Tag Archives: Maryland

Chesapeake Bay blue crab population improves after all-time low in 2022

This year, the number of spawning age female crabs and adult male crabs both increased substantially, but the number of juvenile crabs only increased by about 15%, according to the winter dredge survey, which is completed from December to March by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “We are encouraged by the increases in adult crab abundance, but we need to be vigilant given the ongoing low recruitment numbers,” said Lynn Fegley, acting director for Maryland Department of Natural Resources’s Fishing and Boating Services, in a statement. “We haven’t seen a strong year class since 2019 despite maintaining the spawning stock at a level capable of producing one.” Video, >click to read<  12:56

Lowcountry is the last ‘wild west’ for blue crabs. Crabbers call for change.

In February, David Richardson drove to Columbia from his home in Charleston to speak to a room of state senators about his life as a South Carolina crabber, which, at the moment, “is kind of miserable.” But it wasn’t always miserable. Which is why he drove two hours to the Statehouse, a place he had never been nor expected to visit. The crabber thought about wearing a Hawaiian shirt, then thought twice: “I wore a suit, thank God.” As crab numbers fell over the past decade across the Eastern Seaboard, South Carolina did nothing, but North Carolina increased its management actions. It designated some areas as “no-fishing” spawning sanctuaries. And Georgia decided to limit the number of commercial crabbing licenses to under 100. Photos, >click to read< 08:39

Luke McFadden Will Chart His Own Course

I’m a commercial crabber, or a waterman as they call us, here on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. People ask me, “What would you do if you weren’t a waterman? What would you do if you weren’t crabbing?” And I say, “I don’t even know. I’ve never considered it.” I’m an outlier in my industry. I’m Asian American. I’m also young; I’m 26. I started my business when I was 18. I’m also a first generation fisherman, meaning I didn’t come from a family of fishermen, which is very uncommon among watermen here, but really everywhere. I had a lot of resistance from a lot of other watermen, and they were not bashful about letting me know. >click to read< 09:30

Md. Gov. Signs Offshore Wind Legislation Into Law

Last Friday, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed the Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) Act into law. Joined by representatives of offshore wind energy companies at the Tradepoint Atlantic facility in Sparrows Point, Moore highlighted several bills that will allow Maryland to reach its clean energy goals.” Today I’ve signed legislation to quadruple Maryland’s offshore wind energy goals, reduce greenhouse gas emission in our state, and to provide rebates to businesses that purchase electric vehicles,” he said. “Together we will build on the great work of our partners at Tradepoint Atlantic, Ørsted, and U.S. Wind to build the clean energy future we want to see in Maryland.” >click to read<  14:43

US Navy Sounds Alarm Over Biden’s Offshore Wind Plans

The US Navy and Pentagon are sounding alarms over Biden administration plans to advance offshore wind projects along the central Atlantic US coast, warning that almost all of the new terrain eyed for development conflicts with military operations.  Maps shared with industry stakeholders and seen by Bloomberg News show vast red areas that the Navy and Air Force have deemed “highly problematic,” covering prime real estate the Interior Department last year earmarked for leasing off the coasts of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. The Defense Department’s concerns, which come on top of other conflicts identified by the US Coast Guard, have spooked renewable power developers and US East Coast states counting on mid-Atlantic wind farms to meet clean energy and climate goals. >click to read< 11:18

Locals Upset Over Dredging Issues at the Inlet in West Ocean City

On Wednesday morning, a 75-foot commercial vessel ran aground on its approach to the commercial dock in West Ocean City. The captain and crew say if the channel was dredged properly, this would not have happened.  They also voiced their frustrations with the Army Corp of Engineers, and there is agreement locally that a more permanent solution is needed.  “Maryland keeps wanting to put a band-aid on this, how many band-aids are you going to put on it before you fix the problem?” questioned Mike Coppa. Coppa is the owner of the Fishing Vessel Instigator, the boat stuck in the channel. Video, photos, >click to read< 07:55

Maryland, Virginia race to save dwindling commercial fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay

Alarmed by plummeting stocks of commercial fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay, officials in Maryland and Virginia are scrambling to control invasive fish species that are causing at least part of the problem. On Thursday, Gov. Wes Moore asked the federal government to carry out an evaluation to determine if the situation amounts to a declaration of a “commercial fishery disaster,” which would qualify the state for federal assistance. In a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Moore said the state is increasingly concerned about the explosive growth of invasive fish species in the Chesapeake Bay, including blue catfish, flathead catfish and snakehead. >click to read< 09:11

‘Hurricane Hazel’ shares record-breaking crab-picking skills with next generation

