For the last few years, Jason Lambertson’s farm near Pocomoke City on the Lower Eastern Shore has been home to an expensive experiment. The third-generation farmer received nearly $1 million in state funding to build a giant poultry waste converter and distribute its main product: fertilizer. But profits have yet to arrive.
As in so many other places around the Chesapeake Bay, oysters are now scarce in Breton Bay, a short, relatively wide tributary of the Potomac River that zigzags south like a question mark from Leonardtown in St. Mary’s County. But the bivalves may return to this picturesque and comparatively remote estuary if a proposal by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources comes to fruition. State officials have nominated Breton for an ambitious effort to restore its long-dormant oyster reefs.
April showers bring May flowers — and mosquitoes. This spring, a team of researchers with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is looking into whether the annual onslaught of those pesky blood suckers can be curbed by some tiny, shrimplike critters called copepods.
Following a tip from an environmental group about a Baltimore scrapyard, state inspectors ultimately wrote up the company for 11 violations after seeing sediment, oil and possibly other contaminants washing off the cluttered, debris-strewn site into storm drains that eventually reach the Patapsco River. Nineteen months later, the case remains unresolved, even though documents obtained under Maryland’s Public Information Act show that follow-up inspections by the MDE found new and continuing violations there for months after the initial visit. The state considered imposing a half-million-dollar penalty, but never fined the company nor took harsher enforcement action.
Merchant seeks state help in keeping out-of-state crabs from being passed off as local seafood; others say it’s not so simple. Many Maryland crab establishments that supplement their local catch with Gulf-caught crustaceans are honest about it; some employ a don’t-ask-don’t-tell attitude; and some will claim the crabs are local when they are not.
Recently, two campaigns have been launched to jumpstart Maryland’s efforts to combat climate change, reduce harmful air pollution and establish Maryland as a national leader in clean, renewable energy. These campaigns share a common goal – a 100% clean energy future.
Responding to pleas from Maryland crab processors suffering from a depressed harvest this year, a state advisory group is proposing to relax a regulation that could allow importing nearly twice as many egg-bearing female crabs for crabmeat. But some Maryland crabbers object, warning that the move would undercut their income and endanger the future of the entire Chesapeake Bay fishery.
Bloede Dam should be gone by the spring of 2019. And, biologists shouldn’t have long to wait to see some action. Sampling surveys conducted in the Patapsco River below the dam have collected hundreds of alewife and blueback herring returning each spring as well as a similar number of juveniles later in the year — an indication of successful spawning.
Blackwater is one of the last surviving habitats for migratory birds like the snow geese and one of the last buffers for nearby human communities against intermittent onslaughts such as Hurricane Sandy. How can a place of such vast and obvious beauty, spanning almost 28,000 acres, simply disappear?
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.