Activity #3 The Economic Significance of a Crab Refuge

Protecting Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
Protecting Glacier Bay


1. Uses of Parks
Read the information on the Student Resource: Protecting Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Ask students to share their opinions, briefly, on the relative importance of maintaining and protecting wilderness areas.

Clsing Glacier Bay
Closing Glacier Bay

2. Closing Glacier Bay
Next, share the Student Resource: Closing Glacier Bay with students. Divide the sections of the resource among student teams so they can help each other digest the information on the handout.

Have them write answers to the questions about the researchers' findings on crab populations before and after closing the park to Dungeness crab fishing.


  • The pink line represents large male Dungeness crabs.
  • The yellow line represents female Dungeness crabs of all sizes.
  • The light blue line represents sub-legal (or small) male Dungeness crabs.
  • The number and size of legal-sized male Dungeness crabs increased dramatically at the experimental sites. The number of female and sub-legal male Dungeness crabs decreased.
  • Sub-legal males were most abundant.
  • After closure, there were more and more large males found at the study sites.
  • Sub-legal males had the most dramatic change in numbers.
  • Probably the sub-legal males observed before the closing had a chance to grow after the closing.

3. Class Discussion
After reading the information, have students discuss these questions: In your opinion has closing Glacier Bay to Dungeness crab fishing met the requirements of the International Biosphere Reserve, the World Heritage Site, and the designated wilderness status? Explain.

4. Project (Op-Ed or Cartoon)
Challenge students to write an op-ed piece for an in-house or project-specific newsletter, or create an editorial cartoon expressing their opinion on the importance of protecting Glacier Bay, using the results of the Dungeness crab study as a "case in point" for their article or cartoon.

5. Extension (This activity is recommended for more advanced students)
Invite students to assume the following roles: crab fisherman, fish processor, kayaker, biologist, park manager, visitor from New Jersey, and state representative. Have them use the resources below to research the opinions of the people they are actually representing and any economic information they can find on the impact the closure of the Bay has had on them. When their research is complete, hold a "Town Meeting" to discuss the closing of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve to commercial fishing of Dungeness crabs. In each group, have one student represent the press and write an article or create a cartoon to share the results of the Town Meeting with the "outside world."



Alaska State Legislature: Media Advisory from the Senate Majority

Glacier Bay Ecosystem GIS: Natural History of the Glacier Bay Ecosystem

Testing the Effectiveness of Marine Reserves: A Multi-Species, Multi-Reserve Experiment

Alaska Oceans Program: Declines in Alaska's Marinelife

Financial Support for Fishermen Who are Affected by Marine Reserves: Examining the Merits

Commercial Fishing Issues in Glacier Bay Resolved Through Legislation

Wikipedia: Biosphere Reserve

Wikipedia: World Heritage Site


Last updated: April 14, 2015

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