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July 08, 2024 4 min read

The latest episode of the Ol' Boy Podcast brings forth a captivating conversation with CJ Canby, a seasoned crab fisherman with 23 years of experience. Guided by host Chad Ward, the episode delves into the multifaceted challenges and innovations within the crabbing industry, offering valuable insights into sustainable practices, the impacts of regulations, and the essential role of community and education. 

Supporting Local and American Producers 

CJ Canby passionately advocates for supporting local and American seafood producers. He highlights the superior quality and safety standards of domestically sourced products compared to those from foreign producers, who often operate under poorer conditions. This topic resonates with host Chad Ward, who relates to similar issues in Florida's citrus industry, emphasizing how mismanagement and foreign competition can severely impact local economies. 

The Decline of Florida’s Oyster Industry 

Drawing parallels with the crabbing industry, the conversation shifts to the decline of Florida's oyster industry. Both CJ and Chad agree on the critical factors such as overfishing, mismanagement, and deteriorating water quality, which have led to the shrinking oyster population. CJ also touches on recent events, like the bridge collapse, which has further complicated water safety and vessel operations, bringing uncertainty to timelines for rebuilding and recovery. 

Innovations in Crabbing Practices 

CJ discusses his preference for using aluminum anodes over other materials for his crab pots. Aluminum anodes, he believes, offer better effectiveness and durability, ultimately saving costs and extending the lifespan of his crab pots. While acknowledging the high overhead and low profit margins in the crabbing business, CJ underscores his passion and dedication to the craft. Innovations, even small ones like changing anode materials, are part of what keeps him committed.   

Mentorship and the Future of Crabbing 

An essential theme in the episode is the importance of mentorship and passing on knowledge. CJ recounts his experience mentoring Luke, an aspiring fisherman who eventually pursued a full-time career in the industry. Both CJ and Chad stress the necessity of educating the younger generation and consumers about the realities and costs of the crabbing business to ensure its survival. They highlight social media as a critical tool for this purpose, allowing experienced crabbers like CJ to share their stories and insights with a broader audience. 

The Role of Social Media 

CJ emphasizes the significance of social media in raising awareness about the crabbing industry. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube provide him with the means to educate the public on sustainable practices and the daily challenges of the business. While managing social media alongside his intensive crabbing schedule is demanding, CJ sees it as an investment in the future of his profession and the blue crab industry.   

Community and Efficiency 

CJ speaks warmly about the tight-knit community within the fishing industry, explaining how personal connections and recommendations are invaluable. He also describes the efficiency of his crew, highlighting their skill in sorting crabs swiftly to maintain high product quality. Community support and operational efficiency are pillars of his success and the broader sustainability of the crabbing industry. 

Gratitude and Support at Home 

Behind every successful individual is a robust support system. CJ expresses deep gratitude for his wife's unwavering support, particularly in maintaining their social media presence and managing the care of valuable soft shell crabs. This support allows CJ to focus on the demanding tasks of crabbing, knowing that critical aspects of their business are well-managed.   

Seasonal Preparations and Regulations 

As CJ gears up for the upcoming fishing season, he outlines his strategies, including targeting valuable peelers and adapting to salinity variations that influence crab movements. The conversation also touches on the stringent regulations governing Maryland's blue crab fishery, from size and catch limits to fishing times. These rules, while essential for sustainability, pose challenges for profitability, especially among smaller, newer entrants to the industry.   

Environmental Concerns and Adaptations  

The Chesapeake Bay’s water quality issues, stemming from mismanaged sewage treatment plants, significantly impact the livelihood of crab fishermen. Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus pollution lead to harmful algae blooms and dead zones. Yet, CJ reveals that watermen can find ways to adapt, sometimes even benefitting unexpectedly from adverse conditions. 


CJ Canby's story is one of resilience, innovation, and community—a beacon of dedication in the face of market and environmental challenges. His journey underscores the critical need for informed consumers and robust support systems. As the crabbing industry evolves, so must its practices and outreach, ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay.  

Listen Here"If we don't get our word out, get our message out now, our industry is going to die."— CJ Canby 

3 Fun Facts About CJ Canby

  1. CJ Canby prefers using aluminum anodes for his crab pots, which has saved him a couple of hundred dollars per year and extended the lifespan of his equipment.
  2. CJ Canby captains a boat named Miss Paula, which he prefers for its speed, flat deck, and fuel efficiency, making it well-suited for navigating choppy waters.
  3. Despite his older demographic, CJ plans to focus on short-form video content on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to educate the public and offset financial risks in crabbing.

Where to Follow CJ Canby

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