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Crab survey contains mixed results

The annual Chesapeake Bay-wide winter dredge survey of the blue crab population released last week by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission indicates that the female spawning stock remains healthy, but mixed results for abundances by age and sex may mean a lean harvest this fall.

Historically, one year of below average recruitment does not necessarily indicate the population is declining.

The winter dredge survey is conducted annually by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The survey utilizes traditional crab dredges to sample blue crabs at 1,500 sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay from December through March.

The abundance of spawning-aged females increased 12 percent from 2020 and ranked the 10th most abundant in the survey’s 32 years. The estimated 158 million spawning females remains well above the overfished threshold of 72 million crabs, but below the target abundance of 196 million crabs.

Tempering this promi...

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