Chesapeake’s Crab Population is Down, So Prices Could Rise Steeply This Summer

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Chesapeake Blue Crabs. (Photo credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Chesapeake Blue Crabs. (Photo credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — Blue crab lovers may have the wrong kind of blues this summer, according to an annual dredge of the Chesapeake Bay.

While the number of juvenile crabs appears to be up significantly (78 percent) from last year’s survey, the number of harvestable crabs (those bigger than 2.4 inches) decreased significantly.

Surveyors say the current harvestable crab population is one of the lowest in 25 years, and the total abundance of crabs in the Bay has returned to pre-2008 levels.

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It was in 2008 that the National Marine Fisheries Service responded to Governor Martin O’Malley’s request for disaster assistance funding for the declining crab population and new conservation measures were designed.

Especially concerning is the fact that the number of spawning-age females has dipped to 69 million, just below what DNR calls the “minimum safe level” of 70 million.

Officials say the long, cold winter is largely to blame for the scarcity of the crustaceans.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Maryland and Virginia are planning to impose harvest restrictions to help the population bounce back quicker.

Obviously, though, that’s a long term solution. In the short term, crab lovers can expect to pay more for their seafood feasts this summer.

The manager of Canton Dockside, a seafood joint in Baltimore, tells The Sun the restaurant’s crab prices have jumped 40 percent.

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