Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New scheme to save the crabs?

            Crab harvest in Maryland is a large source of income to Marylanders and the surrounding population of the Chesapeake Bay. However, recently crab harvesting pressure and shoreline development have caused a decrease in crab abundance. On The Sun website, it explains that the management of crab harvesting has not turned out to be anywhere near a success. The plan to revamp the management of crab harvesting is currently being discussed between the state and the watermen. The state is planning on setting allocations on the amount of crabs harvested in a year by each harvester. The system of setting limits worked well in Rhode Island as detailed by a commercial fisherman in The Sun paper.  Fisherman reported that they had an increase in revenue and less danger having to work in bad weather conditions. The state believes that crab harvest limitations and more sustainable practices will help stabilize the fishery.
            Crabbing has been a nightmare for a majority of the bay recently. There are ups and downs. I know this because I am commercial crabber and fisherman. The decline of crabs this year made it nearly impossible to make any profit. Crabbers were running over 500 pots, and they were only getting around 2-5 bushels. I have heard reports all around the bay that this year has shown to be one of the worst crabbing seasons in history. Being a waterman is not always easy, but I believe that if there are limits set for commercial fisherman then we should see an increase in the abundance of legal sized crabs. A few years ago we were able to catch unlimited female crabs and they finally set a limit. Currently, over crabbing in general is an issue. The recent crab decrease has been caused by over crabbing, dredging for sponge crabs, and pollution. The plan to set crab limits on upcoming seasons will slowly take time and I believe it will help.
--Joey Gukanovich

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