Report Finds Decline in Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Population - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Report Finds Decline in Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Population

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(Photo: Maryland DNR) (Photo: Maryland DNR)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP/WBOC)- An annual report has found the overall population of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay has declined and it recommends limiting the number harvested in the fall.
    
The annual Blue Crab Advisory Report was released Monday. It was developed by scientists and other experts and will be used by state officials in Maryland and Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission to develop crab management strategies.
    
The report found that while numbers of adult female crabs in the bay increased by 30 percent in 2017, the overall population decreased by almost 18 percent. The number of juvenile crabs decreased by 54 percent from 2016 to 2017.

“The highly variable nature of blue crabs was on full display this past year,” said Glenn Davis, chair of the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “The largest abundance of spawning females from the Winter Dredge Survey time series was great news, and demonstrated what can happen when jurisdictions adhere to science-based management. The low recruitment served as a reminder that large inter-annual fluctuations can be part of the norm and that managing blue crabs is a continuous challenge.”   

The report recommends:

  • Jurisdictions should maintain a cautious, risk-averse approach in 2017, and consider scaling back the fall fishery from last year’s more liberal regulations. This would protect a greater number of juvenile crabs and give them the opportunity to grow old enough to spawn next year, which would produce more crabs in the future.
  • The accuracy and quality of tracking both commercial and recreational harvests should continue to be improved. Current efforts to collaborate with industry groups on electronic and online reporting systems and other new reporting technologies should continue.
  • Jurisdictions and scientists should work to address specific research questions and discuss timing, rationale and resources for future stock assessments that would provide in-depth analysis of the blue crab population, fishery and management. 

Blue crab populations can vary widely based on weather, water temperature and other conditions, as well as fishing pressure.

Click here to read the full report. 

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