Stalking #4: An Individual’s Moral Responsibility to the Environment- The Conowingo Dam

         Less than 50 years ago, underwater grasses used to grow up to 6ft long. They grew so long that buoys were not needed, as the boats traveling through the deepest parts would overtime create a highway. The grasses in the Chesapeake Bay are crucial to the health of the ecosystem.  Not only do underwater grasses serve as a food source and shelter for many fish and other species but they also serve another purpose.

         Many people state that if we can figure out how to get the bay grasses back it would restore all of the major issues. All of the main things we have done to restore the health of the bay have failed. It is apparent that no one person has taken responsibility for the deteriorating condition of the bay because there is not one sole source.

         When speaking about environmental ethics there is a clear division between the values that people place on things. These values are the results of culture and society and less often based on personal experiences. Humans value both but their degree of moral responsibility varies between what they consider to have intrinsic or instrumental worth.

         We continue to ignore the one point source that scientists say provides 50% of our pollution, the conowingo dam. When does the protection of our homes and businesses become more valuable than the habitat of hundreds of species? Over 100 feet of sediment stretches north of the dam for roughly 14 miles, a devastating storm is bound to wash thousands of tons of contaminated and concentrated sediment through the open flood gates. Many researchers state that they are not intending to pointing fingers at Exelon, but someone who has a storm water pond needs to be responsible for cleaning it out. Consequences were not considered in the design and function of the dam and the company and the health of the bay are risk.

        Conowingo dam is under a relicensing contract and if contract is renewed it will not be reevaluated for another 46 years. Officials are looking into the management and maintenance of the facility but very little of the media is covering this massive issue. People who work on and live on the water have been able to experience first hand the demise of the bay.

          I like to think of the Conowingo Dam as a symbol of our interference into the natural ecosystem, not only did human beings selfishly harm the natural cycle of the river but viewed the river in a different light. In 1928 the section of the river was forever changed. The successful fish migrations and life cycles would cease or be altered permanently. As human beings we viewed the river as a potential energy source and as an engine for economic profit. The hydroelectric power plant was constructed in the river, which people began to see as steps forward into a cleaner and more efficient future.

            In my opinion, while the Conowingo does now provide hundreds of people with power; it was not the way to approach the need for cleaner power. Human beings immorally put themselves and their need for electric power before the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Due to the detrimental actions of previous generations the current public is now obligated to make a reform to the plant. When making any kind of environmental change in our society today long term consequences must be considered. The Conowingo Dam offers a great view into how lack of planning and how looking only at short term can lead to detrimental problems like the 14 mile sediment blockage. The sediment itself is symbolic; as it has overtime suffocated the bay grasses its only savior.  The grasses that once helped slow the velocity of the water flow and forced the sediment particles to settle has been lost because of a short-term action.

          The current generation of human beings is just as responsible for the impacts of the dam as the generation who built it. As human beings, especially in society today, we have become accustomed to a certain way of life. The way of life that so many people have adapted to is one where high demand for electric power and energy makes it nearly impossible to not impact the environment. Due to the volatile nature of the shallow body of water, the Chesapeake Bay the people within the watershed must take more responsibility for our actions. When pressured by moral duty to preserve the natural environment people take responsibility for their actions. For years no one has taken real responsibility for the failing Conowingo Dam. The dam is a ticking time bomb and if it breaks, as some researchers have pointed as a possibility, there may not be a need for restorative action. With such a catastrophe there will undoubtedly be an extensive search and need for people to take moral responsibility for every one of their actions. 

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Deal Island and Restoration of Skipjack Kathryn

On Wednesday we arrived in Deal Island and headed right to work. We met up with Professor Wiest and Zach Hall ’13 who are working on the restoration project of the Skipjack Kathryn built in 1901. We started working on the boat doing a number of things, evening boards, painting, tarring, and drilling. I loved every second of working on the boat, how many people can say they helped restore a national historic landmark? After a few hours of working on the boat, Captain Stoney, Kathryn’s owner, took us on a tour of Deal Island. The first place that we stopped was at a Methodist church. We quickly learned that Joshua Thomas came to the island and converted to church from predominantly Presbyterian to Methodist. A waterman himself he came to Deal and brought Methodism to the community. Captain Stoney explained that Methodism set fire to the community and changed the way religion was integrated into the island culture.

