West and Rhode Riverkeeper

We work with our community to enforce environmental law, to
promote restoration, and to advocate for better environmental policy.
Contact us: 410-867-7171  ♦  4800 Atwell Rd, #6, Shady Side, MD 20764

West and Rhode Riverkeeper Blog

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Tags >> fisheries
May 31

Fisheries and Water Quality Update

Posted by Chris in water quality , pumpout , honeydipper , fisheries , DNR , crabs

by Chris Trumbauer

Crab Survey Results Are Encouraging

The latest survey results for Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs were announced in April. According to the survey, which was conducted by Maryland DNR, an estimated 764 million crabs spent this winter in the Bay, nearly 66 percent more than last year. Juvenile crabs reached a record high of 587 million, nearly triple last year's 207 million. The previous record of 512 million was set in 1997.

However, there was a decline in the number of spawning-age females from 190 million to 97 million crabs. Nevertheless, the female population remains above the safe threshold level. According to DNR, preliminary estimates of the 2011 female harvest are below the target of 25.5 percent, again confirming that management measures have continued to be effective at constraining the fishery to appropriate levels.

The increase in crabs is encouraging. Certainly, some of the credit can be attributed to the 2008 decision by the Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission to restrict the female crab harvest. This is a demonstration that management actions can and do work – but we must be sure not to bring our fisheries to the brink of collapse before we take action.

In other “crab news,” DNR recently launched a new True Blue labeling and promotion program that will let restaurant-goers know whether their seafood dishes use meat from Maryland blue crabs or less expensive (less tasty) crabmeat from abroad.

water clarityWater Quality Monitoring for 2012 Is Well Under Way

Our volunteer monitoring teams are back out on the water keeping an eye on the health of our rivers. They go out every Wednesday morning to monitor both the West and the Rhode Rivers. Our program records water temperature, salinity, water clarity, pH, and dissolved oxygen. You can view the results in a map-based utility on our website. http://wrr.chesabay.org/. This data is also used each year to create our Report Card for the West and Rhode Rivers.

If you would like to volunteer to participate in this fun and important program, please contact Joe Ports at 410-867-7171 or joe@www.westrhoderiverkeeper.org.

“Mahogany Tide” invades parts of Anne Arundel

Algae blooms fed by too much nutrient pollution have caused “mahogany tides” in several creeks in northern Anne Arundel County, and also in Spa Creek in Annapolis. The algae species, prorocentrum minimum, is a dark reddish brown color, and large populations of the algae will turn make the water appear that color as well, hence the “mahogany tide” label. While prorocentrum is not harmful to humans, alage blooms can cause fish kills if they consume too much of the oxygen in the water, leaving insufficient oxygen for fish and other aquatic life. Estimates in the north county creeks exceed 100,000 dead fish as a result of these blooms. Fortunately, we have not seen similar condition in the West or the Rhode so far this year. The last major fish kill in our rivers was in the fall of 2008, in Bear Neck Creek.

Honeydipper Is on Patrol

HoneydipperOnce again this year, our pumpout boat is patrolling the West and Rhode Rivers. This program is supported by a Maryland DNR grant and allows us to properly dispose of boat waste. Each year, we collect about 15,000 gallons of waste from marine holding tanks, and discharge it into the sewer system where it gets properly treated. Boat waste is one potential cause of bacteria contamination in our rivers.

Got a holding tank and need a pumpout? Call Cap’n Michael on the Honeydipper at 410-940-3754 or hail “Honeydipper” on VHF 77.