Mid-Atlantic
via National Park Service

MD - Annual Bay Barometer Shows Mixed Recovery of Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem

The Chesapeake Bay Program releases annual assessment of Bay health

Annapolis, MD – Each year, the Chesapeake Bay Program takes the pulse on the health of the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort through its annual Bay Barometer: Health and Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed 2019 – 2020. This year’s report continues to show an ecosystem in recovery from short-term weather impacts and long-term water quality degradation occurring from excess nutrients and sediment.

The resiliency of the Chesapeake Bay watershed is revealed through the 31 outcomes of environmental health, restoration and stewardship found in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. Of these 31 outcomes, 19 have indicators whose data and information are drawn from a range of trusted sources, including government agencies, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and direct demographic and behavior surveys. The 2019-2020 Bay Barometer contains updates for 12 outcomes:

Improvement from previous assessment period:

  • Blue Crab Management: An estimated 17% of female blue crabs were harvested in 2019. For the 12th consecutive year, this number is below the 25.5% target and 34% overfishing threshold. The blue crab stock in the Bay is not being depleted or overfished.
  • Diversity: In 2019, the most recent diversity survey indicated a slight increase (13.7% to 14.6%) in the percentage of Chesapeake Bay Program partners who self-identified as people of color. The survey results also showed an increase in the percentage of people of color in Chesapeake Bay Program leadership positions from 9.1% to 10.3%.
  • Environmental Literacy Planning: In 2019, 27% of the local education agencies that responded to a Chesapeake Bay Program survey self-identified as “well-prepared” to deliver high-quality environmental literacy programming to their students. Of the remaining respondents, 52% identified as somewhat prepared and 22% identified as not prepared. This marks an increase in environmental literacy preparedness since the pilot Environmental Literacy Indicator Tool (eLit) survey was distributed in 2015.
  • Oysters: Ten tributaries have been selected for large-scale oyster restoration and are in various stages of progress. As of 2019, Maryland has completed 788, and Virginia 539 acres of oyster reefs.
  • Protected Lands: Data collected between 2016 and 2018 show that nearly 1.36 million acres of land in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have been permanently protected since 2010. This marks an achievement of 68% of the outcome and brings the total amount of land protected in the watershed to 9.16 million acres.
  • Public Access: Between 2010 and 2019, 194 boat ramps, fishing piers and other public access sites were opened on and around the Chesapeake Bay. This marks a 65% achievement of the goal to add 300 new access sites to the watershed by 2025.

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