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Maryland male crab catch restriction for commercial, recreational crabbing starts

The Department of Natural Resources says the crab population is very low this year
Crab population survey
Posted at 6:37 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 19:12:48-04

KENT ISLAND — The Department of Natural Resources says the crab population is very low this year.

That’s not ideal for a region banking on its trademark. The winter dredge survey showed an unusually low amount of crabs in the Chesapeake Bay, the lowest since the 1990s.

For the first time, the Department of Natural Resources has put a limit for commercial crabbers on male crabs.

Survey: Chesapeake’s crab population at lowest since 1990

Male crab catch limits begin July 1

They are restricting watermen to 15 bushels of male crabs a day from July through December this year.

Maryland starts first-time male crab catch limits on July 1

Recreational crabbers are restricted to one or two bushels, depending on their licenses.

Watermen said last summer a normal haul is 3 to 5 baskets a day, a good day was seven or eight bushels.

They don't expect the regulations will come into play too much.

Sean Maurone, General Manager at the Stevensville Crab Shack, said it's been tough on him compared to 2021.

“Comparing our numbers to last year, we're down every day, weekdays, holidays,” Maurone said. “So we're hoping the July 4 weekend is gonna be pretty good.”

Most of the jumbo crabs are coming from down south, and with crabs being scarce, it's in the bay, it's tough to keep prices down, but at the Stevensville Crab Shack, they're able to reduce prices on some crabs.

Audrie and John Hammond came to get steamed crabs on Kent Island, and being a crab connoisseur, Ms. Hammond desires Old Bay over concern for the pocketbook.

“I have to think about it a little bit but, I'm not going to think long because I love crabs,” she said. “So, we're just gonna make the sacrifice and purchase the crabs, they're good.”

Last year it was COVID, now gas is high and the crab population is low.

“It's something every year,” Maurone said. “What's it going to be next year?”