Monday, December 20, 2010

Chesapeake crab recovery highlighted in Science article

The recovery of female crabs in the Chesapeake Bay that has occurred since female harvest was restricted in 2008 is the focus of a recent Science magazine article. I've copied the summary below, but you need a subscription to view the entire article.

Science 10 December 2010: Vol. 330 no. 6010 p. 1474 DOI:
News Focus Fisheries
Chesapeake Crabs: Engineering a Rebound


By stopping harvesting early in Chesapeake Bay, when the fall female
migration is at its peak, one of the world's largest crab fisheries was brought
from the brink of collapse to a healthy population in just 3 years. A winter
dredge of buried hibernating pregnant females in Virginia—which killed two
females for every one caught—was also closed. Those fishers were hired with
federal funds to recover lost traps, which continue to kill scores of crabs.
Finally, a spawning-season sanctuary was extended. As a result, the spring 2009
survey of 1500 spots up and down the bay found that the female population had
climbed by 70%, while the male population barely changed. This spring, the
survey showed that the number of females was up 200% over the 2008 figure.
Overall, the number of crabs has soared from 131 million in 2008 to 315 million
this year.