Maryland on Tuesday launched a campaign to police recreational and commercial crab fishing as the state grapples with a low population of crabs that can be caught in the Chesapeake Bay, authorities said.

The enforcement campaign takes aim at poachers who defy regulations on minimum sizes, harvest limits and hours, as well as crab pot registrations, threatening the sustainability of Maryland's blue crab population, officials said.

"Our officers will be on the water, on the docks, at wholesalers and at roadside stands to ensure that everyone plays by the rules," Colonel George Johnson, superintendent of the Maryland Natural Resources Police, told a news conference in Annapolis.

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