Stoney said that the population of Deal is approximately 500 with half of them being permanent residents and the other half “come heres”. A lot has changed on the island like the number of working skip jacks on the island.

 In the 1950’s there were roughly 60-65 working skipjacks in the Chesapeake Bay. Today there are only 6 left, 5 of which are found in Deal Island. Walking through the cemetery at the Methodist Church I got a sense of how small the island really was. Two last names dominated the majority of the headstones, Webster and Wilson, it was then I realized that generations of families inhabited the same land. The island itself has not changed in size very much due to the entire thing being rip wrapped. We continued on our drive and passed the oldest house on the island and then traveled through the black community. Captain Stoney explained that “they lived to themselves and we lived to ourselves, but we all worked together on the boats and interacted on the workplace because we worked, ate and slept together”. Back on land the two communities separated, historically attending separate schools and churches but the segregation was not as clear on an island community where you must work together to be successful.


I really enjoyed Deal Island, walking into Lucky’s the general store we were welcomed with genuine smiles and great food. On our last day Mr. Mike Vlahovich gave us an assignment to identify and take a picture of what we consider to be a cultural marker of Deal Island. Our last night we had dinner at Lucky’s, we ate oysters on the half shell, oysters rockefeller, pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw. It was a great meal made better by the people we shared it with. We had a number of residents of deal island come and watch our presentation of our cultural markers and they were able to give us a better idea of what life is like on the island how it has changed over time. Just like I felt on Smith Island I felt welcomed and knew that the experience I had was something I would not have ever known without Chesapeake Semester. Visiting the Island communities and experiencing the inner workings of their cultures make me realize that there is something to be desired there. Growing up there is generational but the Deal Island community like many other islands is a small group of people, congregated together by work, education, experiences and religion. Sounds like a pretty perfect world to me.



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Poisoned Waters and a Look at Policy

Average depth of the bay is 21 ft, it is a huge drainage a basin especially for such a shallow body of water. The documentary focused on the issues created when humans place themselves into the balanced ecosystem equation. Issues of over harvesting and polluting are addressed in this short informative documentary. Dead zones are the most straightforward indicator that a body of water is in serious danger. Do we have to wait until the conditions are so severe to get the general population to recognize that the resource is in danger? Our society as a whole is a reactive society. By that I mean it is harder to convince people that something is an issue unless they can see it.

       If some disaster does occur, take the BP oil spill then our society and the media blow up the issue and it is then that people freely voice their uneducated opinions about what they think should happen. Of course it is easy for conservationist to point a finger at the drill workers and say they are in the wrong and should stop. Until this point though the general public was complaining about the high gas prices and our dependence on foreign imports.

     If I have learned anything from Chesapeake semester and especially in Journey 4 it is that the environmental issues that we face and our future children face are wrapped up into a complex system. As much as I would like there to be, there is no one quick fix solution. The intersection of environment and economy are so interlinked that it is impossible to reform one without affecting the other. I wish there was a way to isolate the two. If they were separated we could have a healthier Chesapeake bay as well as economic success.

     There are so many aspects linked to the environment that I am almost getting overwhelmed just thinking about them. There is the link to the economic success of an area, impacts on the preservation of certain cultures like the watermen culture, political stress and misuse of power when politicians use their office to make a change that will give them more support. I would go as far as saying that the environmental issue pose a threat to the freedom and rights of humans. Of course the desperate state of the Chesapeake bay is not threatening our first amendment rights but it does pose issues.

            The concept of having to choose your battles wisely I think applies to the environmental world more than some people credit. You have to consider so many aspects when changing environmental regulations there is no way to please all parties involved. By limiting and picking reasonable regulations I think the government of all 6 states have seen some improvement while fighting back opposition. I have pointed this out before but if someone were to ever ask me why I think the bay is in such a volatile state I know exactly how I would answer. I think that the whole of the bays issues all go back to a lack of connections. There are conservationists, environmental policy makers, politicians, researchers and workers that all want something different. They all view the bay in different ways but they all want the same thing. They want to get what they want.

