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Walters, Erin

MS Student, Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences

Advisor: Don Behringer

I enrolled in the Master’s of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program in the Spring of 2019. As a biologist for the state I am fortunate to work on research projects pertaining to blue crab and stone crab which seeded the development of my thesis. The ability to successfully manage our natural resources in an ever changing environment and be able to adapt our research to meet the needs of these changes is such an integral part of current research. In terms of accurately representing the current state of our resources, it is amazing the amount of data and knowledge we lack to support annual reports and assessments which drive regulation. Florida blue crab stock assessments lack pertinent data such as discard mortality rates and the inability to successfully age a blue crab.

The focus of my project aims on filling in some of the unknowns regarding discard mortality within the commercial Florida blue crab fishery through the use of the Reflex Action Mortality Predictor (RAMP) method. The RAMP method is designed to assess reflex actions of crabs to predict the likelihood of mortality from a generated relationship between reflex impairment and mortality. This method has been successful in predicting mortality in other crustacean fisheries and we hope its adaptation to the Florida blue crab is just as effective.

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