The future of Maryland crabbing

April 12, 2011

The call by Maryland's commercial fishing interests to modify the state's Blue Crab Management Plan ignores the fact that the plan implemented by the Department of Natural Resources three years ago has resulted in a dramatic increase in the blue crab population ("New thinking needed for blue crab fishery," April 8).

The plan was based on the best available scientific data and implemented after many public meetings with all stakeholder groups. It imposes restrictions on the blue crab harvest in general, the harvest of female crabs in particular and the dredging of crabs from their winter hibernation in the bay.

Despite the fact that water quality has not significantly improved, the resurgence of the crab population after overharvesting was curtailed has been impressive. The results are a vindication of the department's management plan and demonstrate what can be accomplished when marine resources are managed by objective data and not by anecdotal information or political considerations. Why should we consider changing such a proven successful program?

The suggestion that commercial fishing interests will create a "blue crab industry design team" to advise the DNR suggests that the blue crab resource is the sole province of those interests and ignores the fact that crabs, like other state marine resources, are the property of all Maryland citizens.

Any crab management plan that does not include equal input from the thousands of citizens who buy licenses and enjoy recreational crabbing with friends and family is unacceptable.

Ken Lewis, Baltimore

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