Dorchester Commercial Seafood Harvest Takes A Plunge - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dorchester Commercial Seafood Harvest Takes A Plunge

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CAMBRIDGE, Md.- It's no secret that working as a waterman is one of the most difficult jobs on the shore, but profits appear to be down in Dorchester County.

But that wasn't always the case.  Here is a breakdown since 2006 of how profits for seafood in Dorchester County has fluctuated since that time.  Note that 2012 was not available at the time of our request.

In 2006, $19 million worth of blue crabs were harvested.  $754,418 worth of oysters were brought ashore, and $4 million worth of fish were caught, bringing a total of all species for the year to almost $23.9 million.

In 2007, $16.1 million worth of crabs were caught, along with $602,015 of oysters and $4.9 million dollars worth of fin fish.  That brings the total for 2007 to $21.6 million.

In 2008, crabs more than doubled to $39.2 million, oysters broke the million mark at $1.3, and similar to 2007, fin fish were worth $4.9 million.  The total for 2008 was $45.4 million.

2009 brought $36.3 million dollars worth of crabs, $2.5 million dollars worth of oysters, and $4.5 million dollars worth of fish.  2009 was worth $43.3 million to watermen and seafood buyers.

In 2010, $41.4 million dollars worth of crabs were harvested, along with $943,905 of oysters and $5 million of fin fish.  The total for 2011 was $47.4 million.

In 2011, $38.3 million worth of crabs and $5.4 million dollars of fish were caught.  No data for oysters was provided, but the annual total still remained high at $43.7 million.

2012's data could not be provided on short notice, but 2013 was available, and shows a significant drop in revenue.

2013 brought only $12.1 million worth of blue crabs, an increase to almost $3 million worth of oysters, and a decrease to $3.3 million of fin fish, to a total of just $18.3 million dollars.

Seafood buyers WBOC spoke with say the numbers do reflect the very strong 2013 oyster season, but aren't so sure about the overall slip.  Some theorized the increase of regulations on the menhaden and striped bass fishery played a roll, along with the significant decrease in the crab population.  One man said it could just be that more cash transactions are taking place, and it's simply harder to track.

The numbers for 2014 have not been put together yet, and the DNR statistician we spoke with says these numbers aren't necessarily 100 percent accurate, as they are based primarily off of the rivers and the areas of the bay the seafood came from, not necessarily county lines.

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