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HAMPTON, Va. (AP) - Virginia's health department has closed shellfish harvesting on part of a Chesapeake Bay estuary because of a raw sewage spill.

The Virginia Department of Health said in a statement Wednesday that the spill was on a portion of Back River in Hampton. The ban on shellfish harvesting is due to potential contamination. It includes oysters and clams but not crabs or fin fish.

The emergency closure will remain in effect until June 7. The department's Division of Shellfish Sanitation will monitor water quality in the meantime.

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - About 600 concrete balls will be placed into the Lafayette River this summer to help restore the oyster population.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation said in statement that it used a crane last week to lower 100 of the balls into the water in Norfolk.

The Lafayette is a tributary of the Elizabeth River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The nearly 5-acre (2-hectare) reef is being constructed at the mouth of the Lafayette.

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The Chesapeake Bay is filled with ghost pots. These are crab traps. And there are an estimated 600,000 in the waters of the estuary. Pamela D'Angelo with Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative prepared this report.

Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative is funded by the participating stations with grant support from the Clayton Baker Trust, the Bancroft Foundation, Michael and Anne Hankin, the Jim and Patty Rouse Foundation, the Rob and Elizabeth Tyler Foundation and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.

Crab prices are coming down from an average of $200 a bushel to around $130.

The number of crabs being caught has gone up but demand has still been lower than expected.

Jay Spurry with Bay Hundred Seafood told WBOC that the dip is normal for this time of year as crabbers pick up on where the crabs are in the Bay.


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Phillips Seafood held a party yesterday for its 100th birthday at its 20th street restaurant in Ocean City to honor the establishment of the A. E. Phillips seafood packing plant in 1914.

CEO Steve Phillips recalled his maternal grandfather was a waterman on Hooper's Island, who would take him crabbing and oystering when he was a boy.

The 67-year-old Phillips told the celebration that the Phillips family owes its success to Maryland watermen and the Chesapeake Bay.

Legislation that would impose tighter regulations on food labeling of seafood products has some restaurants who sell blue crabs up in arms.

The measure introduced in the House Environmental Matters Committee in Annapolis would require restaurants to clearly display state of origin for all seafood as well as the state and county of origin for crab products on a sign or menu.

But many opponents of the measure complain that there are potential costs and inconveniences if the new regulations are imposed.

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Not as many crabs are showing up this year on the boats of watermen in the Chesapeake Bay this year.

Jack Brooks, a co-owner at J.M. Clayton Company in Cambridge told WBOC that he believes Hurricane Sandy which killed a large number of crabs last October may be one reason for the decline.

Other reasons he said include an overabundance of striped bass and other fish that are feeding on small crabs.

He said the protected fish like striped bass need to be fished more to even out the ecosystem.

Crabbing season could be getting off to a slow start this year.

Watermen say they generally see crabs by March…as the oyster season wraps up.

But watermen say they have not.

In Cambridge Waterman Jason Mills told WBOC that last year had been a good season…but that he and others were concerned about what this year might bring.

If the number of crabs does not pick up customers are expected to pay top dollar for the Eastern Shore delicacy. 


Demand for crabs is good.

Danny Webster, a waterman from Deal Island, described the supply as overwhelming.

He told the Salisbury Daily Times that down in Somerset County there are more crabs than the market can stand.

Meanwhile, the manager at Higgins Crab House in Ocean City John Oleksak told the paper that there are so many crabs they had to lower their prices on bushels and half bushels by $10.

And in West Ocean City the manger at Hooper’s Crab House, Patrick Brady, said the crabs are a lot heavier than usual.



      RIVA, Md. (AP) - Crabs in the Chesapeake Bay had an easier winter this year than last when cold killed off nearly a third of them.

     But while the winter was warmer, it followed two major fall storms that dumped tons of trash, mud and sediments into the bay.

     Answers to how the weather has treated the bay's biggest money maker are expected to be released Thursday at a crab house in Riva, where Gov. Martin O'Malley is to make an announcement about the crab fishery.