by Alicia Pimental
December 28, 2010
The Chesapeake Bay’s health has improved slightly over the past two years, but the ecosystem remains out of balance, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 2010 State of the Bay report.
The Bay’s overall health ranks 31 out of 100 on the Foundation’s numeric health index, a three point improvement from 2008. On the health index scale, 40 represents “improving,” 50 represents “stable,” and 70 represents a “saved” Chesapeake Bay. A score of 100 represents the pristine conditions of the 1600s when Captain John Smith explored the Bay.
“The Bay is a system that is starting to get better,” said Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Although this is a “huge development,” according to Baker, “the gains that have been achieved are fragile.”
The overall score is derived from 13 individual scores for indicators on pollution, habitat and fisheries. Eight of the 13 indicators improved in 2010, while two scores decreased.
- Blue crabs showed the largest increase, improving 15 points to a score of 50 after the crab population more than doubled between 2008 and 2010.
- Bay grasses continue to show slow, steady improvement, mostly due to flourishing grass beds in the upper Chesapeake Bay. The score increased two points to 22.
- Despite slight improvements in some areas, nitrogen pollution, dissolved oxygen, water clarity, oysters and shad all received failing grades.
To help continue upward progress on restoring the Bay, the Foundation urges the government to enforce pollution laws and people to tell their elected officials that saving the Bay will help the region’s economy.
Visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s website to read the entire 2010 State of the Bay report.