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December 2012

What Are Farmers Doing to Save the Bay? Just Watch!

FarmerandcrabFor your viewing pleasure, Bay Daily presents two brief videos that dramatically show what many farmers in the region are doing to help Save the Bay.

Agricultural runoff is one of the bigger pollution problems plaguing the Chesapeake Bay. Because of that, hundreds of farmers across the region are working with public agencies and private groups to fence livestock out of farm streams or plant riparian “buffers” of trees and grasses along stream banks. These and other “best management practices” produce healthier farm streams and healthier farms as well.

The efforts are paying off; since the mid-1980s, farm-based runoff pollution in the Bay has been reduced by half. Clearly there is still a long way to go, but progress is undeniable.

Continue reading "What Are Farmers Doing to Save the Bay? Just Watch!" »

Chesapeake Bay's Oyster Harvest May More Than Double

Oyster harvesting Chesapeake Bay ProgramThe oyster harvest in the Chesapeake Bay is improving, with reports out of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources that last year’s total of 135,000 bushels may more than double this year.

The iconic bivalve has a long way to go before it is recovered, with its populations still a tiny fraction of historic levels.

But the encouraging upward movement in harvest may be a hint that increased oyster plantings in the Bay may finally be making a difference, said Bill Goldsborough, Director of Fisheries for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

These restoration efforts have been helped by expanded oyster sanctuaries, stepped up enforcement against poachers, and dry weather in 2010 and 2012 that created salty conditions favorable to the survival of young oysters, Goldsborough said.

 The large number of juvenile oysters (also called ‘spat’) that have spawned in the Bay the last few years is showing up now in both the Bay and the baskets of watermen.

“I think 10 years from now, we’ll look back at the 2010 and 2012 spat set and see that they were the first signs that we’ve been making real progress in our efforts to increase the spawning potential of the Bay’s oysters,” said Goldsborough.

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Green Building Gets Green Light from Virginia Beach

CBF Brock Environmental CenterThe Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) plan for the greenest, most sustainable building ever constructed in Virginia received formal approval from the Virginia Beach City Council last week.

The unanimous vote Dec. 11 clears the way for CBF to move forward with the $20 million project to create the CBF Brock Environmental Center at Pleasure House Point.

The center, which will meet the strict green building standards of the Living Building Challenge, will be the hub for CBF’s advocacy, restoration, and environmental education programs in Hampton Roads. It will also provide office space for Lynnhaven River NOW, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation staff, and community meetings, as well as be a model of sustainable building for the region.

The center is named in honor of Macon and Joan Brock of Virginia Beach, who provided a $3.5 million gift toward the project. Read more here and on theses news sites: WAVY-TV, WVEC-TV.

Chuck Epes

Chesapeake Bay Foundation


Atlantic States Take Action to Protect "The Most Important Fish in the Sea"

Menhaden meetingIn an historic victory for conservationists, a coalition of Atlantic Coastal states today voted to reduce the catch of menhaden -– sometimes called “the most important fish in the sea” –- by 20 percent annually with the intention of ending overfishing.

"Overfishing will kill jobs, as the logical conclusion of a dramatically declining population of menhaden is no fish," said Will Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "Today, the fish got a break -- and so did all of us who love the Bay and appreciate jobs dependant on commercial and recreational fisheries."

Menhaden (2)The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) approved the catch limits by a 13-3 vote during a packed and sometimes tense meeting in Baltimore.  Fishermen marched down the aisle of the conference room at a Best Western Hotel and Conference Center and stood over the committee during the deliberations, many with their arms crossed. Environmentalists also crowded to the front of the room, many holding bright yellow signs proclaiming, “I support Menhaden conservation!”

“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation roundly applauds the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for adopting a strong, science-based plan to better protect menhaden, a fish vital to the marine ecosystem and to important commercial fisheries,” said Chris Moore, Senior Scientist in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s office in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

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Day of Reckoning for Menhaden – And You’re Invited!

MenhadenFriday is a big day for a small but important fish, Atlantic menhaden.

This oily, bony critter so important to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and lucrative commercial fisheries has suffered dramatic population declines over the past few decades. Friday, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which manages the coastwide menhaden population, will decide what to do about this alarming situation.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and other conservation groups strongly support reducing the catch of menhaden to help restore "the most important fish in the sea." You can help ensure the commission makes the right decision and adopts science-based, sustainable catch limits that will give menhaden a chance to recover.

