The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 2012 “State of the Bay” report shows the health of Maryland’s favorite estuary — the largest in the U.S. — making a 10 percent improvement in less than five years. Of the 13 indicators measured in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s report, five improved, seven remained the same, and one declined.
According to the report, blue crabs in the Bay made soaring gains last year, reaching the highest winter survey results since the mid-1990s (750 million crabs). Oysters continue to struggle, earning an “F” mark in the report, but showed improved signs of life. Well over a billion oysters have been planted since 2010, according to the report.
Rockfish scored the best grade in the report, earning an “A,” but their number have declined since 2003. Still, they remain above their management target.
Overall, the Chesapeake Bay scored a 32 on a scale of 1-100, with a benchmark of 70 considered a passing grade, representing a “saved” Chesapeake Bay. The Bay’s score bumped up a point since the last report in 2010
"Continued progress shows what can be done when governments, businesses, and individuals work together to save local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay," CBF President William C. Baker said in a statement accompany the release of the report Wednesday. "While the Bay is still dangerously out of balance, I am cautiously optimistic for the future. The federal/state Clean Water Blueprint for the Chesapeake Bay is in place and beginning to work."
The entire report can be found here. The press release accompanying the report can be found here.
Pollution continues to be an enormous problem, of course. Bay nitrogen loads remained the same since 2010, receiving a failing score of 16. Phosphorus loads improved slightly, but still scored a “D” grade. Water clarity remained the same since 2010 and toxic contamination in the Bay also remained unchanged.
Underwater grasses were the one health indicator in the report to have declined, in part, according to the report, due to extreme weather conditions, including high water temperatures and heavy rainfall.
"We have made progress, but much of the Bay and many local waterways don't provide healthy habitat for fish, oysters, and other aquatic life," Baker said. "Pollution has cost thousands of jobs and continues to put human health at risk.” He also added, however, that “We have never before had this level of accountability and transparency in Bay restoration efforts. "This is indeed the moment in time for the Bay.”