in Oregon. Yet despite the high economic and social value of this species, no stock assessment has been conducted on coastal populations. The commercial fishery has thus far been managed based solely on a “sex, size, and season” strategy. What about population genetic variability, connections between estuary and ocean populations, or recruitment and movement of individuals?

Dr. O’Malley will conduct the first-ever multi-year, coast-wide population genetic study on Dungeness crab. Investigating the population structure and diversity of west coast Dungeness crab will provide essential baseline data currently lacking for this important species. Through sound science and public engagement, O’Malley’s research team intends to fill information gaps essential to ensuring the ecologic and economic sustainability of the fishery. 

Results from this research will benefit society in the short term by helping inform decisions regarding ocean spatial planning, such as the siting of wave energy development projects. Results from this research can be incorporated into state monitoring plans to avoid overexploitation and help develop “Limit Reference Points,” one of the conditions required by the Marine Stewardship Council for continued sustainable certification for Oregon's Dungeness crab fishery.

Strategic Plan Focus Areas: Healthy Coastal Ecosystems and Habitats, Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

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