Bay Journal

Topics: Fisheries

Organisms in ballast water increasing despite discharge measures

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Ships arriving in Chesapeake Bay ports bring more than just cargo — in 2013 they also inadvertently released an estimated 10 billion live zooplankton from other parts of the world, a finding that surprised the researchers who recently reported the results.

Regulations aimed at reducing the risk of aquatic invasions went into effect more than a decade ago, and a team from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center had expected to see a decrease in live organisms being released from ballast holds of ships.

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About Fisheries

Acre for acre, the Chesapeake Bay is one of the most productive water bodies on the planet when it comes to fish. Populations of the native striped bass and nonnative blue catfish have risen dramatically in recent decades, while blue crabs appear to be on the road to recovery.

Recent interest in aquaculture has sharply increased commercial production of oysters from the Chesapeake. Nonetheless, problems such as historic overfishing, habitat loss and disease have reduced the abundance of some iconic species such as wild oyster populations, American shad and river herring, American eels and Atlantic sturgeon to near record-low levels. In the headwaters, brook trout have suffered major habitat losses.

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