Chesapeake Bay receives its second D+ health grade in a row in recent report

Maryland

MARYLAND (WDVM) — The Chesapeake Bay Foundation released its biennial “State of the Bay” report on Tuesday. Despite conservation efforts, the report for 2020 revealed that the Chesapeake Bay is in slightly worse condition than it was in 2018.

The Bay’s health was given a D+, the same grade the Bay’s health received in 2018. But, the 2020 numerical score was a 32, which is one point below the score given on the last report card.

“The Chesapeake Bay system is still dangerously out of balance. But there’s hope for improvement as pollution levels decline and the dead zome retreats,” said Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Some of that hope comes in the form of regulations. Parameters have been, and continue to be, put in place to protect the Bay’s striped bass — also known as rockfish — population. The previous mismanagement of this population is largely what led to the poor grade.

“The adult female striped bass — which are obviously most important to producing new populations of striped bass in any given year — had dropped approximately 40% between 2013 and 2017,” said Chris Moore, senior regional ecosystem scientist. The striped bass score on the report card dropped by a staggering 17 points since 2018. According to the foundation, this is the steepest drop for any indicator in over a decade.

Members of the foundation are optimistic about what the incoming presidential administration will do for conservation efforts, but the foundation’s president urged locals to push harder for legislatures to meet the 2025 restoration goals.

“With five years remaining, the 18 million people who live in the watershed must demand enforcement. We must finish this job,” said Baker.

To receive an “A” on the State of the Bay report, the Chesapeake Bay’s health score would need to increase by almost 40 points to a score of 70.

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