The Blue Crab Fisheries of Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico: A Stock in Decline

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Donald McCorquodale


The blue crab fishery is both of ecological and economical importance. Callinectes sapidus Rathbun’s stock has been declining due to a number of factors and spawning stock is not rebounding as it previously has. Female crabs are becoming depleted, resulting in population loss. Reasons for the blue crabs’ decline are identified, as overfishing, pollution, disease, and habitat destruction. Methods used to calculate stock size and amount of crabs harvested are analyzed, while restoration efforts to help maintain and increase the stock are evaluated. Finally, laws and regulations used to maintain the fishery are reviewed. Many individuals are dependent on these fisheries, including watermen, processors, restaurants, and supermarkets. Improving the blue crabs stock size proves to enhance the health, habitat, and economy of both Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

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