The annual Blue Crab Advisory Report was released Monday, and based on survey estimates, the total abundance of all crabs (males and females of all ages) decreased by almost 18% from 553 million crabs in 2016 to 455 million crabs in 2017. The report will be used by state officials in Maryland,Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission to develop crab management strategies.
The report found that while numbers of adult female crabs in the Bay increased by 31 percent in 2017, a severe shortfall in juvenile crab abundance accounted for the overall population decrease of 18 percent. The number of juvenile crabs decreased by 54 percent from 2016 to 2017.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted 6-1 in a public hearing to end the season Nov. 30 and reopen it March 17, 2018, amounting to 16 fewer days than last year’s extended season.
Maryland and Virginia also imposed late-season bushel limits.