Mark-Recapture Assessment of the Recreational Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) Harvest in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

Thumbnail Image
Publication or External Link
Semmler, Robert Semmler
Reaka, Marjorie L
Hines, Anson H
In Maryland, commercial blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) harvests are monitored through mandatory, annual harvest reporting, but no monitoring exists for recreational fishers. This study used a large-scale mark-recapture program to assess relative exploitation between the recreational and commercial fishing sectors in 15 harvest reporting areas of Maryland, then incorporated movement information and extrapolated reported commercial harvest data to generate statewide estimates of recreational harvest. Results indicate spatial variation in recreational fishing, with a majority of recreational harvests coming from tributaries of the Western Shore and the Wye and Miles Rivers on the Eastern Shore. Statewide, recreational harvest has remained 8% as large as commercial harvest despite management changes in 2008, and remains a larger proportion (12.8%) of male commercial harvest. In addition, this study provides detailed spatial information on recreational harvest and the first information on rates of exchange of male crabs among harvest reporting areas.