Opinion: Guilt-free blue crab still elusive 

Nobody asked me — because I’m still abstaining from eating crabs — but … Apparently, the 2015 harvest has picked up.

“Considerably,” said Robert T. Brown, Sr., president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association. “I’m not going to be able to put a percentage on it yet, but it’s up quite a bit, especially over in the Cambridge, Tilghman Island area.” Brenda Davis, manager of the state’s Blue Crab Program, confirmed reports of improving harvests. Jim Livingston, a recreational crabber who has kept catch records for 15 years, says the season started slow, but he’s been trapping plenty of mature blue crabs in the West and Rhode rivers in Anne Arundel County. “And I’ve done well right off my dock in 2 to 4 feet of water,” he says.

Angus Phillips, the former Washington Post outdoors editor who joined me in calling for a moratorium on the crab harvest last year, reported respectable catches in Annapolis-area waters. “Crabbing has finally picked up,” he says. “It’s not great, but it’s certainly decent, better than the last two years by a lot.” That does not mean Phillips has pulled back from his call for a ban on the harvest. He’s happy to catch a few crabs for lunch, but he feels the resource has been exploited by commercial crabbers and brought to the brink of collapse too many times. “Conservation regs are anemic,” he says. “There is too much pressure on this resource, and it’s gonna continue to be whittled down.” As for me, I will continue to abstain a little longer, maybe see how things look in another year. I like steamed crabs as much as any Marylander, but I prefer them a little closer to guilt-free.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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