- Evaluate options for funding the next benchmark blue crab stock assessment. Review the stock condition and consider new data sources and new or improved models for assessment.
- Work with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science to complete a study of the ecosystem factors affecting blue crabs. Evaluate the results of this research and determine how it can be applied to the existing blue crab management framework.
- Respond to issues affecting the blue crab fishery, including recent research into the ecological and economical effects of derelict fishing gear in the Chesapeake Bay, uncertainties around estimates of blue crab exploitation and options for the development of triggers to inform decisions in blue crab management.
- Assess blue crab stock status and communicate the results to managers and the public.
- Analyze the results of the annual Bay-wide Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey. Develop management recommendations and deliver an advisory report.
- Develop decision criteria to determine the timing of blue crab stock assessment updates.
- Evaluate and improve the effectiveness of the blue crab stock assessment model.
- Improve understanding of catchability and gear effects on blue crab abundance estimates.
- Improve harvest reporting and characterization of catch composition.
- Evaluate blue crab indices and analytical models to ensure that the best approaches are used for stock assessment, including updates to the management reference points.
- Identify and address high priority blue crab science needs.
- Conduct research that examines relationships between, and primary drivers of, blue crab abundance, recruitment and other important aspects of population dynamics. Share results with relevant stakeholders and interested parties.