The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) voted Tuesday to implement new fisheries management measures to conserve adult female and juvenile blue crabs through targeted harvest reductions.
The Commission voted to reduce crab pot bushel and vessel limits by 10 percent for 12 months, July 5, 2014 to July 4, 2015. The Commission also closed the crab dredge fishery season for the seventh year in a row.
These new management measures were taken as a result of the 2014 Annual Winter Dredge Survey, which indicated female blue crabs dropped below the safe level of 70 million and are in a depleted state. Juvenile crab numbers increased and have remained at a safe level for the sixth consecutive year. The juveniles must be conserved, however, in order to increase their chances of reproducing in even larger numbers next year.
“These decisions while never easy are absolutely necessary” said VMRC Commissioner John M.R. Bull. “The measures we adopted today complement similar regulations adopted by our partners in this effort, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission. Together, we will continue to monitor the blue crab population with our partners and continue to adjust management strategies when necessary. “
Commissioner Bull, at the conclusion of the public hearing thanked VMRC’s two advisory committees, the Crab Management Advisory Committee, which supported the Commission’s decision and Crab Industry Advisory Committee.
“Our industry partners have contributed greatly to VMRC’s work. Our partners have had some interesting ideas recently about building our blue crab fishery," he said. "These committees, in the coming months, will be working to provide more detail on their ideas as well as solicit Bay-wide public input.”