With crabs in the Chesapeake Bay at its lowest level in 30 years, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will limit the number of crabs commercial watermen can bring to shore.
“There will be a decrease in the total number of bushels that can be harvested for female crabs, and bushel limits for adult male crabs will also be introduced this year for the first time,” said Allison Colden of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
The limit depends on the type of license – 15 bushels per day for major operators, less for other licenses. The rules apply for August and September and the crab season has been shortened by two weeks.
Aquarius Justin Carpenter said the timing of the limit is bad as August and September make up for the slow start to spring.
“It’s definitely a hit when we need it most,” he said.
Robert Howes, a third-generation waterman from Maryland, will be limited to eight bushels in August. He takes a wait-and-see attitude.
“Maybe it won’t hurt us as much as we think because we’re not hitting those limits right now,” he said.
For restaurants, the offer has been meager for a few years and prices are high. Dockside in Tracy’s Landing has been unable to serve hard crabs for a while.
“We get a lot of people calling. They are, if you get them let me know,” said Lynn Nutwell of Dockside. “They leave phone numbers, but we just can’t get them.”
Maryland will lower recreational crabbing limits to just one bushel per boat on the half of July 1.
Virginia is also proposing a shorter crab season and lower daily catch limits.