            The conservationists want to preserve land from development, policy makers want their laws and regulations to be taken seriously, politicians want a focused campaign to gain support for reelection, researchers want their research to be validated and taken into consideration, and lastly the workers want to make money to feed their families. Going back to the core values and motivations of human beings I can further understand where and where roadblocks of policy and regulation originate. 

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Large Scale vs. Small Scale: Are the Cows Different?

Still groggy we climbed onto the bus knowing what awaited us at our next stop. Today was a comparative day to show us the different between large scale and smaller scale farming practices. We looked at livestock through two different farms. Our first stop was at the Jones Family Farm, what we saw was an incredibly modernized farming operation. Thanks to a big family Mr. Sean Jones can supply the technology and the hands behind the scenes of the milk and beef production. He moved down to Kent County to escape from the regulations placed on many farmers in New Jersey. They were not allowed by the state to expand their operation so they decided as a family to move to Maryland.

The whole farming production was regimented; each cow had a collar with an id sensor attached. This tag would keep track of milk production and indicators of overall health for each cow as they are milked 3 times a day. The farm operation is a 24/7 operation, mostly thanks to the advances in technology that make this type of production possible. 1,200 gallons a day leave the farm and is sold as fluid milk through a milk co-op program. Sean Jones the overseer and owner of Jones Family Farm told us that just this morning they implanted 25 embryos into the some of the animals. They use sorted semen as a means of selective breeding to try to prevent the birth of bull calves, which have no value to milk producers and are sold instead as beef cattle. Jones Family Farm is trying to improve the quality of the herd with genetics. 


Throughout our tour Mr. Jones conveyed to us that all of the technology he uses has a specific purpose and that he has tried to stay ahead of environmental regulations. He has 4 lagoons to hold the manure wastewater investments to the environment of $239,000 each. A sand recycling system that removes sand from the manure bedding mixture and a custom made phosphorous removal system. Not only does his success as a farming operation lie in his ability to adapt to new regulations but also to ensure that the cows are happy. His motivations behind the well being of the animals are not just from a humane perspective but also based on the economic benefits. The happier a cow the greater and more consistent milk supply available.Image

Regulations and management varies from county to county and state to state. These regulations are put into place to try to reduce the impacts that we as invasive human beings have on the natural landscape and in this case the Chesapeake Bay. How successful can we really say we are when every state has different levels and goals they want to limit. There are times dedicated to when they can spread the fertilizer and times denoted to how long it can be stored. The issue with this is that all of these laws and regulations vary so one “good apple” suffers at the expense of a “bad apple’s” actions.

The next farm that we visited we knew would be on a much smaller scale. At St. Brigid’s Dairy farm I was surprised at the change in scale. Judy Gifford and Robert Fry established the farm in 1996 and have grown to a farm with nearly 200 grass-fed jersey cows. They pride themselves on their rich buttery milk and their grass feed beef. After visiting the farm I understand why despite the increased costs they continue to work on a small scale relative to most cow production farms. Most of the jersey cows on the farm have names. Judy Gifford can tell you who the mother and grandmother of a young cow are and she genuinely cares about the well being of each cow. While it is hard to be a small farmer she takes pride in what she does. Honestly it was quite impressive and inspiring to see a woman doing in a male dominated work environment.Image

After a delicious meal of salad, bread and chili we went out to see the cows. We started in one of the grass fields where we talked about the importance of soil nutrient management. Mrs. Gifford put it well when she explained that the soil is like your GPA, once you get one bad grade it is hard to get it back to the right conditions. The manure does provide a great way to fertilize the soil naturally while the cows are in the pasture. There was an abundance of clover in this particular field, which is a nitrogen fixing plant so it can manage the nitrogen in the soil. Other species that help with soil management are borer beetles and earth worms which take the nutrient rich soil deeper into the soil so that there can be a more productive yield. On a farm like this where grass is so heavily relied on nutrient management is incredibly important to secure food supply for the grazers.

