The effort to better track movement of dolphins through the bay and its tributaries began last June, and since then, over 900 sightings have been reported.
“We were only expecting maybe 25 to 30 [dolphin sightings] a year,” said Helen Bailey, a research professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “We had over 900 reported last year, and we were able to verify nearly 450 of those.”
To report a dolphin sighting, go to the Dolphin Watch website.
Scientists say dolphins used to visit the bay more frequently. Published reports of sightings date back into the 1800s. But as pollution degraded the Chesapeake’s water quality through the 20th century, they became more rare.
Researchers are exploring whether more dolphins are swimming up the bay, possibly invited by clearer waters, abundant submerged grasses and rebounding fisheries. Through a website they set up to collect sighting reports — and a smartphone app that will launch soon — the researchers are learning that the beloved creatures venture miles upstream in rivers such as the York and Potomac, and as far north as Annapolis and the Bay Bridge.
“It’s very likely they’re following fish into the bay. Hopefully, that’s a good sign,” Bailey said. “It doesn’t look like it’s just amusement from the coast into the bay.”
Living and working between two waters, ways to limit run-off is always a top priority. AI-powered weed hunters could soon reduce the need for herbicides and genetically modified crops.
NOAA Fisheries has released the 2017 Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries managed under the science-based framework established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).
At the end of 2017, the overfishing list included 30 stocks and the overfished list included 35 stocks. Overfishing remains near all-time lows and we reached a new milestone with the number of overfished stocks at the lowest level ever—just 15 percent of assessed stocks. The number of stocks rebuilt since 2000 increased to 44. NOAA Fisheries tracks 474 stocks or stock complexes in 46 fishery management plans. Each year, assessments of various fish stocks and stock complexes are conducted to determine their status. These assessments include stocks of both known status and previously unknown status. Based on assessments conducted by the end of 2017, six stocks were removed from the overfishing list and six were added. The additions are the result of stock assessments or data showing catch was too high, including international harvest on certain stocks that the United States has limited ability to control. Six stocks were removed from the overfished list and three were added based on stock assessments that indicated population sizes were too low. As required by the MSA management framework, the councils are developing management measures to end overfishing and rebuild all stocks added to the overfishing and overfished lists.
Specific changes to the status of stocks in 2017 include:
Benefits of Sustainable Fisheries Management
Sustainable fisheries management is an adaptive process that relies on sound science, innovative management approaches, effective enforcement, meaningful partnerships, and robust public participation. Sustainable fisheries play an important role in the nation’s economy by providing opportunities for commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishing, marine aquaculture, and sustainable seafood for the nation. Combined, U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $208 billion in sales and supported 1.6 million jobs in 2015. By ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks, we are strengthening the value of U.S. fisheries to the economy, our communities, and marine ecosystems.
Global average temperatures have risen about 1.1 degrees Celsius since preindustrial times. At current rates, they could exceed 1.5 degrees by 2030. And global greenhouse gas emissions, after a brief lull from 2014 to 2016, are rising again.
Even if countries can live up to their pledges in the Paris climate agreement, we’ll hit the year 2100 somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 degrees. New LSE research reveals all countries signed up to the Paris Agreement now have at least one national law or policy on climate change, but in most cases it is very little.
While as of 2015, renewable energy provided 19.3 percent of final global energy consumption. Excluding traditional biomass (burning wood for heat and cooking), it was 10.2 percent. Without hydro, that was 6.6 percent. Wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass electricity together accounted for 1.6 percent.
Clearly, demand is still outstripping production.
A report from several international agencies, including International Energy Agency (IEA), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) shows that possibility of cutting global greenhouse gas emissions in the years and decades ahead is bleak.
Despite big gains in renewables deployment and cost reductions, and the expansion of carbon pricing, curbing CO2 is not happening nearly fast enough to prevent highly dangerous levels of warming. Emissions risen slightly last year after a 3-year plateau.
Another analysis in the journal Nature finds that “the world is on track for more than 3 °C of warming by the end of the century…Renewable energy is indeed undergoing a revolution, as prices for things such as solar panels, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries continue to plummet. And yet it is also true that the world remains dependent on fossil fuels — so much so that even small economic shifts can quickly overwhelm the gains made with clean energy.”
Got sucked in a hole
Now there’s a hole in the sky
And the ground’s not cold
And if the ground’s not cold
Everything is gonna burn
We’ll all take turns, I’ll get mine too
This monkey’s gone to Heaven” –Pixies, This Monkey Gone to Heaven
The research helps establish how coastal processes influence atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and, in turn, climate.
Cycling of carbon in the open ocean and on land has been the focus of much research, but lead author Raymond Najjar says intervening coastal waters have “fallen through the cracks.” Najjar is a professor of oceanography in Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.
