If you plan to go crabbing this year, you should go soon as the season has been shortened by 10 days and limits have been placed on bushels of crabs.
On Monday, June 26, the annual Blue Crab Advisory Report’s release
indicated a decline in the population of the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crabs. The report is used by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission and state officials in the development of crab management strategies.
This year’s report showed an increase in the adult female crab population while the overall population has declined by 18 percent. While the adult female population increased by 30 percent, the juvenile blue crab population decreased by a whopping 54 percent. The report prompted a response by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources which shortened the commercial crabbing season by 10 days and implemented late season bushel limits for crabbers.
Maryland’s crab feast season is during the second half of summer when most of harvesting is done, the decision will not affect peak season crabbing. Crab lovers will still be able to enjoy all the crabs they want this summer, contrarily crabbers may yield lighter catches between now and the end of the crabbing season.
The Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee’s report is based on a winter time survey conducted by experts and scientists, this year they found the crab population decreased by one million from last year's near record setting population of 550 million. The shortening of the crabbing season is an attempt to help the population rebound as the decrease is attributed to the decline of the juvenile population.
The 2018 Maryland crab season will end on November 20, 10 days earlier than last year. Crabbers also are limited as to the number of bushels of adult female crabs they can catch as compared to last year. Virginia is also expected to follow suit based upon the findings.
Crab lovers, environmentalists and crab catchers should not be concerned. However, the crab population of the Chesapeake Bay depends much upon favorable currents needed by the crabs to make it from spawning areas to the Atlantic to their eventual home in the Bay as well as temperatures conducive to population growth. Both the tide and temperature can be expected to vary for better or for worse on any given year without regard to climate change.
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