Survey shows drop in Chesapeake Bay blue crab population but healthy spawning stock

Virginia News

Callinectes sapidus The Bay-wide Winter Dredge Survey determines the status of the blue crab population in Chesapeake Bay. (photo by David Malmquist)

The number of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay are down from the previous year, the newly released 2020 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey shows.

The survey, which is an annual effort from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and the Fisheries Service of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, revealed that the abundance of juvenile and total crabs decreased this year.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore issued a statement Wednesday about the survey’s findings.

“Although the blue crab numbers in the Bay are down from last year, overall they continue to remain well above the numbers seen in the late 1990s and mid-2000s that raised such concern,” Moore said. “This year’s results indicate that the blue crab fisheries management changes adopted in 2008, which continue to guide decisions, have again resulted in a more abundant and stable trend for the Bay’s blue crab population.”

In his statement, Moore cited the coronavirus pandemic as one of the reasons for seafood sales falling.

“Unfortunately for many watermen, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, seafood sales have fallen dramatically. Healthy fisheries, especially the iconic blue crab, are an important part of connecting with the Chesapeake Bay. A restored Bay will only strengthen that connection. Now is a great time to support local watermen and their communities through curbside and dockside sales and deliveries from seafood vendors,” Moore continued.

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