MARYLAND IS FOR CRABS!
ANNAPOLIS, MD (June 22, 2010) – Governor Martin O’Malley today issued a reminder that Maryland is for crabs! The state crustacean is in abundant supply in the Chesapeake Bay and the fishery is in full swing.
“Maryland’s blue crab is a true delicacy that our hard-working watermen bring from the Bay to the consumer. We are fortunate that there is currently an abundance of Chesapeake Bay crabs and that we can enjoy an early start to this year’s crab season,” said Governor O’Malley. “I encourage all consumers to buy and enjoy Maryland crabs and crab meat in stores and restaurants. Our State has strict regulations enforced by state and federal agencies to guarantee a safe and wholesome product. Purchasing Maryland seafood also stimulates the local economy by supporting local watermen, aqua farmers, processors, and countless others involved with the Maryland seafood industry,”
Maryland’s Health and Mental Hygiene Department and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration enforce strict regulations for the seafood processing industry. Maryland crab meat also undergoes a voluntary quality control and sanitation inspection. Maryland is the only state that has this extra level of inspection for crab meat. In Maryland, crabmeat must be steamed rather than boiled. This results in better tasting crabmeat with a longer shelf life and less water weight, thus giving the consumer more crabmeat per pound. Maryland crabmeat is all natural with no preservatives or chemicals.
Governor O’Malley announced in April that the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population has increased substantially for the second straight year, with the results of the most recent winter dredge survey showing a dramatic 60 percent increase in Maryland’s crab population. The Chesapeake Bay blue crab population is estimated to be 658 million crabs, which indicates that 2008 management measures put into place through a historic collaboration with Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission are continuing to pay dividends with the crab population at its highest level since 1997.
Last year, Chesapeake Bay watermen actually harvested more crabs than in seven of the past 10 years, confirming the long-held belief that a healthy harvesting industry can coexist with regulations that protect the long term health of the blue crab population.
This will be a wonderful year for Maryland crabs and crab meat! Consumers should start planning their crab feasts now. Shop around for the best deals and plan for a lot of fun with the best tasting crabs and crab meat.
The Chesapeake Bay blue crab is one of the most enduring symbols of Maryland and, not surprisingly, the state produces some of the best-tasting crab meat in the world. The famous blue crab, Callinectes sapidus or “savory beautiful swimmer” has a rich, sweet flavor.
In 2008, Governor Martin O’Malley and Team Maryland asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare the Chesapeake Bay crab fishery a federal disaster due to the historic low blue crab population. Under the leadership of Senator Barbara Mikulski, the Congressional Delegation secured $15 million in crab disaster funds from NOAA‘s National Marine Fisheries Service for Maryland to help rescue the crab population and provide needed economic relief to the commercial fishing industry. Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly also directed $6 million in capital funding to the effort during fiscal years 2009 and 2010.
The funds are supporting a variety of efforts including license buybacks (to date, more than 600 Limited Commercial Crab Catcher Licenses have been retired), electronic reporting, processing equipment upgrades and restoration work being conducted by more than 750 Maryland watermen. Under one such project, watermen removed nearly 8,000 abandoned crab pots or crab pot fragments from Maryland waterways in February and March of this year.