CBF Gives Chesapeake Bay Health Highest Grade Ever in 2016 Report Card

In its 2016 “State of the Bay” report, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) gave the health of the Bay an aggregate grade of C-. This grade is the highest given by CBF since the release of its first report in 1998. The biennial reports grade the Bay on 13 indicators in three categories: (1) pollution; (2) habitat; and (3) fisheries. From the CBF 2016 State of the Bay webpage:

Each of the three indicator categories—pollution, habitat, and fisheries—has improved. The iconic blue crab score leapt the most dramatically. The bottom line is our report provides hope and promise for the future.

We believe the Bay is reaching a tipping point. As this report shows, the evidence is there. We are seeing the clearest water in decades, regrowth of acres of lush underwater grass beds, and the comeback of the Chesapeake’s native oysters, which were nearly eradicated by disease, pollution, and overfishing.

The progress reflected in our report shows that the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, established in 2010, is working. Its strategy of states writing their own plans for restoration with federal support is working. As positive as our report is, it is also important to note that the Bay is not saved yet and that progress is not consistent throughout the region. In particular, Pennsylvania lags far behind its pollution-reduction goals.

Indeed, there continue to be opportunities for improvement.

If we are to see this progress continue, the states on track must stay the course, and those off track jurisdictions must accelerate their work.

Further information from a Baltimore Sun article (2017-01-04):

“The bay is getting better in spite of continued pressures … including population growth, residential and commercial development, intensive agriculture and others,” said William C. Baker, the foundation’s president. “The bay is nowhere near saved. We’ve got a long way left to go.” …

The report “shows signs of hope that our work to date is paying off,” said Alison Prost, the foundation’s Maryland executive director. …

Foundation officials said that if the EPA under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump does not make enforcement of the bay cleanup plan a priority, it will be even more difficult to make progress. While there is political will in Maryland and Virginia to protect the bay, those states have no jurisdiction to encourage efforts elsewhere.

Prost said Maryland must also do more to meet bay cleanup goals.

“The state is not keeping pace with its commitments to reduce polluted runoff from our towns, to protect and replant trees, and to ensure the oyster population recovers,” she said. “If we are to have a healthy and restored bay, rivers, and streams, we must persist.”

Useful Links

2016 State of the Bay Full Report

CBF Website