Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Crabs are measured to make sure they meet state standards before being culled into
bushels by size or thrown back into the Chesapeake Bay. (AP)

Chesapeake Bay Crab Harvesters Getting the Blues

July 18, 2008 04:08 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Some say that the Chesapeake's beloved blue crab is dying out, taking with it an entire way of life for the area's watermen.

30-Second Summary

Fisheries managers in Virginia and Maryland say the blue crab is down about 65 percent in the Chesapeake Bay since 1990, according to the Associated Press.

The affected states have instituted cuts on the year's female crab harvest, with the goal of reducing the number caught by more than one-third.

Watermen in the area say that the crabbing business is dying along with the crabs, which have suffered due to pollution and overfishing. The country's largest estuary has already seen a decline in oysters, fish and other species.

The Washington Post reports that despite some improvement, new threats such as uncontrolled land development, the limited implementation of conservation practices and the inability to control air emissions are complicating cleanup efforts in the Bay, according to an Environmental Protection Agency report released July 16.

"Algal blooms have cropped up, blocking sunlight from reaching underwater bay grasses, leading to low oxygen levels in the water and fish kills. Sediment runoff from urban development and farms have been carried into the bay, clouding its waters. Many of the bays' fish and shellfish populations are below historic levels," reports the Post.

Despite the problems in the Chesapeake, crabbing remains a popular pastime in some areas of the country, such as Georgia's southeast coast.

"Catching a bucket or a bushel basket full of big blue crabs is a winner with just about everyone who has ever done it," writes John Burke in the Savannah Morning News.

Headline Link: 'Chesapeake Watermen Fear Blue Crab Not Coming Back'

Related Topics: Pollution in the Chesapeake; oysters under threat; mussels colonizing Colorado River

Reference: Blue crabs’ mating techniques; crabbing as pastime; EPA report


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