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News Opinion Readers Respond

Crabbing moratorium isn't the answer [Letter]

In response to Dan Rodricks' article, "Stop tinkering: Ban crabbing for a year" (May 4) I must say that his solution to the Chesapeake Bay's crab shortage, placing a moratorium on crab harvesting, is too simple and elementary for this complex and multi-faceted problem.

The Chesapeake Bay blue crab industry makes up $700 million of the state of Maryland's economy. There are many individuals and businesses involved in this economy, starting with watermen, marinas and boat repairs, bait and tackle supplies, truck drivers, fuel companies, crab wholesalers, crab picking houses, carry-out crab houses, sit down restaurants, refrigeration services, boiler services, and the list could continue. Mr. Rodricks suggests that the watermen take off a year and plant trees. OK, what about all the others who are affected, Mr. Rodricks? Do you have any ideas for their income and livelihood for that moratorium period? I think this part of the problem is a bit more broad than you think, Mr. Rodricks. I have two carry-out crab houses that employ approximately 50 people, and I know I would have to release many of them if a moratorium was issued.

Let me just say this about our blue crabs: They are resilient, and they are survivors. Do a little research for yourself on the life of a blue crab, you will be astounded at their tenacity to survive!

That said, one way to help the blue crabs survive would be to allow fishermen to harvest greater numbers of rockfish from the bay. One waterman recently cut open a harvested rockfish to find 157 juvenile blue crabs in its belly! Wow! That's just one fish. Fishermen should be allowed to harvest the red drum also; like rockfish, eating machines, feeding primarily on juvenile blue crabs. This Chesapeake Bay of ours is out of balance right now — too many fish, not enough crabs. You can't have a bay thick with rockfish and red drum and expect to have acceptable numbers of blue crabs. It can't and won't happen. Mother Nature runs in cycles, and sooner or later will resolve this issue, but we can help counter the balance by allowing more fish to be harvested.

Scientists and the Department of Natural Resources, along with watermen, have been strategizing for the past few years about new regulations to protect the blue crab resource. These strategies have been paying dividends and should continue to be revisited and tweaked for the protection of our blue crab. We now need regulations relaxed on fishing to keep the balance in check. And the polar vortex, Mr. Rodricks, may have killed a few of the older crabs in the bay, but count this freeze a blessing. A freeze can kill parasites, bacteria and algae in the bay, cleaning up the bay water. That's a good thing! Thanks for your concern, Mr. Rodricks; however, I think you should stop tinkering with complex environmental issues and maybe concentrate on less complex issues, like politics.

Richard Anderson, Jarrettsville

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