Bay Journal

January 1995 - Volume 4 - Number 10

Rating Chesapeake Rivers

After hauling a 100-foot seine net around a semi-circle from the beach, two biologists dragged the net out of the Mattawoman Creek and onto dry land.

Inside the net, more than a thousand fish - ranging from fingernail-size to several inches in length - flailed about.

A half dozen biologists swarmed around and began dividing up the catch.

Lines of bluegills, piles of striped bass, and groups of bay anchovy began to form on the sandy beach. "Anyone doing white perch?" one sorter called out, holding a few specimens in her hand. ...

Proposed budget cuts could eliminate USGS

Scientists are finding fault with Republican budget proposals that could close a quiet federal agency that tracks the world's earthquakes and has been a key player in the Bay Program for a decade.

The U.S. Geological Survey is on a hit list of federal offices circulated by Republicans in December as they prepared to assume power in Congress. Shutting the Reston, Va.-based agency could save $3.2 billion over five years, according to a GOP budget analysis.

"From both a policy and a science perspective it's a very, very poor idea," said Don L. Anderson, a geophysicist at California Institute of Technology and a leading earthquake expert. "This is one of the more professional, efficient agencies in government. It's very small and its scientists are among the best ... You can't say that for many other offices in the government." ...

Toxics strategy commitments related to TRI data

Much of the toxics reductions anticipated in the "Basinwide Toxics Reduction and Prevention Strategy" is expected to come from voluntary pollution prevention actions that companies and federal facilities required to supply Toxics Reduction Invent ory data will be urged to adopt.

Specific reduction objectives in the strategy that relate to, or can be measured by, TRI reports include:

  • Achieve a 75 percent voluntary reduction in releases and off-site transfers of Chesapeake Bay Toxics of Concern and chemicals required to be reported under the TRI rules, from a 1994 baseline, for federal facilities within the Chesapeake Bay ba sin by the year 2000.


Expanded TRI list will further Bay toxics reductions

The EPA gave the Bay Program's toxic reduction efforts a boost recently by nearly doubling the number of chemicals on the agency's Toxics Release Inventory.

The inventory, or TRI for short, is a list of substances for which large businesses must annually report the amount released into the environment or transferred off site for disposal. On Nov. 28, the EPA adopted a new rule adding 286 substances to the list as of Jan. 1, 1995. That expands the number of TRI chemicals to 654.

The TRI serves as a cornerstone of the "Basinwide Toxics Reduction and Prevention Strategy" recently approved last October by the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council, the top policy-making panel for the Bay cleanup effort. ...

Controversy sidelines proposed study of Bay menhaden

What began as a question about the ecological impact of the Atlantic menhaden catch in the lower Chesapeake - the largest commercial fishery in the Bay - has turned into a heated debate.

The controversy began after the Chesapeake Bay Foundation proposed a study last fall that would probe the impact that the massive menhaden catch may have on the Bay's food chain.

The group took its proposal to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's Recreational Fishing Advisory Board, which expressed support for the idea and recommended that VMRC support the study with money from the Saltwater Fishing License Fund. ...

USDA reorganization to emphasize “eco-region” protection

A massive reorganization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will mean the closing of more than 150 agricultural field offices in the Bay states, but will also encourage the department's state and local offices to find innovative ways to protect unique ecosystems such as the Chesapeake Bay.

As part of the reorganization, the department announced in December that it would close 1,274 field offices nationwide. Some people worry that could inconvenience some farmers and discourage them from participating in the department's conservation programs that benefit the Bay. ...

Letting fish speak for themselves

In the "index of biological integrity," scientists are trying to find a way to rank an estuarine river based on fish assemblages - or entire communities - rather than using a single indicator species to serve as a barometer of the system's health.

To do that, they divide the catch data for each river into three categories, each of which have three subcategories.

Diversity or Richness. This is measured by:

  • The total number of species present.

  • The results of the bottom trawl, which helps assess the quality of deep water habitats.


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