Five years after the Chesapeake Bay blue crab fishery was declared a federal disaster an annual scientific survey shows the population is far below the previous year, but scientists are not too worried.
Scientists from Virginia and Maryland conduct the so-called "winter dredge survey" while crabs are burrowed in the mud. Last year a baby crab boom led to the highest count in 20 years.
Professor Rom Lipcius of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science is a principle investigator for the survey. He says the 81% drop in babies this year came as no surprise.
"It is on the low end but not unexpected. The number of mature females last year was down significantly," said Lipcius.
Data from the survey is used to set harvest limits. With the steep decline in population, Virginia, Maryland and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission will restrict harvests by 10 percent this year. Earlier this year Virginia established new daily bushel limits. The latest restrictions may mean another disappointing year for watermen.