Oh, crab: Florence latest challenge for Chesapeake Bay watermen

Hurricane Florence is posing one more challenge to the Chesapeake Bay watermen who harvest blue crabs. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty, file)

WASHINGTON — In a year with frequent flooding, Hurricane Florence has been one more challenge for Maryland, Virginia and Delaware watermen who make their living on the Chesapeake Bay.

In addition to the risk of expensive crab pots being washed away during the storm, this has been a year with heavy flooding, which carries trash, wood and debris into the bay.

Watermen tell The Baltimore Sun they have had to travel farther east to drop their pots, to avoid junk in the water. Some watermen are concerned the remnants of Florence could wash another load of detritus into the bay.

Heavy rains don’t just pose an inconvenience to crabbers working on the water —  the storms can reduce the water’s salinity, which in turn can affect crab growth and migration patterns.

Ahead of Florence, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources told watermen it would not enforce time limits, so they could continue to harvest before the storm, and still have time to get their expensive pots out of the water.

Waterman C.J. Canby  of Pasadena told the Sun the catch has been good, and he hopes locals’ appetite for Maryland crabs doesn’t dwindle too fast as autumn approaches.

“We’re still catching crabs, and they’re the best and biggest of the year,” he said.


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