The 2019 bay-wide blue crab winter dredge survey brought good news for crabbers and crab-lovers as overall abundance jumped to the eighth-highest level in 30 years.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission announced Monday that stock numbers in the Chesapeake Bay hit 594 million — up from last year’s 371 million.
The population improved in all biological indicators: Adult male and female numbers were up 31% to 271 million, while juvenile numbers nearly doubled — up 93% to 323 million.
The news was met with cautious optimism by fishery managers, state leaders, and marine experts, who credited the uptick to a mild winter, above-average rainfall and improved environmental conditions.
While the news is welcome, watermen are also cautiously optimistic. Many think that the numbers are marginally inflated.
The Chesapeake blue crab is one of the state’s most lucrative commercial fisheries. The crab pot season this year runs March 17 through November.
The annual survey is conducted from December to March by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science of the College of William and Mary and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. They’ve gathered these data since 1989.