Tucked into the town of Crisfield, you’ll find The Crab Place on Maryland Avenue, and there’s a sort of storm brewing in Somerset County. This is where you’ll meet an extraordinary woman, Hazel Cropper, also known as “Hurricane Hazel.” “I enjoy it, and I know that you can tell that I enjoy picking crabs the most. Out of all my work ethics, it’s always been the crab,” Cropper said. “The first time I saw her pick a crab, I was absolutely amazed,” said Carman Pilkerton, of The Crab Place. It doesn’t get more Maryland than picking crabs. But for those who have picked crabs, they know it isn’t easy. It takes time and precision. video, >click to read< 14:00

Maryland seafood locale claps back at PETA in billboard feud before crab season: ‘Brought religion into it’

Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, a seafood restaurant in Maryland, hit back after the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched a billboard near the restaurant in February that encouraged people to “go vegan.” PETA’s Lent-themed billboard read, “I never lent you my flesh, go vegan,” according to a video posted to Jimmy’s Famous Seafood’s Twitter page. The billboard included a picture of a cross and a fish. The seafood restaurant, located in Dundalk, Maryland, posted a photo of two billboards on Thursday advertising their restaurant in response. One said, “they died to be enjoyed” and the other read, “it’d be a sin to waste them.” Photos, >click to read< 08:07

Extended Va. Oyster Season Poised for Largest Harvest In 35 Years

With Virginia watermen enjoying their most bountiful wild harvest in 35 years, state fisheries managers have agreed to extend the season by two weeks. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) voted unanimously to allow wild oyster harvests for an extra 10 working days in areas where commission staff judged the bivalve populations abundant enough to withstand additional fishing pressure. “We’ve had a great oyster season, and it’s still going strong,” said J.C. Hudgins, head of the Virginia Waterman’s Association. “It’s been good everywhere we go.” Looking back, it’s quite a turnaround. >click to read< 07:36

Fisherman finds huge megalodon tooth in oysters pulled from Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay

Another ancient shark tooth has been found along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, only this time it’s even bigger. The 5.5-inch megalodon tooth came out of the bay Feb. 10 hidden in a load of oysters, according to Stephen Rollins, captain of the fishing boat Undertaker. That makes the tooth about a half-inch longer than the one found Christmas Day by a 9-year-old girl at Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs State Park. >click to read< 21: 52

Ocean City calls for a halt on wind farm development after latest whale death

Ocean City officials are demanding answers tonight and calling for a halt on wind farm development. This comes after yet another dead whale washed ashore along the East Coast. The dead North Atlantic right whale washed ashore on Virginia Beach over the weekend, the fourth such case across the region this year, and while the cause of death hasn’t yet been released, the Town of Ocean City is urging both State and Federal officials to get involved. Mayor Meehan said other areas along the East Coast are also taking steps in an effort to halt the projects, citing conversations he’s had with other mayors who share the same concerns. >click to read< 09:56

Watermen form Shore-wide caucus

With the appointment of a well-known environmental leader to the top natural resources position in Annapolis, Eastern Shore watermen decided it’s time to gear up to defend their livelihoods. About 50 commercial fishermen, along with a handful of local lawmakers, formed the nucleus of the new Eastern Shore Watermen’s Caucus to fund lobbying efforts in Annapolis and educate the public. Queen Anne’s County waterman and farmer Robert Newberry, chairman of Delmarva Fisheries Association Inc., organized the meeting, along with members of the DFA board of directors. Concerns about the new administration’s potential policies as well as the appointment of Josh Kurtz, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, as Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, prompted Newberry to invite watermen to form the caucus. photos >click to read< 09:40

Whale deaths in NC and along the East Coast have officials searching for answers

On Jan. 7, a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead, wedged under a pier in Morehead City. In the previous month, three humpback whales washed up on beaches between Beaufort and the northern Outer Banks. The four North Carolina deaths are part of at least 14 whales that have washed up on East Coast beaches since Dec. 1. Federal officials, scientists and conservation groups have said there could be multiple factors contributing to the rise in whale strandings, including an increase in the population of the Western North Atlantic humpback whales. But one idea that’s gained traction online and among some coastal residents and politicians is that huge offshore wind farms planned off many East Coast states, including North Carolina, could be harming the marine mammals. >click to read< 08:46

Here’s why workers are digging Chesapeake Bay blue crabs out of the mud this month

On a recent gray January morning, they were working a section of the upper Chesapeake Bay off Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore. Capt. Roger Morris, a Dorchester County waterman who works under contract with the state’s department of natural resources, dropped a Virginia dredge off the stern of F/V Mydra Ann, his 45-foot Bay workboat, and let the attached chain pay out until the dredge hit bottom 20-some feet below, jolting the boat. A Virginia dredge refers to an eight foot wide piece of equipment with an attached net that gets dropped into the water to dredge for crabs. Morris eased the throttle forward and dragged the dredge through the mud for one minute at three knots, then hauled it back up, pausing to rinse the mud out before bringing it on board. photos, >click to read< 19:08