Visiting these two farms made me realize that there is a wide variety of farmers on the eastern shore. Their practices are different but yet very much the same. The regulations placed on them hinder their production and allocation of money for resources like waste management systems. Everyone wants a cleaner bay but playing the blame game is getting us nowhere. If people start to realize that everyone has an impact on the degradation of the bay we would all be doing our part. Of course some industries need a little push to get there and help with management but if given the tools and the financial incentive environmentally minded practices would become the norm for our society.Image




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Poultry Industry vs. The Bay

Sitting down at the dinner table after long day at work one of the last things you think about is, is where your food came from. Well it came from the supermarket right? Where did the supermarket get it from? Rarely do we think about the manual labor it took to grow our food. If a disease suddenly struck every farmer in the world where would our society be? I can tell you where and that would be a state of shear panic. Rarely do we consider that if it were not for these farmers we might not be able to feed ourselves. So isn’t it ironic that we blame the farmers for destroying the bay’s ecosystem yet we would be starving without them? For the past few months all we have heard is how farming and agriculture are the greatest polluters of the Chesapeake Bay. Rarely did I stop to think about how important the industry really is to our society.

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Allen and Ollen Davis, 58 year old identical twin brothers, are 6th generation farmers on the eastern shore of Maryland. The men have been farmers all of their lives but only began their poultry growing industry 17 years ago. Knowing what little I did about chicken farming I was excited to learn and experience firsthand. It did not take me long to learn that a lot than I would have thought that goes into maintaining a good level of health for all of the chickens. From day one at the farm they are put into a chicken house that is completely regulated by a system, which manages temperature, ammonia levels and humidity among other things. The control unit that Allen showed us was extremely complex. The technology has revolutionized the poultry growing industry as more stable conditions in the house lead to increased yield at the end of the period. The poultry industry is vertically integrated, meaning that the big companies like Perdue contract with poultry growers. The companies drop off the young chicks and are responsible for the amount fed, overall health and veterinary costs. The types of feed is also regulated by the contractors, it was interesting to learn that the companies own the chickens throughout their lifetime no matter how long they may live. The poultry growers like the Davis brothers simply provide the chicken house and maintenance of the flock during their development.

There are a number of things you have to know when you run a poultry growing operation like this, some things they have learned they say has been a result of trial and error.  For example they use kiln-dried shavings now as the basis of the bedding, because when they used saw dust it would degrade quickly and hold in bacteria, which could lead to spread of disease. They also have learned how to manage the bedding floor. They used to have to clean out the houses every 2 years but now they can go as long as 5-6 years, and for easier and better management clean and clear out waste along the way in smaller amounts. The Davis family farm also grows corn and soybean for poultry feed, they do not source their products to their own supplier because each contractor and company handles feed differently. It is an odd thing to think about but they might have to outsource from other farms to feed the birds on the farm despite having grains right there. The Davis’s grains are actually sold per bushel to Perdue for profit, which eventually is used for poultry feed somewhere else. This goes to show how regulated and complex the system of poultry production is.

Politics play a huge role in the industry, because while the contractors own the chickens throughout their lifespan, they do not legally own their waste products. The waste, poultry litter is actually owned by the grower, and must be managed by them in order to maintain their license. Poultry litter is considered by many as the top contributor to increased nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the bay. The contractors have claimed that the farmers want the waste to spread on their fields as fertilizer and that is partially true. The Davis farm averages 6 flocks a year, with 5 weeks of growing time for the broiler chickens just imagine the quantity of manure produced per flock. The farmers who use the litter as fertilizer agree that it is great but they are often left with excess and face a lot of regulations when forced to dispose of it. There are fines in place for people who chose to ignore or otherwise disregard of the regulations implemented by the EPA.


Our conversation with the Davis brothers was wide ended and brought up a number of controversial topics including genetically modified foods. So why did they decide to have us to their poultry farm? Why would someone in a controversial and heavily blamed industry open their doors to students studying the effects of poultry farming on the pollution in the bay? Ollen Davis said, “We are tired of someone else telling our story”. Allen picking up from his brother explains that they are “doing more than they are required, but I [he] doesn’t think they mind, the paper work is a burden and they have to agree with what the regulations are. We [they] can be audited and the state can send in anyone at anytime and we [they] have to be able to show them all records.” He continues to explain how volatile the system is, if they do not think you are doing something right you can face serious consequences.

