Bay Journal

November 2004 - Volume 14 - Number 8

Panel urges feds, states to create $15 billion Bay cleanup fund

Calling the Chesapeake an imperiled national treasure, a panel of political and business leaders is calling for the federal and state governments to establish a $15 billion Bay cleanup fund to help meet the region’s restoration goals.

The Blue Ribbon Finance Panel said the Chesapeake restoration effort has long suffered from underfunding and that without a major “bold” investment, backed by a permanent funding base, cleanup goals would not meet the Bay Program’s 2010 deadline—if ever. ...

Businessess honored for helping to improve Bay, bottom line

The Chesapeake Bay Program’s Businesses for the Bay initiative, recently honored leading businesses, nonprofit organizations, educational facilities and municipalities for their efforts to reduce the amount of chemicals and nutrients entering the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.

Award recipients were selected by their peers and honored for their successful efforts to implement pollution prevention projects. Pollution prevention—reducing pollutants through equipment, technology and procedure modifications, or the redesigning of products—benefits businesses by helping to improve their bottom line, and while improving the quality of their environment at the same time. ...

Seismic blasts aim to get ‘hole’ story of Bay’s creation

Crickets thrummed in the dark mist. A harvest moon glowed orange in the heavens. The earth moved.

Thirty-five times.

It shuddered repeatedly as scientists detonated a 20-mile string of underground explosives along Virginia’s Eastern Shore this October. The concussions, bouncing back from far below, will help to map the most detailed profile yet of an ancient wound in the planet’s crust: the 35-million-year-old Chesapeake Bay impact crater.

Pushing the button was the easy part; reaching countdown required a diplomatic endeavor worthy of the United Nations. ...

Citizens Advisory Committee seeks youth delegates

The Citizens Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Executive Council is seeking a highly motivated young resident of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania with a strong interest in providing perspectives on restoring/preserving the Chesapeake Bay to serve in its Young Delegates program.

The 25-member committee—composed of residents of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia—advises the governors of these states, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the EPA administrator and the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission (a tristate legislative body) on the activities, progress and priorities of the Chesapeake Bay Program. ...

Farm subsidies overhaul could benefit Chesapeake Bay

Unprecedented federal subsidies provided to farmers in 2002 that are facing opposition at home and abroad could force Congress to reduce or reform traditional income support payments and instead increase conservation payments when the current farm bill expires in 2007.

Because conservation payments do not violate international trade agreements, the winners of this growing struggle over the future of farm payments could be places like the Chesapeake Bay.

The most recent setback for the existing system of federal payments designed to boost the income of producers of feed grains, rice, cotton and milk is a ruling that cotton subsidies violate a 1994 trade agreement that places limits on different kinds of subsidies. ...

Low oxygen, high temperatures made rockfish feel like fish out of water

Striped bass in the Chesapeake may have been feeling a bit squeezed last year.

A recent analysis of 2003 water quality conditions showed that less than a fifth of the Bay last summer contained water quality conditions preferred by the prized fish.

No analysis has yet been completed for this year. But the recently completed analysis for 2003 illustrates how poor water quality—in this case, low dissolved oxygen—even in seemingly small areas of the Bay can have major impacts on fish and other aquatic dwellers when combined with other factors. ...

Causes of Bay’s unusual 2004 conditions a blooming mystery

When it comes to describing what happened in the Chesapeake during 2004, many scientists have some unscientific observations.

Like “weird.” And “crazy.” Or just, “hard to explain.”

For this year, all seem to apply.

Parts of the upper Chesapeake Bay saw record water clarity, which helped to spur a huge resurgence in underwater grass beds.

Yet the Potomac this summer had the worst algae bloom in nearly two decades, and water quality remained murky on many Eastern Shore tributaries. ...

Study finds fewer female blue crabs in Bay than what was thought

The Bay’s blue crab population may be in worse shape than what it was earlier thought to be according to a new study showing that the number of female crabs surviving intense fishing pressure to reproduce is continuing to decline.

Concern about the health of the Bay’s most valuable remaining commercial fishery led to a series of new catch restrictions in recent years aimed at doubling the number of female blue crabs that survive to spawn.

But a new Virginia Institute of Marine Science study found “little indication that the spawning stock is recovering; on the contrary, it appears that the spawning stock is continuing to decline.” ...

NOAA announces $2 million to fund ariakensis research

Scientists will study Asian oysters in their native habitats and in laboratories, testing their resistance to disease and ability to reproduce in Chesapeake conditions, thanks to $2 million in federal funds.

The grants, announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Chesapeake Bay Office in October, are aimed at helping to determine whether the foreign species may be a viable alternative to the Bay’s native oyster, the population of which is near an all-time low. ...

Local crab species deem ariakensis oysters worthy of preys

The nonnative Asian oyster being considered for introduction into the Chesapeake has attracted interest from managers and fishermen alike because it grows fast and resists diseases, but recent studies suggest it may be a tasty treat for more than just humans.

The fast-growing Crassostrea ariakensis appears to have a thinner, more brittle shell than the native C. virginica which—in limited studies—appears to make it much more vulnerable to predation.

In laboratory tests at the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Science, researchers found that blue crabs were far more likely to eat the reproductively sterile “triploid” C. ariakensis used in experiments than the native oyster when given a choice. ...

Many are called ariakensis, but only one oyster species will be chosen

Plans to quickly introduce reproducing nonnative oysters into the Chesapeake may have been dealt a setback by recent studies showing that oysters previously considered to be Crassostrea ariakensis may consist of at least two—and possibly more—distinct species.

Two soon-to-be-published papers by scientists working at universities in both the United States and China indicate that some oyster species along the China coast—including what is now called C. ariakensis—appear to have been misidentified for more than a century. ...

Bay state voters overwhelmingly willing to pay for Bay cleanup

A public opinion survey, conducted for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, indicates that voters in the watershed overwhelmingly place a high value on the Bay and local rivers and are willing to pay more to protect them.

The survey, of 1,214 registered voters in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia found that 64 percent were willing to pay $50 a year in fees to help clean up the Bay and its tributaries.

CBF President Will Baker called the poll “definitive proof” that voters want to see the ailing Bay restored. ...

A Bay Journal Film, Nassawango Legacy



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