2019 The Authors. Marine and Coastal Fisheries published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of American Fisheries Society. Most efforts to establish precautionary guidelines for fisheries management use essentially ad hoc impressions as to what constitutes conservative management. Such approaches, however, fail to take into account the magnitude of the uncertainty about particular systems. One alternative approach to precautionary management is robust control, in which decision makers attempt to maximize an outcome under the assumption that the conditions will be worse than expected. In this paper, we apply a robust optimization approach to estimate the maximum sustainable yield and other reference points for the Chesapeake Bay blue crab Callinectes sapidus fishery. This approach is relatively easy to implement in standard stock assessment models that use a maximum-likelihood approach to estimate model parameters. In addition, it has the advantage that a standard level of precaution can be chosen by decision makers and then applied to different fisheries with vastly different levels of data and analysis.