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Good story today in Sunpaper about crabbing. Short version - it's slow and out of state crab prices are way up.

Could not get entire story - here's a piece of it.

Baltimore County crabber Richard Young said he's had slim pickings for Coveside Crabs, the Dundalk business he co-owns. On Friday, he said, the 210 pots he's set in the bay held fewer than six dozen crabs fit for steaming. And while his daily catch this time of year normally includes several dozen "peelers" - young crabs nearly ready to slough their shells, so they can be sold as soft crabs - he only came back with nine on Friday.
"We are seeing some smaller crabs," Young said, "but it's not an astronomical number."
 

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Guess those winter dredge reports gave false hope to the waterman. Scientists can not predict the crab situation. All they can do is quetimate on what they think. Hey jimmy r, guess you boys were wrong, LOL. Last year was slow too, was hoping things would get better, but good chance those small crabs make a big difference in late august and on. If they survive the predators who feast on them, SMH.
 

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Guess those winter dredge reports gave false hope to the waterman. Scientists can not predict the crab situation. All they can do is quetimate on what they think. Hey jimmy r, guess you boys were wrong, LOL. Last year was slow too, was hoping things would get better, but good chance those small crabs make a big difference in late august and on. If they survive the predators who feast on them, SMH.
There are a ton of cow nose rays in the rivers right now and you know those worthless bastages are eating crabs. Everything eats crabs and there is very little sea grasses for them to hide in. I think it might be getting to a tipping point here shortly where there might be a moratorium to save them. I ran 1200' Saturday and got 2 crabs. A friend got 6. Not good........... Gary
 

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2 years ago this week I caught a solid bushel in 2 hours in Curtis Creek. This week last year I couldn't catch a crab in Curtis Creek to save my souland went to Solomons to catch 4 dozen in 6 hours...I'm going down there Friday to see how it's going, but I'm not expecting to catch much...The DNR biologists have grossly mismanaged the crabs...I foresee a recreational moratorium either later this year or next...But I believe it's too little too late. Saturday it took 3 hours to catch 12 keepers...It's over...reversing this (if it can be fixed) will take decades...If they have the political balls to tell the comms they can't catch crabs...
 

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10 years ago the ray population during the spring was estimated by DNR at 2 million animals. They have one natural predator in the bay and those are fairly rare...Bull Sharks...Sure a relative few are picked off by bow fishermen and some are caught and removed from the gene pool by hook and line anglers...but the population is probably double maybe triple that today. They eat crabs, oysters, clams and mussels...destroying grass and oyster beds and devouring everything they find. I did a study and a report on them for a class that was forwarded to the DNR biologists. I even got a reply that said that they only eat crabs when there is nothing else to eat...well....the lack of oysters, soft clams and grass beds where mussels live are all but gone...now you have millions of these rays eating all the crabs they can find...something needs to be done about them because if they are a major reason the crab population is shrinking, a moratorium may not help...every female ray over 12 months old gives live birth to one pup measuring 12-18 inches weighing 2-3 pounds. By the time these new born rays migrate south with the adults they are 6-8 pounds. They are born ready to eat.....They can devour a dozen or more crabs a day...now do the math...4-6 million rays eating as many as 12 crabs per day....they come into the bay in April and leave sometime in late July or early August...lets say 100 days even if they only eat 6 crabs a day....that's a huge number...
 

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10 years ago the ray population during the spring was estimated by DNR at 2 million animals. They have one natural predator in the bay and those are fairly rare...Bull Sharks...Sure a relative few are picked off by bow fishermen and some are caught and removed from the gene pool by hook and line anglers...but the population is probably double maybe triple that today. They eat crabs, oysters, clams and mussels...destroying grass and oyster beds and devouring everything they find. I did a study and a report on them for a class that was forwarded to the DNR biologists. I even got a reply that said that they only eat crabs when there is nothing else to eat...well....the lack of oysters, soft clams and grass beds where mussels live are all but gone...now you have millions of these rays eating all the crabs they can find...something needs to be done about them because if they are a major reason the crab population is shrinking, a moratorium may not help...every female ray over 12 months old gives live birth to one pup measuring 12-18 inches weighing 2-3 pounds. By the time these new born rays migrate south with the adults they are 6-8 pounds. They are born ready to eat.....They can devour a dozen or more crabs a day...now do the math...4-6 million rays eating as many as 12 crabs per day....they come into the bay in April and leave sometime in late July or early August...lets say 100 days even if they only eat 6 crabs a day....that's a huge number...
Just about everything that swims in the bay has crabs on their diet not just rays. In some areas the explosion in the blue cat population may be a major cause, they are voracious predators, introduced by man in Va. By the way blue cats are now also in some of the eastern shore rivers. Coupled with the demise of SAV and poor water quality not to mention changes in ocean water temps. and currents.
 