N.J., N.E., to Consider Fund to Compensate Fishermen for Revenue Lost to Offshore Wind Development

New Jersey is one of nine states that will consider a plan to establish a fund that would compensate commercial fishermen for losses that could be sustained due to impending offshore wind development. The states – Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia – on Monday released a Request for Information (RFI) aimed at receiving input from impacted members of the fishing industry, offshore wind developers, corporate and financial management entities, as well as interested members of the public, to inform efforts to establish a regional fisheries compensatory mitigation fund administrator. “Mark off the area and then compensate us,” commercial fisherman Jim Lovgren, of Point Pleasant, said at a meeting on the topic five years ago,,, Photos, >click to read< 07:38

‘The seafood industry is significant to Maryland’s economy and identity’

Maryland’s seafood industry has long been the envy of markets around the country, providing more than $600 million each year to the state economy. Stone Slade, seafood marketing director for Maryland’s Department of Agriculture, said it isn’t hard to locate a “fresh catch” and the industry plays a key role in shaping the state’s identity.  “The seafood industry contributes $600 million to the state’s economy, employs thousands of workers, has annual commercial landings averaging over 56 million pounds, and an annual dockside value of $95 million.” >click to read< 11:20

US offshore wind energy industry faces blowback from locals

Plenty of people in Ocean City, a popular beach community south of Atlantic City, are dead-set against a project proposed by Orsted and PSEG that still needs state approval to bring a power line onshore. “We don’t want this here in any way, shape or form,” said resident Suzanne Hornick, a leader of local opposition to the plan. The U.S. has 27 wind farm projects in development, with an additional five locations up for auction in California next month, according to the Business Network for Offshore Wind, a nonprofit dedicated to helping develop the offshore wind industry. If even a small portion of them were to face protracted legal or regulatory challenges, it could pose a serious obstacle to the industry. >click to read< 11:02

Public comment period opens on draft offshore wind areas

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Wednesday announced that a 30-day public comment period has begun on eight draft offshore wind energy areas, including off the North Carolina coast. BOEM said it will hold virtual public meetings to engage the fishing community and environmental organizations to gather more information on the proposed areas and discuss next steps. The proposed areas cover about 1.7 million acres off North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. The distances to their closest points range from about 19 to 77 nautical miles offshore. >click to read< 08:10

Hoopers Island Volunteer Fire Company holds boat docking contest

Boat dockers and bystanders braved cloudy skies and some precipitation to support the Hoopers Island Volunteer Fire Company boat docking on Sunday, Sept. 11, in Fishing Creek. Derrick Hoy in Crusher won the small boats category, Jake Jacobs in Outlaw secured the medium boats and John Ashton in Miss Julie won the large boats category. For results and 15 photos, >click to read< 08:47

50th Boat Docking Competition makes big splash in Crisfield

“It’s a good ole down home fun Sunday afternoon, end of the summer activity,” Waterman Kevin Marshall said. In Crisfield, that tradition is known as the Boat Docking Competition at the National Hard Crab Derby. It brings out community members of all ages for a day out at the dock. The timer starts once you leave the dock, as boaters head down the waterway quickly and then throw four lassos successful on the piles for a chance at the prize. Yet, competitors we spoke with say it’s not an easy task. “And I only have inches on each side when I go in the slip,” Commercial Fisherman Tommy Eskridge said. Video, >click to read< 07:47

Decline in Chesapeake crab population sparks hunt for answers

Commercial crabbers in Maryland and Virginia aren’t catching their limits, and the harvest in the first few months of the season was so meager that some gave up trying. “Crabs are so scarce that me and my son are still catfishing,” Billy Rice, a Charles County, MD, waterman, said in June. “We’re making more money catfishing than we would be crabbing.” Based on what they see on the water, crabbers have no shortage of theories about why the Bay’s most prized catch is hard to find: Changes in water quality, climate change and an influx of crab-eating fish top the list. Whatever the case, said J. C. Hudgins, president of the Virginia Waterman’s Association. “Mother Nature has throwed a wrench in the barrel.” >click to read< 14:23

Maryland to restrict crabbing, including first-ever limits on harvest of male blue crab