The thread of politics that feeds into the existing confusion is a major factor in the lack of consistency in regulations. EPA has noted that agriculture in more ways than one has exceeded the goals for nutrient reduction. People often view antibiotic fed chickens as a bad thing, from the way the public makes it out to be it would be a chicken being constantly fed antibiotics to prevent any illness. Think about how costly that would be though? The Davis brothers explained that they are just used in the first two weeks of development and then rarely throughout the remaining growth period. Antibiotics in the early weeks make sense, and are crucial for survival; it is just like giving newborn babies antibiotics when they are most vulnerable to infections.

There are so many controversies and questions that surround the poultry industry and being able to experience an average size scale growing operation was a great opportunity. Opening up their doors to students like us was something notable and that speaks to the character of the Davis Family. They pride themselves in their work and the importance that it has on the food supply of the United States. It is important to thank them for their work and yet at the same time recognize the impacts that the industries have on the bay. One can only hope that one day we wont have to choose between a successful economy and a healthy environment.

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Stalking Paper: Drawing Lines Across Continents

There are few places that remain as unaltered and traditional as they were 200, even 100 years ago. Today worldwide everything is changing, old earth crust is coming up through the mantle forming new rock. Technology is changing making things faster and more efficient. Our global society has changed drastically over the past 50 years. In general our society is reliant on technology, to help us work, learn and communicate. The changes in society are not just seen on a local level but can be seen worldwide. Individuals who want to evade technology often try to resort back to how people used to work, live, and communicate. On an individual basis though it is nearly impossible. One is quickly deemed irresponsible, inefficient and as a poor communicator by today’s high standards. It is challenging today to go back to the way things were even if some people wanted to. You have to change with society otherwise you won’t ‘survive’. On an individual level resorting back to life with less of a technological aspect is difficult. However in this semester we have visited two places, both of which I was able to get an understanding of the desire to go back to the way things used to be.

Smith Island, surrounded by the Virginia waters Chesapeake Bay is composed of three island communities. The communities Ewell, Rhodes Point and Tylerton have not changed much over the last 100 years. The islands were originally purposed as grazing land for livestock in the late 1600’s (1). The people of Smith Island have an accent that is unique, the traditional dialect is a direct reflection of the influence the English Settlers continue to have. Just as the language has not changed neither have other traditions on the Island. The community is just as isolated as it was during its founding as Smith Island in 1679 (1). The relationships despite the dwindling population remain true and genuine as you can imagine in a population of approximately 270 long-term residents. Coming in as an outsider of this close-knit community seems like an invasion of an untouched traditional society.

On the island physical barriers do not only isolate the people but there is no bridge from the mainland of technological advancements. Many residents use traditional means of work and communication. In the water surrounding the island oystering and crabbing was and continues to be generational work. Just as the population continues to decline so is the desire to carry on the tradition. The number of children and teenagers left living on the island is low, and for them the thought of living out their lives on the island has begun to slip away. The island culture is beginning to die; there is something enchanting about the island. Maybe it is the transportation back in time, the slow pace of life, the heavy accents, the watermen culture or the famous cakes but something about this place feels like home. Not a home its visitors nor I have ever known but a home that we can experience briefly until we return to our busy lives in modern society.

On Smith Island the Methodist Church has an incredible influence on the cultures and beliefs. Sea level rise is a prevalent issue that threatens the future of the island. Boats serve as the major bridge between the island communities and the mainland. Resources and people are carried by boat to school, for food, and serve as a means of income for the traditional watermen that still work the water today. Sea level rise threatens all of this though, without the island people would be displaced and the culture that makes it so distinctive would surely drown. The belief system mostly influenced by the church gives hope to the residents of the island communities. Some residents have more of an understanding than others but they are all aware that it is happening. There is no denying the things that they are seeing. The coastline is eroding and every year water seems to be moving in faster. Sea level rise, a real phenomenon is threatening the sustainability and livelihood of Smith Island. The intersection of science and belief is especially relevant on the island as they are experiencing on a much smaller scale what the modern coastal communities are bound to face in the coming years.