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'From The Sunpapers

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-crabs-shortage-20150615-story.html#page=1

You can literally buy lobsters cheaper than you can crabs,' says one restaurateur
With Father's Day looming, consumers' appetite for steamed crabs is growing.
But restaurants are paying $50 to $60 more per bushel for crabs than they did at this time last year - and consumers are paying $2 to $15 more per dozen, according to local restaurateurs.
Though locally caught crabs are rarely plentiful this time of year, a scarcity of mature Maryland crabs has been driving up prices for all sources of crabs for Maryland restaurants, say many in the industry.

"This is one of the slimmest springs we've seen in a long time," said Anthony Conrad of Parkville-based Conrad's Crabs & Seafood Market. "The price ... is outrageous for a box of Louisiana male crabs," he said - typically about $250, it's now about $60 higher. The price for a bushel of Maryland crabs is lower - anywhere from $130 to $180 a bushel. But there aren't nearly enough Maryland crabs to supply Maryland restaurants.
Conrad catches some of the crabs he uses for his restaurants and seafood market, and buys others directly from Maryland watermen. He'll rely on Louisiana and Carolina crabs when he has to. He's charging customers $59 a dozen for large crabs.
The short supply of Maryland crabs has a broad impact, even affecting the prices of crabs at restaurants that primarily buy crabs from elsewhere, he said.
"It means that prices of crabs are going to be much higher because the suppliers in North Carolina and Louisiana are going to be charging more," Conrad said. "So it makes it a fun industry."
The catch this year has been leaner than usual, says Brenda Davis, chief of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' crab program.

"We've got a really slow start in Maryland," said Davis. There were fewer crabs to harvest at the start of the season in April, she said, because last winter's bitter cold killed a lot of the adult crustaceans that slumbered on the bottom in Maryland waters. The annual winter survey of the crab population found that, across the entire bay, 19 percent of adult crabs perished; in Maryland, that number rose to 28 percent.
The bay's overall crab population has come back some from the dismal condition it was in last year, when the survey found the number of adult female crabs had been depleted. This year, following a season of tightened restrictions on the harvest of female crabs, the survey saw a 35 percent increase in the number of juvenile crabs. But those won't be large enough to harvest until later in the summer or fall, she said.
"We started the season with a bunch of small crabs," Davis said "so we've got to wait for more crabs to move in and grow up."
http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/green/blog/bs-md-crab-rebound-20150427-story.html

Baltimore County crabber Richard Young said he's had slim pickings for Coveside Crabs, the Dundalk business he co-owns. On Friday, he said, the 210 pots he's set in the bay held fewer than six dozen crabs fit for steaming. And while his daily catch this time of year normally includes several dozen "peelers" - young crabs nearly ready to slough their shells, so they can be sold as soft crabs - he only came back with nine on Friday.
"We are seeing some smaller crabs," Young said, "but it's not an astronomical number."
Crab houses that use a mix of Maryland and out-of-state suppliers said they will continue to use crabs from elsewhere while they wait for the Maryland supply to increase. But it's painful.
"We're battling through high prices, the highest we've ever paid," said Pete Triantafilos, whose family owns Costas Inn on North Point Boulevard in Dundalk.

Triantafilos said the cost per bushel for crabs from Texas is up 50 percent from last year. With Maryland crabs in short supply, there's not much choice but to pay the price.
"There's nothing to offset the market," he said.
For Costas' customers, that means paying $80 a dozen for large crabs, versus $78 at this time last year.
"As far as expenses on restaurants, it takes its toll," Triantafilos said. "Crabs have always been a draw, but they've never been a moneymaker. But now it's very difficult. You can literally buy lobsters cheaper than you can crabs."
"We have had [crabs] available on a constant basis," said Bruce Whelan, a manager at Jimmy Cantler's Riverside Inn in Annapolis. "We haven't had a problem getting them."
Whelan said that most of the restaurant's crabs are from Louisiana and Texas, but as the season goes on, more will be from Maryland. Those crabs are more expensive this year than last, Whelan said, "about $50 [per box, or about 11/4 bushels] more expensive than they were last year at this That price increase translates to the crab table. "The dozen large crabs that went for $75 this time last year is $90 now," Whelan said.
"We try as much as we can to use local crabs," Whelan said. "Because the water was so cold this winter, it's going to take a while. They're starting to come in more and more."
For crab lovers like John Schweitzer, the cost of a crab dinner is still worth it.
"It would have to get awful expensive for me to give it up," Schweitzer said. "Even when we were kids, we didn't get crabs all the time; it was a real treat."
Schweitzer said a crab feast is about something more than food. "My sister was visiting from Ohio, and she wanted to go [to Costas Inn]. We were there for two hours and had a great time."
Terri Mitchell, a 53-year-old Northwest Baltimore resident, eats a meal of the crustaceans once a week. But Mitchell finds that as the price of crabs rises, she has to be more creative about how she treats herself.
"If you eat crabs, you're going to find a way to eat them," she said, "but they're very expensive."
"I remember a long time ago when they were $20 a dozen. Now, they're $50, and they're small. I don't think that's fair because they're our state mascot. I scout for sales and for deals. Maybe I'll have crabs on a Wednesday night, when there's a special, instead of on the weekends. It's just a mess."
Whelan said he expects the supply of Maryland crabs to "break loose" in the next week or 10 days, but that Father's Day and the Fourth of July, along with the return home of college students and lacrosse tournaments, traditional occasions for crab feasts, will likely keep the prices of crabs high across the board.
Whelan said the best bet for consumers looking for reasonably priced crabs is to wait until after the Fourth of July.
"By the end of July, it's going to be a very good season," Conrad aid. ""It's a very bright future."

