April 20, 2011

O’Malley touts latest blue crab estimate

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Tuesday pointed to a new estimate of the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population, saying it was more evidence of the wisdom of controversial limits imposed on harvesting in 2008. The latest figure of 460 million was down from 658 million a year ago, when officials touted an extraordinary comeback. But O’Malley and others gathered at a news conference at a crab house in Riva, Md., attributed that to a deep freeze this winter that killed an unusually large number of crabs in the bay.

“The crab population is coming back,” O’Malley (D) said. “Overall, we are moving forward.”

The crab, a key part of both the bay’s ecosystem and the region’s seafood economy, had been rapidly declining during the 2000s, with its population reaching a low of 249 million in 2007, the year O’Malley took office. O’Malley said the population figure announced Tuesday, from an annual winter dredge survey, was the second-highest since 1997 and represented the third year in a row officials have exceeded their goal. SOURCE: Washington Post

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