I doubted that I would ever visit and be welcomed into a community as traditional as Smith Island. Only 3,400 miles away unbeknownst to me at the time there was a community very different yet very much the same as Smith Island. Not separated by a natural barrier like Smith Island, Parque de las Papas, otherwise known, as Potato Park is located in the Andes Mountains of Cusco, Peru. Potato Park is similarly a subdivided yet unified group; it is comprised of 5 qeswa communities. The communities Sacaca, Chawaytire, Pampallaqta, Paru Paru and Amaru are home to approximately 6,000 native people (2). The people speak a native Andean language known as Quechua, and like the unique dialect of Smith Island it cannot be found anywhere else. The communities of Potato Park are isolated; building homes and lives on a mountain 14,000 feet above sea level presents a number of challenges. They are considered an isolated community but in a different sense. Being located high in the Andes makes obtaining resources challenging and rock face separates them from the thriving modernized community below. The communities are here for a reason though, just as soft-shelled crabbing is a major potential source of income so is the resource grown in the mountainous environment. The potato as the name Parque de las Papas implies is the major harvested crop of the qeswa communities.

       The mountain people like those of Smith Island are resourceful and use what limited things they have available to them. Animals are used for power and the term manual labor has one of the truest meanings in the villages. There are over 3,600 varieties of potatoes grown here, hand grown and harvested by the indigenous people. Over hundreds of years a culture has formed around the potato and it not exclusively seen as a monetary value. The intrinsic value of the potato in Parque de las Papas is something that can only be understood by the people that visit the park. In our modern society the harvesting of potatoes is practice of efficiency for profit. The traditionally clothed Andean people can be seen scattered among the landscape, there is little to no time for leisure as something can always be done. Just like the welcoming nature of Smith Island, a woman who sprinkles flower petals over your head sometimes greets the guests of Potato Park. In our society today if someone were to carry on this tradition its importance would be lost. The flower petals that sat on my head, as we were welcomed were a reminder to me that I am an outsider. I come from a modern fast paced society and these people somehow made me feel at home.

Both communities are sustained off of their past and they have managed to build up their lives using traditional practices of crabbing and harvesting. Their isolation has forced them to survive without the heavy influences of technology. If given the chance to utilize more efficient technology it is hard to believe, but they probably would not use it. Why fix something that is not broken? Their traditional practices work and allow them to have a closer relationship to the water and land that they extract from. The people of Potato Park have no doubt in their mind that global warming is happening. Despite being faced with the reality of the threat it will have they remain on the mountain continuing to develop and promote their environmentally sustainable agriculture (2).

The seemingly natural occurrences like climate change and sea level rise are greatly influenced by human’s unhealthy and unsustainable relationship with the environment. Our influence on the environment is likely to lead to the loss of Smith Island and Parque de las Papas as functional communities. The livelihoods and traditions but also the dialect of Smith Island and the Quechua language of the Mountains will generationally disappear. It is clear that these successful communities though miles apart are much more similar than they are different. Their isolation forces them to be resourceful and conscious of their waste management, preserves native dialect, and traditional practices like crabbing and hand weaving clothes. In a few hundred years there may not be a Smith Island and Potato Park to visit; and generations will be denied an opportunity to experience first hand and understand the importance of these preserved cultures. A culture lost and two unspoiled examples of how our modern society never fails to eliminate anyone or place who cannot or chooses not to keep up with the times.




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Unlimited Access and its Impacts on Keystone Species: Chesapeake Bay vs. Peru

No matter where you are in the world, no matter the ecosystem or climate keystone species, as the name implies, are very important. In the Chesapeake Bay the oyster has been thought of as a type of keystone species especially in our past. Years ago the oyster populations were high, higher than many other species in the bay. An oyster can filter up to 60 gallons of water per day, helping maintain a healthy aquatic habitat for a number of species. Early settlers came to the area surrounding the bay to find oysters that were so large they had to be cut in half to eat. Oysters as large as 14 inches were surprisingly quite common. So how did we go from having large plentiful oyster populations to our current desperate state today?…. Access.

In the late 18th century oysters were a heavily consumed food item. The colonists relative distance to the water provided a steady food source especially during the winter months. Oyster harvests hit a record high among the people who had the means to access the resource. With an introduction of more efficient technologies access to oysters that were deeper in the water column and more difficult to get to became common practices.

