Blue Crab News, Good and Bad
Maryland politicians and Department of Natural Resources officials are patting themselves on the back (and deservedly so) for the resurgence of the blue crab population this year, with a predicted abundance of juvenile crabs greater than has been seen in almost 20 years. Due to the restrictions placed on the harvest of female crabs beginning in 2008, the population of Maryland’s most famous crustacean has been rebounding smartly every year since. The total 2012 crab population is predicted to be nearly two-thirds greater than last year (764 million crabs), though many of the juveniles won’t be legal sized until later in the summer.
The only fly in this celebration’s ointment is the ominous and simultaneous finding that over half of our spawning-age female crab population from 2011 appears to be missing. Officials don’t know whether the females have moved to areas not included in the sampling procedure (because of our unusual weather). Since DNR has only in the last few years recognized that the number of female crabs is the single most critical determining factor in how the population will fare in the immediate future, finding out what has happened to the missing sooks should be the next item on the agenda. It could be grim news for 2013 if the surviving female population is not protected.