Where to go Crabbing in Virginia Beach
The results of the annual blue crab winter dredge survey (WDS) are in, and they are not good news. The WDS estimates that while the total population of crabs is roughly the same as last year (around 31 Million), there are significantly fewer large crabs of both sexes. The number of juvenile crabs (those under 2.4″) has increased to 20.4 million from last year’s estimate of 11.3 million. To see how the most recent WDS findings compare to other surveys since 1990, view the full Winter Dredge Survey Density Results.
The Bay Journal released an article on November 6, 2013, regarding the state of Chesapeake Bay blue crab populations titled The Mystery of the Missing Blue Crabs. Author Karl Blankenship describes the unpredictable changes in blue crab stock we’ve seen over the past couple decades. These fluctuations were especially prominent over the past three years when stock predictions went from the highest recorded in 20 years to nearly the lowest.
Blankenship interviews various scientists (such as the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Bay Biological Laboratory, NOAA, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center), members of VMRC’s Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee, and Jack Brooks (seafood processor from J.M. Clayton Company) in order to get to the bottom of this incredibly complex issue. They discuss factors such as predation, cannibalism, habitat degradation, climate change, and predicting populations based on limited data.
Members of Virginia’s Blue Crab Industry Panel visited Tangier Island to discuss Electronic Harvest Reporting. This followed two similar meetings on this topic held in Glenns and Melfa. VMRC’s online system for reporting your daily harvest provides watermen with easy access to their past harvest history. Watermen using the system say that it is easier and faster than the paper reports. It currently takes VMRC 3-4 months to process the traditional paper forms, meaning they are making management decisions on old information. The Panel’s Electronic Harvest Reporting webpage has more information on this project, including a visual How To Get Started Guide, a video demonstration of using the system, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
We encourage you to try out this system and let us know what you think. This project allows us an opportunity to work with VMRC and make recommendations on how to make this system easier or better for you to use.
This project is supported through Virginia Sea Grant’s Fishery Resource Grant Program.