Two articles from the Bay news feed, with different messages.
The good news first: Group Says Efforts to Clean up Chesapeake Bay Are Working
A nonprofit advocacy group says efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay are paying off.We've seen conflicting news on the "dead zone" this year. First it was predicted to be up, then it was down, then it was up again, and now it's down. Make up your mind!
The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday that fewer water samples are showing the presence of so-called "dead zones" in the bay that can't support aquatic life.
Scientists recently reported that 13 percent of the bay's waters on average showed dangerously low levels of oxygen. In 1985, the average was nearly 19 percent.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation credits the decline in dead zones to federal regulations that limit the amount of pollution that can flow into the bay.
Beth McGee, the foundation's director of science and agricultural policy, cautioned in a statement that "more needs to be done to achieve a bay that is healthy for all living creatures."
But from a concrete point of view: Oyster season catch dropped in 2015 and ’16
The public oyster harvest season began Monday, Oct. 2 with Chesapeake Bay watermen no doubt hoping for a better haul this fall and winter than last. For Maryland watermen, though, there isn’t a lot of room for optimism.I think I'd rather have a 19% "dead zone" and a healthy oyster population.
Despite mild weather last winter, Maryland’s 2016-2017 harvest from public oyster bars was off nearly 42 percent from the year before, a steep drop from the modest decline seen the previous two years. Last season, 1,086 licensed watermen harvested 224,609 bushels of bivalves, down from a 384,000-bushel catch in 20152016, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Chris Judy, DNR’s shellfish division manager, attributed the harvest decline last season to lower “spat sets” of juvenile oysters since 2012, the last year in which there was good recruitment or reproduction. Spat sets since then have been poor to middling.
Disease made a dent as well last season, at least in some areas. Intensity of Dermo, one of two parasitic diseases afflicting oysters, rose last year above the long-term average for the first time in 9 years and was the highest since the last major outbreak during a drought in 2002. The survey found elevated intensities from Pocomoke Sound north to the Wye and Miles rivers. Dermo-related mortalities also increased in some areas.
MSX, the other parasitic oyster disease, increased in prevalence on bars where it had been found previously, reaching a level 20-fold higher than what it was three years ago.