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CHESAPEAKE BAY-Watermen Fear Blue Crab Not Coming Back-HISTORY OF BAY


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Author Topic: CHESAPEAKE BAY-Watermen Fear Blue Crab Not Coming Back-HISTORY OF BAY  (Read 434 times)
Bianca
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« on: July 16, 2008, 10:08:39 am »












                                         Chesapeake watermen fear blue crab not coming back





By KRISTEN WYATT,
Associated Press Writer
Wed Jul 16, 2008
 
RIDGE, Md. - Chesapeake Bay crabber Paul Kellam has advice for the teenage boys who help tend his traps every summer: You better have a backup plan.
 
It's an anxious summer for watermen harvesting the Chesapeake's best-loved seafood, the blue crab. The way some see it, the crabbing business here isn't just dying. It's already dead.

Crabs have thrived in the bottom muck of the Chesapeake and its tributaries even as centuries of overfishing harmed oysters, fish and other species in the nation's largest estuary. Now blue crabs are in trouble, too, and when they go, a way of life is sure to go with them.

"There was a time when crabbers were only out here from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Now, it's about all we have left," says Kellam, 53, steering his 30-year-old rig "Christy" out of the Potomac River and onto the bay for a day of crabbing. The contradictory decor in the cabin sums up the outlook of today's waterman: a red wooden good-luck horseshoe dangles over a mud-splattered copy of "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook."

The bay's blue crab stock is down 70 percent since 1990 due to overfishing and water pollution, according to Virginia and Maryland fisheries managers. The states have imposed steep cuts on this year's female crab harvest, aiming to reduce the number of crabs taken by more than a third.

For Kellam and his neighbors in southern Maryland, where the working rigs and crab picking houses that sustained these communities for generations have been replaced by yachts and vacation homes, hopes are dim that the blue crabs will ever come back.

"It's looking worse every year," says Bob McKay, who at 74 is the oldest working waterman in St. Mary's County. He still sells crabs out of a shed in his yard but doubts the industry will live much longer than he does. "I don't know what the solution could be."

Watermen have turned to real estate and automobile repair. They've opened seafood restaurants and bakeries.

The best way to make money on the Chesapeake these days is taking businessmen from Washington and Philadelphia on charter fishing trips. Those who still rely on crabbing are further hurt by a double punch of higher fuel costs and an economic downturn that's meant fewer consumers dropping up to $200 on a bushel of crabs.

"People don't have the disposable income. They're just not buying," says Kellam, who spends up to $150 a day on diesel, which costs about $5 a gallon at a nearby marina.

There was a time when Chesapeake watermen made their living off the winter oyster harvest, using hand tongs and later power dredges to supply most of the world's oysters. But disease and over-harvesting nearly wiped out Chesapeake oysters in the 1980s, and despite millions invested in restoration, they've never recovered. Scientists estimate the Chesapeake now contains about 1 percent of the oysters it once did.

After the oyster industry collapsed, watermen looked to hardy blue crabs to make up the slack. But the next generation may not have another option.

"I want to make a living on the water," says Randy Plummer, a chain-smoking 19-year-old who works on Kellam's crab rig. "But there ain't no future in it. Everybody knows that."
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 10:45:48 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2008, 10:15:09 am »










Plummer has wanted to crab since he was a boy, but is instead headed to community college this fall, at the urging of Kellam and his parents.

Even scientists who called for the harvest reductions say overfishing isn't entirely to blame.

The main culprit is water pollution and soil runoff from development throughout a watershed that is home to 10 million people. Excess nutrients wash into the Chesapeake, causing algae blooms and choking the native plant life that crabs rely on for food and habitat. In the summer, large swaths of the Chesapeake contain so little oxygen that scientists call them "dead zones," because few critters can live there.

Watermen call it "bad water," and they track it all summer, following crabs as they skitter to shallower water that contains more oxygen. Even when watermen luck out and pull up a pot full of crabs, long-timers say the crabs are nothing like they used to be.

"Sometimes in the summer, you pull the pots up, they've got algae and mud all over them. The bad water comes in and coats everything and the crabs can't stand it," Kellam explains.

He now spends hours hauling up the same number of crabs he could catch in a few pots a decade ago. And what he catches isn't as healthy-looking as the crabs he caught as a boy. Wholesalers are buying them anyway.

"They're buying a lot of stuff that 10 years ago they would've turned away," Kellam says.

Maryland and Virginia officials have responded to the watermen's plight by asking the federal government for a disaster declaration that would free up about $20 million to subsidize crabbers and seafood processors until blue crabs rebound.

Maryland is also working on sweeping revisions to state planning laws with an eye toward protecting its 3,000 or so miles of shoreline. Already this year, the state toughened zoning laws dealing with development closest to the water, a law that aims to reduce sediment and pollution running into the Chesapeake and its tributaries.

