Virginia is buying back 359 commercial crab licenses to ease pressure on the Chesapeake Bay's blue crab population.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission said Monday that the permanent retirement of those licenses means the removal of more than 75,000 crab pots, or almost one-fifth of the pots permitted for use in Virginia waters.
The state is using $6.7 million in federal disaster aid for the program, which was set up like a reverse auction. The commission says 664 crabbers submitted bids, asking from $500 to $600,000 to give up their licenses. The approved bids ranged from $500 to $175,000.
Virginia and Maryland officials are trying to reduce the bay's crab harvest by 34 percent.