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Author Topic: 2009 Status of the Blue Crab  (Read 4337 times)
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Pot Puller
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« on: April 24, 2009, 11:00:28 AM »

Sounds like a good season comin' up....

As reported by NewsChannel 8 in Arlington, VA:


Maryland, Virginia Announce Crab Population Rebound in Bay posted 04/17/09 9:52 pm


ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Chesapeake Bay's battered blue crab population has rebounded with a 50 percent increase over last year, an improvement credited to harvest restrictions that need to continue to rebuild the species, Maryland and Virginia officials said Friday.

The population of female adult blue crabs doubled from the previous year, while adult males increased by 50 percent, according to the 2009 winter dredge survey. Environmental officials in both states attribute the turnaround to restrictions on the the female crab harvest.

Officials cheered results from this year's winter dredge survey but cautioned that continued restrictions will be needed to revive a crab population that was 70 percent lower last year than it was in 1993. Talkback:
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"We didn't get into this situation overnight, and we not going to get out of it overnight, so we need to be mindful of the broader conditions against which we are all working," said L. Preston Bryant Jr., Virginia's secretary of natural resources.

Results of the winter dredge survey were released by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, which drag selected areas of the bay and count the crabs there to come up with an estimate of the overall population.

The survey estimates there are about 418 million blue crabs in the bay, an increase from 280 million crabs in the prior year's survey. Of the 418 million, 243 million are adults and 175 million are juveniles, whose population did not change measurably.

Lynn Fegley, a biologist in charge of the blue crab team at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said the progress was neither "a random event" nor "due to environmental conditions."

"It really is clearly a response to management and it is critical that we ensure that these adult females survive to spawn this summer, so that they are able to contribute to a healthy spawning stock down the road," Fegley said.

Jack Travelstead, fisheries director for the Virginia Marine Resource Commission, said Virginia will be "very inclined to keep in place this year the measures we had in place last year."

Those included early season closures of the crab pot fishery and closing the winter dredge fishery. Travelstead said closing the winter dredge fishery likely saved between 15 and 20 million crabs.

"The indication is we're clearly on the path of success and it was clearly related to the measures we have in place," Travelstead said, noting the commission will be meeting with advisory committees next week and in mid May.

Travelstead also said harvest restrictions won't be peeled back, but methods could be changed. He mentioned the early fall closure of the pot season as a possible restriction that could be changed.

"For instance, we've advertised bushel limits as a measure that the industry may favor as opposed to an early season closure, but again we've not had those meetings with industry yet to determine that," Travelstead said.

Both Maryland and Virginia a target in 2001 that no more than 46 percent of the crabs be harvested, but a smaller crab population and high fishing pressure caused more than 60 percent of the bay's crab population to be harvested in 2007, officials say.

Tom O'Connell, director of the Maryland DNR's fisheries service, said the state will continue to aim for that 46 percent rate. O'Connell said because of the crab increase, some modest adjustments to the harvest could be made this year. That decision will be made in late May, after officials work with the industry.

O'Connell also said Maryland will have to recognize that there are people who hold crab licenses who haven't used them in recent years, and the state will need to take that into consideration, particularly because effects from the national recession could bring more people back into crabbing.

Bill Goldsborough, a senior fisheries scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said the survey was encouraging, and he described having an adult population above 200 million adults as "the minimum level for a healthy crab population."

"But the number of juvenile crabs, on which future abundance depends, is not any better than last year and well below the long-term average," Goldsborough said in a statement. "While harvest restrictions did reduce the percentage of the crab population that was caught, the harvest rate was still above the target."

Here's the numbers for all those who really need to know them!
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/crab/031709crabdredgebrief.pdf
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2009, 12:11:50 PM »

gotta love it.  Wink
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2009, 08:36:39 PM »

Good News!
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2009, 10:02:21 PM »

thats reallly goood
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Born and raised eastern shore country boy; yes that means i work on a commercial crab boat..
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2009, 03:08:58 PM »

the news is good even with the females being fished pretty heavily in Southern waters, particularly in VA where they are in high abundance. I was down near the Ches bridge tunnel over the weekend and heard the commercial boats were all coming in with the limit of 45 bushels and they were all females...not sure how many boats they were talking about but thats a lot of females that won't be spawning...plus, the crabs are so plentiful down there that the price has dropped in half, down to $20/bu to the boat...this was all second hand info so I'm not positive that it was accurate but I understand that is what they catch down there, mostly females.
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2009, 04:33:23 PM »

the news is good even with the females being fished pretty heavily in Southern waters, particularly in VA where they are in high abundance. I was down near the Ches bridge tunnel over the weekend and heard the commercial boats were all coming in with the limit of 45 bushels and they were all females...not sure how many boats they were talking about but thats a lot of females that won't be spawning...plus, the crabs are so plentiful down there that the price has dropped in half, down to $20/bu to the boat...this was all second hand info so I'm not positive that it was accurate but I understand that is what they catch down there, mostly females.

State sources.  Don't go on hearsay.  Who did you hear it from and who are THEY?  Huh Roll Eyes
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Billycrab
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2009, 11:54:54 AM »

A neighbor of mine owns property down there as well and he knows a bunch of people that live there year round and work locally in the building trades...that local town area is not very big and all the commercial boats apparently come into the marina at the end of the day...they were telling him that they are catching a lot of crabs down there right now, just that they are pretty much all females...the comm. crabbers are probably out running long strings of pots in the main bay area...when my neighbor had 2 pots off his dock last summer he said he caught a mix of males and females so the creek areas may hold more male crabs, I don't know but will give it a shot this summer and find out first hand..

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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2009, 01:11:24 PM »

Good news.  I'm headed down to the northern neck in a few weeks, and would love to catch a few dinners...
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