- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Yes, there’s been a moderate improvement in the Chesapeake’s crab population, but by any stretch of the imagination it doesn’t mean “they’re back.” In fact, a number of Bay scientists say the blue crab needs to be continuously and carefully managed.

The Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee agrees that modest gains have been made, but scientists warn that the overall health of the blue crab population is not yet what it should be.

A 2004 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Advisory Report bases its findings on data collected from four long-term fisheries surveys conducted annually throughout the Bay. It shows that the number of 5-inch crabs (the minimum standard for crab consumers) remains below the long-term average for the seventh consecutive year.

The abundance of mature females — the spawning stock — also continues to be below the long-term average, but it has slowly moved upward after reaching all-time lows in 2000. Fishing pressure has declined and that’s good, as is Bay-wide evidence that management actions are working.

What to do now? Go eat some crabs, but remember the days of seemingly endless supplies of crabs have not returned. So, easy does it.

Life jackets save lives — The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said four boaters lost their lives in boating accidents over the Memorial Day weekend. Three drowned after going overboard; none of the three were wearing life jackets. A fourth individual operating a personal watercraft (PWC) died as a result of a collision on Smith Mountain Lake.

Through June 1, there have been 39 boating accidents statewide this year resulting in 12 fatalities. Each fatality occurred on a different water system in the state. Eleven of the 12 were drownings. Ten of the 12 were not wearing life jackets.

A friend of watermen retires — There’ll be few tears about the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ announcement that DNR Deputy Secretary William (Pete) Jensen will retire from state service June 30.

Jensen never was held in high regard by the state’s sport anglers because of his favoring commercial fish netters over sportsmen. In one case during his long career, Jensen testified in court on behalf of a waterman who was caught with illegal rockfish. The incident never was forgotten by the state’s sport fishermen. The question now is, who will replace Jensen? Will it be another openly pro-commercial state government appointee?

Company says it can stop ‘skeeters’ — Mosquitoes and ticks cause misery during hot months and they spread disease, but help may be on the way. Already, parks, recreation areas, athletic fields and school districts use a powerful, nonpoisonous solution to repel mosquitoes that a California company says will now be available to the public.

The “Mosquito Barrier” is said to repel insects without using chemicals. Scientifically proven to drive away mosquitoes and ticks, Mosquito Barrier uses a special garlic solution that the insects can’t stand. The smell of the spray, although not detectable by humans after a very short time, causes the mosquitoes to leave the area, while also killing “skeeter” larvae.

To learn more about Mosquito Barrier, check mosquitobarrier. com.

Fast new birdshot — Federal Premium Ammunition has made improvements in several of its Wing-Shok upland bird loads. It now offers the industry’s fastest muzzle velocity at 1,500 feet per second in a variety of 12-gauge loads.

Upland bird hunters will be able to take advantage of the increased muzzle velocity of an already fine cartridge. This improvement has led to an increase of at least 100 feet a second in five popular configurations, says the Federal Company.

Conowingo pipeline maintenance — Starting next Wednesday the Colonial Pipeline Company will conduct maintenance work on a pipe that runs under the Susquehanna River downstream of the Conowingo Dam in Harford County, Md. The project is expected to last two to five months.

The public parking lot at the dam will be used to store vehicles and equipment. Recreational activities will be accommodated to the extent possible. Colonial Pipeline will provide a shuttle bus from a nearby parking lot (at the corner of Maryland Route 1 and Shuresville Road) for those wishing to fish from the riverbank at Fishermen’s Park. The launch ramp will be closed until the work is finished. Alternate boat ramps are located in Port Deposit Marina Park and at the Susquehanna State Park’s Lapidum area. Questions? Call Colonial, 410/457-5033.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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