Say goodbye to those delicious Old Bay spiced crabs – Chesapeake blue crabs are at historic lows. They are only at a third of their 1993 population. Mind you, this is not the usual comparison to pre-industrialized fishing populations, say from the 1950s – crabs have declined two-thirds in only 14 years.
And why is this? Certainly the incredible pollution of the Chesapeake is a factor. The sewage of much of the mid-Atlantic cities, chicken and hog farms, and the chemical lawns of countless subdivisions all run off into the Bay, causing oxygen depletion and massive dead zones. But you need to read deep into this Washington Post article to get to another shocking reason: the watermen are targeting spawning females.
Now, fishing is a hard life. I know they’ve got boat loans and house loans and families and everything. But catching females on their way to spawn? That is not only madness, it’s a dishonorable refusal to take care of their own livelihood. I don’t think they should get any governmental help or bailouts until they implement some kind of sane limits (similar to the notching of female lobsters in Maine). Until they can play nicely with the Bay, let them go bankrupt.