Sunday, April 26, 2009

What is Maryland without Blue Crabs?

According to a WalletPop blog report, Blue Crabs are disappearing from Maryland.

Seems like the estimated population has dropped some 70% in the past twenty years. I'm with all the commenters though who wonder exactly how a census on crabs his done. Do we wrangle a potful and ask'em "Hey guys, tell us where your buddies are and how many you have, and we'll set you free!" According to the DNR "The survey is based upon a scientifically peer-reviewed design, and provides precise estimates each year of the number of crabs over-wintering in the Bay." Sers'ly? How do you KNOW it's precise?

I know, I'm being overly sarcastic and cynical. I'm just in that sort of mood. Check out these exerpts from the DNR report and you'll understand why I'm irked:

"Despite the low 2007 harvest and a persistently low crab population, the 2007 exploitation rate substantially exceeded the target removal rate. A bay-wide target removal rate has been set at 46%. In 2007 crabbers removed approximately 60% of the available crabs."

"In 2007, reproduction was extremely poor, placing the resource and the fishery in an increasingly perilous position. When the abundance of these adult crabs is low, the population and the fishery are heavily dependent upon annual reproduction."

And yet, said Fisheries reaction to such news seems to be a knee-jerk "Wow, the crab are on their way out, we'd better scoop'em all up before they're gone!" sort of attitude.

From the DNR page it sounds like they have a good plan in place for limiting harvesting, especially of female crabs...except that they make no mention of how they intend to ENFORCE these limitations.

Well, heres hoping I can check the DNR website this year and see some results! But all the crab-harvesting restrictions in the world won't help if we can't curb habitat loss and pollution!

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