Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Crab population is down

The Bay survey is finally out, and updates to the graphs in the slides can be found here. The picture is ugly, but the spin is that it was a bad winter: it's not over-harvesting but natural fluctuations that lie behind this low population level. That doesn't mean that everything is fine and they'll come back later: they certainly could, but in an ever-changing environment like the Bay with new predators cropping up from time to time, it's impossible to tell the future.

To briefly sum up the graphs, the "young of the year" are at a low but not ridiculously low level. In fact, that's one of the areas of least concern. There are a lot of young this year because there were a lot of females last year. Unfortunately, the number of females is REALLY low this year: the lowest they've seen in about 12 years, and the estimated population is at or below the minimum threshold of 70 million that was set in 2011.

The number of harvestable crabs too is at its lowest level probably since 2002, and males are down at their lowest level since 2008. Disappointing results that mean restrictions on harvesters and higher prices for consumers.

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