HAGERSTOWN, Md. (DC News Now) — It’s crab season, but Maryland and Virginia watermen will have to limit how many bushels of blue crabs they can take for the first time from the Chesapeake Bay.

“The 2022 winter dredge survey measures the number of crabs in the Chesapeake Bay every year and showed us this year that we are at the lowest total abundance of crabs in the bay since the survey began in 1990,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation Scientist Allison Colden said.

Because the numbers are so low, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is putting a cap of 15-bushels a day on blue male crabs. The reasons for the scarcity.

“Water pollution, low oxygen dead zones, the loss of underwater grasses, which are critically important nursery habitats for those small juvenile blue crabs, or things like increased predation by non-native species, particularly blue catfish, so it could be any number of those external factors or combinations,” Colden explained.

The shortage of crabs is creating uncertainty for businesses.

“We’re not selling quite as many as you know, probably down about 20-15 bushel a week, maybe more than last year,” Richard Herzog.

This drop in sales means a price rise, and that is being passed on to you. Chic’s seafood already has raised prices by 50 to 70 dollars per bushel.

“It’s just how it is right now,” Herzog said. “Genuinely in our hearts, we want to give the people a good crab at a decent price, and that’s what we try our best to do.”

In addition to paying more, you will be eating fewer because crabbing season will end two weeks earlier this year.