by Ann Jennings, Virginia Executive Director, CBF
following is an excerpt from Jennings' recent OpEd article. Read the full article on dailypress.com.
The Chesapeake's treasured blue crabs, having declined by 70 percent over the past two decades, are poised dangerously below a level of abundance beyond which the population is seriously threatened. These are scary times for the blue crab.
The governors of Maryland and Virginia recently called for a one-third reduction in harvests of female crabs. Science indicates that reducing crab harvests will result in a greater abundance of blue crabs, and that the population will respond very quickly to such actions. Unfortunately, the men and women who make their living by bringing those delicious blue crabs to our dinner tables will see their incomes drop. It's a gross oversimplification, but consider what you would do if you were told by your boss that your annual income would drop by 34 percent effective immediately. These are scary times for the crabber.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation applauds the governors for taking this bold action and committing to partner, as perhaps never before, on the regulations necessary to reduce crab harvests. However, we are concerned about the impact of these regulations on watermen communities, particularly those on Tangier and Smith Islands, where crabbing has been part of the culture for centuries and whose watermen have limited options for alternative incomes.
CBF therefore has offered both states alternative approaches to harvest reductions that attempt to spread the burden equally among various sectors of the crab industry. Furthermore, we share the frustrations expressed by the Virginia Waterman's Association in numerous newspaper articles. While Virginia takes bold action to reduce crab harvests, the underlying problem facing crabs remains unsolved with no complete solutions even in sight. Ultimately, we must restore the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay if we are to sustain a robust crab population and robust crab fishery. Read the full article on dailypress.com.