Low Crab Counts in the Chesapeake Bay - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Low Crab Counts in the Chesapeake Bay

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CAMBRIDGE, Md. - The second straight year of declining blue crab numbers in the Chesapeake Bay has some waterman convinced 2014 will be another tough crabbing season.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources released its 2014 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey.  The survey shows the number of blue crabs in the bay has dropped to 297 million from the 300 million in 2013.  The number of female crabs has also dropped to 69 million, which is under the safe limit of 70 million.  What has increased is the number of juvenile crabs.  What all of that means is there is a limited number of crabs available to harvest and sell for watermen. 

Bill James is a waterman in Cambridge and believes it will be another tough crabbing year, like 2013.

"Very tough.  I never made much money last year and I believe I am going to make less this year," said James.

Jack Brooks is a co-owner of the JM Clayton Company in Cambridge and believes the low numbers will mean higher crab prices for consumers.

"They were up last season because we had a slow season last year.  A slow harvest season last year and prices were up significantly from the year before.  So we don't see that changing.  We see the prices staying high enough to keep the guys working.  To keep us all working," said Brooks.

Both Brooks and James said steps need to be taken to increase the crab totals in the bay.  From controlling the substances that are dumped into the water, to controlling the number of natural predators the blue crabs have.  Anything to try and kick this downward trend.  DNR believes numerous things could have contributed to the declining numbers.  From an unusually cold winter, to coastal currents, to the crab predators in the Chesapeake Bay.
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