The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has decided to keep most of the restrictions that have helped to revive blue crabs in the Bay. The commission unanimously passed regulations in May for the 2010 crabbing season that would maintain the ban on winter crab dredging and the freeze on new crabbing licenses.
Crab stocks have surged from 255 million in 2007-the year before a series of new regulations were enacted, which included the ban on winter crab dredging-to 659 million today.
Scientists and managers say that increase has a lot to do with measures that both Virginia and Maryland put into place two years ago, when the population looked like it was crashing. It has taken two years for them to see the fruits of the restrictions, which watermen on both sides of the Bay lamented would hurt their business.
The only major change the commission approved will allow watermen to harvest, keep and sell highly pregnant crabs two extra weeks this year, beginning July 1. Last year, they had to throw back sponge crabs that were caught between March 17 and July 15.