CBF President Will Baker
hat will 2011 bring for the Bay? Here
are some predictions.
Blue Crabs—The population of “beautiful
swimmers,” the Bay’s blue crabs, will continue to improve as Governors Martin
O’Malley and Bob McDonnell hold to the
science-based formula of protecting a
greater percentage of female spawners. This
will continue to be good news for commercial crabbers and consumers
alike as a greater total population of blue crabs will yield more
abundance even as a greater percent of females is protected. Talk
about a win-win!
Susquehanna Flats to have grasses at levels
not seen since the early 70s.
Dead zones—Whether we get more rainfall
(dead zones increase) or less rainfall (dead
zones retreat), the overall water-quality
trends will continue to improve, reducing
the severity of either scenario. But this
improvement is only relative to the crisis
conditions of the recent past. Make no mis-
The Economy—OK, I admit, now I am really
getting out of my comfort zone, but here
goes. The economy will continue its modest
improvement, and Chesapeake Bay states
will continue to enjoy lower (but not low!)
unemployment rates than other parts of the
country. It will become increasingly apparent that saving the Bay will not bankrupt
us. In fact, Bay saving strategies will stimulate the economy, provide jobs, and generally begin to be viewed as the
economic asset that they are.
Lessons learned—Here’s an opti-
mistic thought. In 2011, we will
begin to really learn the lesson
taught by two great Bay success
stories—rockfish and blue crabs.
In each case (albeit 25 years
apart) science offered recom-
mended harvest limits. Elected
officials then used that scientific informa-
tion to set regulations which were strictly
enforced. In each case, the Bay responded
dramatically and quickly.
take: Dead zones will continue to plague
the Chesapeake Bay for some years ahead.
A tremendous amount of work still needs to
be done to reduce pollution before balance
will be restored.
Good science results in
appropriate limits which are
then enforced. Not a bad formula
for broad-based success across all
aspects of restoring the Bay.”
Oysters—While the Chesapeake
Bay’s native oyster, Crassostrea
Virginica, has been depleted far
more than the blue crab, it too is
fighting to make a comeback. In 2011,
judges will impose greater fines and penal-
ties on those who are caught poaching off
sanctuary oyster reefs. The sanctuaries will
increase the spawning stock for wild oys-
ters. And, aquaculture of native oysters will
continue to increase, generating more fil-
tering in the Bay, and as more eggs and lar-
vae are released to the water column, mod-
est gains will continue. There is hope!
Good science results in appropriate limits
which are then enforced. Not a bad formula
for broad based success across all aspects of
restoring the Bay. Keep your fingers crossed.
Underwater grasses—Good news and bad
news predictions here. In all likelihood,
elevated water temps in the southern Bay
will continue to kill eel grass (the predominant southern Bay species) as waters heat
up in July and August. In the northern Bay,
better news. The increased grass abundance will generate clearer water improving conditions for more grass—a vicious
cycle in reverse, if you will. Look for the
Polarizing rhetoric—Look for it to increase as
the finger pointing between various sectors
of society heats up. The Bay-wide pollution
diet known as a Total Maximum Daily
Load (TMDL) and the state Watershed
Implementation Plans (WIPs) will be taken
to the local level. Government officials
doing yoemen’s work to implement these
plans will have their hands full in their
efforts to spread the burden fairly across
all sectors of polluters (that means all of
us!). This has already begun with the
American Farm Bureau Federation suing
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
(Read full story on page 24.)
William C. Baker
President, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
No! Make that, demand nothing less of government. We still have a long way to go in
the biggest fight for clean water this nation
has ever seen!