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Maryland Without Crabs?

2008 July 31

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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In my nightly Web surfing, I came across an article on the “Top 25 Things Vanishing From America.” As expected, the loss of some “old technologies” like the VCR, dial-up internet access, phone landlines, analog TV, made the list. However, what struck me enough to write about it in today’s blog was the mention of the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs and honey bees.
Maryland has been my home for nearly 28 years. The blue crab, is practically a state icon. I must note that my family and I enjoy eating crabs in many ways. In this era of going “local” in our culinary habits, you would think that living in the Free State, eating crabs is the right thing to do. Yet this Internet article has made me reflect and question—should we keep crabs off the menu for a while?

Overfishing, water pollution and excessive nutrients are threatening the blue crab and aquatic wildlife that live in and around the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States. This important watershed spans six states—Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. EPA and its state partners work closely together to accelerate progress towards a healthy Bay. Through the Chesapeake Bay Program, EPA is trying to make a difference in restoring the blue crab habitat by working to improve water quality and submerged aquatic vegetation. In the meantime, the role of setting harvest regulations for the blue crab lies primarily on the states along the Bay.

Whether you’re concerned about the Chesapeake Bay or your local watershed, there are simple steps you can take in your home, school, community or the workplace to protect these precious aquatic resources. For example, conserve water! Don’t pour used motor oil down the drain! Used oil from a single oil change can ruin a million gallons of fresh water—A year’s supply for 50 people. Use greenscaping techniques in your garden. Bottom line—learn and get involved.

¿Maryland sin cangrejos?

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

En mis viajes por Internet, encontré un artículo sobre las “Principales 25 cosas que están desapareciendo de América”. Como era de esperarse, la pérdida de algunas “viejas tecnologías” como los VCR, las líneas telefónicas terrestres, la TV análoga figuraban en la lista. Sin embargo, lo que me chocó y motivó a escribir el blog de hoy fue la mención de los cangrejos azules de la Bahía de Chesapeake y las abejas de miel.

Maryland ha sido mi hogar durante casi 28 años. El cangrejo azul es casi un ícono estatal. Debo destacar que a mi familia a mí nos encanta comer cangrejos de diversas formas. En esta era de abogar por los hábitos culinarios locales, uno pensaría que viviendo en Maryland, el comer cangrejos sería aconsejable. Sin embargo, con este artículo del Internet, me he puesto a pensar–¿acaso debemos eliminar los cangrejos del menú por algún tiempo?

La pesca en exceso, la contaminación del agua, y los nutrientes excesivos están amenazando el cangrejo azul y la vida silvestre acuática en y alrededor de la Bahía Chesapeake, el estuario más grande en Estados Unidos. Esta importante cuenca fluvial abarca seis estados—Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pensilvania, Virginia Occidental, Nueva York y la capital federal, Washington, DC. EPA y sus socios estatales trabajan estrechamente para acelerar el progreso hacia una bahía saludable. Mediante el Programa de la Bahía de Chesapeake, EPA está tratando de hacer una diferencia en la restauración del hábitat del cangrejo azul al trabajar para mejorar la calidad del agua y la vegetación acuática sumergida. Entretanto, el rol de establecer las regulaciones para la cosecha del cangrejo azul recae primordialmente sobre los estados vecinos a la bahía.

Independientemente de su interés en la Bahía del Chesapeake o su cuenca fluvial local, hay pasos sencillos que puede tomar en su hogar, colegio, comunidad o lugar de trabajo para proteger estos preciados recursos acuáticos. Por ejemplo, ¡conserve agua—cada gota cuenta! ¡No eche el aceite de motor usado por la alcantarilla! El aceite usado de un simple cambio de aceite puede contaminar un millón de galones de agua fresca—el suministro de 50 personas para un año. Utilice técnicas de jardinería verde en su jardín. A fin de cuentas—aprenda y participe activamente en la protección ambiental.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. Linda permalink
    August 1, 2008

    If I may, I’d like to add a tip or two:

    Use pesticides sparingly, if at all. Many pesticides persist in the environment long after application and can make their way into waterways through run-off. Often there are less toxic or even non-toxic controls available that work as well and cause far less harm to the environment. For example, I managed to erradicate a nest of yellowjackets by allowing my rainbarrels to trickle water into their nest entry for a day or so. In fairness, my husband tried a pesticide spray first; it didn’t work. The water did.

    Try to include native plants in your landscapes. Native trees, shrubs, grasses, and yes, even weeds provide pollen to support native bee species, which in turn ensure that all plants in the area are pollinated so they can produce flowers and fruit. Some of prettiest plants in my landscape are volunteers seeded by visiting birds; the beautyberry that grows by my mail box, for instance, is lovely. Tiny clusters of white springtime blooms give way to clusters of bright purple berries that linger through the summer and fall, feeding cardinals and mocking birds. The plant is incredibly drought tolerant and thrives on benevolent neglect. I never fertilize or water it; I just prune it occasionally to keep it in bounds. Now, that’s my kind of gardening!

  2. Lina-EPA permalink*
    August 1, 2008

    Yes, very good tips. Greenscaping is great and when low maintenance by going native makes it even better.
    Thanks for your comments.

  3. Joan permalink
    August 1, 2008

    Lina, I enjoyed the list “25 Vanishing Things in America”. Being on the West Coast, I was surprised not to see Pacific Salmon on the list, but the Maryland Crab probably represents a similar story. I think a lot of people assume these iconic animals (and plants) will always be around because they were so plentiful in the past. If one doesn’t stay current with the news, it’s easy to overlook these gradual–and sometimes irreversible–changes to our environmental heritage.

  4. Lina EPA permalink*
    August 8, 2008

    Yes, surprised about the salmon as well. I think the article focused on technological changes, but what is most worrisome are the irreversible ones. Wonder if we are missing more things that are happening before our eyes.

  5. Cheri permalink
    August 11, 2008

    Lina, I am studying environmental science on my own from a 2006 college textbook. One thing I am very curious about is why the pH level of the waterways is not being monitored anywhere that I could find. Yes, we need to stop putting toxins in our waterways, but also we need to consider the balance of nature and what changes occur when water reaches certain levels of acidity or alkalinity. This would be working on the problems from both ‘ends’. To me it is the same as reducing unhealthy foods in our diets and at the same time, nourishing our immune systems. The pH is part of the waterways’ immune system.

  6. Lina EPA permalink
    August 14, 2008

    Very good points, and how easy is it to upset the balance! Keep up your enviro studies!

  7. Erol permalink
    June 21, 2011

    I see your point and its totally right… thanks for sharing this post

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