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Author Topic: MD moves to allow increased imports of egg-bearing female crabs  (Read 2228 times)
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evinrude 130
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« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2017, 10:41:59 PM »

Saw this just now.  Glad to see it voted down.  Mentions what I posted earlier about competition .  The last paragraph  is interesting to me. Sometimes things like that happen when folks are ready to leave and not realize the full discussion.

http://www.bayjournal.com/article/maryland_panel_weighs_in_against_expanding_sponge_crab_imports

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Maryland panel weighs in against expanding ‘sponge’ crab imports
Watermen say their income, and Bay's crab stock, could be hurt by processors' bid to get more egg-bearing females from out of state
By Rona Kobell on October 27, 2017
 
1
 Female blue crabs develop an egg-bearing mass, called a 'sponge,' beneath their apron after mating. Each sponge can contain hundreds of thousands to millions of eggs. (David Saddler/ Flicker. Photo Courtesy Chesapeake Bay Program)
Female blue crabs develop an egg-bearing mass, called a 'sponge,' beneath their apron after mating. Each sponge can contain hundreds of thousands to millions of eggs. (David Saddler/ Flicker. Photo Courtesy Chesapeake Bay Program)
A key Maryland advisory commission has weighed in against a bid by Eastern Shore crab processors to nearly double, effectively, the number of egg-bearing female crabs they could import from other states to pick for crabmeat.

The Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission of the Department of Natural Resources voted 13 to1 against a proposal to expand the number of days the processors could import egg-bearing female, or sponge, crabs, from 72 days to 122 days. The lone vote in favor was Aubrey Vincent of Lindy’s Seafood Inc., a processing company in Woolford, near Cambridge.

Sponge crabs have long been illegal to harvest in Maryland. But they’re legal to harvest in other states, including Virginia – though that state does bar taking “dark” sponge crabs about to release their eggs.

While opposing an expansion of sponge crab imports, the DNR advisory panel did agree to recommend allowing processors some flexibility in the dates when the egg-bearing crustaceans could be shipped in from out of state.  The current window is April 25 to July 5; under the commission’s recommendation, processors would be able to adjust that by two weeks in either direction. That proposal passed unanimously.

The tidal fisheries panel’s vote appears to end, at least for now, a years-long effort by processors to increase their supply of out-of-state sponge crabs to compensate for when the local catch of male and non-egg-bearing females falls off.

Like many processors, Vincent’s company employs seasonal crabmeat pickers from Mexico who are allowed temporary entry to the United States on H2-B visas. The processors say they must request visas before they know how the year’s crab harvest is likely to go, and are required to pay the workers, whether there are crabs to pick or not.

The blue crab’s life cycle spans the Chesapeake and even extends into the Atlantic Ocean, which complicates management of the fishery. After mating, female crabs migrate down the Bay to spawn, or release their fertilized eggs. They form a sack, or sponge, outside their bodies, which contains hundreds of thousands to millions of eggs.
Maryland crab processors have been restricted since 2003 in their ability to import sponge crabs for their crabmeat. But the companies have been pressing for years to relax that limit.

They seemed to have succeeded at last in late September, when the DNR’s Blue Crab Industry Advisory Committee voted 12 to 2 to nearly double the period for permitting imports of out-of-state sponge crabs.  Watermen on that committee sympathized with the plight of processors like Vincent and Jack Brooks, of J.M. Clayton Co. in Cambridge. Brooks originally asked for no restrictions on sponge imports, but accepted the expanded 122-day window that the industry panel eventually recommended.

However, several key watermen missed that advisory committee meeting. And two watermen on the panel who voted in favor of the measure in September said Thursday that they regretted their earlier stance.

“Driving home from the meeting, I said, ‘My God, what have I done?’” said Richard Young, a Baltimore County crabber. “It was the wrong thing to do. I made a wrong vote. We need to keep the sponge crabs in the fishery. If processors would take them from Texas, or Florida, I don’t care. But not from Virginia. Not from our Bay. Please.”

Blair Baltus, president of the Baltimore County Watermen’s Association, said he shared Young’s regret.

“I can’t see putting any more pressure on those sponge crabs,” Baltus said. “We’ll be strained enough as it is next year.”

