Crabbers and regulators clash as Blue Crab populations remain below historic averages
Crabbers in Norfolk, Virginia struggle to make a living as Blue Crab populations sit well below historic averages. Virginia regulators are trying to preserve the Blue Crab population, but will this lead to the extinction of the Chesapeake Bay crabbers?
TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO
PETER NIXON: I've been on that advisory committee for blue crabs for 37 years, and nothing has gotten better.
Pfft, up here, it's down 80%. I started when I was 22. Now, I'm 73 and there's nothing left. And we've all been told, "Well, if you do this, this'll work. If you do this, this'll work," and none of it's worked.
They're managing for different things. I'm managing for economics, but my economics are realistic in that I can't go crabbing and not catch anything. So, I don't want to harm the resource beyond my ability to have it be feasible to continue to do it. And I think about that every day. They're thinking about a threshold of sustainability. And I'm thinking about the same thing, but it's my threshold of sustainability and I need a few more crabs than they need to sustain the species.
So, we're working at two different levels. They want it here. I want to see it here. And the regulations they're working on are keeping it here. And it needs to be better for the economics to work for me.
If I wasn't 73, I'd be really thinking about trying to figure out how to do something else. I have two or three young boys that I know that are in this fishery. They're in their 30s, 40s and they're good crabbers and they don't mind working. And I worry about the future of them.
Crabs used to be thick enough, when I first started crabbing, that you could crab in the morning. And if it was an incoming tide, when you finished your rig, you could actually go back and fish over some of your pots again, that it had enough incoming tide 'cause crabs feed on incoming tide. Now, we have to let them sit two days.
There used to be six or seven crabbers everywhere you went down the river every day. You'd crab next to each other and wave and talk and shoot the breeze. They're gone.
But this one, this one's a losing battle if we don't do something different, I think, you know? We'll never, never see the abundance that I saw in the '80s and the '90s. We'll never see it. These young guys will never see what we saw.