Researchers says limits on crabbing since 2008 have helped keep the blue crab population afloat.
After the cold winter, there are 460 million crabs crawling around on the bottom of the Bay, down from 650 million last year, according to Maryland's annual Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey. But the Department of Natural Resources says that's still within the range considered healthy and sustainable.
Gov. Martin O'Malley says the significant limits on crabbing imposed by Maryland and Virginia in 2008 made a difference.
"The crab population this year was not as high as last year, but it was still much higher than it was three years ago. So it shows when you make the tough but right decisions based on science, you can create a resource that's healthy, that grows over time," says Gov. Martin O'Malley.
The crabbing limits were designed to head off a crab population collapse. O'Malley and conservationists point to a record crab harvest in 2010 as evidence that conservation and commercial fishing are compatible.