2024 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey

posted in: Science-Research | 0
chesapeake bay blue crabs
Blue Crabs

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) recently announced the results of the 2024 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey. The annual cooperative survey estimates the number of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay.

2024 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey Highlights

  • The survey estimates that 317 million blue crabs were available in the Chesapeake Bay in 2024, compared to 323 million crabs last year.
  • The number of spawning age female crabs decreased from 152 million crabs in 2023 to 133 million crabs.
  • Adult male crabs also decreased from 55 million crabs in 2023 to 46 million crabs.
  • Juvenile crab numbers increased to 138 million crabs.

The number of juvenile crabs in the Chesapeake Bay has been below average for the past four years, but increased in 2024. Blue crab reproduction is naturally variable and influenced by many factors such as oceanic conditions, available nursery habitat, predation, and other environmental impacts. 

The consecutive years of low juvenile abundance prompted the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee to plan a new stock assessment for blue crabs, which will begin this summer.

The new assessment will allow fishery managers to take an in-depth look at their understanding of the ecology of this species, how it is modeled, and whether the reference points used for management should be revised.

In the meantime, the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee will review the survey results for this year and provide their scientific advice for management. Following their advice, DNR will begin discussions with the state’s Blue Crab Industry Advisory Committee to provide guidance concerning management options for 2024 that promotes the health and sustainability of the Chesapeake Bay blue crab population and its fisheries.

The Winter Dredge Survey has been conducted cooperatively by Maryland and Virginia since 1990, and the results are reviewed annually in an effort to have consistent management efforts across the jurisdictions. Throughout the survey, biologists use dredge equipment to capture, measure, record and release blue crabs at 1,500 sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay from December through March.

Detailed results of the 2024 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey are available on the DNR website.

Related Information

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.