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Crabbing Season Cut Short; Report Finds Decline In Crab Population

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– New research suggests there may not be as many blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay as once thought.

The concern is pushing to call for a limited harvest this fall.

RELATED: Report Finds Decline In Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Population

Initially it seemed the Bay was on track for a second straight year of crab growth with the number of female crabs at an all time high, but a new report reveals the overall number of crabs is less than favorable.

As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, it’s news many likely won’t want to hear. Especially if crabs, specifically Maryland crabs, are what you’re craving.

Blue crabs could be a lot harder to find and more expensive later this summer.

A new report put out by the Chesapeake Bay Program finds a decline in the number of crabs over the past year, particularly juvenile crabs.

Despite initial excitement over an estimated 30 percent increase in female crabs in 2017, the report finds the overall crab population fell 18 percent from 553 million in 2016 to 455 million this year.

As a result, the State has decided to end the crabbing season several days early.

One crabber says the information comes as a bit of shock, but says it’s hard to argue with the science.

“Are the numbers down? That’s a hard question to say, I’d go with the scientists and say if they did all this research, absolutely I’d believe them cause that’s their job,” says lifetime crabber Mike Kobus.

As far as concerns over what cutting the crab season early and imposing late season bushel limits could mean for prices, some argue it comes with the territory.

“Would you be upset if you had to sit at a nice table and spend $10 more for a dozen crabs if you love them?” Kobus says. “Not me, not most of the people I know.”

One seafood shop says they support the shorter harvest.

“It helps the population and all that sustainability going for a lot longer,” one man says.

The decision does not impact the crab harvest July 4 through Labor Day.

The crab harvest will close on November 20.

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