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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: September 2011


Virginia closes winter blue crab dredge fishery

Virginia will close its winter blue crab dredge fishery season for the fourth year in a row in a continued effort to rebuild the Chesapeake Bay’s crab population.

woman holding blue crab

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted 9-0 to close the fishery at a meeting on Sept. 27. According to the commission, although great progress has been made to restore blue crabs, more work remains to bring the population back to healthy, sustainable levels.

Visit the commission’s website to learn more about the blue crab fishery and the closure.

Keywords: blue crabs, Virginia

New tool helps Bay Program partners estimate pollution loads, develop Bay cleanup plans

The Chesapeake Bay Program has launched a new tool designed to help states, municipalities, federal agencies and other partners quickly and easily assess various pollution reduction strategies for their Bay cleanup plans.

The Chesapeake Assessment and Scenario Tool (CAST) is a web-based tool that closely replicates the results of full Bay Program model runs. CAST will help partners understand and work with the Bay Program’s suite of models as the Bay jurisdictions develop their Phase II Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) and two-year milestones.

CAST allows the Bay jurisdictions to:

  • Quickly estimate pollution load reductions that would result from various management actions
  • Understand which combinations of best management practices (BMPs) provide the greatest pollution load reductions
  • Discover which management actions will help them meet their 2010 Chesapeake Bay TMDL allocations for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment

Visit http://www.casttool.org to learn more about CAST and use the tool.


Scientific study finds fault with recent Chesapeake Bay model analysis

A new report by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) raises significant objections to a recent analysis comparing the Bay Program watershed model and a new USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) model of cultivated cropland in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

runoff from farm field

In its analysis of pollution load estimates from cropland, LimnoTech recommended suspending implementation of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL – a “pollution diet” for the Bay and its tidal rivers – until the differences between the two models could be resolved.

STAC convened a panel of scientific experts to conduct an independent review of LimnoTech’s findings. The independent scientists found that LimnoTech’s comparison of the two models was scientifically flawed and did not provide sufficient evidence to suspend TMDL implementation.

According to the STAC panel’s report, the two models’ predictions are in approximate agreement when factual errors in LimnoTech’s analysis are corrected. More importantly, results from both models indicate that more management practices on cropland are needed to protect the Bay and its rivers.

The STAC reviewers encourage the Bay Program and the USDA to continue and expand sharing of data and modeling results. These cooperative efforts could help the Bay Program improve future versions of its model. STAC also suggests that future restoration efforts could be enhanced by the application of multiple models.

STAC is an independent advisory committee to the Chesapeake Bay Program. The committee convenes external, independent, scientific experts to review technical documents, policy methods and programs.

Visit STAC’s website to learn more about the scientific study.


Scientists suspect multiple yearly spawning runs for Atlantic sturgeon in James River

Scientists are examining the possibility that Atlantic sturgeon – a prehistoric fish whose population is so low that it may be listed as an endangered species – may spawn more than once per year in the James River.

Atlantic strugeon (image courtesy Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

In early September, biologists with Virginia Commonwealth University captured a female sturgeon leaking eggs near the confluence of the Appomattox and James rivers. This area may be a place where migrating fish adjust to less salty water before moving upstream to spawn.

If the Atlantic sturgeon is placed on the federal Endangered Species List, the multiple spawning run discovery could increase the amount of time that spawning-age fish are protected each year.

Read this article from the Bay Journal to learn more about Atlantic sturgeon on the James River.

Image courtesy Virginia Institute of Marine Science

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