State may require license for all who go crabbing

Permits considered for next year to get better tally of annual catch

November 13, 2008|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,tim.wheeler@baltsun.com

Anyone who wants to catch a crab in Maryland from the shore or a pier might have to pay to do so.

The state is considering regulations that would require all recreational crabbers to get licenses next year, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources. The fee may be as low as $2 for casual dockside crabbers who net or trap no more than two dozen crabs in a day.

Olivia Campbell, the DNR spokeswoman, said officials are considering the new rules so they can get a better understanding of how many crabs are caught by recreational crabbers. The state this year curtailed the catch of female crabs among commercial watermen in a bid to rebuild the crab population. But officials say their efforts to protect crabs are hampered by a lack of reliable information about how many are caught by recreational crabbers.

Many recreational crabbers already are required to have a license, but waterfront property owners and those on land catching crabs with dip nets have been exempt. There could be as many as 65,000 crabbers who are now exempt, according to the DNR.

Any move to cover them is likely to be controversial. Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell, a Republican representing Calvert and St. Mary's counties, said the state needs to find another way to track the recreational catch without tacking another fee on residents.

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