“Coastal waters have a whole set of issues that are difficult to grapple with, such as the tides affecting certain areas twice a day, and this has made it difficult to incorporate this area into quantitative models,” Najjar says. “We recognized there was a gap there and thought we should develop a carbon budget so we could see what we know and don’t know.”
Planning for the research project began during a workshop at VIMS in 2012. Since then, the study’s 30 authors have gathered data from dozens of published studies to quantify how much carbon enters, exits, and is transformed within the study area’s coastal waters. They report in Global Biogeochemical Cycles that about 20 percent of the carbon entering coastal waters from rivers and the atmosphere is buried, while 80 percent flows out to the open ocean.
“Efforts like this help fill gaps in knowledge and inspire further research to help refine carbon budgets for the region,” Canuel says.
Indeed, Friedrichs and St. Laurent have already began follow-on work to resolve one of the biggest uncertainties in the recent study— the magnitude of carbon flow between large estuaries like Chesapeake Bay and the waters of the continental shelf, and how this may have changed over the past century.
Canuel and her students likewise continue efforts to develop high-resolution measurements of carbon transferred across the marsh-estuary interface.
“Despite advances in many aspects of the carbon cycle,” she says, “how tidal wetlands and estuaries modify exchanges among land, ocean, and atmosphere remains one of the biggest unknowns.”
The researchers also recognize that their recent budget exercise is not static.
“We know that many of the processes we’ve quantified are already undergoing change,” Friedrichs says. “With growing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, increasing global temperatures, and rising seas, what will this budget look like in 2100? Or even in 2050?” [Read more…]
Eastern Shore Residents Held Rally On International World Water Day; Group Delivers 1000 Petitions to Tyson Plant
Eastern Shore residents and the local chapter of Mighty Earth’s “Clean It Up, Tyson!” campaign will held a rally on World Water Day calling on Tyson Foods to adopt better agricultural practices that address widespread water pollution caused by its supply chain. Residents are concerned about the impacts of Tyson’s plans to expand their operations in this region, which may have serious economic, environmental, and public health impacts.
The rally took place on International World Water Day, an annual event which raises global awareness around the importance of clean drinking water and sustainable water management. The meat industry is the leading source of water pollution in the U.S. Citizen speakers at the World Water Day Rally discussed the public health problems related to the industrial meat industry’s water pollution and will call on Tyson to deliver on sustainability promises by protecting and preserving water on the Shore.
Following the rally, citizens delivered 1000 petitions calling on Tyson foods to address water pollution to the Temperanceville Processing Plant.
A letter to Tyson signed by over 100 chefs urging the company to adopt sustainable agricultural practices was also delivered.
Using a strategy is based on the 1990s lawsuits against tobacco companies, New York City and several California municipalities are suing big oil companies, alleging they concealed what they knew about climate change, and are liable for damage caused by rising global temperatures.
In a recent interview with BP CEO Bob Dudley said, “People don’t need to smoke cigarettes, but they have needed energy for many decades,” Dudley told me earlier this month. “If you’re asking me can the legal system do something like that, I don’t know. But do I think it’s right? Absolutely not.”
A CEO publicly commenting on pending legal matters is rare, and it shows these lawsuits are rattling the industry.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his lawsuit the day after this interview, while the California cities and counties filed theirs last year.
“The tobacco lawsuits were crucial to changing the public understanding about tobacco,” de Blasio said at a news conference earlier this month. “So these actions today we see as crucial to changing the assumptions. We no longer assume that the fossil fuel companies are innocent.”
Unlike with cigarettes, charges of hypocrisy prevelent because everyone — including de Blasio — uses fossil fuels.
“If the lawsuits are going to matter, it’s in changing the status quo,” said Michael Livermore, a professor at the University of Virginia law school. “The problem has always been that the status quo is acceptable for the major emitters.”
This opinion was written by Carl Safina and first appeared last week in The Hill. It is republished here with permission by Mr. Safina and The Hill.
This week marks the end of the public’s chance to comment on President Trump’s draft five-year plan for offshore development, a plan that would re-open America’s Arctic Ocean to future leasing and oil drilling.
The new plan would replace the current version released at the conclusion of the Obama administration, one that took years to complete, cost millions in federal tax dollars and generated millions of public comments — the overwhelming majority of which favored keeping development out of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.
Trump’s plan, however, is a gift to the oil industry, a dismissal of the American public, and a retreat from addressing the challenge of climate change. His plan would see a near entirety of U.S. coastlines opened for leasing, including the Arctic Ocean where in 2015 and 2016 President Obama protected 125 million acres as ecologically sensitive marine environments. This plan would be a disaster for America’s Arctic. The risks of Arctic drilling are far too great — to the people, to the wildlife and to the future of our country.
