By David Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 17, 2007; Page A01
The Chesapeake Bay’s famous blue crabs — feisty crustaceans that are both a regional symbol and a multimillion-dollar catch — are hovering at historically low population levels, scientists say, as pollution, climate change and overfishing threaten the bay’s ultimate survivor.
This fall, a committee of federal and state scientists found that the crab’s population was at its second-lowest level in the past 17 years, having fallen to about one-third the population of 1993. They forecast that the current crabbing season, which ends Dec. 15 in Maryland, will produce one of the lowest harvests since 1945.
This year’s numbers are particularly distressing, scientists say, because they signal that a baywide effort to save the crab begun in 2001 is falling short.