Monday, April 22, 2013

Chesapeake Crabs Down, Managers Blame Redfish

One fish, two fish, redfish, bluefish: Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab abundance drops
The blue crab population in the Chesapeake Bay has dropped, but a substantial boost in the number of spawning-age females has offered officials a piece of good news in spite of this disappointing decline.

According to the results of the annual winter dredge survey, which measures the blue crab population in Maryland and Virginia, the number of spawning-age females in the Bay has risen 52 percent. The Chesapeake Bay Program tracks this number as an indicator of Bay health, and an increase is a sign that management methods to conserve adult female crabs are working. But an overall decline in the Bay’s blue crabs—from 765 million in 2012 to 300 million in 2013—could lead to the tightening of commercial harvest restrictions.

Scientists have attributed the decline in blue crabs not to overfishing, but to high mortality rates among juveniles. While last year’s winter dredge survey measured an unprecedented number of juvenile crabs in the Bay, last summer and fall saw an alarming loss of blue crab habitat and a large influx of red drum, which often feed on young crabs. Young blue crabs are also known to feed on each other when population densities are high.
Everything in Chesapeake Bay eats crabs.  Fish eat crab, we eat crabs, crabs eat crabs. That's what they're for.  If it would raise the redfish population, I would vote to cut the crab harvest to provide enough food for the reds.
“There is a saying in Baltimore that crabs may be prepared in fifty ways and that all of them are good.”- H. L. Mencken
Amen.  Even filtered through a redfish...

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