Two news items on crabs in Chesapeake Bay today:
Compromise gives extra time to harvest blue crabs
In a deal favored by conservationists, regulators and watermen, Virginia will allow blue crabs to be harvested from the Chesapeake Bay an extra two weeks this year but will require a new collection system next year that's expected to limit catches of the prized seafood.State continues ban on blue crab dredging, extends potting season
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted unanimously for the compromise package Monday, which comes as seafood interests look to take advantage of a crab resurgence in recent years and as conservationists worry about blowing such gains.
Under the terms, watermen can continue gathering crabs through Dec. 15 - just in time for the holiday season - instead of stopping next week. Officials estimate an additional 350,000 pounds of crabs will be brought to market.
But next year, crabbers must live under a new regulatory system. Based on a sliding scale depending on the number of traps, or pots, they set in the bay, watermen can keep only a limited amount of crabs each day - between 27 bushels and 55 bushels per licensee.
Winter dredging for blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay is closed for the fifth year in a row as the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) moved Monday to continue to protect and rebuild the stock of pregnant hibernating females.IMHO, they can cancel the dredge fishery permanently. But year to year is OK, I guess.
To offset the impact on watermen, the commission also moved to extend the crab potting season by several weeks to Dec. 15, "which is going to be a boon to watermen," said VMRC spokesman John Bull.
The dredging ban was first instituted after a stock assessment found a 70 percent reduction in overall blue crab production in the bay — a percentage "approaching the danger level," said Bull.