Baltus was referring to this year’s winter dredge survey results, which showed a record high number of female crabs but a 54 percent decrease in juvenile crabs, compared with the previous year. Scientists predicted a robust first half of the season and a dismal second, and crabbers say that has come to pass.

Watermen are concerned about a glut of sponge crabs on the market undercutting their prices – male hard crabs fetch about $110 a bushel dockside in early fall; females are closer to $40, and female sponge crabs are about $35 per bushel. But they are also worried about the future of their resource. Pulling off the sponge and discarding it compromises the future population at a time when the annual survey suggests it’s already in jeopardy.

“No waterman would vote in favor of this,” said Moochie Gilmer, a Queen Anne’s County waterman. He had been a vocal opponent of extending the import window, but missed the September vote.

It’s not clear how many crabs Maryland processors import from out of state in a given year. It’s tough, too, for Virginia to discern how much of their female blue crab harvest comes from sponge crabs, as there is no reporting requirement for them.  Most of the crabs caught in Virginia are females, but the state also has an 855-square-mile crab sanctuary that protects many of them.

Even so, Virginia officials have said much of the demand for sponges caught in their state comes from Maryland during the window when imports are allowed.

Vincent, of Lindy’s Seafood, told the crabbers that her company provides a market for crabbers in the fall, but to be able to buy their crabs then, she needs pickers for the whole season.

“Nobody wants to rape the Bay of all its female crabs, but the truth is, I am buying sponge crabs in Virginia. They will continue to harvest that crab,” Vincent said. “I’m in driving distance of people picking this crab, because they’re able to.”

After the Fourth of July, when the crab runs slow, she said, processors find themselves in a situation where “you’re dry, you have no picking crabs, but you have a house full of workers that I told the (U.S.) Department of Labor I would pay 35 hours a week.”

Gilmer responded: “You having too many pickers is a decision you have to make. You have to be more on the conservative side … I don’t think you can put the burden of that on the resource.”

Mike Luisi, DNR’s director of monitoring and assessment, said the department would formally propose the minor change in the import window recommended by the Tidal Fisheries panel, with the intent to make it effective by the next crab season, which begins April 1. He said fisheries managers would work with the processors, of which about 20 remain in Maryland, to agree on adjusted dates for the more flexible import window. There will likely be a public hearing on the matter in the spring.

Crabbers said they did not have a problem with allowing a two-week swing in the import window, since it did not increase the overall time for permitting sponge crab shipments to processors.

After the meeting, Young said he voted in favor of the original expansion out of deference for Brooks, and because he thought processors were seeking flexibility in the timing of sponge crab imports, not an expansion. The proposal had come toward the end of a long meeting, he said, and he and some other watermen realized, after discussions among themselves, that they had gotten confused.

“Really,” he said, “why in the world would we vote to cut our own throat?”

 
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Oneneckatatime
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« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2017, 08:22:41 AM »

One word. Murderers!
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evinrude 130
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« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2017, 09:28:06 AM »

"The tidal fisheries panel’s vote appears to end, at least for now, a years-long effort by processors to increase their supply of out-of-state sponge crabs to compensate for when the local catch of male and non-egg-bearing females falls off. "

 The words"at least for now", means what? I'm hoping that MD watermen are now thinking and worrying about the future of crabs and their livelihood. The money will come if there is a abundant amount  of resources  there  for fishing and crabbing.  I like that many  are concerned about doing the right thing.


" Murderers" is correct in a sense, but pretty dramatic. Making money to live on is really what I've always thought about the position waterman had.  Many of us always put family first before anything else.  Just wish that someone didn't start showing concern for the crabs and fish earlier. Like in the late 70"s. But it is what it is.
  
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« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2017, 03:14:56 PM »

Southern Maryland Crabber Willy Dean said it best on page 16 in the Bay Journal aritcle when he stated. If we open this wide ,in 3 years you can take your crab pots and trotlines and burn them up . Crabbers Willy Dean and Tommy Zinn both from southern Maryland were the only 2 that voted against. We're being sold out. Simple as that. It is bad enough that Virginia doesn't care about what happens to the crabs in Maryland but when Maryland doesn't care either  We're in big trouble. Moving  sponge crabs from Virginia's portion of the Chesapeake bay to Maryland's portion is counter productive for our crab population. If they don't like Maryland law they move their plants to Virginia.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 08:46:28 AM by Neither Crab » Logged
capt. ron
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« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2017, 07:57:05 PM »

Don't know if I should weigh in on this or not.  If anyone wants me to shut up and stay out of Maryland's business I'll understand.

