Crack open the Old Bay Seasoning, because the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab is back.

Despite gloomy forecasts from climate change proponents, Maryland's Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday said that the crab population jumped 35 percent, which follows a 38 percent surge a year ago.

What's more, the numbers of spawning females nearly doubled, and the number of crabs big enough to eat also increased.

AP Photo

"The survey indicates a bay-wide crab population of 553 million, a 35-percent increase over last year. This is the fourth highest level in two decades, and builds on last year's 38-percent boost in abundance," said the state.

The numbers are from DNR's latest dredge survey.

The department said that despite the dire warnings of a crab crisis, the harvest increased last year. And when coupled with higher numbers of wintering crabs, the state might even increase the number of crabs that can be taken this year.

Maryland officials credited mild weather and smart environmental and conservation policies.

"Due to a milder winter, favorable currents and tides, and wise bay-wide management measures, the Maryland crab population continues to rebound and strengthen," Fisheries Service Director Dave Blazer said. "With an increase in abundance and steady recruitment, we fully anticipate a robust crab season this year."

From his report:

Improvements were seen in all age groups of male and female crabs. The spawning female stock nearly doubled from 101 to 194 million and the adult male stock more than doubled from 44 to 91 million – the second highest levels since 1995.

The number of spawning-age female crabs remains below the 215 million target but above the minimum threshold established in 2011. The juvenile crab abundance increased slightly from 269 million to 271 million, which is just above the 27-year average.

"The 2015 bay-wide crab harvest increased by 42 percent over 2014 to 50 million pounds and remained at sustainable levels for the eighth consecutive year. This combined with increased abundance means that a slight liberalization of harvest limits for female crabs may be warranted this summer," said DNR.

While some of the numbers did not meet long-term targets, the state said they were all over long time averages.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at