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Reins loosened slightly on Chesapeake Bay crab harvest

The Chesapeake Bay’s watermen are getting green lights to catch a few more blue crabs, a year after dismal population numbers led to steep cutbacks in their allowance.

The region’s fishery managers are far from confident that a surfeit of blue crabs now lurks beneath the bay’s surf. But they say that results from the just-released wintertime survey were promising enough to relax some of the restrictions.

“We’re being cautious, but I think we’re being responsible,” said Ed Tankard, a board member with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, which voted June 27 to ease certain bushel limits.

In Maryland, the state Department of Natural Resources announced on the same day a raft of industry-friendly changes to its crab controls, including modestly increasing the allowable harvest of female crabs and lifting limits on the harvest of males over Labor Day weekend.

Those moves came a few weeks after the panel that regulates the Potomac River’s fishing industry agreed to roll ba...

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