JMO
If out of state imports (wherever they come from) flood the factory/market (picking plants) the price for those crabs will be lower when the Maryland crabbing season does open.  That's a fact. As geography puts it Virginia shares its water with Maryland.  Crabs don't have a border or a state line to abide by therefore their eggs and offspring could and would and will travel into Maryland waters.  Maryland has it right by putting a season on female crabs.  Only wish other states would do the same.  

OK   OK   you're from Louisiana.  Yeah lets take a look at my state.

Crab production has been declining since 2006
There's has been no crabbing season. open year round, 12 months, 365 days
No limits on gear.  NONE
Recs limits 12 dozen  Male or female  No size limit
2 - 2 1/2" escape rings on each trap/cage/pot (no one used trot lines here,  well except me Grin)

Last year was the first time the crabbing season was shut down 30 days (mid Feb thru mid March)
What a joke.  During that time of the year crab catches are at there lowest levels of the year anyway.

Next year 2018 will have some major changes.
The harvest of females during the months of April and May will be illegal.  Most maidens shed that time of the year and are harvested for softshell crabs.  
Crab traps are required to have 4 - 2 9/16" escape rings in each trap.  2 on the top and 2 on the lower sections of the traps.  This is to allow smaller crabs to escape.
These are just a few but should make the biggest impact.

Some crabbers are complaining that it will hurt them financially.  Well if something isn't done soon there won't be a crabbing industry at all. After the BP spill the central and eastern portions of Louisiana lost 2 maybe 3 generations of crabs.  With catches down what do you think the state and BP does???  Gives every crabber hundreds of traps for FREE.  Yeah.  So now there is more gear out there (remember NO limit on gear) to catch the little bit of crabs that are out there.

Anyway I hope the changes for 2018 makes a difference and pray its not to little to late.

Ronnie


 


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evinrude 130
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« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2017, 08:14:43 PM »

"Next year 2018 will have some major changes.
The harvest of females during the months of April and May will be illegal.  Most maidens shed that time of the year and are harvested for softshell crabs"

This is in line with my thought of starting MD crabbing May 1st. It give those shedders a break for the month of April.  I also think the shed for male crabs is also important for the crab population.  Bigger the crab makes every one smile and should bring more money.

 Thanks for posting capt ron, hope someone from DNR or the advisory committee see's your post. Sounds like Louisiana is trying their best for the future of crabbing.  Being proactive makes a lot of sense to me, IMHO.  Maryland is trying, Virginia made an effort but needs to stop the harvesting of female sponge crabs.

 As for BP, they had to do something to save face. Even if it wasn't well thought out. I would hope other crabbers like yourself from other states will offer an opinion if they think the crabbing is getting worse.
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rdbeard
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« Reply #26 on: December 12, 2017, 12:30:44 PM »

E130 where did you get this info, sounds false, restricting the harvest of all females in those months will never happen here. Please post a link.
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Mikie
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« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2017, 02:15:39 PM »

E130 where did you get this info, sounds false, restricting the harvest of all females in those months will never happen here. Please post a link.

Read Ron's post above - this is stuff from Louisiana.
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reds
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« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2017, 04:24:25 PM »

E130 where did you get this info, sounds false, restricting the harvest of all females in those months will never happen here. Please post a link.

rdbeard your mail box is full
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rdbeard
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« Reply #29 on: December 13, 2017, 12:35:17 PM »

Reds i fixed it. when e 130 posted it looked like he was speaking of md law. I guess he's happy for those in la.
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« Reply #30 on: December 13, 2017, 02:04:50 PM »

Reds i fixed it. when e 130 posted it looked like he was speaking of md law. I guess he's happy for those in la.

He is trying to stir the pot.

Anything to get a rise.
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