Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Assessment
External Review Comments
The 2005 Stock Assessment for the blue crab fishery in Chesapeake Bay was officially released on October 24, 2005. The assessment was completed by a team of scientiests from academia and regional management agencies using available data up to and including the 2003 fishing season. The assessment was developed with support from the NOAA Chesapeake Bay office.
The new assessment includes new information on growth, reproduction and mortality of blue crab in Chesapeake Bay. The assessmnet combines information from fishery-independent surveys and data from the commercial harvest to estimate the abundance of crabs in the Chesapeake Bay and the likely rates of exploitation for the period 1968-2003.
The central finding of the assessment is that the blue crab stock is at a low level of abundance. When compared to management reference points, agreed to by regional management agencies in 2001, the stock is not overfished. But the lack of recovery of stock abundance remains of concern. The exploitation rate (% of population harvested each year) declined from 2000 -2003, so that in 2003 it is estimated that 46% of the available population was harvested. This level of exploitation is less than the maximum level that is believed sustainable, but greater than that level adopted by management agencies as safe for the fishery.
The assessment document was independently reviewed by experts in a process organized by the Center For Independent Experts at the University of Miami. Four experts on crustacean fisheries from Australia and the United Kingdom spent several days in the region critically reviewing the assessment methods and findings. They provided recommendations for future work, but concluded that the assessment was a factual and unbiased assessment of the stock that should be used for management.
Further information on the assessment can be obtained by clicking the appropriate links on the left of this page. Information available for download include the executive summary, the full assessment, the recommendations from the assessment as well as the review comments, all supporting literature and data.
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