In November 2017, Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) informed the Chesapeake Bay Program of their decision to maintain the existing blue crab management framework rather than establish a new, allocation-based framework for the Chesapeake Bay’s commercial and recreational blue crab fisheries. This decision was based on constituent feedback and management agency perspectives, and marks the completion of this outcome. Maryland, Virginia and the PRFC will continue to operate under a management framework that uses female-specific reference points to indicate the sustainability of the blue crab stock and inform blue crab management decisions. Female blue crab harvest levels are one factor that influences adult female blue crab abundance and recent data showing harvest levels in relation to these reference points can now be found via the Blue Crab Abundance Outcome page.
Maryland, Virginia and the PRFC have regulations in place that can be used to respond to changes in blue crab numbers such as altering bushel limits and/or changing the crabbing season.
Blue crabs are vital to our region's economy and are an important part of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Poor water quality, habitat loss, harvest pressure and predation affect their continued health. Water quality improvements, underwater grass restoration and proper harvest management will be critical to maintaining this valuable resource.
To achieve this outcome, participating partners committed to:
- Planning and implementing the next benchmark stock assessment; and
- Evaluating an allocation-based jurisdictional management framework.
Monitoring and assessing progress toward the outcome occurred through November 2017, when Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) informed the Chesapeake Bay Program of their decision to maintain the existing blue crab management framework, marking the completion of this outcome.
As part of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s partnership-wide implementation of adaptive management, completion of this outcome was also reviewed and discussed by the Management Board in November 2019.
Logic & Action Plan
Chesapeake Bay Program partners committed to taking a series of specific actions that supported the management approaches listed above. Maryland, Virginia and the PRFC will continue to operate under a management framework that uses female-specific reference points to inform blue crab management decisions; updates can be found on the Blue Crab Abundance Outcome page.
The Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team leads the effort to achieve this outcome. Participating partners include:
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources (State of Maryland)
- University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (State of Maryland)
- Virginia Institute of Marine Science (Commonwealth of Virginia)
- Virginia Marine Resources Commission (Commonwealth of Virginia)
- Potomac River Fisheries Commission
- National Marine Fisheries Service (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- University of North Florida
Maryland, Virginia and PRFC also engage commercial and recreational blue crab harvesters through committees and advisory groups, which include the Maryland Blue Crab Industry Advisory Committee, Maryland Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission, Maryland Watermen’s Association, Virginia Blue Crab Management Advisory Committee, Virginia Watermen’s Association, and the Potomac River Crab Advisory Committee.