This May, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported on the population of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay and the news is good! The report indicates a healthy and rebounding population of blue crabs with an estimated 594 million crabs believed to be living in the bay, which is an increase over last year by 223 million.
Some additional good news in the report indicates that “the adult female population climbed to 190 million, a 29% gain from 2018, and the adult male population increased to 80 million or 38%. Mild winter temperatures also helped increase both juvenile and adult blue crab overwintering survival rates.” This study has been done annually for 30 years with the goal of helping to manage the harvest of blue crabs. The crab population has fluctuated dramatically with a high of 852 million in 1993 to a low of 251 million in 2007, while the 30-year annual average is 459 million.
With this good news, I’m sure many recreational and commercial crabbers in the area are getting their trotlines and crab traps ready. Some of my fondest memories growing up involve crabbing with my uncles or my dad. I can remember the excitement I felt as a young boy the first time I dropped a line baited with a chicken neck in the water, waited for the line to get tight, and then slowly lifted the line, careful to not scare off the crab, and then caught the crab with a net. As I got a little older, I was introduced to crabbing with a trotline. I remember being skeptical about how well it would work, but within an hour or so, we caught a bushel of crabs and I was sold!
Over the past decade, we’ve made great progress in cleaning up our creeks, streams, rivers and the bay. The state and local governments continue to make record investments to clean up sewage treatment plants, fix old pumping stations, and improve stormwater management. These infrastructure improvements are why we are seeing real progress in restoring the Chesapeake.
So whether you like J.O. Spice or Old Bay, prefer to get carryout from Pasadena Seafood or Kent Island Crab, catch and steam them at home, or eat them at Anne Arundel Seafood, Mike’s Crab House, Fifer’s Seafood, the Stoney Creek Inn, Cheshire Crab, or another favorite spot, it looks like this is going to be a good year for steamed crabs in Maryland!