Chesapeake blue crab population declining, but not overfished

Updated: Jun. 27, 2018 at 3:53 PM EDT
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(WWBT) - Blue crab populations are declining in Chesapeake Bay, but that is not expected to impact fishing.

An annual advisory report says the blue crab population decreased by 18 percent from 2017 to 2018, but the reports said the overall population is not depleted and not being overfished.

The report says there are 372 million blue crab, down from 455 million. The overall crab population was at 553 million in 2016.

The target level for harvesting adult female blue crabs is 25.5 percent of the population. In 2017, 21 percent were harvested. Fishing is considered safe as long the harvest is below 34 percent of all adult females.

Scientists say the female population is the important factor in determining the overall sustainability of the species, and analysis is focused on their numbers.

Despite an overall decline in population, the number of newly harvestable crabs grew by 34 percent from one year ago.

The 2017 harvest brought in 54 million pounds of blue crab, just under 10 percent fewer than were harvested in 2016.

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