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Craving Crabs This Holiday Weekend? DNR Says There’s A Shortage In Females

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — This holiday weekend is rife with crab feasts, especially when the weather is as nice as it’s been. But a new report released this week warns that the number of crabs headed to your table is down.

Gigi Barnett reports the Department of Natural resources is asking watermen to cut down on their catch.

This is Maryland’s premiere catch: tasty crustaceans straight from the Chesapeake.

While the Maryland blue crab is in high demand this holiday weekend, a new survey says the number of female crabs in the bay has slipped.

“The spawning stock of females was much lower than we wanted it,” said Glen Davis, DNR biologist.

Department of Natural Resources biologist Glen Davis says the threshold of spawning female crabs — those that replenish the population — is at least 70 million.

Last year, that number was nearly 150 million.

But this year’s survey found only about 68.5 million spawning females are in the Chesapeake. That means Maryland’s crab population is nearly depleted.

So, what’s to be done?

“The three jurisdictions — Maryland, Virginia and Potomac River — have agreed as a precautionary measure to reduce harvest for 2014 and 2015 by 10 percent,” Davis said.

That’s going to hit customers craving crabs hard.

“The people are coming in and we say we don’t have them. And they go looking at other places. And they’re sold out, too,” said Steve Pappas, Pappas Restaurant owner.

Pappas owns Pappas Restaurant in Parkville. He says the 10 percent cutback to boost the crab population is too low.

“I would like to see it more because we need to replenish our crop of crabs,” Pappas said.

The good news in the study is watermen aren’t overfishing the Chesapeake. Those numbers are at or below what the DNR predicted.

Back in 2011, the state adopted a goal of 215 million spawning-age female blue crabs in the Chesapeake.

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