The results of the annual blue crab winter dredge survey (WDS) are in and they are not good news. The WDS estimates that while the total population of crabs is roughly the same as last year (around 31 Million), there are significantly fewer large crabs of both sexes. The number of juvenile crabs (those under 2.4″) has increased to 20.4 million from last year’s estimate of 11.3 million. To see how the most recent WDS findings compare to other surveys since 1990, view the full Winter Dredge Survey Density Results.
The Bay Journal released an article on November 6,2013 regarding the state of Chesapeake Bay blue crab populations titled The Mystery of the Missing Blue Crabs. Author Karl Blankenship describes the unpredictable changes in blue crab stock we’ve seen over the past couple decades. These fluctuation were especially prominent over the past 3 years, when stock predictions went from the highest recorded in 20 years to nearly the lowest.
Blankenship interviews various scientists (such as the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Bay Biological Laboratory, NOAA, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center), members of VMRC’s Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee, and Jack Brooks (seafood processor from J.M. Clayton Company) in order to get to the bottom of this incredibly complex issue. They discuss factors such as predation, cannibalism, habitat degradation, climate change, and predicting populations based on limited data.
You can read this article on The Bay Journal’s website.
Members of Virginia’s Blue Crab Industry Panel visited Tangier Island to discuss Electronic Harvest Reporting. This followed two similar meetings on this topic held in Glenns and Melfa. VMRC’s online system for reporting your daily harvest provides watermen with easy access to their own past harvest history. Watermen using the system say that it is easier and faster than the paper reports. It currently takes VMRC 3-4 months to process the traditional paper forms, meaning they are making management decisions on old information. The Panel’s Electronic Harvest Reporting webpage has more information on this project, including a visual How To Get Started Guide, a video demonstration of using the system, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
We encourage you to try out this system and let us know what you think. This project allows us an opportunity to work with VMRC and make recommendations on how to make this system easier or better for you to use.
This project is supported through Virginia Sea Grant’s Fishery Resource Grant Program.
If you’re not already using the online reporting system you should start!
Imagine spending less time reporting harvests, having easy access to past reports, and of course, no more paper reporting!
For more information, check out our Informational Flyer
Virginia’s Blue Crab Industry Panel is hosting a series of outreach meetings around the state to introduce ourselves, the Panel’s objectives, and hear from you. These meetings are your opportunity to help shape the future of the industry. Please let us know if you are planning to attend by responding to the meeting leads listed below.
The first two meetings are:
April 2nd, 6-8 pm in Poquoson Virginia. This meeting will be held at Anna’s Pizza at 464 Wythe Creek Road. Please RSVP to Ty Farrington at (757) 344-8299 or email@example.com
April 9th, 6-8 pm in Cape Charles. This meeting will be held at The Shanty at 33 Marina Road. Please RSVP to Mark Sanford at (757) 263-7599 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dinner will be provided for licensed crabbers.
Virginia’s crabbers are stewards of the Bay’s blue crabs. Their current and future livelihood depends on healthy crab populations. Watermen are volunteering their time to lead Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Panel. The Panel is meeting monthly to develop a strategy for managing blue crabs in Virginia. These meetings are open to the public and we encourage all Virginia watermen and interested community members to attend our meetings.
This website provides information for and about our Panel. We welcome your feedback.