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Chesapeake watermen endured their worst July blue crab harvest on record, and the poor catch is prompting a review of the bay's leading commercial crustacean.

The poor July followed a good spring catch, so officials said it was too soon to decide if further harvesting curbs were needed.

But state Secretary of Natural Resources John Griffin summoned a key advisory panel to discuss the matter in September, a month earlier than planned.

Scientists this spring said the percentage of the bay's crab stock harvested each year is approaching levels that could endanger its ability to sustain itself. Through July, Maryland watermen have pulled 14.1 million pounds of blue crabs from their traps, compared with the average of 17.8 million pounds for that period of time.

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