How long can Asian crab supply meet the demand?Thanks to...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 01, 1999

How long can Asian crab supply meet the demand?

Thanks to The Sun for the excellent article on the growing threat imports pose to the Maryland crab industry ("Crabbers pinched by rising imports," June 27).

The article raises a crucial question that American importers of foreign crab meat seem not to have considered: In the face of such intense demand, how long will it be before the Asian blue swimming crab population crashes? No natural resource can withstand such pressure indefinitely.

It is only a matter of time before Phillips Food Inc. encounters shortages as a result of the overexploitation of the Asian crab. No wonder it is already seeking to expand to India and Malaysia.

The article also raises concerns about the well-being of Phillips Food's overseas employees and their communities.

Just as overfishing the Atlantic blue crab endangered the Chesapeake watermen, it is possible that depleting the Portunus crab fisheries will cause havoc for Asian fishers by damaging habitat, disrupting ecological dynamics and exhausting local food supplies.

Unless American crab importers take measures to prevent foreign overfishing, the discovery of the Asian blue swimming crab may well represent the last gold rush of the 20th century.

Christine Keiner

Owings Mills

After reading Michael Dresser's article about imported crab meat, I had to write about life's other disappointments.

First it was finding out that my "imported" beer was really brewed in Pittsburgh, then that my smoked ham had up to 15 percent water added. Then I learned that my ice cream had guar gum and locust bean added to make it taste more rich and creamy.

Now I find that the crab meat in my Phillips crab cake comes from Indonesia, Thailand or the Philippines, but is still assembled in Maryland.

The article noted Phillips Food's "Mission Statement." There is only one tried and true consumer mission statement, "Let the buyer beware."

R. A. Bacigalupa

Baltimore

To save the Chesapeake, limit people, agribusiness

Who are the "we" Tom Simpson repeatedly referred to in his Perspective article "Smart ways to save the bay" (June 20)?

Referring to human growth potential on the Eastern Shore, Mr. Simpson wrote: "We do not wish to, nor are we going to, stop growing in the foreseeable future."

"We" found it annoying the way he took such liberty with that pronoun.

One smart way to save what's left of the bay would be to prevent human growth from metastasizing through such a finicky ecosystem. But Mr. Simpson's article didn't mention that.

Mr. Simpson's brief mention of agribusiness on the shore also seemed odd.

Agribusiness remains the single biggest contributor to bay pollution -- not lawn mowers, lawn fertilizers, pet droppings or any of the other secondary issues Mr. Simpson spent so many chatty paragraphs discussing.

D. P. Birch

Baltimore

Provide tax incentives for those who don't breed

I certainly agree with Barry Brown's letter, "Unemployment, tax credits shouldn't go to parents" (June 25).

In fact, I'd take Mr. Brown's suggestion further. Parents should not only pay the same taxes as everyone else; they should contribute more for education.

Why should those who do not have children pay to educate the kids of those who do? Propagation is a choice. Those who choose to raise families should incur all their costs, including education.

If anything, there should be financial awards/incentives given to those who elect not to raise families.

Ron Praydis

Cockeysville

Huge, wasteful homes detract from landscape

The Sun's glowing account of conspicuous consumption in northern Baltimore County, "Secret haven of the rich," (June 23) left a bitter taste in my mouth.

One would have to live in a cave, or a 10,000-square-foot starter castle with an indoor waterfall, not to know that the utilities alone needed to run such houses waste resources and contribute to pollution as they erode the heritage of our state's land.

And, aside from their environmental impact, these monstrous houses appear sorely out of place next to dignified old farms. One sports figure's house, for example, resembles a convention center in Ocean City more than a home.

The article suggests that these new luxury houses are just too wonderful, but some of us find their ostentatious wastefulness and lack of fit with their rural setting offensive.

Carol Ann Varley

Baltimore

`Fallslake' development would add to congestion

The Sun's articles "City neighborhood balks at new homes" (June 3) and "Residents criticize `Fallslake' proposal" (June 9) concerning the proposed "Fallslake" development overlooked the traffic concerns on West Lake Avenue and the impact of additional vehicles from the proposed site on the area.

But drivers who use that road are already aware of the congestion and back-ups. The Lake Falls community on the north and homeowners on the south have already been affected by the stream of cars and trucks -- their noise, dirt, pollution and hazard.

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