In its 2020 “State of the Bay” report, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) gave the health of the Bay an aggregate grade of D+. The overall grade remains unchanged from the last report issued in 2018.
The biennial reports grade the Bay on 13 indicators in three categories: (1) pollution; (2) habitat; and (3) fisheries. The report indicates that while progress has been made in water quality, the Bay’s overall score suffered due to a decline in the striped bass population.
From the press release:
Of the water-quality indicators, nitrogen and phosphorus pollution improved. The level of dissolved oxygen in the water and water clarity, critical to aquatic life, improved as well. In fact, monitoring data indicated the 2020 dead zone, the area of oxygen-low water, was the second best in Maryland since the 1980s and among the best in Virginia. There was no change in the toxics score.
In the habitat category, the acreage of forested buffers declined slightly, while scores for resource lands and wetlands stayed the same. The score for underwater grasses declined as a result of increased rainfall. The damage from climate change will need to be addressed as part of a comprehensive solution to improving water quality.
In the fisheries category, scores for oysters and crabs improved, while shad and rockfish (striped bass) declined. The rockfish score declined by 17 points, the largest decline in any indicator in more than a decade.
Read the full report.