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Posts from the ‘News from the water’ Category

National Ocean Policy

The following is reprinted from the recent BoatUS e-newsletter. It highlights ongoing planning that can affect recreational boating. Right now the focus is on the Northeast. Expect that to expand – an issue worth watching….

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Over the last two years, BoatUS has been working on the National Ocean Policy, set in place with an Executive Order from President Obama. How could this affect your access to the water, and on the water?

Early on recreational boating was not being adequately considered, so BoatUS took every opportunity to speak up for our favorite pastime, which now is included in their plans as a key “stakeholder.”

As part of this work, a study is now underway in New England to measure the economic impact of recreational boating. (Boaters can participate in this study by clicking here.) Be on watch for similar studies and planning that could affect boating in your region and please let us know when you see things starting to happen in your area.

As Ryck Lydecker, Assistant Vice President of Government Affairs, says “Now that policy makers recognize us as “stakeholders” let’s make certain to stake our claims,”
For more background on this topic, click here.

Trashing the Bay

Having just returned from a sail from Annapolis to Baltimore and return, I was pleased to read in the Bay Journal about efforts to keep trash and other debris out of the waters.  Lara Lutz wrote about the Anacostia litter cleanup.  While the Anacostia contributes to the Potomac and is down Bay from where I normally sail, similar issues exist for all the rivers and streams within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Not only is trash in the water unsightly, it is also unhealthy and presents hazards to navigation. In just a few hours of travel we encountered lumber, logs, and other hard debris that can cause damage to boats – potentially creating safety issues. Other forms of trash were common and likely originated from careless disposal. For a more detailed look at this issue, pick up the June issue of the Bay Journal, or follow the link to read on-line – http://www.bayjournal.com/issue/10935

The Bay Journal reports on all things relating to the Chesapeake Bay including current events and more in-depth information about progress in improving Bay health. As sailors on the Bay, we all should keep a close watch, and lend a hand when and where ever we can.

Grass and Bay quality..

The Chesapeake Bay Program recently released a report on the extent of underwater grasses – an important indicator of Bay health.

(pic from MD Sea Grant Program)

From the report ….

“Underwater grasses provide significant benefits to aquatic life and serve many critical ecological functions in the Bay and its tributaries, such as:

  • Providing shelter for young striped bass, blue crabs and other species

  • Improving water clarity by helping suspended sediment particles settle to the bottom

  • Adding oxygen to the water

  • Reducing shoreline erosion

Scientists believe that having more grasses in the Bay and rivers will dramatically improve the entire ecosystem. The expectation is that as nutrient and sediment pollution decrease and water clarity improves, underwater grass acreages should expand. Experts closely monitor underwater grasses because their well-being is dependent on good local water quality.  Therefore, their abundance is an excellent measure of the Bay’s health.”

For more, read the full report at http://www.chesapeakebay.net/indicators/indicator/bay_grass_abundance_baywide

Good news from the Bay Program

Blue Crab population hits a 20 year high!

—  (from Chesapeake Bay Program)

The Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population increased 66 percent in 2012 to its highest level since 1993, according to the annual blue crab winter dredge survey conducted by Maryland and Virginia.

 

The enormous increase was fueled by a “baby boom” – an almost tripling of the juvenile crab population, from 207 million last year to 587 million. This figure smashed the old record of 512 million juvenile crabs set in 1993.

Overall, the Bay’s crab population has risen to 764 million, more than triple the record low of 249 million set in 2007. That deep decline set in motion four years of concentrated efforts to rebuild the stock.

“Just a few short years ago, the future did not look bright for our blue crab population,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. “Our female crabs were being overfished, and our fishery was at risk of complete collapse. We teamed up with our neighbors in Virginia and at the Potomac River Fisheries Commission to make the tough choices, guided by science, to reverse that population decline.”

Bay-wide, the crab harvest has increased substantially since 2008, when 43 million pounds were caught. In 2011, an estimated 67.3 million pounds of crabs were harvested from the Bay.

Not all news from the survey was bright: the number of spawning-age females dropped by roughly 50 percent to 97 million. However, this figure is still above the health threshold. Maryland and Virginia will work together to produce a management strategy to avert another stock decline for this segment of the crab population.

Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website for more information about the winter dredge survey and the 2012 blue crab figures.

Virginia CZM Progress

Daily Press OPED:  Doug Domenech: Investing in the Future of our Coast April 22, 2012

This Earth Day is an opportunity to celebrate an important anniversary. For the last 25 years, the Virginia Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program, a network of state and local partners funded through the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, has been finding innovative and resourceful ways to preserve the Commonwealth’s abundant coastal resources. Their investments have helped revitalize the unique character and ecological health that defined Virginia’s coast centuries ago. Almost 5,000 acres of eelgrass now wave with the ocean tides on the seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore due to the success of the Virginia CZM Program’s multi-partner initiative and $3 million investment, the Virginia Seaside Heritage Program. Devastating storms in the 1930s wiped out most of the region’s eelgrass beds and the bay scallops that rely on them. Today, scallops have been reintroduced to the restored eelgrass beds and this critical marine ecosystem is once again thriving. It proves just how dramatic restoration efforts can be if we maintain high quality coastal waters. The Virginia CZM Program launched the Virginia Oyster Heritage Program in 1999, jump-starting the impressive oyster recovery announced on February 7th by Gov. McDonnell. Through $1.5 million of Virginia CZM Program’s federal funding and additional private and public oyster restoration funds, the program restored 14 one-acre oyster sanctuary reefs and 500 acres of adjacent harvest areas in the Rappahannock River, and more acreage on the Seaside of the Eastern Shore. In 2007, the Virginia CZM Program reconvened the Oyster Heritage Program partners and together they developed the innovative strategy that combines harvest rotation with preservation of broodstock sanctuaries on the Rappahannock River – a strategy that has become the model for other oyster restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay. Beaches and dunes are our best natural defense against storms and flooding. Inventorying and protecting these critical coastal resources has long been a focus of the Virginia CZM Program. The program’s investment in a detailed analysis of Virginia’s beaches and dunes led to a change in the Code of Virginia in 2009 that significantly expanded protection of beaches and dunes to all coastal localities. Ongoing funding from the program also supports the installation and monitoring of Living Shorelines, a natural technique that can protect property owners’ shorelines and create healthier habitats for fish and other wildlife. The Virginia CZM Program has distributed more than 54 ecotourism grants in the last 25 years worth more than $1 million — funding construction of public access amenities such as nature trails, canoe and kayak floating docks, wildlife observation decks, an Ecotour Guide Certification Program, the 20 year old Eastern Shore Birding & Wildlife Festival, the coastal portion of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, and the Eastern Shore Seaside Water Trail. Tourism is a major driver in Virginia’s economy, and ecotourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of that industry. It connects people to the environment and instills an appreciation of our natural resources. Providing public access and investing in the conservation of special coastal places go hand in hand. The Virginia CZM Program’s acquisition of 3,537 acres has helped grow ecotourism in the state while also protecting sensitive coastal habitats. In Northampton County, the program helped expand Kiptopeke State Park and create the Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve. Tourism revenue in the county increased 11.2 percent in 2011, the highest jump in revenue in the state. What is particularly impressive about the Virginia CZM Program is how it has done more with less in its 25-year history. When adjusted for inflation, the funding the program receives through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has decreased by 48 percent since 1987. During the same time, Virginia’s coastal population grew from about 3.6 million in 1986 to about 5.1 million in 2010 – a 41 percent increase. This means more people, placing more pressure on finite coastal resources. How does the program remain effective? The key steps are aligning and leveraging resources and missions; implementing new technologies to get messages and scientific data out to coastal managers, decision-makers and the public; and relying on a dedicated staff that capitalizes on every opportunity to wisely use available dollars. The Virginia CZM Program and its partners have broken new ground in some areas and protected old ground in others. The result has been the promotion of a unique perspective on Virginia’s coastal zone. Together we can expect continued success in the next 25 years! Domenech is Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources

Copyright © 2012, Newport News, Va., Daily Press

Mid-Atlantic Coast Wind Development

For interested sailors, the lease parcels lie 8+ nautical miles off shore. The link to maps provides a good look at the potential distribution………. reprint from Maryland’s Chesapeake & Coastal Service News – March 2012.

