People may not learn to love blue catfish in the Chesapeake Bay, but perhaps they will learn to love them on their plate.
A draft report from a task force that spent more than a year looking for ways to deal with the large, voracious — and rapidly expanding — blue catfish population acknowledges that the invasive species has likely become a permanent resident of the Bay, and says action is needed to prevent “irreversible” harm to the ecosystem.
- Karl Blankenship
- September 03, 2014
- Fisheries,Wildlife + Habitat
- 16 Comments
Maryland’s proposed, but controversial, Phosphorus Management Tool would help achieve significant nutrient reductions from the state’s agricultural lands if implemented, according to an analysis by the Bay Program.
The phosphorus tool, which was proposed by the state Department of Agriculture last year, uses information about phosphorus concentrations in soil and other site-specific conditions to determine the likelihood that the nutrient would run off fields and into waterways. Farmers could be prohibited from applying additional phosphorus to fields that score too high.
The Nanticoke River is getting a new ally in efforts to protect its shorelines from development — the military.
The Department of Defense in August announced that it was awarding $1 million to help protect 2,259 acres of forest, wetlands and farmlands along the Eastern Shore river which contain a high diversity of plants and animals.
After 15 years of restaurant ownership in the District of Columbia area, all the while harboring a particular passion for seafood, chef Robert Wiedmaier decided the best way to get onto the water more often was to buy a boat (or two) and a historic estate along the Chesapeake Bay.
“This is the Patuxent River,” he said on a cool morning in July, steering his 18-foot Parker as he narrated the familiar scene. “We’re right at the mouth, which is nice for fishing, because we can be out in the Chesapeake Bay in eight minutes.”
With Wiedmaier at the helm, his longtime fishing buddy and fellow chef, David Guas, set up a half dozen fishing lines to troll not far from the dock.
Christina Trapani pulled a metallic-coated balloon, ribbon still attached, from the sandy beach on Fisherman’s Island — one of 22 that eventually were recovered from a quarter-mile of beach she and her team survey for Virginia’s marine debris program.
Trapani, from the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Program, knows that for every balloon she extracts from the sand, hundreds more have made their way into rivers, coastal waters and open ocean — and into the stomachs of sea turtles and other marine animals that mistake them for a favorite food, jellyfish.
At low tide on Fisherman’s Island, ghost crabs scurried in and out of holes on a beach still wet from the receding tide, their travels periodically interrupted by a small group of people walking slowly and peering intently at the sand.
The people were a team of marine debris surveyors studying sections of this remote stretch of beach at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
Jorge Bogantes was one of the first officials to come across the sight while on a bike ride near his home in Hyattsville, MD, over Memorial Day weekend — hundreds of fish floating belly-up in a pool of water near the Northeast branch of the Anacostia River.
- Whitney Pipkin
- August 04, 2014
- 0 Comments
Chemical spills in West Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia this year have brought toxics to the forefront of discussions about common pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay, even though each of them occurred just outside the watershed.
A panel discussion on toxics and water quality at the Choose Clean Water Coalition conference in Staunton, VA, in early June brought to light how little is known about substances that, in many cases, are permitted to be released into waterways. The panel included local experts on toxic contamination who discussed current regulations, with a focus on the status of permits and laws in Virginia.
If it were a reality show, it might have been called “Real Terrapin Behavior in Virginia.”
For weeks this spring, biologists filmed and watched the 24/7 exploits of groups of diamondback terrapin turtles that were rotated through one-week stints in an 18-foot water tank. Fortunately, they could fast-forward.
Baltimore’s harbor and the streams that feed into it again merited a failing grade on their 2013 annual report card, indicating the waters around the metro area suffer from continued loads of nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and garbage.
The report card, which is part of the Healthy Harbor initiative of Blue Water Baltimore and the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, looks at multiple indicators of human health and pollution, and maps where they are, before giving its grade. Factors include dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, chlorophyll a and water clarity. It also looks at conductivity from chemicals, particularly those laden with salt, and fecal coliform bacteria, which is coming from sewage and septic systems.
After decades of decline, one resource in the Bay watershed is making a comeback — farmland.
Figures from the most recent agricultural census from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that the Bay watershed gained about 125,000 acres of agricultural land between 2007 and 2012, bringing the total to more than 12.6 million acres of crops, pastures and other farmland.
While that’s small — and within the census’ margin of error — it does signal that the region’s once precipitous rate of farmland loss halted in recent years as the housing market weakened and prices for many crops hit record highs.
- Karl Blankenshipand Whitney Pipkin
- July 20, 2014
- Conservation + Land Use,People + Society
- 1 Comment
While the country enjoys relatively stable energy prices, largely because of the increase in natural gas development, residents in parts of Virginia remain unsure how their communities will contribute to the supply.
But conservation, land trust and citizen groups are taking lessons learned from fracking educational campaigns in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and applying them to their work with Virginia’s Tidewater communities that lie atop the Taylorsville shale oil basin.
In 2010, a Texas gas developer sought a special use permit from Rockingham County in the Shenandoah Valley to drill into Marcellus Shale.