An annual survey has found a record-high number of spawning-age female blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay and predicts another year of improved harvests.
The results of the survey conducted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Maryland Department of Natural Resources were released Wednesday.
They show the total population of blue crabs fell this year by 18 percent. But the female spawning stock was the highest ever recorded in the survey's 28-year history.
Virginia Marina Resources Commissioner John M.R. Bull says the stock is in "pretty good shape" overall and this year's harvest should be substantial.
In 2014, the number of female crabs was so low a harvest reduction was enacted. According to the commission, overall crab abundance has increased by 53 percent since then and the bay-wide commercial crab harvest is up 71 percent.