BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland’s famous blue crabs are getting harder and harder to find. That’s been a big blow to businesses and watermen who rely on the state’s signature seafood.

Kai Jackson explains why this has been such a difficult season.

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Blue crabs are synonymous with Maryland and eating them is a summertime tradition, but you can’t eat what watermen don’t catch. This year, there are fewer to harvest because the blue crab population is down.

“Not in 15 years since I’ve been here have I seen anything this bad,” said Bruce Whalen.

Whalen manages Cantler’s Riverside Inn, which is located in Annapolis. He says a shortage of crabs in Maryland is forcing restaurants and other retailers to get their crabs out of state.

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“Business has been good. People still want the crabs. We’re hittin’ people from outta state so they don’t really know the difference too much,” Whalen said.

The decline is no surprise to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. In May, the state agency released the numbers and said they just don’t add up.

“The crab population dropped substantially, by more than 50 percent, and what that means is there are fewer crabs to fish on,” said Lynn Fegley, DNR Fisheries.

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Maryland and Virginia have placed restrictions on catching female crabs. They hope the rules replenish the crab population.