A group of commercial watermen is asking Virginia officials to implement new measures to strengthen blue crab population management in the state.Given the huge year to year variations of crab populations (and harvests) in Chesapeake Bay, a 10% cut is just nibbling around the edges of the problem, if problem there is. On the other hand, a good year could easily follow and make the whole exercise moot.
The Virginia Blue Crab Industry Panel is seeking formal consideration of its recommendations from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
This summer the commission reduced the harvest of female blue crabs by 10 percent over the next year.
An annual survey released in May showed the number of spawning-age female blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay dropped below the minimum safe level of 70 million and are depleted.A quota based system, similar to the system that Alaska uses for its various crab stocks, and Maine for its lobster stocks is probably an improvement over the current system where all the license holder fish as hard as they can to make all the money that they can (not that there's anything wrong with that).
The industry panel says more long-term measures are needed to address the situation. Its recommendations include a pilot program assigning individual harvest limits to watermen based on the total number of crabs that can be safely harvested.