A report recently released by the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee (CBSAC) notes that the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crabs appear to be making a comeback, but recommends that the jurisdictions that manage the blue crab fishery continue to keep conservation measures in place.
The 2010 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Advisory Report cites the success of recent measures to control blue crab harvest and emphasizes the need for these conservation efforts to continue into the future.
The annual winter dredge survey completed in April estimated that there are 315 million harvestable adult crabs in the Chesapeake Bay, an increase of 41 percent from 2009.
Although the interim target of 200 million harvestable crabs has been surpassed for two years in a row, that is not enough time to know if the population can be maintained over the long term. The CBSAC recommends that management and conservations efforts be maintained until long-term monitoring can show that the population is sustainable.
Other report recommendations include a sex-specific assessment to determine if specific regulations for male and female crabs are effective, and an assessment of incidental crab mortality.
The Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee includes fishery scientists from the University of Maryland, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, NOAA Fisheries Service and the states of Maryland and Virginia. The advisory report was approved by the executive committee of the Bay Program’s Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will work with CBSAC to reevaluate by 2012 the interim rebuilding target of 200 million harvestable crabs. The new target will be based on an updated assessment to be completed in 2011.
Read the full 2010 Blue Crab Advisory Report from NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office website.