I have traveled throughout the Arctic, from Alaska to Canada, Greenland and Svalbard. I have seen firsthand the effects that climate change is having on wildlife and communities. Here in the U.S., our Arctic waters are crucial to the Alaska Native villages along the coast that depend on them for subsistence hunting. Meanwhile, Alaska is feeling the impacts of climate change more than any other area of our country. Permafrost is melting, sea levels are rising, and communities are seeing their coastlines erode and water creep ever closer to their homes.
Since 2009, walrus unable to find ice have been increasingly hauling out on land, to the detriment of their young. Walrus need time to rest between feedings, and usually haul out onto offshore ice, with the melting ice walrus now come to land. Haul-outs of 20,000 to 40,000 animals have occurred because there was no ice in the Chukchi Sea. Haul outs in large numbers make them susceptible to disease and starvation. Easily frightened on land, walrus stampedes are deadly for calves caught in the panic.
America’s polar bear population is also becoming more reliant on the Alaska coastline as sea ice disappears, as both a refuge and for maternal denning. The U.S. Geological Survey recently released a report of the wildlife at Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from 2002 to 2017, which found that Beaufort Sea polar bears are becoming more common on shore in summer and fall due to climate change and increasing decline in sea ice. According to the report: “Increased frequency of bears on land, coupled with expanding human activities, is expected to lead to greater human-polar bear interaction and conflict.”
These changes are happening because climate change caused by burning oil and coal has destroyed their homes. Now is not the time to add the possibility of a major spill. That time has passed.
I have traveled to Prince William Sound, Alaska, and have seen the decades-long effect that the Exxon Valdez oil spill has had on people’s lives there.
After Deepwater Horizon exploded, BP’s well oozed oil for 87 panicked-filled days resulting in oiled beaches, oiled wildlife and shattered human lives. However, lessons learned are soon forgotten while the chase for oil money never wanes.
As a result, the Trump administration is pushing drilling for more oil in harder, riskier places. The Arctic Ocean environment is harsh and unforgiving — it is cold, dark and icy for most of the year. There is no infrastructure in place to help when the inevitable spill occurs — the nearest Coast Guard station is 1,000 miles away.
Despite having an astounding array of nearby infrastructure in the Gulf, we watched BP oil gush for months while clean-up crews flailed helplessly with ineffective ad-hoc efforts at plugging the hole.
Drilling in the Arctic Ocean is risky and reckless. This plan is risky and reckless. We need to make the transition to a clean energy economy and we must do it while keeping areas like the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans closed to leasing and development. We are the guardians of this pristine place and the wildlife that live there. We are the guardians of our climate and our children’s future. We have the power to make the right choice, but we need to do it now.
Carl Safina is the author of “A Sea of Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout.” He is also a MacArthur Fellow and holds the endowed chairman for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University. He is founder of the not-for-profit Safina Center.
A bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate, S.2421, would exempt concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), including the poultry industry, from reporting the hazardous substances emitted from their facilities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). CAFOs generate massive quantities of animal waste which can release substantial amounts of hazardous emissions like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide into the air.
In 2017, as a result of a lawsuit brought by the Waterkeeper Alliance and partners, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an EPA rule that allowed CAFOs to avoid reporting their releases of hazardous substances under CERCLA. The decision means that CAFOs would finally have to begin reporting their significant toxic emissions – like every other industry. This bill threatens to eliminate the progress made in holding CAFOs accountable for their impacts on our communities and environment.
Shorekeeper Executive Director, Jay Ford, released the following statement on S.2421,
“We are calling on Virginia’s Senators to oppose this legislation that endangers the health of rural communities and our waters. The releases coming from these CAFOs are massive and we have a right to track the hazardous material pouring into our communities. Senate Bill 2421 tells rural America that we will not entitled to the same safeguards as the rest of our country.
According to tables provided by the EPA, one large poultry farm can produce more than two thousand pounds of ammonia per day. In Accomack county alone, we are on course to exceed 500 houses with ammonia totals that outstrip many other industrial facilities.
Additionally, airshed models for the Chesapeake Bay Clean-up plan, show animal agriculture emissions as the only sector of airborne nitrogen that is continuing to grow. These releases are offsetting progress made in other air pollution sectors and hindering our ability to reach 2025 Chesapeake Bay Clean up goals.
Concerns about community heath impacts from CAFOs have been raised by the CDC and Johns Hopkins University. Furthermore, Maryland is currently considering legislation to study the impacts of these emissions on the well-being of surrounding communities. With so many unsettled questions surrounding potential health impacts this legislation is simply irresponsible.
Industry has expended considerable resources fighting in the courts and now in the U.S. Senate to prevent rural citizens from learning about their toxic releases. Rather than exempting CAFOs from reporting, we should be asking why they are so concerned with hiding the amount of hazardous materials they generate. Shorekeeper is calling on our leaders in Washington to protect our communities and our waters first. This is a matter of environmental justice, plain and simple. This exemption would never fly in more urban areas and rural Virginia deserves the same protections under the law. “