The states of Maryland and Virginia have released results of the 2011 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey.
The study found that the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population is above the target for the third year in a row. Overall crab abundance declined due to cold winter weather that killed as many as 31 percent of Maryland’s adult crabs, compared to about 11 percent in 2010.
The Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population is estimated to be 460 million crabs, nearly double the record low of 249 million in 2007. During 2010, Chesapeake Bay watermen harvested more than 89 million pounds of blue crabs.
According to the survey, 254 million adult crabs survived the bitter cold winter in the Chesapeake, above the current population target for the third year in a row. This marks the first time since the early 1990s that the Bay has seen three consecutive years with the adult population was above the target (200 million crabs) and the harvest was below the target of 46 percent.
According to VMRC, estimates of abundance are developed separately for young of the year crabs, mature female crabs, and adult male crabs. The primary assessment of the Bay’s blue crab population is conducted annually by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).