Saving the Bay is obviously about improving water quality, but equally tricky is the business of managing how much seafood we extract from that water. From crabs and other shellfish to finfish, modern technologies enable harvest pressure that could overwhelm the healthiest estuary. So, we need rules — and moderation.
Stormwater management training programs seek to unite a willing yet underemployed workforce with a growing and insatiable need to maintain runoff control structures so Maryland can meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals.
Typically, shells of other oysters are the natural landing pads for recently hatched bivalve larvae, which need to attach to something hard as they begin sedentary lives of filtering algae from the water. But the Chesapeake is running short on shells; there aren’t enough to go around to sustain the traditional wild fishery. Scientists have turned to old highway concrete and granite, and found they work just as well.
Pastor Rick Edmund made Smith Island his home for 17 years. It was the longest he had lived anywhere, and islanders believe he is the longest serving preacher in the centuries-long history of this three-village archipelago across Tangier Sound from Crisfield, Md. June was his last month here — his last island communion, his last crab cake supper. His last commute by car, skiff and golf cart to the three churches he served on Ewell, Rhodes Point and Tylerton.
Decades ago, Wingate Harbor was full of working oystermen in the late fall and winter, plying the Honga River’s thick oyster bars and bringing their catch to the dock. But when diseases took hold and the harvest plummeted, the oystermen hung up their dredges and tongs and left this lower Dorchester County village for other lines of work.
Today, three watermen are back, pulling up oyster cages from leased bottom about one-half mile from the dock at the Honga Oyster Co.
There was more good news for the Bay this spring. There is clear consensus in the scientific community that the health of the Bay is improving. But the recovery is fragile and still could be undone with a loss of federal aid and the programs it supports.
With uncertainty about new regulations and increases in the reported cases of food-borne illnesses, wholesale fish distributors are taking their need for refrigeration to a whole new level — and place. Some, like McDonnell, have moved out of the wholesale city markets that used to be gathering places for early-morning fish delivery and banter. Others are going out of business, selling out to competitors, or merging to share space and expenses.
Chesapeake Bay crabbers will likely face some harvest restriction this season to protect future generations of the iconic crustacean, a move managers say is necessary because of the low population of young crabs. Fishery managers for Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission all say they are considering shortening the season and imposing stricter limits on the harvest of female crabs.
Once a month, Matt Parker and Suzanne Bricker drive along Penny Lane through a Southern Maryland forest until it dead-ends at the Chesapeake Bay. Then, they pull on their waders and hop into a skiff to maneuver out to aquaculture cages, where they grab samples of water and the oysters taking it in. Their results may eventually let oyster growers earn money not only for the bivalves they grow, but also for the water the shellfish clean under the state’s nascent nutrient trading program. But partnerships like Parker’s and Bricker’s won’t be happening in the Chesapeake, or anywhere else, if the Trump administration’s proposed budget is approved later this year. The work is funded by Maryland Sea Grant — one of 33 Sea Grant programs around the nation that help translate science into sustainable coastal economies.
An earthquake, and then a flood, forced officials to repair a parking lot retaining wall in hilly Ellicott City. Howard County’s innovative repair job did more than restore the wall — it netted the community an architecturally designed staircase, showy native gardens, a waterfall, less stormwater pollution of the Patapsco River and a BUBBA.