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Cautious optimism over blue crab revival in Chesapeake Bay

By Sandy Sand     Apr 16, 2010 in Business
Crab anyone? Good resource management in Chesapeake Bay proves effective, and nobody is crabbing about the rebounding blue crab population in Chesapeake Bay after being depleted to levels that were so low fishing restrictions had to be enacted.
After fears that the blue crab population would be crabbed into extinction, the crabs have gained a new claw-hold in Chesapeake Bay leaving officials cautiously optimistic that the upward trend will continue.
According to separate press releases by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, the crab population has rebounded by 60 percent from its lowest levels two years ago to their highest numbers since 1997.
Fearing that the depleted stock of blue crabs would devastate an already floundering fishing industry, severe restrictions were placed on crabbing fisherman to stem the tide and bring back thriving populations of the blue crabs.
Both states, Maryland and Virginia, instituted rigid harvest-cutting regulations that not only included shortening the season, but also forbid fishermen from raking up hibernating pregnant female crabs from the sea floor.
It didn’t go unnoticed that O’Malley made the good news announcement for fishermen and crab lovers at a local seafood restaurant.
"This is not the end of the problem of threatened Bay species and a struggling Bay seafood industry, but it is a sign that managed the right way, the fisheries can respond and even flourish again," O’Malley said. "The right way is letting science, not politics, guide how we manage."
Equally pleased by the results, McDonnell said in a press release,
“While great strides have been made to rebuild our environmentally and economically important crab population, more work remains to be done with our steadfast Maryland partners.”
Both governors stressed the fact that two years does not make a trend, with McDonnell phrasing it this way:
“The scientific evidence shows our management measures are working but we need to continue along this path in order to ensure the Bay's crab population returns to robustness and remains at that level. Improving the Bay and the blue crab population will continue to be a priority of mine over the next four years."
Not to be out done, representatives of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said they were thrilled with the newly thriving population of blue crabs, and published a chart on their Wet site graphically showing the dramatic drop in the numbers of crabs over the past 10 years, and the strides made in boosting their ranks. It’s currently estimated that there are 658 million crabs residing in Chesapeake Bay.
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