ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population increased by 60 percent in one year, a survey said, making the total population of blue crabs at 594 million.

The 2019 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey results were announced by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, the chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council.

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“We are proud of our administration’s strong record of skilled environmental stewardship, which begins with safeguarding the Chesapeake Bay,” said Hogan. “Today’s results are further proof and a shining example that our efforts to protect Maryland’s blue crab population, while ensuring the health of our state’s most important natural asset, have been successful.”

The rise was higher than anticipated since there was a poor influx of juvenile crabs in 2017.

The adult, female population rose to 190 million — a 29 percent gain from 2018, and the adult, male population increased 38 percent to 80 million. Mild winter temperatures helped the crab’s survival.

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“The blue crab population is both healthy and thriving, which is great news for the entire Bay,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. “Under Governor Hogan’s leadership, these results are a clear indication of the effectiveness of our management plan for blue crabs, an iconic species that is essential to Maryland’s economy and the Bay’s ecosystem.”

In 2018, baywide harvest was 55 million pounds, which is similar to the 54 million pounds harvested in 2017.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore issued the following statement following the release of the survey,

“While there are many variables that affect blue crabs, these strong numbers are not surprising after a mild winter and the good harvests reported by watermen last fall and this spring. Good fisheries management and healthy habitat are the two big keys to a strong blue crab population. 

“This is another year of positive news for crabs in the Bay thanks to wise management of the commercial and recreational fisheries for blue crabs. Increasing important blue crab habitat such as underwater grasses and oyster reefs also helps to boost the crab population. We hope the Bay states will continue their wise management policies and water quality investments in order to maintain these promising numbers.”

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Ahead of the announced Hogan enjoyed crabs with First Lady Yumi at Mike’s Crab House in Riva. Courtesy Larry Hogan