"It's certainly getting more difficult to make a living on the water," conceded Lynn Fegley, a biologist in charge of crabs for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. But Fegley says the cynicism along the Chesapeake is unfounded. There will always be Chesapeake blue crabs, she says — as long as watermen lay off them when the stock dips.

"As the watershed gets more crowded, the face of the fishery may change. But people are always going to want seafood, right? It's healthy and it's delicious. What we have to do is find a way to harvest seafood that's sustainable for the future," Fegley says.

But Thomas Courtney, who sells Kellam the alewife fish he uses for bait, laughs when asked whether state efforts to revive blue crabs will bring them back.

"It ain't what we're pulling out of the water. It's what we're putting in the water," says Courtney, 62. "You've got a cornfield, 20 acres, you put 80 or 90 houses on it, hook 'em up to sewer pipes, put roads and ditches down.

That's what's destroyed the bay.

It ain't us.

They let development take over and then, that's it, we're done."
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2008, 10:30:28 am »










Chesapeake Bay has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

I lived in on its Maryland shores for 20 years, until 1989.



QUOTE


But Thomas Courtney, who sells Kellam the alewife fish he uses for bait, laughs when asked whether state efforts to revive blue crabs will bring them back.

"It ain't what we're pulling out of the water. It's what we're putting in the water," says Courtney, 62. "You've got a cornfield, 20 acres, you put 80 or 90 houses on it, hook 'em up to sewer pipes, put roads and ditches down.

That's what's destroyed the bay.

It ain't us.

They let development take over and then, that's it, we're done."




Mr. Courtney is right, even way back in 1989 things had deteriorated to a dangerous point.

But nobody was listening and they kept building and building........
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2008, 10:37:57 am »


                                                                           
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 10:40:06 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2008, 10:46:38 am »











                                                           C H E S A P E A K E   B A Y





The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States.

It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia.

The Chesapeake Bay's watershed covers 64,299 square miles (166,534 km²) in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. More than 150 rivers and streams drain into the Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay is about 200 miles (300 km) long, from the Susquehanna River in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the south.

At its narrowest point, between Kent County's Plum Point (near Newtown) and the Harford County shore near Romney Creek, the Bay is 2.8 miles (4.5 km) wide; at its widest point, just south of the mouth of the Potomac River, it is 30 miles (50 km) wide.

Total shoreline for the Bay and its tributaries is 11,684 miles (18,804 km), and the surface area of the bay and its major tributaries is 4,479 square miles (11,601 km²).

The bay is spanned in two places. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge crosses the bay in Maryland from Sandy Point (near Annapolis) to Kent Island; the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia connects Virginia Beach to Cape Charles.




The word Chesepiooc is an Algonquian word commonly believed to mean "Great Shellfish Bay;" however, a reconstruction of Virginian Algonquian implies that the word may mean something like "Great Water" or it might just be the name of a village at the mouth of the bay.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 10:50:14 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2008, 10:51:59 am »



THE CESAPEAKE BAY BRIDGE








Geology
 


The Chesapeake Bay is the ria, or drowned valley, of the Susquehanna, meaning that was where the river flowed when sea level was lower. It is not a fjord, as the Laurentide Ice Sheet never reached as far south as the northernmost point on the bay.

The Bay was formed starting about 10,000 years ago when rising sea levels at the end of the last ice age flooded the Susquehanna river valley.

The Bay's geology, its present form and its very location have also been affected by a bolide impact event at the end of the Eocene (about 35.5 million years ago), forming the Chesapeake Bay impact crater. Parts of the bay, especially the Calvert County, Maryland coastline, are lined by cliffs composed of deposits from receding waters millions of years ago. These cliffs, generally known as Calvert Cliffs, are famous for their fossils, especially fossilized shark teeth, which are commonly found washed up on the beaches next to the cliffs. Scientists' Cliffs is a beach community in Calvert County named for the desire to create a retreat for scientists when the community was founded in 1935.

Much of the bay is quite shallow. At the point where the Susquehanna River flows into the bay, the average depth is 30 feet (9 m), although this soon diminishes to an average of 10 feet (3 m) from the city of Havre de Grace for about 35 miles (56 km), to just north of Annapolis. On average, the depth of the bay is 21 feet (7 meters), including tributaries;[4] over 24% of the bay is less than 6 ft (2 m) deep.[citation needed]

The climate of the area surrounding the bay is primarily humid subtropical, with hot, very humid summers and cold to mild winters. Only the area around the mouth of the Susquehanna River is continental in nature, and the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the Susquehanna flats often freeze in winter. It is exceedingly rare for the surface of the bay to freeze in winter, as happened most recently in the winter of 1976-1977.[5]

Since the bay is an estuary, it has fresh water and brackish water. Brackish water has three salinity zones — oligohaline, mesohaline, and polyhaline. The fresh water zone runs from the mouth of the Susquehanna River to north Baltimore. The oligohaline zone has very little salt. Salinity varies from 0.5 ppt to 10 ppt and freshwater species can survive there. The north end of the oligohaline zone is north Baltimore and the south end is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The mesohaline zone has a medium amount of salt and runs from the Bay Bridge to the mouth of the Rapahannock River. the salinity ranges from 10.7 ppt to 18 ppt. The polyhaline zone is the saltiest zone and some of the water can be as salty as sea water. It runs from the mouth of the Rappahannock River to the mouth of the bay.

