Waterman John VanAlstine with a female blue crab caught in the Chesapeake. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission first approved a ban on the winter harvest — which involves scooping up hibernating crabs from the Chesapeake using steel dredges — in 2008.

The commission voted on Sept. 23 to reinstitute the ban this winter.

Since 2008, the number of adult crabs has nearly doubled, the Associated Press reported. But despite the progress, the numbers are not self-sustaining.

According to the AP report, there need to be at least 215 million female crabs and a total adult crab population of 415 million to sustain the population. The current count is 194 million female crabs and a total of 254 million adult crabs.

Pregnant female crabs bear the brunt of the dredging, said the commission.

Virginia watermen objected to the ban, claiming that it would have negative effects on the state’s seafood industry.