Blue Crab population hits a 20 year high!
— (from Chesapeake Bay Program)
The Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population increased 66 percent in 2012 to its highest level since 1993, according to the annual blue crab winter dredge survey conducted by Maryland and Virginia.
The enormous increase was fueled by a “baby boom” – an almost tripling of the juvenile crab population, from 207 million last year to 587 million. This figure smashed the old record of 512 million juvenile crabs set in 1993.
Overall, the Bay’s crab population has risen to 764 million, more than triple the record low of 249 million set in 2007. That deep decline set in motion four years of concentrated efforts to rebuild the stock.
“Just a few short years ago, the future did not look bright for our blue crab population,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. “Our female crabs were being overfished, and our fishery was at risk of complete collapse. We teamed up with our neighbors in Virginia and at the Potomac River Fisheries Commission to make the tough choices, guided by science, to reverse that population decline.”
Bay-wide, the crab harvest has increased substantially since 2008, when 43 million pounds were caught. In 2011, an estimated 67.3 million pounds of crabs were harvested from the Bay.
Not all news from the survey was bright: the number of spawning-age females dropped by roughly 50 percent to 97 million. However, this figure is still above the health threshold. Maryland and Virginia will work together to produce a management strategy to avert another stock decline for this segment of the crab population.
Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website for more information about the winter dredge survey and the 2012 blue crab figures.
Daily Press OPED: Doug Domenech: Investing in the Future of our Coast April 22, 2012
This Earth Day is an opportunity to celebrate an important anniversary. For the last 25 years, the Virginia Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program, a network of state and local partners funded through the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, has been finding innovative and resourceful ways to preserve the Commonwealth’s abundant coastal resources. Their investments have helped revitalize the unique character and ecological health that defined Virginia’s coast centuries ago. Almost 5,000 acres of eelgrass now wave with the ocean tides on the seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore due to the success of the Virginia CZM Program’s multi-partner initiative and $3 million investment, the Virginia Seaside Heritage Program. Devastating storms in the 1930s wiped out most of the region’s eelgrass beds and the bay scallops that rely on them. Today, scallops have been reintroduced to the restored eelgrass beds and this critical marine ecosystem is once again thriving. It proves just how dramatic restoration efforts can be if we maintain high quality coastal waters. The Virginia CZM Program launched the Virginia Oyster Heritage Program in 1999, jump-starting the impressive oyster recovery announced on February 7th by Gov. McDonnell. Through $1.5 million of Virginia CZM Program’s federal funding and additional private and public oyster restoration funds, the program restored 14 one-acre oyster sanctuary reefs and 500 acres of adjacent harvest areas in the Rappahannock River, and more acreage on the Seaside of the Eastern Shore. In 2007, the Virginia CZM Program reconvened the Oyster Heritage Program partners and together they developed the innovative strategy that combines harvest rotation with preservation of broodstock sanctuaries on the Rappahannock River – a strategy that has become the model for other oyster restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay. Beaches and dunes are our best natural defense against storms and flooding. Inventorying and protecting these critical coastal resources has long been a focus of the Virginia CZM Program. The program’s investment in a detailed analysis of Virginia’s beaches and dunes led to a change in the Code of Virginia in 2009 that significantly expanded protection of beaches and dunes to all coastal localities. Ongoing funding from the program also supports the installation and monitoring of Living Shorelines, a natural technique that can protect property owners’ shorelines and create healthier habitats for fish and other wildlife. The Virginia CZM Program has distributed more than 54 ecotourism grants in the last 25 years worth more than $1 million — funding construction of public access amenities such as nature trails, canoe and kayak floating docks, wildlife observation decks, an Ecotour Guide Certification Program, the 20 year old Eastern Shore Birding & Wildlife Festival, the coastal portion of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, and the Eastern Shore Seaside Water Trail. Tourism is a major driver in Virginia’s economy, and ecotourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of that industry. It connects people to the environment and instills an appreciation of our natural resources. Providing public access and investing in the conservation of special coastal places go hand in hand. The Virginia CZM Program’s acquisition of 3,537 acres has helped grow ecotourism in the state while also protecting sensitive coastal habitats. In Northampton County, the program helped expand Kiptopeke State Park and create the Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve. Tourism revenue in the county increased 11.2 percent in 2011, the highest jump in revenue in the state. What is particularly impressive about the Virginia CZM Program is how it has done more with less in its 25-year history. When adjusted for inflation, the funding the program receives through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has decreased by 48 percent since 1987. During the same time, Virginia’s coastal population grew from about 3.6 million in 1986 to about 5.1 million in 2010 – a 41 percent increase. This means more people, placing more pressure on finite coastal resources. How does the program remain effective? The key steps are aligning and leveraging resources and missions; implementing new technologies to get messages and scientific data out to coastal managers, decision-makers and the public; and relying on a dedicated staff that capitalizes on every opportunity to wisely use available dollars. The Virginia CZM Program and its partners have broken new ground in some areas and protected old ground in others. The result has been the promotion of a unique perspective on Virginia’s coastal zone. Together we can expect continued success in the next 25 years! Domenech is Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources
Copyright © 2012, Newport News, Va., Daily Press
About tax day each year, the SOS (Singles on Sailboats) club schedules its first weekend cruise of the season. This year, as usual, the cruise destination was Pirates Cove Marina in Galesville, MD. The marina is sheltered in a cove off West River just a short run from the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay (Latitude 38° 50′ 35″ Longitude -76° 32′ 21″).
Valinor’s crew for this cruise included Rennie, an SOS member, and Roger, a friend from Maine. Roger is a retired naval architect and is just now on his return trip to Maine from Florida. Roger has made this trip solo and hosts a forum recounting his travels on Strider – a kindred Tolkein spirit to Valinor.
Great crew always makes for fun and interesting trips!
We slipped our dock lines early Saturday morning at my home port on Back Creek in Eastport. The weather promised an intersting sail, with 10-15 kt winds blowing from the south. Sky was clear and sunny, but the forecast was for rain and stronger winds (northerly) coming overnight. The spot track (see link to the right) shows our course sailed, but pictures don’t tell all the story J
The cruise really began Friday evening with a deliciuos pot of shrimp scampi whipped up by Roger, with a nice white wine!
The sail down was outstanding. Three upwind tacks took us to Thomas Point making 4-5kts close hauled. After passing Thomas Point lighthouse we were on a beam reach making 5-6.5kts all the way to Pirates Cove – doesn’t get much better!
Saturday evening was a group dinner, some live music, and for my boat, an early night anticipating a less fun trip back on Sunday.
We were up early and underway a bit after 7am. The weather forecast called for north winds 10 – 15 gusting to 20kts, and increasing later in the day. We chose to get ahead of the stronger opposing winds. Still we found 2-3ft short-period waves and 15-20kt wind mixed with frequent rain showers – the price we paid for Saturday’s ideal sail!
Still, any day on the water…………