The Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey, a cooperative effort between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), estimates 323 million blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay in 2023, an increase from last year’s low of 227 million crabs. The number of spawning age female crabs increased from 97 million crabs in 2022 to 152 million crabs in 2023, a substantial increase and well above the management threshold of 72.5 million crabs. Additionally, adult male crabs increased from 28 million crabs in 2022 to 55 million crabs in 2023. “We are encouraged by the increases in adult crab abundance, but we need to be vigilant given the ongoing low recruitment numbers,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fishing and Boating Services Acting Director Lynn Fegley. “We haven’t seen a strong year class since 2019 despite maintaining the spawning stock at a level capable of producing one.” Blue crab reproduction is naturally variable and influenced by many factors such as oceanic conditions, available nursery habitat, predation, and other environmental impacts. The number of juvenile crabs in the Chesapeake Bay has been below average for the past four years with the 2023 estimate at 116 million […]
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