Bay Journal

January 1994 - Volume 4 - Number 4

Law will triple Maryland boat pump-outs by 1997

MANY boaters on the Bay will soon be required to pump more than just gasoline.

Legislation approved by the Maryland General Assembly will require all marinas with more than 50 slips, as well as all new or expanding marinas with 10 slips or more, to install sewage pump-out facilities. In addition, the 12,000 boats equipped with holding tanks that are registered in Maryland waters will be required to use those facilities to pump out their wastes.

The legislation, sponsored by Maryland members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, will be phased in over the next three years. By 1997, the law will ensure that at least 200 additional pump-outs are in place, tripling the number now available in the state. After that time, boaters whose vessels have holding tanks could face a fine of up to $2,000 if they dump their wastes in the water. ...

Survey finds broad support for Bay cleanup

The vast majority of people in the Bay watershed believe cleaning up the Chesapeake is important, and most think that government should increase efforts to restore the estuary, according to a new survey.

At the same time, the first ever "Bay Attitudes Survey" found that public knowledge about issues affecting the Bay is low. Contrary to what many scientists believe, a plurality of people think the water condition is worse today than a decade ago. Most people cannot name the leading sources of pollution and believe their own actions have little impact on the Chesapeake. ...

After 1993 drop, shad return to Susquehanna

After last years' sharp and unexplained declines, the number of American shad returning to the Susquehanna River to spawn appears to have rebounded this spring.

In mid-May, after three weeks of operation, the fish lifts at the Conowingo Dam had collected 13,800 migrating shad - more than all of last spring. The spawning season was expected to continue until early June.

"We're doing really well, with plenty of time to go," said Richard St. Pierre, Susquehanna River Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ...

Rockfish rebound complete: Stocks declared ‘recovered’

Years of controversial restrictions on striped bass catches in the Chesapeake Bay and along the East Coast have paid off as fisheries officials recently declared that rockfish stocks were "recovered" from their depleted levels of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The May 18 action by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will allow states to increase their catches of striped bass. The total catch, though, will have to remain within limits set by the ASMFC.

"After more than a decade of active cooperation and management by the state and federal agencies, and following severe harvest restrictions, the Atlantic coastal migratory stocks are returning to historic levels of abundance," the ASMFC said in a policy statement. ...

For second straight year, a large freshet hits the Bay

A spring freshet, driven by higher-than-normal snow falls followed by heavy rains, poured 5.1 trillion gallons of water into the Chesapeake Bay from the Susquehanna River during a 43-day period, according to figures from the U.S. Geological Survey.

This year's freshet lasted slightly longer than last year's 41-day high-flow event. But the peak flows were far less than those seen last year, and the total amount of fresh water flowing into the Bay was 1 trillion gallons less than the 6.1 trillion gallons that flowed downed the Susquehanna during last year's record-setting freshet, according to the USGS. ...

Managing forests as ecosystems urged at conference

Increasingly in the coming years, the value of the region's forest lands will be measured by more than their worth in dollars and cents; they will be valued for their ecological roles and aesthetic qualities as well.

That, at least, was the message from a recent conference, "An Ecosystem Approach to Forest Management." The session, sponsored by the Governor's Executive Committee on Trees and Forests in Maryland and the Maryland Association of Forest Conservancy District Boards, was to begin a dialogue with landowners as to whether woodlands in the mid-Atlantic should be managed through a new "ecosystem" approach. ...

International stewardship exchange to aid 3 Bay Communities

Three communities in the Bay watershed have been selected for study by international experts this fall as part of an annual exchange that helps local communities collaboratively address land conservation, development, and related issues.

The watershed was chosen for this year's International Countryside Stewardship Exchange, an effort begun in the mid-1980s to find practical ways for local communities to protect their unique cultural, natural, and historical heritage.

Each year, experts from the United States, Canada, France, and England form teams which descend upon interested communities to work with local coalitions in developing recommendations to deal with both short-and long-term stewardship issues. ...

Testing program helps screen Bay for toxic impacts

The Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore drains a small rural watershed marked by farms and forests. It lacks big industries or large cities. It is not, in other words, where one would suspect to find chemical contamination affecting aquatic life.

Thinking the Wye to be "relatively pristine," scientists selected it several years ago as a "clean" site for a Bay toxics research project. They hoped to compare how a variety of aquatic life fared in the Wye compared with known problem areas of the Bay. ...

Bay states get federal funds to build pump-outs

The timing of the Maryland legislation requiring pump-outs, sponsored by Sens. Gerald W. Winegrad and Bernie Fowler, was beneficial for financial as well as ecological reasons. The state was recently granted nearly $1.5 million by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for pump-out facilities under the Clean Vessel Act of 1992. Maryland's 1994 allocation was 12 percent of the national total, due in large part to the efforts of the Department of Natural Resources' Boating Administration to present an ambitious, comprehensive plan to the federal government. Any unused portion of the funds reverts to federal coffers after 1997. The pump-out law will create the demand for needed facilities to ensure that the available funds will be used. ...

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