ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Cracking down on illegal crabbing. New rules are set to go into effect.

Amy Yensi has more on the campaign to preserve the blue crab population.

Maryland Natural Resources Police are making it clear they’ll be doing all they can to protect the blue crab population.

It’s hard to find a menu or table in Maryland that hasn’t had a crab on it.

“I think nothing tastes better than a crab you caught yourself,” said Marcus Lyons.

But catching a live one may be at risk. Experts say the number of spawning-age female blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay is well below peak levels. That’s why, for the second summer in a row, the Maryland Natural Resources Police is enforcing its Don’t Get Pinched campaign.

“NRP officers will be on the water, on the docks, at wholesalers, at roadside stands to ensure that everyone plays by the rules,” said Col. George F. Johnson.

There are quantity limits for recreational and commercial crabbers. Crabs five and a quarter inches or larger are for keeps; smaller or female crabs must be thrown back into the water so that they can continue to multiply.

And breaking the rules could get you pinched in your wallet.

“Just follow the rules and there won’t be no problems,” said one.

Some say the fines are fair game if it means saving one of summer’s simplest pleasures.

“If it’s a female, I know the rules on it because I want to preserve it for my children. I just had a daughter; she’s going to go fishing whether she knows it or not,” said Lyons.

Part delicacy and part Maryland symbol that officials and Marylanders hope can be preserved for future generations.

The new crabbing rules go into effect July 15. For a look at the sizing and limit rules, click here.

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