BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new report by the Chesapeake Bay Program brings good news for Maryland crab lovers — the blue crab population is growing at a healthy rate.
A bountiful supply of blue crabs is not always guaranteed. But for waterman Sonny Norris — who owns Norris Seafood Market in Essex — his livelihood depends on it.
“I’ve been doing it all my life, and it’s just up and down. It’s just mother nature,” said Norris.
A recent survey out of the Chesapeake Bay shows a surge in the crab population.
With more than 550 million this year, the new crab survey indicates that Maryland is up from 410 million last year, making it the fourth highest crab population in 20 years.
“It’s encouraging. We always hope for the best,” said Norris.
With the increase comes good news for seafood lovers.
“Cost will come down and stay down a little bit. Everybody will be able to afford them,” says Gary Hale, a customer at Norris Seafood.
After the blue crab population took a plunge in 2014, regulations were implemented to ensure a sustainable future.
“Kudos to the management entities, the states that are paying attention to these numbers,” said Bruce Vogt, ecosystem manager, NOAA.
Restrictions were placed on the number of female crabs harvested. As a result, there were more than 194 million spawning female crabs in the Chesapeake Bay at the start of the season.
It’s a big improvement from last season, but about 20 million shy of the target level. The number of juvenile crabs is also continuing an upward trend.
And male crabs have nearly doubled from last year to 90 million.
“Signs are good. All three segments of the population we really focus on are looking great,” said Vogt. “So I think people can be happy and really enjoy their crabs.”
With this encouraging report, the committee recommends for local and state agencies to continue their current management strategies to preserve the 2017 stock.
The last time both juvenile and adult blue crabs had a long term average was in 1994.