Thursday, October 17, 2013

Virginia to Consider Re-opening Winter Dredge Fishery

Virginia's winter dredge fishery targeting adult female blue crabs has been closed for the last 5 winters to help rebuild the Chesapeake Bay crab population. Since the closure, which also coincided with a reduction in harvest of females in Maryland, female crab numbers have improved in 4 of the last 5 years as detailed in an earlier post on this blog ("Winter Dredge: Female Crabs Say Recovery Still on Track").

Feeling singled out, Virginia's dredge fishermen are pushing for a limited re-opening of the dredge fishery this coming winter. The effort has been spearheaded by the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Panel. Although the catch would be offset by reductions in female harvest at other times of year, there is concern in Maryland that re-opening the winter dredge fishery would eliminate the modest gains that crabs have had the last 5 years. Listen to the WYPR The Environment in Focus podcast from Wednesday, October 16 to hear more about the Maryland perspective.

Virginia's Marine Resources Commission will vote on opening the dredge fishery at their meeting on Tuesday, October 22. The proposed regulations can be found at the VMRC website.

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