Salt Marsh And The Chesapeake Bay: Saving The Maryland Blue Crab

756 words - 4 pages

If someone is a native of Maryland, they know exactly what one is talking about when the Maryland Blue Crab is brought up into a discussion. In 1989, the Maryland Blue Crab, scientifically known as the Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, was designated the State Crustacean (Blue Crab, Maryland State Crustacean). This crab is not only a key component on the ecological system of the Chesapeake Bay, but also a key economical component of commercial fisheries; although not endangered, the issue of maintaining the population of the species is critical to the Chesapeake Bay and also its inhabitants.
Blue crabs have the highest value of any Chesapeake Bay commercial fishery; in 2000, the blue crab harvest was valued at a staggering $55 million (Blue Crabs – Chesapeake Bay Program). For Maryland locals, the importance of crabs during the summer months is bigger than any other issues; summer days are spent at picnic tables picking away at the hard shells of the steamed morsels. During these months, commercial fisherman are up before the sun rises, riding along checking their lines and baskets in the bay in hopes of a good yield of the crustaceans to bring back to sell later that day. In fact, an estimated one third of the nation’s catch of blue crabs come directly from Maryland’s own Chesapeake Bay (Blue Crabs – Chesapeake Bay Program).Therefore, sustaining the population of crabs is essential in the success of the businesses that rely on the income from selling them, and also to the people who consume the crabs frequently. At the same time, the constant pressure on harvesting the crabs for income has created an issue. Since the early 90’s, yield of crabs has decreased, resulting in an increase of efforts to meet the demands of the business of commercial fishing; with the issue of overfishing comes the evident problem of too many adult crabs being harvested, consequently causing the number of juvenile crabs to drop as well. In 2007, the lowest crab harvest since 1945 was recorded, weighing in at 44.2 million pounds (Blue Crabs – Chesapeake Bay Program). Although this statistic was low, the percentage of harvest of the bay’s available blue crabs was at a high of 60% (Blue Crabs – Chesapeake Bay Program). What...

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