Maryland’s blue crabs are back in the Chesapeake Bay, but that may not last forever

Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials have noticed increased Chesapeake Bay blue crabs since last year’s recorded low.

Officials involved in the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey estimated that the number of blue crabs rose from 227 million in 2022 to 323 million this year.

While they were encouraged by the increase in numbers, the department’s acting director of fishing and boating services said the agency would remain vigilant.

“We haven’t seen a strong year class since 2019 despite maintaining the spawning stock at a level capable of producing one,” acting director Lynn Fegley said.

The department said while several factors impact blue crab reproduction, the number has been below average for the past four years.

After seeing a continued decrease in young crabs, the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee took action, holding workshops to begin exploring ways to improve fishery management.

“The stock assessment process will kick off later this year with a data workshop coordinated by the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” the department said in a release. “In the meantime, the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee will review the survey results for this year and provide their scientific advice for management.”

The Chesapeake Bay Program has called blue crabs “the Bay’s signature crustacean.” It said that protecting blue crabs through underwater grasses, following speed limits and respecting no-wake laws are some of the critical moves anyone can make to avoid damaging the blue crab population.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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