Today the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Maryland Department of Natural Resources released the results of the 2021 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey, an annual estimate of the population of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. This year’s survey showed a slight increase in mature female crab levels when compared to last year, though juvenile crab numbers decreased to the lowest level since the survey began in 1990.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore issued this statement.
“The results of this year’s survey are definitely a mixed bag. The increase in the number of adult female blue crabs in the Bay is a good sign that fishery management focused on a robust female population is paying off. The reduced abundance of juveniles and males could make crabs scarce later this summer into the fall for those who enjoy eating crabs, and indicates we should remain cautious in our approach to managing this valuable fishery.
“Even though juvenile population estimates often fluctuate from year to year, the extremely low estimate in this year’s survey highlights the need to continue to protect spawning females and to consider precautionary measures to protect these juveniles so that they can grow to maturity and spawn. Reducing pollution to the Bay is another key to a healthier crab population, as cleaner waterways and more underwater grasses will provide improved crab habitat, particularly for juveniles.”