Maryland is ending its crab license buyback program after retiring nearly 700 over the past year and a half.

The Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that the limited crab catcher commercial license buyback program will end March 11.

Many of the state's 6,000 crabbing licenses are not actively used and state officials began buying back licenses in August 2009 for $2,360 each to make it easier to manage the crab population, which had dropped sharply before rebounding recently. DNR Fisheries Service Director Tom O'Connell says retiring the licenses reduces the possibility that watermen with unused licenses will resume crabbing leading to harvests that could exceed management targets.

Funding for the program came from federal grant.