Letter: Blue crab needs more protection
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science reports that the top half of the Chesapeake is depleted of oxygen and is virtually a dead zone. The lower half has the advantage of water from the ocean and gets its oxygen and other nutrients from the tide and ocean waters. Submerged Aquatic Vegetation or bottom grass removes pollutants by taking in carbon dioxide and nitrogen and giving off oxygen. This is an important part of ecosystem. For the Bay to continue to function as a living body, it must have the oxygen and sea grass to survive.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, after an intensive study, found that the thresholds of the blue crab of the bay used for years were too lax and should be tougher if crab stocks are to be restored.
The blue crab needs more and better protection! Crabbers want to once again be allowed to winter dredge for the blue crab. For three years, they have not been allowed to dredge. Dredging will once again remove the bottom growth.
If we want to save the bay for our children and grandchildren, in my opinion, dredging should never be allowed again. It is almost impossible to repair damage done by dredging the bottom. Silting of the muddy bottom soil kills whatever grass is left. Submerged Aquatic Vegetation provides a shelter for baby crabs and small fish.
The crabs that were dredged in the winter were 90 percent female crabs which would be ready to reproduce eggs in the summer.
Preventing dredging is a small price to pay for the life of our Bay.
Dr. John B. Lapetina Sr.
Former Vice Chairman of Fishing Management, VMRC