How? Join CBF at the commission meeting in Baltimore this Friday to demonstrate your support for the fish that forms the critical link in the coastal and Chesapeake Bay food chain (menhaden are essential prey for highly prized fish, birds, and marine mammals).

E-mail Terry Cummings at by 5 p.m. today (Tuesday, Dec. 11) to reserve a seat on a chartered bus to the meeting site, the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center, 5625 O’Donnell Street in Baltimore. The bus will be leaving at 7:15 a.m. Friday from the Riva Road Park-n-Ride in Annapolis, Md., with two return shuttles, one at lunch and one at 3 p.m. The bus ride is free, and free breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Of course, you can also arrange your own transportation, but please let Cummings know if you plan to Menhaden.ASMFC join the group in Baltimore.

You’ll be among the thousands of people who already have made their voices heard. During the commission’s formal public comment period that closed last month, a record 128,333 comments were sent to the commission, testament to the huge public interest in protecting menhaden. An overwhelming majority of the comments urged stricter harvest limits to restore the population.

Among the comments were letters from groups and associations, including East Coast businesses, scientists, and birding groups calling for tougher menhaden catch restrictions. One letter came from 37 small businesses in Virginia urging Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to ensure the commission’s menhaden decision is implemented in Virginia. That’s because whatever the commission decides on Friday must be approved by the Virginia legislature.

If you care about striped bass, bluefish, summer flounder, weakfish, sharks, dolphin, whales, ospreys, loons, pelicans, and other fish, birds, and mammals in the marine ecosystem, you have to care about menhaden. And if you care about menhaden, try to be in Baltimore Friday.

A strong conservation decision by the commission could be the best holiday gift that menhaden, the Bay, and all who love it ever receive.

Chuck Epes
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Portsmouth Smart Growth and Clarke County Chili

Portsmouth joggerA Bay Daily tip-of-the-hat to Portsmouth, Va., which last week received one of seven National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Portsmouth won for its “Destination Portsmouth” project, a complete overhaul of the aging industrial port city’s development and land use regulations. The goal of the rewrite is to fulfill a community vision for a more livable, sustainable, pedestrian-friendly city and to provide new economic development opportunities.

According to EPA, the federal agency created the smart growth awards a decade ago to recognize exceptional approaches to development that respect the environment, foster economic vitality, enhance quality of life, and provide new opportunities for disadvantaged communities. Winners must demonstrate effectiveness in creating sustainable communities, innovation, public involvement, stakeholder partnerships, and national models.

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The Mysteries of the Bay at Night

OysterChesapeakeBayProgramIt’s like an episode of that old TV series, “The Night Gallery.”  You go into your house at night. And as the stars appear from the depths of space, and you fall asleep on your bed, all the oxygen is sucked from outside your windows.

It sounds creepy.  But this is essentially what happens to fish and shellfish in some shallow alcoves of the Chesapeake Bay when high pollution levels contribute to dramatic nighttime drops in oxygen levels.  The effects are often more subtle than fish kills, scientists say –- and may include spikes in acidity levels in the water, and greater vulnerability to disease for oysters.

The implications of this Midnight madness -– especially on efforts to replant and restore the Chesapeake Bay’s depleted oyster population –- is being studied in the “DOOM” lab.

That stands for “Dissolved Oxygen and Oyster Mortality.” The lab is run by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater Maryland, south of Annapolis.

There, Senior Scientist Dr. Denise Breitburg explains why the setting of the sun changes the chemistry of shallow inlets of the Bay that are important breeding grounds and shelters for aquatic life.

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Lawn Chemicals Increase Risk of Cancer for Dogs

Biki with Hana and DanteLawn fertilizers and pesticides not only pollute streams that feed the Chesapeake Bay. They might also increase the risk of cancer for dogs, according to a study in the scientific journal Environmental Research.

Research by Biki Takashima-Uebelhoer (above) of the University of Massachusetts Amhurst School of Public Health and colleagues concluded that dogs have a 70 percent greater risk of developing a canine malignant lymphoma when their owners treat their lawns with pesticides and fertilizers, compared to owners who do not spray their lawns with chemicals.

"We looked at dogs because of the close interaction in the household environment we share with our dogs," said Takashima-Uebelhoer. "It may give us a unique insight on how exposure to pesticides and herbicides may contribute to human non-Hodgkin's lymphoma."

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