Blue Crab

Blue Crab image
Common Name Blue Crab
Market Name hardshell crab, softshell crab
Scientific name Callinectes sapidus

Sourcing Summary


3.5-6 in.

Soft-shell crab is usually shipped live, however it is common for the blue crab to perish in transit. Smell is the only real indicator of freshness, and any crab that has an odor resembling ammonia should not be served. Some buyers suggest that the summer peak is the best time to buy crab. The primary producing states are Maryland, North & South Carolina and Louisiana: Maryland's colder waters and estuaries produce a blue crab high in flavorable fat; Carolina blue crabs are considered second to Maryland; and Louisiana provides options for price sensitive customers who like a larger crab.

The best way to store a soft-shell crab is in cool, moist packaging. While producers suggest that the shelf life for soft-shell crabs is 5 - 6 days that includes all of the shipping and processing time; In the Midwest a shelf life of 2 - 3 days can be expected; and on the West Coast a shelf life of 1 - 2 days can be expected. Soft-shells are split up into five grades; whales (5.5"+), jumbos (5"-5.5"), primes (4.5"-5"), hotels (4"-4.5") and mediums (3.5"-4")

Product Forms

Product Forms
Whole (Dressed)
Product Forms
Whole (Dressed)

Fresh Seasonal Availability


Culinary Composition







Cooking Methods


Nutrition facts

Serving Size: 100g
Amount per serving
Calories 87
Total Fat 1.5g
Cholesterol 85mg
Sodium 237mg
Carbohydrates 0g
Protein 17g
Omega-3 0.3g

Science & Management

Harvest Methods

Conservation Criteria - Wild

Impact on Stock

Blue crabs, found along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, grow and reproduce quickly, making their inherent vulnerability to fishing pressure low. However, their abundance fluctuates greatly. Some populations have experienced a drastic decline due to habitat loss from coastal development and pollution. Blue crab fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay and parts of the Gulf of Mexico have shown a declining trend compared to historic levels. While not considered overfished, several states list the crabs as a species of concern.

Habitat impacts ( Wild)

These crabs are primarily caught using traps, which have a moderate effect on local habitats, depending on the area. They’re also caught with dredges and bottom trawls that can do great damage to marine habitats. Some blue crabs are caught with a series of baited droplines called trotlines, which are primarily set in sand and silt.


The main bycatch in this fishery consists of juveniles that can easily be released alive. Many states require crab pots to have escape rings to reduce this kind of bycatch. Protected diamondback terrapin turtles can also be negatively impacted by interactions with blue crab traps. The Monterey Bay Aquarium cited a survey that called crab pot mortality one of the major threats to diamondback terrapins.

Management effectiveness

Blue crab is managed state-by-state and each one has regulations in place. These measures include area restrictions, minimum size limits, bycatch limits and gear restrictions. Overall, blue crab fishery management is considered moderately effective by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. However, the blue crab fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico are overcapitalized and declining blue crab populations could be an indication that fishery management measures may not be meeting conservation goals.

Conservation Criteria - Farmed

Origin Method Ratings
All Other Origins All Other Fishing Methods  
USA - Atlantic Pot/Trap  
USA - Chesapeake Bay Trotline  
USA - Gulf of Mexico Pot/Trap  
Name Country State / Province
Albion Farms & Fisheries Canada British Columbia
Baton Rouge Shrimp Company, Inc. United States Louisiana
Bay Hundred Seafood Inc. United States Maryland
Blue Ribbon Meats United States Ohio
Bradye P Todd & Son, Inc. United States Maryland
Catanese Classic Seafood United States Ohio
Chesapack Seafood United States Maryland
Chester River Seafood United States Maryland
Core Sound Seafood United States North Carolina
Euclid Fish Company United States Ohio
Export Packers Company Limited Canada Ontario
Handy Seafood Incorporated United States Maryland
J.J. McDonnell United States Maryland
J.M. Clayton Company United States Maryland
Lindy's Seafood Incorporated United States Maryland
Livingston's Bulls Bay Seafood United States South Carolina
McRoberts Sales Co., Inc. United States Florida
Northeast Oceans United States Massachusetts
OM Seafood Company United States Oregon
Pacific Harvest Seafoods United States California
Pontchartrain Blue Crab, Inc. United States Louisiana
Royal Hawaiian Seafood United States California
SCO Marine Resources and Development United States Maryland
Sea to Table, USA United States New York
Seacore Seafood Inc. Canada Ontario
Seattle Fish Company United States Colorado
Seattle Fish Company of New Mexico United States New Mexico