Chesapeake Quarterly
July 2012 • Volume 11, Number 2
What's behind this year's boom in Chesapeake Bay blue crabs? Good management? Good weather? Or good luck? The question sounds simple, but the answer may not be. Not if you look for an answer among the scientists who study blue crabs for a living. Some of them, the crab biologists, focus on the in-Bay travels and travails of this colorful, two-clawed crustacean. Others, the oceanographers, track the offshore exodus of blue crab larvae — the tiny offspring who will grow into the next generation of Bay crabs — but only if they work their way off the ocean and back into the estuary. So what's behind the comeback?   more . . .
The new theory about blue crabs began in a restaurant that looked like a boat. For years two scientists met here once a month, hoping to bring some new thinking to the old mysteries about the up-and-down harvests of this popular and commercially profitable species. Their ideas would launch a long search tracking the migrations of blue crab larvae in the coastal ocean.   more . . .
The state of Maryland asked in 2009 to buy back 2,000 of commercial crabbing licenses statewide. Hundreds of inactive licensees ended up taking the deal, but even more, including waterman Rachel Deal, didn't. Dean and others link those licenses to family tradition, not just making money.   more . . .
The J.M. Clayton Company has been processing crabs for 100 years, but they've recently adapted a modern tool to help them compete in a global marketplace — flash freezing. To get the new technique up and running, they collaborated with Tom Rippen, a seafood technology specialist.   more . . .
The Maryland crab industry's main competition is imported crabs from Asia. Crabs harvested in places like Indonesia and the Philippines have come to supply the majority of all crab meat offered in restaurants and supermarkets across America, even in the Chesapeake Bay region. But the rapid growth of harvests in Asia is blamed for emerging signs of possible overfishing there.   more . . .
35th Anniversary Issue
Maryland Sea Grant began its work in 1977 with joint funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the state of Maryland. Its goals included research, education, and extension focused on managing Maryland's key resources in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast. One early research project led to a new theory about blue crab migration.  more . . .
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