A Chesapeake Bay Without Fish

A Chesapeake Bay Without Fish

Brady Knight

Thursday, October 6, 2016

GNED 261

Dr. Fink

A Chesapeake Bay without Fish

Image result for Chesapeake BayThe Chesapeake Bay is a vital body of water in an important place. The Bay and its watershed include the waters from Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.Throughout these estuaries connected to the Bay, there are diverse species of fish, oysters, crabs, seabirds, and the like. This means that all the organisms living in the Bay are affected by a lot of factors. These factors such as fishing, hunting, pollution, sewage treatment, and run-off can be positive and negative to the Bay.

The Bay faces numerous issues from overfishing, dead zones caused by pollution, and lack of caring from its surroundings. The Chesapeake Bay has a 32 or a D+ on the Health Index, has improving Water Quality, and has concern for its Fisheries according to the 2014 State of the Bayreport. There has been an increase in pollution, a decrease in fish, and no change in the habitats of the Bay since the prior two years. But if the ideas from Kurlansky’s A World WithoutFish are applied to the Chesapeake Bay,we can see that if we keep up these same conditions. The Bay may no longer support its ever so large community.

Image result for chesapeake bay blue crabOne of the biggest issues facing the Bay is the loss of the organisms. The Chesapeake Bay is home to crabs, oysters, and fish. All of which are valuable commodities to several persons in the watershed. Because oysters and crabs are so valuable, the crabbing and oyster industries have sprung up along the coasts of the Bay. These industries will used to take in several bushels of crabs and oysters because our understanding of their populations was so little. Now we are facing all-time lows when catching them because we have abused their populations. This is one of the major, if not the biggest issue that Kurlansky’s A World without Fish expresses. That the abuse of populations and without the proper

regulation to help get their populations back on track can lead to loss of an entire species, slowly crippling the Chesapeake Bay and those it supports.

Another critical issue present in the Chesapeake Bay is the amount of Pollution. Pollutions consist of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, as well as other Toxins. These pollutants all affect the water in different ways, but mainly these cause Dead Zones, or areas where no organisms can live. Kurlansky mentions in Chapter Nine of a World without Fish that although we can reduce and fix fishing problems with regulations, fish and other organisms are still affected by pollution. This is where the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint comes into play. The Blueprint “is designed to reduce substantially the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution degrading local waters and the Bay,” said by the 2014 State of the Bay Report. This plan was created to reduce the pollution in the Bay by the efforts of all six states and the District of Columbia. And although it may not look like it, The 2014 State of Bay report confirms that the Blueprint is working, but there is still concern in the program.

Image result for chesapeake bay agricultureAlthough fishing and pollution are major factors, the agriculture surrounding the Bay is not what it should be. This includes the farmlands, the tractors, the fertilizer, and even the animals. But with the farmlands and animals, there comes manure or fertilizer. Fertilizer is a major source of Nitrogen and Phosphorus. When it storms in the watershed area, the water collects on the topsoil of the farmlands and then runs off into a smaller body of water. This small body of water will eventually carry the topsoil in the Bay. So in short, this run-off is carrying toxins to the Bay. This is also being fought with the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, but is not where it should be for the future. Although this may not be present in Kurlansky’s book, covering the world without fish, this issue is present in the Chesapeake Bay without fish.

Even though over fishing, pollution and agriculture are all affecting the Chesapeake ways in numerous ways. The community around the watershed has done tremendous work to improve and repair the Chesapeake Bay. In late 1990s, the Health Index was below 25 which is in the range of a D-. And over the twenty some odd years, through the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint and other initiatives, that score has been brought up to the 32 or D+ as of 2014. If the effort to continue repairing the Bay is met, and the watershed area keeps up the hard work, by the year 2050, the Chesapeake Bay could reach a Health Index of 70, which would be saved according to the 2014 State of the Bay report. But just because progress is being shown, it does not mean that fisherman and scientist can sit back and/or drop the issue. This is something that needs continuous thought, care, and planning as we go through the next vital years in making sure that there is never Chesapeake Bay without Fish.


Kurlansky, M. (n.d.).World Without Fish. New York: Workman Publishing.

2014 State of the Bay.(2014). Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

S. (n.d.).On the Water. Retrieved October 01, 2016, from

Chesapeake Bay blue crab population increases. (2009, April 21). Retrieved October 01, 2016,

Chester River.(n.d.). Retrieved October 01, 2016, from