The decline in the harvest of soft shell and peeler blue crabs is being called a commercial failure by U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Gutierrez announced the blue crab disaster at the request of the governors of Maryland and Virginia. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service analyzed economic and biological information in order to make the declaration. Maryland is now eligible for federal assistance to help restore the crab population. The announcement also is an important step in making economic assistance available for watermen and their communities.