The first day of Virginia's blue crabs fishery season opened on Monday, but cold weather and frigid water is leaving the state's signature crustacean sluggish and not moving around.Whenever you talk about crabs, you always get the question "So, how are the crabs doing this year?"
That means a very slow start to the crabbing season for watermen.
Cyndi Speight, operations manager at York River Seafood Co. on the Perrin River near its mouth to the York River, said she doesn't believe blue crabs will be landed until April due to the extended winter the region has been having.
How this year's blue crabs season will measure up to previous years won't be known for some time. Results from an annual Virginia Institute of Marine Science winter survey of the blue crabs population is still a few weeks away, said Rom Lipcius, a VIMS marine science professor.So, although the cold weather will give the crabs a little respite, they will get hammered by the crabbers in due time.
"My sense is that the fishery isn't going to do better than last year," Lipcius said.
The blue crabs harvest in Virginia has fluctuated over the past 10 years, but declined sharply last year compared to the previous two years, according to VMRC data.
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Last year's catch of an estimated 17.9 million lbs. is the lowest in the past decade, records show. The only comparable year was 2008, when 19.3 million lbs. of blue crabs were harvested, according to VMRC figures.