Bay Journal

November 2008 - Volume 18 - Number 8

EIS predicts long recovery for oysters in the Bay; is optimistic for aquaculture

A nonnative oyster might offer some advantage over the native species for boosting oyster population levels in the Chesapeake, but restoring large populations of either would face difficulty without a long-term, and costly, commitment to restore oyster habitat.

An eagerly awaited Environmental Impact Statement that analyzed the potential for introducing a nonnative oyster in the Bay as well as other management options indicated that there's no quick fix for the Bay's longstanding oyster shortage. It indicted that building a large population will take much longer than the 10-year time frame considered in the study. ...

NOAA, Park Service to enhance visitors’ Chesapeake experiences

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Park Service, in a Memorandum of Agreement signed in October, will expand their collaboration on Bay-related programs, including the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System.

Under the agreement, the agencies would work together to:

  • Coordinate education, interpretation and public information efforts through cooperative development of environmental education and public information programs, services and activities;
  • Share data, scientific tools and expertise to promote Bay restoration and protection; and
  • Explore exchanging personnel and conducting joint training exercises.

"This agreement by NOAA and the National Park Service is a perfect example of the type of progressive leadership and cooperation needed to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay, a true national treasure," said Jeff Lape, director of the Chesapeake Bay Program. ...

2008 young-of-year striped bass survey finds below average reproduction

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service recently finished the 2008 striped bass juvenile index, a measure of striped bass spawning success in Chesapeake Bay. The 2008 index is 3.2, below the long- term average of 11.7. During the survey, DNR biologists collected 422 young-of-year striped bass.

"Healthy striped bass populations are known for such highly variable spawning success," said Eric Durell, DNR fisheries biologist. "This is just the third time in the past decade that striped bass reproduction in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay has been below average." ...

Blind cave critters in Shenandoah Valley offer insight to water quality

The Madison Cave isopod, a rare, blind, pigment- less cave dweller, must be the weirdest looking sentinel of water quality in the country.

Found only on 12 sites in certain parts of the Shenandoah Valley and a splinter of West Virginia, the free-swimming crustacean is fully adapted to a light-free life underground and underwater. Scientists are trying to determine how many there are and where else they may live.

The answers may help protect water resources of the Shenandoah Valley. ...

Global warming pollution up 3 percent; surpassing dire predictions

The world pumped up its pollution of the chief man-made global warming gas last year, setting a course that could push beyond leading scientists' projected worst-case scenario, international researchers said in September.

The new numbers, called "scary"' by some, were a surprise because scientists thought an economic downturn would slow energy use. Instead, carbon dioxide output jumped 3 percent from 2006 to 2007.

That's an amount that exceeds the most dire outlook for emissions from burning coal and oil and related activities as projected by a Nobel Prize-winning group of international scientists in 2007. ...

Scientists considering merits of rights-based blue crab fishery

With the federal government recently declaring the Chesapeake's blue crab fishery an economic disaster, and states slashing harvest levels to help rebuild the population, some scientists say it's time for a radical overhaul in the way crabs are managed.

Their idea: Give ownership of the crabs to watermen.

A group of three scientists has proposed scraping the complex set of rules that regulate when, where and how watermen can work and replace it with a "rights-based" fishery. Individual watermen would "own" a certain percentage of the total catch. Every year, based on the estimated size of the crab population, each waterman would be told how many crabs he could catch based on what share of the fishery he owns. ...

NOAA takes stock of assessment scientists and comes up short

It's well-known that there's a shortage of many fish and shellfish in the Bay, and around the world, as stocks have been hit by overfishing, habitat loss and pollution.

Now, it turns out that there's a shortage of scientists to tell us that there's a shortage of fish.

A new federal report warns that the nation is facing a critical shortage of stock assessment scientists, the specialists who crunch numbers from various surveys to estimate the abundance of various fish populations. ...

Bay advocates threaten suit to require EPA to act on cleanup

Various Chesapeake Bay agreements signed over the years have typically been considered voluntary agreements, but a group of high-profile Bay advocates have outlined a legal argument that those agreements are legally binding.

In a letter that was scheduled to be sent to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on Oct. 29, the group argues that commitments in the Chesapeake 2000 agreement are required under law by Congress, and that the EPA has failed to meet its obligation.

They also say the agreement constitutes an enforceable interstate compact. ...

Clean water advocates could hit mother lode with mine ruling

It would seem that there is little to link the Chesapeake Bay and Pinto Creek, two waterbodies that are separated by almost an entire continent. One is the nation's largest estuary, the other an intermittent desert stream in Arizona's copper mining region.

The regions around the Bay hold some of the fastest growing counties of the nation; Pinto Creek's watershed includes aging mining towns with names like Globe and Miami, which have been losing population for years.

Yet the fate of Pinto Creek and the Chesapeake Bay could be intertwined. ...

Public Comment Opportunities / Information

To facilitate public comment on the Environmental Impact Statement, the state and federal agencies have scheduled six public meetings, three in Virginia and three in Maryland. The schedule for those meeting is 6-9 p.m. at these locations:


  • Wednesday, Nov. 12: Calvert Marine Museum, 14200 HG Truman Road, Solomons, MD 20688
  • Thursday, Nov. 13: Miller Senate Building, 11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
  • Friday, Nov. 14: Minnette Dick Memorial Hall (St. Mary's Catholic Church), 2000 Hambrooks Blvd., Cambridge, MD 21613


Oyster Alternatives

The draft Environmental Impact Statement reviewed a proposed action and eight alternative actions regarding nonnative and native oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. During the course of the review, it added three combinations of alternatives.

Proposed Action: The state of Maryland and commonwealth of Virginia propose to introduce the oyster species Crassostrea ariakensis into the tidal waters of Maryland and Virginia for the purpose of establishing a naturalized, reproducing and self-sustaining population of this species. The states would continue efforts to restore native oysters as well. ...

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