Letter: Crab dredging must be stopped
The Chesapeake Bay is thousands of years old. It was named "Chesapeake" by the Indians, which means waters of many fish and shellfish. The Indians never harmed the bay in any respect. The pilgrims also did not harm the bay. At the time of John Smith, there were enough oysters in the bay to filter the whole bay in 24 hours. It was not until my generation that the bay was abused and no conservation of its resources practiced. Our stewardship was nonexistent.
I am an 87-year-old D-Day veteran of World War II and have watched the bay slowly die. Almost all of the filter feeders which clean the bay have been harvested and sold for money. There was no regard for conservation.
We have lost 99.6 percent of the oysters. The shadfish and the herring are wiped out. The menhaden are 80 percent down in number. They are filter feeders and clean the bay.
The crabs are making a slight comeback since dredging was stopped three years ago. VIMS reports that one half of the bay is oxygen depleted. The lower half gets oxygen from the ocean. We cannot allow winter dredging for crabs, as it ruins the grass beds which put oxygen in the bay. The grass also protects the baby crabs and fish, as well as preventing silting of the bottom soil.
In order to protect the bay for future generations, this practice of dredging should never be allowed again.
Dr. John B. Lapetina Sr.
Former vice chairman, Fisheries Management
Virginia Marine Resources Commission