Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) is an important resource in Chesapeake Bay serving as predator and prey in the estuarine food web and supporting one of the most valuable fisheries in the region with landings in 2019 exceeding 55,501,000 lbs. and valued at more than $81,465,000 (NOAA Fisheries 2021). Fluctuations in the abundance of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay reflect annual changes in recruitment, fishing mortality, and natural mortality (Lipcius and Van Engel 1990). During the 1990s, blue crab abundance in Chesapeake Bay declined markedly (Lipcius and Stockhausen 2002) and management plans were subsequently enacted to rebuild blue crab stocks to former levels of abundance. Such rebuilding plans aim to protect the spawning stock to ensure recruitment and required significant reductions in fishing mortality rates. Recruitment in this stock is closely monitored, and fishing mortality is regulated through area closures, minimum size, and seasonal harvest limits, but natural mortality due to predation is not well known or estimated. Indeed, a comprehensive list of blue crab predators is lacking for Chesapeake Bay (Bromilow and Lipcius 2017). Nonetheless, predation mortality on blue crabs may contribute to notable annual fluctuations in the abundance of juvenile and harvestable blue crabs.

Publication Statement

Final report submitted to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission