The Washington Post

Uh oh: There’s a crab shortage

Crabs: Where are you? (By Emily Barnes/Maryland Independent)

FENWICK ISLAND, Md. — Spring’s crab glut has quickly become summer’s crab shortage.

And with crab consumption a July Fourth holiday ritual on Delmarva, crustacean connoisseurs could be in for some disappointment.

Despite a spring of plentiful crabs, various takeout seafood shops in the area have been struggling to obtain a full supply for the summer.

The problem: It was cold, then hot, and there’s been a lot of wind. I can’t pretend to understand the ways of crabs, but that’s what the experts say. And now more people are hungry for crabs, it being summer and all.

So: “It’s the perfect storm for a shortage,” Mary Ellen Ball, co-owner of Tom and Terry’s Seafood Market, told the AP.

Which is not to say there are no crabs, just not eatable ones. The report said:

Brenda Davis, blue crab program manager at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said during a winter dredge survey -- the only baywide fishery independent effort to estimate the number of blue crabs living in the Chesapeake Bay -- the state recorded the highest recruit abundance in the history of the survey, which was first conducted in 1988.

Of the 764 million crabs recorded this year -- an increase from 461 million in last year’s study -- 587 million of them fell into the recruit category. Recruits are considered to be crabs with a carapace -- the distance point to point across the back -- of 2.25 inches and smaller.

Here’s my advice, people: Go to the crab shack. Hope the crabs show up. If not, fill up on the sides. Eat extra corn. Eat extra mac & cheese. Peel some shrimp. You can stuff your face satisfactorily at a crab shack even if there’s a shortage of the main attraction.

Just go heavy on the Old Bay.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.


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