Bay Journal

September 2004 - Volume 14 - Number 6

Menhaden stock perplexes fish managers

After four decades of fishing the Bay, Jim Price says he is ready to hang up his rod and reel, at least when it comes to striped bass. The fish—a species he has prized and studied for years—are now too sick, and too skinny, to be worth catching.

I spent my whole life working with this fish,” said Price, a onetime charter boat captain. “But I have no desire to go out here and catch a rockfish. Those days are over.”

Almost a decade ago, Price began raising concern that the Bay’s most popular recreational fish was running out of menhaden, a small, oily fish, to eat. ...

Uneven results posted for shad stocking efforts, spring spawning runs

Ongoing efforts to restore American shad populations around the Bay had mixed success this year as hatchery production was hampered by poor weather, and shad runs appeared smaller—a trend also seen elsewhere along the East Coast.

And, while shad and other migratory fish on the Rappahannock River showed encouraging signs of moving past remnants of the Embrey Dam—which was partially blown up earlier this year—efforts to bypass dams on other major rivers, especially the Susquehanna, remained problematic. ...


Bay’s cultural, historical heritage recognized

The Chesapeake Bay may be a national treasure, but it has long lacked one recognition associated with other natural wonders such as Yosemite and Yellowstone—the status of a National Park.


That could change under the recommendations of a two-year National Park Service study which concludes that the Chesapeake Bay is ”unquestionably nationally significant,” represents “a major part of the nation’s heritage” and warrants inclusion in the National Park System. ...

PA proposes new standards for livestock operations, board of review for disputes

Moving to ease tensions between Pennsylvania farmers and foes of “factory farms,” the Rendell administration recently proposed new restrictions on livestock operations while emphasizing compromise over confrontation when disputes flare up. The far-reaching plan, which requires legislative approval, would couple new water-quality and odor standards for livestock facilities with a proposed Agriculture Review Board that would try to mediate disputes involving local governments, farmers and residents. ...

CBF gets grant to fund lawsuits; meanwhile MWA mulls legal action

Dismay over the pace of the Chesapeake cleanup may soon translate into legal action as the region’s largest environmental group and waterman’s association are each eyeing lawsuits as the way to force action.

In July, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation received a $1.25 million grant to fund lawsuits against government agencies it views as moving too slowly to regulate pollution.

The grant, from Philadelphia-based Lenfest Foundation, will finance the foundation’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Litigation Project, paying attorneys to try to force the government to enforce environmental standards, officials said. ...

EPA outlines discharge permit plan for watershed

The EPA for the first time has indicated that it will require permits to limit nitrogen discharges at wastewater plants throughout the Bay watershed to help clean up the Chesapeake.

In a program recently outlined by the agency, states could begin issuing permits limiting discharges at more than 360 wastewater treatment plants and private industries by the end of this year.

“This is the first time that the EPA essentially has come out and recommended permit limits for all major point sources all the way across the watershed,” said Rich Batiuk, associate director for science with the EPA’s Bay Program Office. ...

Louisiana crab industry takes on imports, seeks Virginia’s support

The Louisiana crab industry is working on rallying support among Southern states, including Virginia, to get the federal government to slap duties on imports from Venezuela and other nations. The effort, in its early stages, is the latest move by a Louisiana seafood industry to get relief from imports.

The crawfish industry has already won an antidumping case against Chinese crawfish tail meat and shrimpers are awaiting a ruling on whether duties should be imposed on imports from six Asian and South American countries. ...

A little mussel gives Magothy, South rivers’ a cleaner outlook

Two small Maryland rivers this summer had some of their greatest water clarity in years, the likely result of a population explosion by a normally rare mussel species.

Huge numbers of the dark false mussel suddenly appeared this year on pilings, jetties and piers in sections of the Magothy and South rivers. In some places, scientists estimate the mussels—each about the size of a pistachio—were packed 30–50 per square inch.

Normally the mussels are found only in small numbers on submerged oyster bars. But residents along the rivers report that their numbers began to go up after Hurricane Isabel last fall, and expanded further this summer. ...

Origins of Potomac algae bloom still murky

The waves lapped along the boat launch at Smallwood State Park, looking like water that had been the site of a green paint spill. “This is what we’re going to look at,” said Richard Lacouture, as he prepared his boat for a monitoring trip on the Potomac River.

The streaked water at the boat landing was only a small portion of a huge, greenish algae bloom that has created a scumlike layer over a large portion of the Potomac since early June, causing beach closings and public health warnings in areas from Colonial Beach, VA to near the District of Columbia. ...

VA mother’s goal is that those lost at sea will not be lost to memory

Rita Hutton is getting closer to her goal of building a place where relatives of those who died while working on Virginia’s waters can gather to remember.

Land has been donated. A model of the design—a boy wearing overalls and standing next to a pair of adult-size boots, with a lighthouse in the background—has been created.

Now, Hutton and the nonprofit group she founded, Friends of the Virginia Waterman’s Memorial, are trying to raise more than $200,000 to build and maintain the memorial on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a peninsula separating the Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. ...

Commission reverses decision on Mattaponi intake permit

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission reversed itself in August and voted 5–3 to allow Newport News to construct a water intake in the midst of what scientists say is the state’s most important spawning area for American shad.

The commission last year had rejected 6–2 a permit for a water intake near Scotland Landing on the Mattaponi River, a denial which would have doomed the city’s plan for a 1,500-acre reservoir it insisted is needed to meet future water demands.

During a new hearing that was scheduled to settle a lawsuit by Newport News, city officials presented a revised proposal developed by a panel of fisheries experts aimed at minimizing impacts from the withdrawal structure on shad, a fish that has been the target of major restoration efforts around the Bay watershed. ...

GAO to investigate whether Bay cleanup progress is overstated

For years, there has been no clear answer to the seemingly simple question of whether the Chesapeake Bay is getting any better. Now, the investigative arm of Congress plans to review the issue.

At the request of three senators from Maryland and Virginia, Congress’ Government Accountability Office in August agreed to review the Bay Program and to determine whether it has overstated cleanup progress by relying too much on computer models and too little on water quality monitoring.

“Efforts to determine the Bay’s environmental conditions have included the collection of considerable amounts of scientific information and data from various monitoring efforts,” said the letter, which was signed by Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, Paul Sarbanes, D-MD, and John Warner, R-VA. ...

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