Pilot Program Attempts to Discover How Many Blue Crabs We’re Harvesting Actually, For Real

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If you’re goal is to increase the blue crab population in the Chesapeake Bay, getting an accurate count of how many you’re harvesting every year is of essential importance. For the past couple decades we haven’t had one — not exactly, anyway.

Since 1994, watermen have just been writing down how many crabs they caught — of each size, sex, and texture — after the fact, and often from memory, and then mailing that count to the state. But it’s poised to change. A pilot program is putting digital ThinkPads in the hands of 50 watermen who will use the devices to log their catch right out in the water and send the count wirelessly to the Department of Natural Resources.

If the program works out, it will be a matter of getting these devices out to the other 5,150 watermen crabbing the area, most of whom want an accurate count as much as anybody — their livelihoods depend on a healthy crab population of course — and we stand to get the most accurate data on our blue crab harvest to date.


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