Is another sad story coming? Blue crabs are in trouble in the Chesapeake Bay. Blue crabs are a big deal, millions of pounds caught and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Oh yeah, they're interesting and important creatures too.
There are fewer blue crabs than we want. Lots of problems afflict blue crabs, but here's an interesting question.
Is it ok to catch half of the crabs or more each year? That's the fishery management goal, around half of the crabs get pulled out of the bay for people. Is that reasonable? Fishery science says it's reasonable.
Now that crabs are in trouble, people are asking what's wrong. Is it pollution harming the crabs?
An interesting statement came out...blue crabs aren't reproducing fast enough to recover from the pressure they're under, according to the Department of Natural Resources. So the problem is the crabs? They're not reproducing fast enough to satisfy our wants?
I'm sorry, I like sustainable fishing, but there has to be common sense applied. I don't think catching half the crabs is reasonable. The fishery models may say it's ok, but I have doubts. It just seems like taking too many crabs. It might work when we're lucky, but it doesn't seem like a good long-term strategy.
Sustainability is about more than using a model to allow maximum take. Sustainability also means being prudent and cautious and allowing the crabs to thrive so we don't have trouble when conditions are bad for crabs. When we're killing half of the crabs each year, there's no reserve if they fail to have a good year for reproduction. Two years of poor reproduction and they're gone. Bye bye crabs.
This is the biggest problem with most fishery management, we're reckless and aggressive and the needs of fishing are viewed as the baseline. And those damn crabs just have to reproduce fast enough to make everything ok.
This isn't the first time that I've seen the bizarre statement that a problem was caused by fish or crabs that didn't reproduce as fast as they were caught. What a nutty way to look at a problem.