Maryland Crab Count Down This Year - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Crab Count Down This Year

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.- Watermen on Maryland's Midshore are catching fewer crabs this year than in the past.

Jack Brooks, a co-owner at J.M.Clayton company in Cambridge, said there are a number of reasons crabbers are not having such good luck.  One reason he points out is Hurricane Sandy, which killed a large number of crabs when it blew through in October 2012.  He said that is not the only reason, though.

"There's just an overabundance of striped bass, puppy drum, red drum, right now that are just feeding on these small crabs." he said. "It's evident when you cut one of them open and in the stomach you see all these little crabs anywhere from a half inch up to an inch."

Brooks said protected fish, like striped bass, need to be fished more in order to even out the ecosystem.  A spokesperson from Maryland's Department of Natural Resources said they have not received reports of striped bass being the problem, but did point to a Winter Dredge Report, in which the department said Red Drum fish would be an issue this season.

That report also showed that the number of blue crabs had declined from 765 million last year, to only 300 million this year in the bay.

Another issue Brooks pointed to was the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River.  The dam is not capturing all of the sediment from the river, and what is getting through is burying the bay grasses where the crabs live.  It is also clouding the water so that there is not enough sunlight for new grasses to grow.

The dam is also facing a tight deadline.  According to a report by the Maryland Department of the Environment, by 2025, the dam will no longer be able to stop sediment from getting through. 

In 2011, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and the Army Corps of Engineers started a three-year study looking into how to deal with the buildup of sediment before the 2025 deadline.

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