Chesapeake Bay blue crab numbers lowest in 33 years, survey says

Chesapeake Bay blue crab numbers are at their lowest in decades.

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According to the 2022 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey - an annual estimate of the population of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries - the estimated total crab population is at 227 million.

This is the lowest number recorded in the survey's 33-year history, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.


Chris Moore, Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued the following statement:

"The results of this year's survey continue a worrying trend for blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay region. The continued low abundance of juveniles and adult males indicates the urgent need for action to protect these segments of the population.

Although juvenile population estimates can vary greatly from year to year, the 2022 results are the third year of below-average numbers in this segment of the population. These reduced abundances highlight the need to continue to protect adult females in order help ensure better numbers in the future.

This year's survey follows two consecutive years of declines in the coverage of underwater grasses, one of the most important habitats for blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay. It is likely that the loss of grasses is contributing to the blue crab's decline, along with water quality challenges and predation by invasive blue catfish.

Fisheries regulators and scientists must work quickly to identify the key ecosystem factors influencing blue crab recruitment and survival so that they can be mitigated to ensure a healthy blue crab population in the future."