Mexico Yucatan Peninsula blue crab – dipnet/pot/trap

Mexico Yucatan Peninsula blue crab – dipnet/pot/trap

Fishery Improvement Project

Last Update: NA

Species: Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus)

FIP Stage according to CASS progress table: 5, improvements on the water

FIP Rating according to SFP rating system: D (Some Past Progress, October 2019)

FIP Rating according to MSC benchmarking tool 1st stage Initial (March 2013): 0.50; Second (June 2019): 0.62

[* Observations: This FIP was inactive and resumed activities under the coordination of CeDePesca as of June 2019]

FIP Profile at FisheryProgress.orgMexico Yucatan Peninsula blue crab – dipnet/pot/trap

Fishery Location:
Campeche, Yucatan & Tabasco in Gulf of México

FIP Coordination: If you would like more information about the FIP or if wish to support it, please contact Minerva Alonso.

FIP Participants:

Sustainability Information

Publicly Announced Date: March 2013  [* Observations: This FIP was inactive and resumed activities under the coordination of CeDePesca as of June 2019 ]

Current Improvement Recommendations:

  • Strengthen fishery management system with clear rules and objectives
  • Knowledge Improvements about the status of the stock
  • Define a research plan that includes data collection of target and non-target species of the fishery and the impacts on ecosystems function.
  • Establish participatory mechanisms both to collect information and to disseminate the results of scientific analysis.

Project Background:

Pontchartrain Blue Crab (based in Louisiana, USA), and PESMAR, its Yucatan suppliers, launched a fishery improvement project in April 2013. A preliminary assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council Standard (July 2013) suggested the fishery would score in the 60-80 range.  The two lowest scores were for bycatch monitoring and information (PI 2.2.3) and for monitoring the performance of the management system (PI 3.2.5).  Mayaland Seafood LLC integrated to the project in this period.  A preliminary assessment against the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch criteria in 2015 found more information was needed on bycatch.  Leadership was turned to CeDePesca starting on 2019, a work plan was updated and activities were re-established.

Fishery Background:

Blue crab has a broad latitudinal distribution, from Nova Scotia to northern Argentina. Based on genetic and phylogenetic analysis, it is considered that there are two stocks in the Gulf of Mexico (GDAR, 2013).  The NE Gulf of Mexico stock along Florida state coast up to the Apalachee Bay, and a NW Gulf of Mexico stock occurring from Apalachicola Bay, Florida, to the west of the gulf. In Mexican waters, the fishery occurs in the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche and Yucatán.  (SAGARPA, 2012)  

Callinectes sapidus inhabit estuarine and coastal waters and has a relatively short life span of 4.5 years. It reaches maturity between 12 and 18 months of age (Rosas-Correa & Jesus-Navarrete 2008). 

In order to access the fishery, a commercial permit is required. On April 18, 1974 the legal minimum size of 110 mm was established to protect juveniles of swimming crab species from the Gulf of Mexico, effective up to date. There is no Official Mexican Legislation (NOM) to regulate this fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.  

The blue crab fishery in the Yucatan Peninsula is an artisanal fishery where blue crab is caught by ring net/pot traps and sometimes with dipnets. It includes areas from the Mexican states of Campeche, Tabasco & Yucatan. Catches from these states represent 14% of swimming crab catches in Mexico. 70 % of the suppliers of the FIP catches are from Sabancuy and Isla Aguada, Campeche where Callinectes sapidus predominates, although “small blue crab” (Callinectes similis) and black swimming crab (Callinectes rathbuane) are eventually caught.  

This fishery is of social importance especially in some coastal communities in Campeche.   There are 263 fishing permits registered in Tabasco and 63 in Campeche. There are 371 small scale vessels registered in Campeche, there is no available number of vessels in Tabasco (CNP, 2018). 

Problems /Key issues in these fisheries are:

  • Lack of information of the current status of the stocks
  • Insufficient information of the diverse species caught
  • Lack of a complete management strategy.
  • Lack of systematic information about interactions with ecosystem components.
  • Detected illegal fishing.

FIP Objectives

  • By 2020, to improve knowledge of the fishery through a biological monitoring program. 
  • By 2021, to contribute to the strengthening of the fishery management system and its compliance. 
  • By 2021, to generate information regarding other components of the Ecosystem in which the fleet that supplies Pesmar operates.

Progress Update


April- June 2019

A framework agreement for Mexico Grouper Fishery Improvement Project was signed by Pesmar – Pescados y Mariscos del Caribe, Pontchartrain Blue Crab, Mayaland Seafood LLC and CeDePesca  in mid April.

During this period work plan was updated and activities were re-established.  Data collection record was validated and was improved. A Biological Monitoring Program is taken place in the reception area of PESMAR processing plant and the reception center in Isla Aguada, Campeche.

On May 29th a Workshop with 20 fishermen had taken place in Sabancuy.  The objective was to present the FIP, seek for collaboration & present general information about the fishery.  After the meeting fishermen & their cooperatives committed to comply with reception criteria, to avoid leaving trash in the ocean & to bring trash that they may find in the ocean in order to help for an adequate disposal of it.

July-September 2019

Data collection is implemented from August 2018 to up to date and has been integrated in a database.  Preliminary results describe the population of the catches by the project. It demonstrates that 99% of the catches comply with the minimum legal size and that 98% of the blue crab is received alive and therefore complying with the Criteria for reception. The other 2% is discarded.

October-December 2019

During this period the monitoring actions continued. There are preliminary reports of the sampling results that include associated species, map with the origin of the production, among others.  Efforts were initiated to collaborate with EPOMEX researchers.


January-March 2020

Several meetings were held in order to collaborate with CONAPESCA in the creation of the Draft of the NOM-038-AG/PESC-2020.  Some of the activities were delayed due the COVID-19 emergency.