Barry Koluch, co-owner of Cravin' Crabs in Lansdowne, said, his father, Paul, a crabber, typically pulls in two to three bushels of crabs a day from Maryland waters. This year, he's been averaging less than one bushel a day. That means Koluch has had to have crabs shipped in from Louisiana and Virginia in place of Maryland crabs.
"It's been a rough season so far," he said.
Making matters worse is the fact that the cost to ship crabs in from other regions is very high, "They know we don't have crabs," he said of vendors selling the Maryland favorites from the Gulf of Mexico.
But with a steady demand, he said, he is forced to pay whatever the vendors demand until the Maryland season picks up. "It's just sad because we're stuck," he said.
For now, Conrad said, the business will be tough for retailers and restaurateurs.
"Crabs are becoming a luxury item," Conrad said. "It's no longer, 'Let's go out and get some crabs.'"
 

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There not as plentiful as they once were, that's for sure. It's been more of a later season in the upper bay.I'm selling my 300 pot com. crabbers license .
 

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There not as plentiful as they once were, that's for sure. It's been more of a later season in the upper bay.I'm selling my 300 pot com. crabbers license .
Pulling 300 pots is some hard ass work, especially with little reward. Don't blame you. I see less and less pots every year. Sad.
 

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....... Wasn't there a disease that killed the crabs last year ......... Last year seemed to have been a bust too ......... No one mentioned it in the articles
 

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Pulling 300 pots is some hard ass work, especially with little reward. Don't blame you. I see less and less pots every year. Sad.
It is.if you pull 150 every other day like I used to from underwater lines(You don't see them) It took me 6.5 hrs. to pull them solo by pulling the boat,dropping a loop over a pipe on the boat ,then moving to the next pot.An Lcc has a 50 pot restriction.You can't make money anymore pulling 50 pots.If the wind or tide isn't right,you can't catch much with a trotline.Pots catch while you're sleeping the night before you go crabbing.Believe me, you'll catch more crabs running 150 every other day then you'll catch with a trotline and 50 pots.It's still a lot of work to trotlining.I would rather pull 150 pots a day than have to deal with a trotline. Pulling pots is easier than trotlining. It just costs more to do it the easier way.
 

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It is.if you pull 150 every other day like I used to from underwater lines(You don't see them) It took me 6.5 hrs. to pull them solo by pulling the boat,dropping a loop over a pipe on the boat ,then moving to the next pot.An Lcc has a 50 pot restriction.You can't make money anymore pulling 50 pots.If the wind or tide isn't right,you can't catch much with a trotline.Pots catch while you're sleeping the night before you go crabbing.Believe me, you'll catch more crabs running 150 every other day then you'll catch with a trotline and 50 pots.It's still a lot of work to trotlining.I would rather pull 150 pots a day than have to deal with a trotline. Pulling pots is easier than trotlining. It just costs more to do it the easier way.
I don't know Nick. If you have an auto dipper and Line puller, it's not that bad. Any way you look at it a waterman works hard either in the heat or the cold and will never get rich..........Gary
 

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Gary I once asked a good waterman friend of mine who left a good job in the 60s to be a full time waterman .In that era it was quite profitable to crab during the summer and net rockfish in the winter. I asked him in the 80s after his enthusiasm had peaked. I asked, what would you rather do, crab or rockfish? His answer was in one word . Neither
 

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Gary I once asked a good waterman friend of mine who left a good job in the 60s to be a full time waterman .In that era it was quite profitable to crab during the summer and net rockfish in the winter. I asked him in the 80s after his enthusiasm had peaked. I asked, what would you rather do, crab or rockfish? His answer was in one word . Neither
Everything gets old in time Nick but when you are working harder and making less, a decision has to be made. Only trouble is that working the water is all they know. Tough place to be. Our resources are not unlimited and need to be managed better...... Gary
 
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