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Crabs Doing Well As Health Of The Bay Improves Slightly

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The tide is turning in a positive direction when it comes to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Suzanne Collins has the latest report card from the Bay Foundation on that waterway’s improving health.

The biggest news is blue crabs are coming back with a bang.  That’s something watermen can bank on and seafood lovers can salivate over. 

The Annapolis Seafood Market manager noticed the difference.

“If there was a shortage of Maryland crabs we would supplement them from Louisiana or North Carolina, and this year we didn’t have to go out-of-state at all,” said Chris Grava, Annapolis Seafood Market.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation “State of the Bay” report gives a grade of D+ for 2010.  That’s up from an F and D- in years past.

“It’s going in the right direction. It’s getting better, but it’s still a system dangerously out of balance,” said Will Baker, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Thirteen factors, including pollution and marine life, are measured.  Not only crabs, but rockfish are doing much better.

The report states the Maryland blue crab population in the bay has more than doubled in the past two years.  Initially some restrictions were placed on watermen and they did not like it, but the Chesapeake Bay Foundation says now they’re ahead of the game.

“Here’s the win-win in blue crabs.  While watermen are taking a lower percent of total crabs in the bay, the population has increased so much their absolute catch has gone up,” said Baker.

That leads one consumer, a seafood lover, to wonder.

“It should mean the price would go down, but that never happens,” said Richard Sudhoff.

Pollution from sewage treatment facilities is down after improvements.  Dead zones that lacked any sign of marine life are disappearing.  Phosphorus and nitrogen runoff or emissions still threaten, and there could be a sudden unexpected disaster like a weather crisis or an oil spill.

“How well is it improving?  Although we see the crab population is better, that would give an indication, but time will tell,” said Jeri Lowe from Annapolis.

The federal government is expected to announce a new agreement with Chesapeake Bay states on pollution control limits Wednesday.

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