The Chesapeake Bay Program’s new Bay Barometer report shows some improving metrics — including for oysters and blue crabs.
The annual report which gauges the health of the Bay also displays some continued challenges.
On the plus side, the study shows improvements with oyster populations and restoration efforts, and blue crabs are not being overfished.
We all know how important oysters and crabs are for the Bay, as well as our regional economy. They should always be at the forefront of how we protect the Bay.
The Barometer also showed progress is being made with land preservation in the Chesapeake Bay region. We need to wisely protect sensitive lands on the Eastern Shore and other parts of the region to help protect the Bay. But we should also balance that with responsible economic development and needed infrastructure.
Public access to the Bay has also been improved with more fishing piers, boat ramps and openings between 2010 and 2019. We need to continue making public access to the Bay and our other recreational assets on the Shore a priority. The Bay and the Shore belong to all of us regardless of class, race or any other factors.
Still, we know the Bay and our environment face challenges. The number of adult female blue crabs dropped by 26% between 2019 and 2020 going from 191 million crabs down to 141 million. That level is above the 70 million threshold considered to be the sustainable level for female blue crabs.
The report also shows some continued challenges with reducing pollution into the Bay, improving water quality for tidal tributaries and underperforming levels of underwater grasses and forest buffers across the region.
The Bay is the lifeblood and in many ways the soul of our Shore. Its health — as well as the health of oysters and crabs — are essential to our quality of life and our economy.
We need to continue finding that balance between the environment and economy. That can be a challenge and cause friction between various interests on both sides of the Bay.
It might not always be easy, but compromise and finding a reasonable and appropriate middle ground are crucial to the future of the Bay and our Shore.