Friday, May 27, 2011

Maryland to Increase Take of Female Crabs

DNR will increase female crab limit
ANNAPOLIS -- State officials have announced they will increase the commercial daily catch limits for female crabs this fall after determining that it will not have a negative impact on rebuilding the blue crab population.

Jody Tull, a waterman from Marion Station who serves on the state's Blue Crab Advisory Committee, said the increase was one of three options offered to watermen by the Department of Natural Resources.

This year, DNR will increase daily female catch limits between Sept. 1 and Nov. 10.

A crabber with a Limited Crab Catcher License will be allowed to land 12 bushels a day, an increase of two bushels compared with the same period last year...
The past two years have seen crab numbers rebound somewhat after crabbing restrictions were instituted as a result of falling stocks.  A strong run of female crabs (sooks) occurs in fall, when the females migrate from the upper bay where they spent the summer feeding, growing, having sex and molting to their final adult size down to the lower bay, and the ocean, where they release their planktonic young.

In Maryland, male crabs, Jimmies, are the most highly prized for consumption at the traditional Maryland crab feed.  Many people will refuse to buy females (sooks), and as a result, their price tends to be much lower.  Females do, however, form a substantial part of the commercial catch which goes to picking houses, and are shipped all over as crab meat.  No one can see the sex of crab meat...

Is it too early to start increasing the take of crabs, particularly the take of "pregnant" females?  I guess we'll find out in a few years.

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