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At Another Key Juncture for Blue Crabs, Scientists Look Back at Two Decades of Management

In the late 2000s, the outlook for blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay was grim. Known for its ups and downs, the blue crab harvest was going through a long stretch of almost all downs. The crab population steeply declined after 1997 and remained at record low harvests for a decade. The region lost nearly 4,500 crab-related jobs between 1998 and 2006. Determined to save the crabbing industry—the most profitable fishery in the Bay—and increase the population of blue crabs, officials from Maryland, Virginia, and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission took action, enacting a spate of bold regulations that changed the way the species was managed. In the next few years, blue crabs bounced back. Lynn Fegley, the director of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fishing and Boating Services, credits that comeback to the close collaboration between fisheries managers across state lines, and the watermen who took on sacrifices for the future of the fishery. “It was a bad moment for crabs, but the governors, the states, the watermen, and the crabbing community got together, we all worked together and we turned the needle,” Fegley said. Now in the shadow of those management decisions from two decades ago, the […]

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