 

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES MAJOR STEPS TOWARD LEASING FOR OFFSHORE WIND PROJECTS IN MID-ATLANTIC

Leasing Process for Commercial Wind Development Initiated for Offshore Maryland

 

 

Kentish Flats wind power farm, in sunset.

Photo by Vattenfall.

On February 2, 2012, the Department of Interior announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is moving forward with the process for wind energy lease sales off the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware.  BOEM’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment found that there would be no significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts from issuing wind energy leases in designated Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas off the mid-Atlantic Coast.

 

The environmental assessment considered potential environmental impacts associated with site assessment activities, such as geophysical, geotechnical, archeological and biological surveys and the installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys.  BOEM will use this environmental assessment to inform future leasing decisions in the Mid-Atlantic, including those emerging from BOEM’s recent Call for Information and Nominations (Call) for Maryland’s Wind Energy Area (WEA). Through this Call, BOEM is soliciting additional lease nominations and is requesting public comments about site conditions, resources and other existing uses of the WEA off the coast of Maryland. Once a lease is obtained and the developer proposes a wind energy generation project on its lease, BOEM will prepare a separate site- and project-specific analysis under NEPA of its construction and operations plan, and provide additional opportunities for public involvement.

 

The Call Area offshore Maryland contains nine whole OCS blocks and 11 partial blocks. A map of the area of interest can be found at: http://www.boem.gov/Renewable-Energy-Program/State-Activities/Maryland.aspx.

 

For more information on Maryland’s efforts to plan for offshore wind and to help the State to balance multiple uses in the ocean, visit http://dnr.maryland.gov/ccp/coastal_resources/oceanplanning.

LIVING SHORELINE INSTALLED AT GREYS CREEK NATURE PARK (from CCS ‘In the Zone’)

Projects such as these highlight the importance of the many conservation partnerships at work around the Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere to restore and improve our aquatic resources.

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CCS Spotlight is a feature of the In the Zone e-mail service  (see below) that highlights programs that have been developed by the Chesapeake & Coastal Service or through partnership and support from federal, state and local partners helping to advance coastal management in Maryland.

This past year, Maryland’s Coastal Program worked with DNR’s Habitat Restoration and Conservation and Engineering and Construction divisions to complete a living shoreline restoration project at Greys Creek Nature Park in Worcester County, the former Weidman Property.

The 572-acre waterfront property was acquired in 2006 by the State and Worcester County with the assistance of NOAA’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program funds. The entire property sits at the top of the Maryland Coastal Bays in one of the most biologically diverse areas in the Delmarva region. Its natural habitat includes upland coastal forests, extensive sensitive non-tidal and tidal saltwater wetlands and several small islands just off shore…..

For more on this story and other projects   of CCS sign up ..

IN THE ZONE is a   service from the 

Maryland Department of   Natural Resources’

http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001Rx4RxQ1SVjZyizs9kry3Pg%3D%3D

that delivers timely   information, tools and resources to those who live, work and play in   Maryland’s coastal zone.

MD Watershed Implementation Plan

MDE release – http://www.mde.state.md.us/Pages/Home.aspx

The Chesapeake Bay TMDL, Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plan and Maryland’s 2012-2013 Milestone Goals

DRAFT Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan for Public Review (January 26, 2012)

The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure constituting the largest estuary in the United States and one of the largest and most biologically productive estuaries in the world.  Despite significant efforts by federal, state, and local governments and other interested parties, pollution in the Chesapeake Bay prevents the attainment of existing water quality standards.  The pollutants that are largely responsible for impairment of the Bay are nutrients, in the form of nitrogen and phosphorus, and sediment.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in coordination with the Bay watershed jurisdictions of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, New York, and the District of Columbia (DC), developed and, on December 29, 2010, established a nutrient and sediment pollution diet for the Bay, consistent with Clean Water Act requirements, to guide and assist Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.  This pollution diet is known as the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), or Bay TMDL.   MDE took part in an ongoing, high-level decision-making process to create the essential framework for this complex, multi-jurisdictional TMDL that will address nutrient and sediment impairments throughout the entire 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed.

