More grasses, crabs and oysters reported

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation recently reported the crab and oyster populations and the presence of underwater grasses have increased in the bay.

In year-in-review content for 2016, the foundation indicated underwater grasses expanded by 21% while the blue crab population jumped 35%. The bay’s native oyster population, a critical species that filters water, is rebounding; the foundation planted more than 46 million juvenile oysters on protected sanctuary reefs throughout the bay.

The foundation website also reports that, for the past two years, the bay’s main stem has not experienced pollution-related anoxia—water completely devoid of oxygen. That’s a first since scientists started tracking aquatic oxygen levels in the bay in 1985.

The organization called for more work to address polluted runoff from roads, cities and suburban development. It also called for funding throughout the bay watershed to help farmers protect water quality.

On November 29, Dr. Basil Gooden, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry, praised farmers who are enrolled in the state’s Resource Management Plan Program during his remarks at the Virginia Farm Bureau Foundation annual convention.

“Resource Management Plans are designed to advance water quality improvement and offer regulatory assurance to farmers,” Gooden said. “The RMP Program was backed by both conservation and farm groups. And as you know, the Farm Bureau was one of its strongest advocates.”

Virginia’s farmers “remain committed to protecting the Chesapeake Bay and all of our waterways,” said VFBF president Wayne F. Pryor. “Good stewardship and good citizenship go hand in hand and we are as pleased as anyone to learn of water quality progress in the bay.”