Chesapeake Bay Watermen Question Limits on Crab Harvests

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Bill Goldsborough, a fishery scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, supports the curb on crab harvests. "I would say most sincerely that what is being attempted here is a comprehensive effort, a bay-wide effort, that for over two years has utilized the best scientific information in an attempt to improve the fishery," he said.

Livelihood Concerns

Amid the concern for preserving the bay's blue crab, many watermen feel their own welfare is being overlooked in favor of environmental concerns.

"The crabbers are going to be hurt and a lot of them will fall by the wayside," said Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Watermen's Association. "In the middle section of the bay it's going to be disastrous, and they're going to lose the crab pickers that work in the crab houses."

On Smith Island, a small fishing community that is fully dependent on blue crab harvests, waterman Roland Bradshaw says that local incomes could fall by 25 percent as a result of the new regulations.

"This is our livelihood, this is my living. You probably might lose your boat or your home—either one," Bradshaw said. "They're persecuting us. For the watermen, this is it."

  • This story was broadcast on National Geographic Today on May 10.
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