Just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program has pronounced the bay’s blue crab stocks stable, not overfished and not in decline.
The annual Blue Crab Advisory Report released Wednesday by the Bay Program found that the Chesapeake’s crab stock remains healthy despite having dropped by nearly 200 million crabs this year.
Chris Moore, a senior scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says the numbers are within a reasonable range.
“The blue crab stock is a stock that we see a lot of variability from year to year,” he said. “And if you look at this year’s results as a whole, it’s almost dead in the center of where it’s been over about the last 30 years or so.”
He said it’s not unusual “to see some of this variability in the stock in any given year.”
The numbers, developed by Virginia and Maryland through surveys done over the winter, represent a sharp turn-around since the late 1990s and early 2000s, when crab stocks had plummeted.
In 2008 Maryland and Virginia developed a comprehensive blue crab management plan that cut the harvest of female crabs by 34% and the stocks began to rebound.
“And since that time, we’ve seen a much more robust population generally than we’d seen in the time period prior to 2008 when those regulations went into effect,” Moore said.