Monday, January 12, 2009

Save The Bay
The old bumper sticker slogan used to be everywhere in Maryland. We seem to have forgotten to do it. It made some progress in the late 80's and early 90's. The states beloved rockfish came back but since then the population of people and chickens overwhelmed it.

Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has helped restore many of America's waters, allowing fish and humans to swim safely in them. But the largest estuary in the US, the Chesapeake Bay, remains in trouble and little changed. The problem? More than two decades of efforts have fallen foul to complexity, size, and lack of political will.

Americans deserve a pat on the back for gradually understanding that water knows no political boundaries and that cleanup efforts must include an entire watershed (or planet, in the case of global warming). But all the players must do their part, and the save-the-bay project in this mid-Atlantic estuary shows just how tough that is to accomplish.[...]

Waste from farms and sewage plants, airborne pollutants, and runoff from developed areas collect in the bay's 64,000-square-mile watershed. They contribute to algae blooms that deplete oxygen, creating areas where creatures such as crabs and oysters can't breathe.

Since 1983, the bay's crab harvest is down 60 percent while the oyster harvest is off by 96 percent, though some of this is due to overharvesting. In about that same time frame, the human population in the watershed is up by 34 percent.

It is time to stop harvesting oysters. There is no real fishery left. I am no biologist however the clam fishing industry must cause incredible destruction to the bay grasses that are so important to young life in the bay. Clams live over a foot deep in the sand and silf the bay floor and a depth of two to three feet bays of the floor is disturbed in the process of extracting the clams. The silt then floats in the currents and tide over grass beds and young oysters killing them. It must stop.

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