The State of Maryland has shared encouraging news for the seafood industry. The 2019 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey has found a substantial 60 percent increase in the Chesapeake Bay-wide blue crab population.
The rise in adult abundance of blue crabs was reported higher than anticipated, following a poor showing for juveniles in 2017 and 2018. The adult female population climbed to 190 million, at a 29 percent gain. The male population was up to 80 million, a 38 percent increase. State officials credit mild winter temperatures for the above expected increase. The juvenile population also saw an increase from 167 million in 2018 to 324 million this year.
Governor Larry Hogan said “We are proud of our administration’s strong record of skilled environmental stewardship, which begins with safeguarding the Chesapeake Bay.” He continued “Today’s results are further proof and a shining example that our efforts to protect Maryland’s blue crab population while ensuring the health of our state’s most important natural asset, have been successful.” The Governor and First Lady celebrated by enjoying the first crabs of the season at a crab house outside of Annapolis.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said “these results are a clear indication of the effectiveness of our management plan for blue crabs, an iconic species that is essential to Maryland’s economy and the Bay’s ecosystem.”
The Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee is set to review the survey and release a full analysis this summer. The Winter Dredge Survey has been conducted annually since 1990, compiling information from 1,500 sites across the Chesapeake Bay from December through March.