Blue crabs are measured as part of the annual Winter Dredge Survey. Photo: Stephen Badger, DNR

Md., Va. Stick with Tighter Crab Limits Amid Population Concerns

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced the crabbing catch limits for the first half of the 2023 season, April 1- June 30. DNR says regulations will stay the same as the tightened-up limits that were put in place for the second half of the 2022 season.

Beginning on July 1, 2022, the bushel limit on boats was reduced from two bushels to one, and that change will carry over at least for April-June 2023. All other limits are unchanged for the spring season, according to DNR spokesman Gregg Bortz. These are based on the 2022 winter crab dredge survey, which resulted in the worst overall crab abundance in the history of the survey.

The same goes for Virginia crabbing, according to Virginia Marine Resources Commission spokesperson Zach Widgeon. Recreational crabbers will abide by the same rules that were put into place at the end of last June.

The 2023 winter dredge survey and results reporting is underway now, with the report expected to be released in May. Those winter 2023 results will determine the crab catch limits for July-December 2023 for both Maryland and Virginia.

Maryland DNR says its April-June limits apply to recreational crabbers harvesting from a boat in the Chesapeake Bay in its tidal tributaries, including the Maryland section of the Potomac River and its tributaries. These limits don’t apply to recreational crabbing from shore or on a vessel in the Atlantic or the coastal bays and their tributaries.

DNR outlines the specific limits as follows:

recreational blue crab bushel limits April through June 2023.

DNR says its catch limits are necessary to ensure male blue crab harvest stays within the limits referenced in the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan.

-Meg Walburn Viviano