ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Chesapeake Bay Program released the 2021 Blue Crab Advisory Report and it found that the blue crab population is not being overfished and is not depleted. The numbers may be down, but the population remains healthy.

“All of us who love blue crabs benefit from the science-based analysis and discussion in the Blue Crab Advisory Report. The report helps state resource managers set limits that leave enough crabs in the Bay to ensure healthy harvests for years to come,” said Sean Corson, Director, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and Chair, Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team.

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The Winter Dredge Survey found that the blue cran population in the bay decreased from 405 million in 2020 to 282 million in 2021. Experts said this decline can be attributed to the juvenile crab population — crabs that will grow to harvestable size next year. That number is estimated to be 86 million, down from 185 million in 2020.

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The 2021 Advisory Report recommends:

  • Researchers should explore the environmental factors that may contribute to the highly variable nature of the blue crab population.
  • The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Potomac River Fisheries Commission and Virginia Marine Resources Commission should implement programs to track commercial and recreational harvest more accurately, including the use of electronic reporting systems.

The Blue Crab Advisory Report is developed by the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee.

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CBS Baltimore Staff