Regulations issued this week, to be in effect from July through December, will limit commercial watermen to at most 15 bushels a day of male crabs in August and September. And the regulations will tighten existing restrictions on how many female crabs watermen can catch. The changes come weeks after an annual survey of Chesapeake blue crabs,,, That state fishery managers moved to limit even the harvest of male crabs demonstrates the gravity of the situation. Limits are typically only imposed on female crabs as a means of ensuring enough of them to survive to spawn, but with a more than 60% decline in the overall estimated blue crab population since 2019, scientists and representatives from the seafood industry are signaling that more protections are needed to help boost crab reproduction. >click to read< 16:02

Chesapeake Bay blue crabs in trouble, tighter harvest restrictions loom

With the Chesapeake Bay’s crab population at its lowest ebb in more than 30 years, Maryland and Virginia are moving to curtail harvests in one of the region’s most valuable fisheries. Fisheries regulators in both states have proposed new catch restrictions, with plans to finalize them by the end of June. In Maryland, tighter limits for both commercial and recreational crabbing would take effect in July and for the first time would limit commercial harvests of male crabs, not just females. New commercial restrictions in Virginia would begin in October and continue until the crabbing season ends Nov. 30. >click to read< 08:17

Maryland’s oyster harvest largest in 35 years

Bill Sieling, executive vice president of Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association, attributes the excellent haul to both Mother Nature and the canniness of the Maryland oyster industry in putting available resources to their best use. “The combination of having the good substrate there for the young oysters to set upon and then having the oysters available in the area to produce the spawn which is what produces the spat set and therefore had a place to set and grow – and it’s as simple as that,” It takes three years for an oyster to grow to legal market size. This year’s harvest was the culmination of years of investment in the Bay’s oyster growing conditions, Sieling said. >click to read< 13:04

Hurricane Hazel: The 84-year-old World Champion crab picker from Crisfield, Maryland

If you live in the Crisfield area, you’ve heard the name Hazel Cropper, better known as Hurricane Hazel. She’s a world champion crab picker, and a famous figure in the town, or as she says, everywhere. “All over, I’m worldwide,” Hazel said. Her story starts in 1938 when she was born in the coastal town. “My parents raised me very well, and my grandmother, who taught me at the age of nine, to pick crabs, because I always followed her,” she said. She caught on quick and now, 75 years later, she’s a worldwide champion crab picker. “I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records, I’m a 16-time world champion,” Video, >click to read< 18:40

Skipjack Museum Restores Famed Captain’s City of Crisfield

The skipjack City of Crisfield is being given new life as the Skipjack Heritage Museum on Deal Island is currently involved in a complete restoration of the vessel at Scott’s Cove Marina in Chance, Md. “We also plan to work her in (Maryland’s) oyster dredge fishery and to carry passengers for charter to help offset the cost of maintenance and upkeep,” said Bob Shores. The City of Crisfield was built in 1949 by C. H. Rice and his son Ed at Reedville, Va. She was owned for many years by the legendary captain, Art Daniels Jr. who purchased the vessel in 1951 and owned it until his death in 2017. After his death, his son Bob Daniels gifted the vessel to Skipjack Heritage, Inc. >click to read< 11:02

Offshore wind farm company, Ocean City fishermen at odds again

At question now is whether US Wind went back on its agreement with conch fishermen. “We told US Wind in January that we needed their ‘Area D’ (survey area) to be able to go conching in April. Ben Cooper from US Wind assured us that it would be available the whole month of April for us,” said Ocean City fisherman Jimmy Hahn. “I spent $60,000 in conch bait to go conching this spring. On March 25, they sent us an email that says, ‘Oh, by the way we’re going to start a brand new survey (there). “They’ve got 24 square miles of bottom they could be surveying and I’ve got a little teeny tiny area where my pots are. They still wiped out six of the pots that I found,,, >click to read< 07:17

Ocean City Fishermen Say US Wind is to Blame For Their Damaged Gear

One fisherman is claiming more than a hundred thousand dollars worth of lost equipment. Jimmy Hahn has been in the business for 30 years. He said multiple pots have been damaged and towed by US Wind, who denies those allegations. “Ever since I’ve set my gear, they’ve been in my pots every single day,” he said. “They were in it on Friday, they were in it a little bit on Sunday, and then we had the whole incident on Monday.” US Wind is Maryland’s offshore developer. >click to read< 10:30

Maryland reps exploring shrimp fishery

A new shrimp fishery could be coming to Maryland, which would have direct benefits along the lower Eastern Shore. Last year, the state’s General Assembly approved legislation that allows the Department of Natural Resources to establish parameters for a shrimp fishery “pilot program” for certain commercial licenses. During the ensuing year, there has been some confusion about just how DNR could and should extend such authority, leading to twin bills in the Senate and House this year intending to clarify DNR’s roles and powers to adopt regulations. “A lot of people don’t realize there’s even a shrimp industry in Maryland,” >click to read< 10:36