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Chesapeake Bay News

Apr
19
2012

Chesapeake Bay blue crab population reaches highest level in nearly 20 years

The Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population increased 66 percent in 2012 to its highest level since 1993, according to the annual blue crab winter dredge survey conducted by Maryland and Virginia.

blue crab

The enormous increase was fueled by a “baby boom” – an almost tripling of the juvenile crab population, from 207 million last year to 587 million. This figure smashed the old record of 512 million juvenile crabs set in 1993.

Overall, the Bay’s crab population has risen to 764 million, more than triple the record low of 249 million set in 2007. That deep decline set in motion four years of concentrated efforts to rebuild the stock.

“Just a few short years ago, the future did not look bright for our blue crab population,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. “Our female crabs were being overfished, and our fishery was at risk of complete collapse. We teamed up with our neighbors in Virginia and at the Potomac River Fisheries Commission to make the tough choices, guided by science, to reverse that population decline.”

Bay-wide, the crab harvest has increased substantially since 2008, when 43 million pounds were caught. In 2011, an estimated 67.3 million pounds of crabs were harvested from the Bay.

Not all news from the survey was bright: the number of spawning-age females dropped by roughly 50 percent to 97 million. However, this figure is still above the health threshold. Maryland and Virginia will work together to produce a management strategy to avert another stock decline for this segment of the crab population.

Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website for more information about the winter dredge survey and the 2012 blue crab figures.


Comments:

Comment

Will says:
May 11, 2012

Perhaps the Blue Crabs are at a 20 year high, but at the same time they are at an almost historical LOIW! Imagine growing a tomato plant. At first you get 30 tomatoes in June. In july you get 40 then 20 in august and 2 in september. Along comes an “Indian Summer” and you get 24 new tomatoes. Did you get that there in increase since August? The plant is ready to die yet you got more in September than you did since july. THAT is what the Blue Crab and Oyster population is like in the Chesapeake Bay today on 2012. There should be a 5 year moratorium on both so their populations can grow to sufficient levels again to sustain the next commercial decimation, er I mean “Harvest”.



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