By all accounts this has been a poor year for blue crab harvests in Maryland, as reported by the Baltimore Sun in Blue Outlook for Blue Crabs. This is not surprising after both the Winter Dredge Survey and our Fish and Invertebrate Ecology Lab small-scale summer juvenile crab abundance survey indicated that the number of crabs reaching legal size this year was low. Various explanations for the low numbers have been offered and we have argued for the use of science to evaluate the explanations in an earlier post on this blog: Winter Dredge: Female Crabs Say Recovery Still on Track.
The low crab harvest has people talking about how to improve crab populations. Some have argued for a quota-based management system (A Better Way to Manage the Crab Harvest), while others, including the Maryland Watermen's Association, have strongly opposed such ideas.
If you want to learn more about the issues being discussed, you can read a recent report by the National Marine Fisheries Service on quota-based fishery management programs in the US. Unfortunately you'll have to wait until the government shutdown ends to get the report, as the website is also shut down.