Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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DNR Withdraws Limited Commercial Catcher Portion of 2009 Blue Crab Regulatory Proposals

Annapolis, Md. –  Maryland Department Natural Resources (DNR)
Secretary John R. Griffin announced today that the Department has
decided to withdraw the Limited Crab Catcher (LCC) component of the
Department’s 2009 blue crab regulatory proposal.

“During the course of public comment on the proposed 2009
regulations, the vast majority of verbal and written comment was
directed at this latent effort provision,” said Secretary Griffin.”
Many of those who commented expressed concern over the fairness of
freezing the commercial licenses of individuals who have not been
crabbing in efforts to restore crab populations. Others expressed
concern that the proposal does not adequately address the full
challenge of protecting a stressed crab population from over 6,000
commercial licensees, when less than one third of those licensees
reported catching crabs in recent years.”

Latent effort in the blue crab fishery remains a major concern
as the work to rebuild blue crab populations continues. Latent
effort is defined as licensed potential fishing effort that has not
been used to full capacity in recent years. This includes licenses
that are held, but not used, and fishermen that are fishing below
licensed capacity. Large amounts of licensed latent effort
re-entering the fishery could short circuit the rebuilding process
and potentially shift available harvest away from active, full time
watermen that depend on the fishery for their livelihood.

Although the LCC component has been removed for now, DNR has
initiated a review of management goals and public comment on the
latent effort issue to identify alternative solutions. The
Department expects to re-propose regulatory action later this
spring so that a regulation to address latent LCC effort is
effective by September 1, 2009.

The new proposal will be a first step in a comprehensive
strategy to strike the appropriate balance among the allowable
harvest that a rebuilding crab population can support, the number
of licensees and the long term commercial viability of the
appropriate number of industry participants.

These alternative actions for removing latent LCC licenses will
not fully address latent effort within the blue crab fishery. Fully
addressing latent effort will require a full review of the
commercial fisheries license structure. While addressing LCC
concerns in 2009, DNR’s Fisheries Service staff will undertake a
comprehensive review of latent effort in the fishery. Comprehensive
recommendations will be available in November of 2009. Failure to
adequately address latent effort could lead to a need for
alternative management approaches that depend upon in-season
harvest monitoring program and more regular in-season harvest
adjustments.

DNR is moving forward to adopt the balance of the commercial
2009 regulations.

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