The salinity ranges from 18.7 ppt to 36 ppt. (36 ppt is as salty as the ocean.)
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 10:54:30 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2008, 10:56:45 am »










History



Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón was the first European to explore and map the Chesapeake Bay. He established a short-lived Spanish mission settlement, "San Miguel de Guadalupe", in the early 16th century near the future site of Jamestown.

Captain John Smith of England explored and mapped the bay between 1607 and 1609. The "Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail", the United States' first-ever all-water National Historic Trail, was created in July 2006. The bill passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate.

The Chesapeake Bay was the site of the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781, during which the French fleet defeated the Royal Navy in the decisive naval battle of the American Revolutionary War.

Today, the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant uses water from the bay to cool its reactor.

The bay is also known for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a dog breed developed in this area.
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2008, 10:58:06 am »












                                                                Watershed
 




The Chesapeake Bay WatershedThe largest rivers flowing into the bay, from north to south, are:



Susquehanna River
 
Patapsco River

Chester River

Choptank River

Patuxent River

Potomac River

Rappahannock River

Nanticoke River

York River

Back River

James River
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 11:00:07 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2008, 11:01:51 am »



A skipjack, part of the oystering fleet in Maryland










Fishing industry
 


The bay was once known for its great seafood production, especially blue crabs, clams and oysters. The plentiful oyster harvests led to the development of the skipjack, the state boat of Maryland, which is the only remaining working boat type in the United States still under sail power.

Other characteristic bay area workboats include:



the log canoe

the pungy

the bugeye

the Chesapeake Bay deadrise



Today, the body of water is less productive than it used to be, because of runoff from urban areas (mostly on the Western Shore) and farms (especially on the Eastern Shore), overharvesting, and invasion of foreign species. The bay though, still yields more fish and shellfish (about 45,000 short tons or 40,000 tonnes yearly) than any other estuary in the United States.

The bay is famous for its rockfish, also known as striped bass. Once on the verge of extinction, rockfish have made a significant comeback due to legislative action that put a moratorium on rockfishing, which allowed the species to repopulate. Rockfish are now able to be fished in strictly controlled and limited quantities.

Oyster farming is a growing industry for the bay to help maintain the bay's productivity as well as a natural effort for filtering impurities in the bay in an effort to reduce the disastrous effects of man-made pollution.

In 2005, local governments began debate on the introduction to certain parts of the bay of a species of Asian oyster, to revive the lagging shellfish industry.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 11:15:02 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2008, 11:07:08 am »



CHESAPEAKE TIDAL WETLANDS
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2008, 11:10:26 am »











Deteriorating environmental conditions
 


In the 1970s, the Chesapeake Bay contained one of the planet's first identified marine dead zones, where hypoxic waters were so depleted in oxygen they were unable to support life, resulting in
massive fish kills.

Large algae blooms, nourished by the runoff of farm and industrial waste throughout the watershed, prevent sunlight from reaching the bottom of the bay.

The resulting loss of aquatic vegetation has depleted the habitat for many of the bay's animal creatures. One particularly harmful algae is Pfiesteria piscicida, which can affect both fish and
humans.

The depletion of oysters due to overharvesting and damaged habitat has had a particularly harmful effect on the quality of the bay.

The bay's oyster industry has also suffered from two diseases: MSX and Dermo.

Oysters serve as natural water filters, and their decline has further reduced the water quality of the bay. Water that was once clear for metres is now so turbid that a wader may lose sight of his feet before his knees are wet.

Efforts of federal, state and local governments, working in partnership through the Chesapeake Bay Program, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other nonprofit environmental groups, to restore or at least maintain the current water quality have had mixed results.

One particular obstacle to cleaning up the bay is that much of the polluting substances arise far upstream in tributaries lying within states far removed from the bay itself.

It has been estimated that in pre-colonial times, oysters could filter all the water in the Bay in about 3.3 days, but in 1988 it was calculated that depletion of oyster beds had increased this time to 325 days.
 

Efforts at oyster farming is one method Marylanders are using to clean up the pollution.



FROM

WIKIPEDIA
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 11:12:25 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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