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Sunday, July 14, 2024

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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

VRMC votes to reopen winter blue crab harvest season

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Wednesday, July 10, 2024   

Virginia's Marine Resources Commission is ending the winter blue crab harvest prohibition.

Crabbing is permitted from March to the middle of December. Extending the harvesting season targets adult female crabs which can harm this species' future. Environmental groups argued the Blue Crab Stock Assessment Committee's research does not support increasing the harvest.

Chris Moore, Virginia executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said recent winter dredge survey results showed it is an ill-timed decision.

"For the last 8 or 9 years or so, we had actually seen higher numbers of adult females every year going back to 2016 except for 2022," Moore outlined. "That was the year where we actually saw the lowest number of crabs total in that winter dredge survey."

The most recent winter dredge survey showed a continued decline of about 20 million blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay. Moore noted the committee's decision is preliminary and depends on several previous determinations, ranging from the season's duration, number of participants, allowable catch and harvest location. A final decision is set for September.

Reopening the winter harvest will not endanger or eliminate blue crabs from Virginia waterways due to thresholds for the population. Moore thinks the committee should wait for a stock assessment with Maryland and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be completed. Since the last one was done in 2011, he argued more is known about blue crabs.

"We continue to learn more about the population dynamics of the blue crab," Moore emphasized. "We continue to learn more about some of the predators of the blue crab, like catfish, and so we really need to be thinking about what is the state of the resource now when it comes to managing the species."

Moore added the stock assessment's results can better determine how to manage blue crab populations. Studies show around a quarter of the female blue crab population was removed from Chesapeake Bay by fishing in 2023, below both the threshold to pause the harvest and the target for sustainable blue crab fishing.


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