ST. MICHAELS, Md.- According to the 2018 Blue Crab Advisory Report from the Chesapeake Bay Program, blue crab populations are down for the second year in a row. The overall population is down by about 18 percent compared to last year,
The report says the decline is mainly due to a large number dying off earlier in the year from cold weather. Owner Joe Spurry says weather has always been a factor during crab season and now over with the cold, the heat isn’t doing much to help.
“It’s still not a bad season,” Spurry said. “The heat takes its toll on the crabs and the crabber itself. You can only stand so much.”
The report also says female crabs are down to 147 million in the Chesapeake Bay – well below a healthy target of 215 million. But not all is lost, the report says the rising number of young crabs could make up for the decline.
Watermen like Norm Haddaway says it’s been a very slow season so far and one he hopes improves with the Fourth of July holiday.
“It’s not happening. I know a couple guys who have been catching two or three, sometimes four bushels, but there’s a lot of guys who are not catching any,” Haddaway said. “I didn’t make any money last year until the July 4th, so it’s coming on.”
The report recommends Maryland stay cautious and continue to monitor harvests throughout the season and does not recommend any regulation changes at this time.
Both Haddaway and Spurry say they’re cautious about the report, but not too worried for the crabbing season so far.