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Chesapeake Bay crabs making a comeback

Kate Ryan, wtop.com

RIVA, Md. – Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said there’s good news on the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

“The blue crab is coming back and you see more of them,” said O’Malley.

O’Malley cited the results of a winter dredge survey that shows the overall population of the blue crab is up by two-thirds over last year.

John Griffin, secretary of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, said the news is particularly good when it comes to the juvenile crab population.

“The total number of baby crabs is the highest it’s been ever in this winter dredge survey, which started in 1990,” he said.

But there is some concern. The number of female crabs has dipped.

“Common sense tells you that you can’t deplete your spawning base in any fishery and expect it to survive and not collapse,” Griffin said.

Griffin says as a result, the state will continue to protect female crabs and limit harvesting.

The waters of the Chesapeake Bay just received a D+ rating from Eco-Check, a group of Maryland scientists. Even though the crab population has grown, Griffin said there are a number of factors that could account for the growth.

Lynn Fegley of Maryland’s Natural Resources Department said the blue crab is a highly resilient critter, a big factor in their population increase.

The news has made restaurant owners like Anthony Piera very happy. Piera’s family operates Mike’s Crab House on the South River in Riva, Md.

“It’s great for us in the restaurant industry,” he said. “It gets us more Maryland crabs and it brings the price down for us and the customers. It’s a win-win for all of us.”

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