Bay editorial line questioned

March 20, 1996

THE BALTIMORE Sun's March 8 editorial, "Port treading water," did not convey the very serious economic and environmental implications of dumping two million cubic yards of dredge spoil a year in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

The editorial refers to the deeper waters as the bay's "dead area." Ask any waterman who relies on this area to make a living and you'll see such a statement couldn't be farther from the truth.

Roughly 50 percent of female blue crabs use waters deeper than 40 feet to migrate during the fall and winter to spawn at the mouth of the bay.

Also, ask any sport fisherman who has been fishing in the deep waters and brought home a beautiful rockfish for a family meal and you'll see, once again, that your statement is way off the mark.

The dumping of dredge material from the shipping channels into the deep trough of the Chesapeake Bay could hurt commercial fishing and roll back years of successful efforts to restore the bay. This dumping would re-release thousands of tons of nutrients and sediments directly impacting the health of the living resources of the bay.

Deep trough dumping has been opposed by a broad coalition of conservation organizations, watermen's associations and sport fishing groups.

Economically, Maryland cannot afford to dump its problems into the bay. Numerous Maryland industries are directly dependent on a healthy bay. The Maryland Department of Employment and Economic Development estimated the economic value of the Chesapeake Bay at $678 billion dollars.

The governor's decision to seek other alternatives to the deep trough makes both environmental and economic sense.

Thomas V. Grasso

Annapolis

The writer is the Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

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