MDE participated in numerous inter-jurisdictional and inter-agency workgroups and committees over the last three years to provide technical expertise and guidance for developing the Bay TMDL in a manner consistent with the State’s water quality goals and responsibilities. In particular, MDE worked to ensure that the Bay TMDL addressed the nutrient and sediment impairments in all of Maryland’s tidal waters listed as impaired by those pollutants on the State’s Integrated Report of Surface Water Quality.

MDE took the lead on developing an allocation process that will enable the State to meet a key requirement for the Bay TMDL and Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plan:  the sub-allocation of major basin loading caps of nutrient and sediment to each of 58 “segment-sheds” in Maryland – the land areas that drain to each impaired Bay water quality segment – and to each pollutant source sector in those areas.

RBFF notes ICW Fishing opportunities

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation is a great non-profit organization whose mission is to incease participation in recreational angling and boating and thereby increase public awareness and appreciation of the need to potect, conserve and restore this Nation;s aquatic natural resources.

They provide a valuable service to the boating and fishing communities…….. the following article is from their web site  at http://www.takemefishing.org/general/about-rbff — take a tlook for more great info!

The Intracoastal Waterways – An angler’s paradise

Whether you’re a newcomer to saltwater fishing or a seasoned pro, the ICW offers some of the most accessible and enjoyable light tackle action in the country.

The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is comprised of various bays, inlets, saltwater rivers and other manmade water canals that offer boat passage and protection from the open sea. There are three separate ICW regions: the Gulf of Mexico ICW stretches from south Texas to the panhandle of Florida, the Florida Gulf Coast ICW connects Tarpon Springs to Ft. Myers, and the Atlantic ICW reaches from the Florida Keys all the way to Virginia.

ICW waters are typically calmer, and readily accessible to smaller recreational fishing boats. They’re also home to prolific schools of baitfish, as well as larger sport fish that migrate, feed, and breed there. Indeed, the ICW is the ultimate “inshore” fishery in America.

Here are some ICW fishing hotspots worth checking out with light tackle.

  • Laguna Madre in Texas – A massive hyper-saline (and consistently shallow) lagoon, the Laguna Madre is a veritable factory for speckled sea trout, as well as redfish and tarpon.  If sight fishing is your deal, this is a place where you can run a skiff, wade or kayak for miles, and cast at fish all day.
  • Carrabelle, Florida – Fishing guides from throughout the region gravitate toward the waters around Carrabelle in the summer, because big tarpon migrate there. In the fall, the sea trout action is hot.
  • Fort Myers, Florida – Try fishing for snook in the evening from a flats skiff in the boat canals. Fly fishing is a particularly rewarding approach; use a purple “Puglisi Peanut Butter” fly with an 8-weight rod.
  • Miami Beach, Florida – Believe it or not, anglers have been known to hook 100-pound plus tarpon by casting plugs (and flies) in and around Governor’s Cut, right where the cruise ships pass by. It’s also fun to catch pompano in this area. But be sure to pay attention to other boat traffic when fishing here.
  • St. John’s River, Florida – Northeast Florida has a wide array of canals, rivers and channels that are loaded with some of the best populations of sea trout, jacks and redfish in the country. This is a kayak fisherman’s paradise.
  • Hatteras, North Carolina – Fishing on the inside of the Outer Banks offers some of the best opportunities to chase redfish in shallow water. Try slowly retrieving a golden spoon with a light- or medium-action spinning rod.

The number of species from striped bass to snapper, black drum to sheepshead (and everything else mentioned above) comprises only a fraction of a list longer than any angler can tackle in a lifetime. And the approaches and techniques you can use are only limited to your imagination. So what are you waiting for? Give it a try.

Come on along!

Welcome to Chesapeaketidings… a place to find stories about our adventures sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and other wanderings.   You will also find news and views about conservation issues, and my occasional musings about current events, natural resource policy matters and other miscellaneous issues of interest.