2018 Crab Population Survey Shows Dip in Numbers, Healthy Trend - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

2018 Crab Population Survey Shows Dip in Numbers, Healthy Trend Overall

Posted: May 09, 2018 5:31 PM Updated:
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CAMBRIDGE, Md. - The 2018 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey is out and, like most years, the report has some mixed results. The annual survey is conducted by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. This year, the survey shows the overall crab population in the Chesapeake Bay is down by 20 percent. Still, the number of young crabs is up, pointing to a healthy and sustainable future.

But for TL Morris Seafood owner, Josh Parker, there's only a few bushels of crabs to sell right now with the slow start to the season. The Maryland DNR survey estimates more than a third of the adult female blue crabs died from extremely cold weather this year. Parker says that cold is now slowing business.

"Yeah, absolutely," Parker said. "But at least we have something. It's something better than nothing."

The survey also finds nearly the same amount, 34 percent, of young adult crabs returned to the Bay to grow, pointing to the possibility the numbers could get better in the years ahead.

Grant Ruark at Kool Ice Seafood says the slow start is pushing prices for crabs up. A bushel of female crabs, he says, currently sells for about $100.

"It's just been a waiting game at this point," Ruark said.

It's a waiting game with more fish - not crabs - selling at places like Kool Ice. Still, Eddie Cyr made sure to pick up his crabs, despite the price.

"It doesn't make me feel happy but it's not going to stop me from buying it," Cyr said. "As long as they're here, I'm going to keep eating them."

Both Ruark and Parker say they'll keep selling too as they wait for a better season to come.

For watermen, Rob Newberry of the Delmarva Fisheries Associations says it will be a tough but good year for those who choose to crab. Newberry predicts the marketable, good-sized crabs won't come until later in the season. Despite that, Newberry adds, young crab numbers are up - a trend that is "promising for future harvests."

 

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