2018 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey

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The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) recently released the results from the 2018 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey, an annual assessment of the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab stock.

The survey indicates a bay-wide crab population of 371 million, a decrease from the previous year’s estimate of 455 million.

The recent survey estimates a total adult male and female crab abundance of 206 million.

A decrease in the number of adult crabs is thought to be a result of low juvenile abundance in 2017 combined with high mortality during the colder than normal winter.

In 2018, the spawning female stock decreased 42 percent while adult male crab abundance declined 23 percent.

The juvenile crab population (2.4 inches or less in carapace width ) increased 34 percent over last year.

The Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee, a subcommittee of the Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team, is reviewing the recent survey results and will release its full analysis in their 2018 Blue Crab Advisory Report this summer.

The annual advisory report is used by managers as they review and update fishery regulations. The Bay jurisdictions continue to work together cooperatively to manage the crab stock.

Conducted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, the Chesapeake Bay Winter Dredge Survey is the primary census of the estuary’s blue crab standing stock.

VMRC is expected to begin discussions with the Commission’s Crab Management Advisory Committee to provide guidance concerning the course of action for 2018 that promotes the health of the blue crab stock and its fisheries. VMRC will be briefed on these survey results at its May meeting.

source: Virginia Marine Resources Commission