Claws Célèbre: Maryland Plans Pinch on Crab Harvest

Drastic measures proposed to halt decline of Chesapeake crabs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2008 3:25 AM CDT
Chesapeake watermen blame pollution rather than overfishing for falling crab numbers and say drastic new harvest restrictions will put them out of business.   (AP Photo/Jamie C. Horton)
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(Newser) – Faced with the lowest catch in decades, Maryland is taking steps to help stem the blue crab's decline. Tough measures are being proposed that would cut the harvest of female crabs by up to 40%, the Baltimore Sun reports. The state says urgent action is needed to stop the Chesapeake fishery collapsing—but crabbers aren't happy.

"You've got to be kidding me," grumbled one waterman who said he wouldn't make enough money to cover his costs under drastic new catch restrictions. Conservationists say that to halt the crabs' decline, Maryland and Virginia need to work on long-term strategies rather than quick fixes. The crabbers themselves blame pollution rather than overfishing for the plunge in crab numbers.