Letter: Let’s make informed decisions about crabbing
I feel last week’s letter concerning the Winter Crab Dredge Fishery ban ("Don’t allow crab dredging to resume," Dec. 6, Readers Write) was misinforming and degrading to watermen.
I am not an expert on crabs or dredging, but I did depend on crab dredging to earn a living for 10 seasons. One of the most obvious lessons I learned was that when you think you have the crab’s habitat, habits and life-cycle figured out, you soon discover how little you do know and how much more there is to learn. How better to learn as much as possible about crabs and crab dredging than to assemble a team of open-minded scientists from VIMS, fishery managers from VMRC and experienced watermen? The funding for group’s study comes from Commercial Registration Card fees; in other words, paid for by the watermen.
The $300 paid to individual watermen for the Marine Debris Recovery Program was money well spent. Participants spent the winter months recovering derelict crab pots, as well as an assortment of underwater debris that posed safety and environmental hazards for the Chesapeake Bay. "Ghost-potting" was an undisputed win for the Bay. Though not as intense as crab dredging, the labor was not easy. As a waterman, I never once earned as much as a penny for doing "nothing."
Dr. Lapetina also states that crab dredgers made $2,000 a day. Unlike the fishermen on "Deadliest Catch," Virginia’s crabbers work for a lot less than what would equal $100,000 a season. The sad truth is that at the end of the dredge era, we were scraping by, which made it easier for the fishery to be scrapped.
I disagree with the logic and reasoning given for supporting the ban. Let’s make informed decisions about preserving crabs, the Bay and local watermen.