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Author Topic: Chesapeake Bay Commission Blue Crab Report  (Read 5195 times)
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Crabpop
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« on: November 14, 2003, 05:27:25 PM »

Report: Blue Crabs In Chesapeake At Historic Lows
State Studies Show Crabbing Rules Should Remain In Place

POSTED: 5:56 p.m. EST November 13, 2003

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Chesapeake Bay's blue crab population remains at historic lows, but its decline has leveled off, according to a report to presented Friday to a commission of legislators from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

For the first time since 1993, the bay's crab stock is no longer dwindling, according to the report, prepared by a panel of more than 20 scientists, researchers and state resource managers.

Still, it urges legislators to "stay the course" with their restrictions on Maryland's most valuable fishery, said Ann Swanson, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission.  

The state Department of Natural Resources, which conducts its own studies on the state of the blue crab, agrees that new crabbing rules should stay in place, said Lynn Fegley, DNR fisheries biologist and chief of the department's blue crab program.

"Anyone who has a stake in the fishery should not be letting their guard down right now," Fegley said.

The scientists' panel updates the state of the blue crab as of this fall. The 15 legislators on the commission look to the panel's work to advise them on how to regulate the crabbing industry, which has suffered as the bay's crabs decline.

The 16-page report is the first from the scientific panel since a three-year plan with new management rules was put into place in 2001. The jurisdictions of Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission instituted size limits and began restricting the length of crabbers' workdays and their seasons.

They also established seasonal sanctuaries off limits to commercial crabbing.

The actions are working, the report concludes, but lawmakers should "stay true" to the plan. Lawmakers should stay focused on the goal to double spawning stock -- mature male and female crabs that breed, the report says.

"There is only one crab population in the Chesapeake Bay," the report concludes. "Without enough mature crabs of both sexes to mate and reproduce, the crab population in the Chesapeake cannot sustain itself" at levels high enough to maintain the current fishery, the panel found.

The Chesapeake Bay Commission is meeting in Solomons through Friday.

Stay with TheWBALChannel.com and WBAL-TV 11 News for the latest food news updates.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2003, 05:31:04 PM by Crabpop » Logged

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