“Crab stock remains healthy and able to support quality commercial and recreational harvests.”-The annual Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey
Robert O’Reilly, chief of fisheries management for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, says colder-than-average temperatures in January and March caused higher-than-normal mortality of adult crabs wintering in the Bay mud.
The survey is based on 1,500 sites throughout the Bay.
This year’s survey shows a Bay-wide population of 206 million crabs – 38 percent lower than 2017, but higher than the 29-year average of 196 million.
The spring cold snap kept more crabs buried, and will allow more first-year spawners will be able to mate at the end of this month or during the summer.
“Last year we found sparse juveniles,” O’Reilly said. “This year is 30 percent better. We’ve made lots of adjustments since 2014 and I think we’ve created a balance between the harvest and the population.”