The blue crab is the healthiest specimen of marine life in the Chesapeake Bay. Yet its prospects stir a good deal of fear. Despite a sizable crab harvest and reasonable profits made by watermen this summer, all is not well in Tidewater Maryland. Too many recreational crabbers are dropping lines and pots, competing for the limited summer harvests and forcing commercial fishermen to work twice as hard to earn a reasonable living.
State fisheries managers should waste little time making tough choices. Unless crab yields climb higher than the 50 million pounds caught each year, officials eventually may have to consider dividing, or even limiting, the privilege of crabbing between professionals and do-it-yourselfers.
Without tighter management practices, or an unexpected boost from Mother Nature, the famed Maryland crustacean could become all but extinct at specialty houses on summer evenings.