CBF: Waterman and Crabs Benefitting From Management Plan

Press Release
April 19, 2011

CBF: Watermen and Crabs Benefiting from Management Plan;
Stay the Course

Blue crab on a dockPhoto credit: Damon Fodge

Watermen caught more crabs last year than any time since the early 1990s.

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)��� Bill Goldsborough, senior fishery scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, issued the following statement after the release today of the annual winter crab survey results:

"Despite a killer cold snap in December, the crab population is relatively healthy in the Chesapeake Bay. The bold, science-based management plan implemented by Maryland and Virginia to stabilize the population continues to work. Watermen caught more crabs last year than any time since the early 1990s. And the crab population, despite the hard winter, is still above the level targeted by fisheries scientists. That speaks to the resiliency and the relative health of the blue crab population directly resulting from the management plan put in place. Without the conservation steps the crab population would undoubtedly remain at the low levels of the decade preceding its implementation.

For the first time since the early 1990s the crab population remained at sustainable levels for three years in a row. That's a sign of real progress. Everyone is benefiting: the crabs and the crabbing industry. But we can't declare victory yet. Mother Nature is telling us that even our hardiest Bay creature still needs a helping hand, so we must stay the course.

Reproduction was not as successful as the very high levels of 2009 but we don't expect to set records each year. There are always factors that a management system can't control, like climate. The winter weather and lower reproduction will probably mean a slightly smaller catch this season, but that catch will still be higher than most years during the past decade. Again, that's progress: an upward trend toward ecological and economic health."

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