Maryland blue crabs

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Recreational crabbers in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries, including Maryland tributaries of the Potomac River, will be subject to catch limits beginning April 1st and ending June 30th, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. 

According to the updated restrictions, non-professional crabbers on unlicensed boats can keep up to 24 male crabs if only one unlicensed person is aboard, and 48 male crabs if two or more unlicensed people are aboard. 

Meanwhile, licensed vessels are able to transport up to one bushel of male crabs and any number of approved or unlicensed passengers. 

These regulations changes are for recreational crabbers only.

The implementation of these restrictions follows the Chesapeake Bay’s lowest crab count since 1990 according to the Baywide Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey conducted in 2022.

Total of 227 million crabs in the bay, with adult male crabs accounting for only 12% of the 2022 tally.  The number of juvenile crabs in 2022 was 101 million, a little increase from 86 million in 2021, but the third year in a row of below-average recruitment. 

The abundance of female spawning age declined from 158 million crabs in 2021 to 97 million crabs in 2022. Furthermore, the findings revealed that there were 28 million adult male crabs, the lowest adult male abundance on record. 

Mike Luisi, Director, Monitoring and Assessment Division, Fishing and Boating Services, Maryland Department of Natural Resources said, “While a robust spawning stock was a good indicator that management is working, the low level of juvenile and male crabs is reason for concern, and those segments of the population will need to be closely monitored throughout the crabbing season.”  

When the 2023 survey is completed, the Department of Natural Resources will release the recreational crab catch and possession limitations for July through December. 

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  1. Put a hold on all crabs for a year. For those who are going to disagree, What will you do when they’re gone? They should also change the ebt cards from being able to buy live crabs.

    1. Issue is, our neighbors in Virginia don’t give a damn.

      They harvest females with eggs, drege’em up out of the mud in the winter…they’re the reason the population is on the decline. Nothing Maryland does will take as long as Virginia is OK with decimating the crab population.

  2. Everybody likes streamed, stuffed, cakes and soups made of bluefin crabs. Demand has created shortages. Time for crab farms to take some of the stress off the bay. Also only local businesses dealing locally including state residence of Maryland, Virginia and Delaware should only be allowed to harvest for bluefin crabs.

  3. You should not reduce the harvest of crabs by the recreational crabber that goes out once every couple of weeks
    to catch enough for his family to enjoy. You know it is the commercial industries 24/7 crabbing that is wiping them out
    but you refuse to reduce or eliminate the taking of female crabs. Someone at the DNR has to get some kahunas.

  4. It is like everything else, if you get greedy and abuse a system, I’ll eventually disappear…. just like Rockfish became scarce, the carrier pigeon extinct (literally used as clay bird targets) and anything MAN mismanages to screw-up. The Chesapeake Bay used to be the capitol of the world for Hardheads (I know a few of them…), Sturgeons, Clams, Yellow Perch and only God knows what else…. ( for I’m not a biologist…)
    Surely turning the water quality into a borderline cesspool has created a whole mixture of other problems from red tides (excessive Phosphorus and Nitrogen) to closing of local beaches in lieu of septic runoff, runoff from industrial waste and farming techniques.

  5. None of this matters, since our lovely “friends” in Virginia keep abusing the crab population, which heads their way every winter.

    They harvest females with eggs, the dredge them up out of the mud in the winter…Virginia is single-handedly killing off the crab population, and actively doesn’t care about Maryland trying to restore the population. Heck, they probably appreciate our efforts, more crabs for them…

  6. Won’t have to worry about me eating them things! If everyone only knew that amount of things that get dumped into the waters around here they wouldn’t eat any seafood!

  7. Wake up Maryland management. Prohibit the commercial crabbers from take the female crabs. Does anyone understand this?

    1. It would be beneficial for the crabbing industry to stop the dredging of crabs. This action should be illegal. You take about depleting the crab population.

  8. Stop the dredging for crabs. This should help increase the crab population in the future. And stop the commercial crabbers from taking the female crabs . And that means all sizes. Maryland crab management should take note and be realistic about the situation.

  9. Crab management should put into action and stop the dredging of crabs in general. You speak of crab endangerment. Come on? And stop the commercial crabbers from take all sizes of female crabs. “ Big Issue” . It should be enacted immediately.

  10. Stop the dredging for crabs. This should help increase the crab population in the future. And stop the commercial crabbers from taking the female crabs . And that means all sizes. Maryland crab management should take note and be realistic about the situation.

  11. Female crabs only have the egg once in their lifetime. Taking mature females is good for the population, not sure why that concept is so hard for most to understand. Virginia is a big problem, hold the harvest for a year for all commercial operations in the bay and it’s tributaries.

  12. If female crabs were “not allowed” to be caught, we would not have a shortage of crabs. When I was growing up, female crabs were not allowed to be caught. We did not have a shortage of crabs.

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