National Geographic : 2002 Jul
GEOGRAPHICA CONSERVATION Chesapeake Crabs: ARally? After lean years, cautious optimism in the bay Extolled by writer H. L. Mencken as an "immense protein factory," the Chesa peake Bay is undergoing a long overhaul to rid it of pollution and restore its renowned fish eries. Current focus: blue crabs. A decade ago the bay landed half the nation's annual catch. Now it's less than a third. But it's still the world's largest blue crab fish ery, with 50 million pounds worth 55 million dollars a year. To help the crabs recover, fish ery officials have issued new reg ulations aimed at both reducing the harvest 15 percent by 2003 and doubling the number of crabs old enough to spawn. One of the rules limits watermen to an eight-hour workday. Hopeful signs that the crabs are starting to make a comeback came last October with a wind fall catch and large numbers of young crabs reported.