In Peru, anchoveta are also considered a keystone species in a number of ways. Anchoveta, a fish that grows to approximately 4 inches is found in massive numbers in the Pacific Ocean along the coast of Peru. Anchoveta forms the base of the food chain for the majority of carnivorous species in the ocean. Their importance is unparalleled by any other species in the area. Without the high availability of anchoveta the ecosystem would crash due to a loss of primary trophic food level.

For years the anchoveta fishery has been driven by a need for fish meal. The plentiful and inexpensive fish makes it an ideal candidate for this type of production. With Peru’s location on the water the ease of access to the fish is one of the reasons it is such a huge economic input into this undeveloped country.

Anchoveta Boats like these are seen tied down during the afternoon, as fishermen typically go out in the early morning.

Anchoveta Boats like these are seen tied down during the afternoon, as fishermen typically go out in the early morning.

Today the Chesapeake Bay and Peru face two very different issues surrounding the oyster and anchoveta fisheries. In bay the oyster population is less than 1% of what it once was during its historical market period. In Peru the anchovy are used for fish meal for other fish, poultry and livestock feed. During the consumption only 10% of the energy of the fish is transferred to the next trophic level ie. the consumer. Organizations like CSA believe that if the anchovy was transformed in the eyes of the Peruvian culture that the fishery would be more sustainable. Opening a market that is geared to direct human consumption rather than secondary consumption could create a higher potential profit.

The oyster and anchoveta populations are more alike than not. People viewed oysters as an infinite resource and because of this they were quickly forced to take action to limit access on its harvesting. Today we are feeling the effects of the lack of regulation and enforcement of the resource in the oysters past. The anchoveta is historically viewed as a poor mans food, and because of this 90% of its energy is lost during its procession into fish meal. Today Peru is missing out on a potential increase in net profit that could come from conversion to direct human consumption.

The same fishing boats seen here have been passed down through generations.

The same fishing boats seen here have been passed down through generations.

Access is regulated by a number of aspects. The availability of a resource, the ease of access, management and enforcement are things that determine where, what and how much of something we can obtain. Federal regulations and management practices were implemented to restrict our access to oysters and fish that were of a certain size or caught in specific areas. Restrictions on technology like dredges, and on days and times to harvest are among things seen in the history of the oyster access regulations. State and federal regulations are void if they are not enforced. Laws can be passed and implemented and yet still if there is no enforcement or penalty to breaking these regulations then there is no sense in even having laws. Access to the resources needs to be regulated in order to protect it from depletion by our greed driven desire to get the most that we can.

Without protection of the oysters and anchoveta the extent to which their depletion will have is unclear, additionally we must consider how detrimental their unlimited access could be to their individual ecosystems. Both species play a crucial role in their ecological habitats as I have highlighted. Unlimited access to these resources would surely have negative impacts that could reach unthinkable levels.

Unlimited access to Chesapeake Bay oysters would undoubtedly drive the native population extinct. Watermen would take the unregulated practices to their fullest extent and it would only be a short time before there was nothing left for the taking. The loss of this species would surely degrade the condition of the health of water. With fewer oysters to help filter the water nutrients and toxins would build up in the water and eventually lead to the decline in other dependent species.

Unlimited access to the peruvian anchoveta would not be far from where it is today. There are regulations in place but lack of enforcement of these restrictions voids them from having much validity, if any at all. Without the cultural change in the way that the fish is viewed, the market for the fish meal will continue to remain as a stable income for many fishermen.

One concern that I have when comparing the two ecosystems is how unlimited access and other factors can contribute to the depletion of a species. The oyster was once thought of as infinite, there was so many it was absurd to think that they would over time begin to reduce as drastically as they did. Other factors that we as humans cannot always account for are things like disease. Dermo and MSX, the two most common diseases affecting the Bay Oyster could not have been predicted by anyone. I fear that the anchoveta fishery, although arguably sustainable now, could face a similar fate that the oyster has. With a crash in the anchoveta population the Peruvian fishermen would have no other option to turn to. Limits on access to resources like oysters and anchovy have different consequences depending on their extent and goals. In order to prevent an ecological catastrophe like the one we are experiencing in the bay, I think that the Peruvian government should consider its regulations on access to anchoveta fishery, especially because of the widespread impacts that can be felt by the success or loss of such an important species.

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