Media, politicians in frenzy over PfiesteriaI own and live...


October 18, 1997

Media, politicians in frenzy over Pfiesteria

I own and live on a farm adjacent to the Manokin River. Broiler chickens are one of the commodities grown on this farm. I am deeply concerned about maintaining the quality of life, not only where I live, but throughout Delmarva. The recent hysteria concerning Pfiesteria and its potential transient toxicity to fish unfortunately illustrates how decisions and policies are based on perception and not reality.

Television and the print media have sensationalized this issue to the point of threatening the viability of the local seafood industry and potentially the entire agricultural infrastructure on Delmarva. is uninformed and irresponsible journalism to show a poultry house with a caption that discharges from the chicken house are polluting the rivers and causing Pfiesteria.

First, poultry houses are contained structures and there is no direct run-off from these. Second, to date I am unaware of any valid scientific data that in any way connect dead fish to the poultry industry or agriculture. Data from the Lower Eastern Shore Tributary Team Annual Report 1995-96 show that nutrient loading of the lower Eastern Shore watersheds has decreased as compared to the 1985 baseline year.

Unfortunately, because of this one-sided, sensational coverage, the public now perceives Maryland seafood and physically being on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to be hazardous to their health. I recently received communication from a colleague in Bangkok, Thailand, that CNN international news had reported that chickens were killing fish in the Chesapeake Bay.

The actions and/or inaction by some of our politicians, especially Gov. Parris N. Glendening, have contributed to the feeding frenzy of the press. It appears that the governor and some of the politicians west of the Chesapeake Bay have once again decided that the Eastern Shore is expendable if it advances their re-election agendas.

Some members of the academic community, especially ''experts'' from more than 100 miles away, have discovered Pfiesteria to be a research funding bonanza. I wholeheartedly endorse the need for well-designed and executed research in this area. I sincerely hope that this does not include the creation of problems in order to generate funds to solve these problems.

We have created in this country a class of individuals affectionately referred to by the press as environmentalists. I believe that most citizens, including myself, are concerned about our environment and consider ourselves environmentalists. We all live together on this planet and want to see our quality of life maintained and, we hope, improved. Unfortunately many of the politically correct ''environmentalists'' are also extremists. If this vocal minority is allowed to control public perceptions, our freedoms, quality of life and economic existence will cease to be. I sincerely hope that the current hysteria concerning Pfiesteria will cease and that cooler heads from all parties involved will prevail.

Paul V. Twining Jr.

Princess Anne

As a long-time Maryland resident and a consumer of local seafood, I was pleased to see Gov. Parris Glendening step forward to support the state seafood industry. However, I was disappointed your Sept. 26 article ("Chains again to sell rockfish") failed to mention that John Griffin, secretary of Natural Resources, and Dorothy Leonard, director of fisheries, have been fighting Pfiesteria on our behalf for many months.

They also recently spearheaded a major oyster repletion effort, introducing more than 60 million healthy oysters into the bay as a part of a new long-term program.

While I agree that Pfiesteria is a serious problem that deserves to be addressed seriously, surely the public must also want to hear the good news about the bay.

More oysters create cleaner water, more bottom grass, more oxygen in the bay's water and a healthier habitat for all of its creatures, including those who populate its shores.

Kathleen M. Hammond


Whose vendetta in Judge Robert Hammerman case?

Was your front-page article (Oct. 8) on Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman's $77 traffic accident dispute retaliation for Judge Hammerman's public comments that The Sun has seriously declined in quality since being bought by Times Mirror in the 1980s? If so, The Sun just confirmed the judge's comments.

The $77 traffic accident dispute aside, Judge Hammerman has worked tirelessly for the past 50 years as the sponsor and adult counselor for the Lancers Boys Club. Each year, hundreds of Baltimore boys participate in the Lancers Boys Club and benefit immensely from their experience.

In addition to teaching the boys civic and social responsibility, and organizational skills, Judge Hammerman has lined up a wonderful array of speakers for the boys club -- Colin Powell, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Gov. William Donald Schaefer, two Supreme Court justices, Attorney General Janet Reno, U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, F. Lee Bailey, famous athletes and many, many other fine speakers.

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