Letters To The Editor


August 22, 2005

Protect oysters to filter a bay in deep distress

It is astonishing and infuriating that Maryland natural resources managers, legislators and the governor would even consider opening more areas of the Chesapeake Bay to power dredging for oysters ("More motorized oystering proposed," Aug. 17).

From even a cursory glance at the oyster harvest graphic that ran with the article, it should be obvious that the bay oyster is in dire straits and needs all the protection possible, including restrictions on harvest, restoration of habitat, and solutions to disease.

Yet many politicians - including the governor, who has already once expanded power dredging - are beholden to certain short-sighted seafood industry representatives who are attempting to wring a last bit of profit from the oysters that are dying out as fast as the fishery itself.

It is equally astounding that anyone would seriously maintain that motorized dredging will help the oyster.

We have extensive knowledge today about how ecosystems such as the bay function. We also know much about the importance of the different parts of these systems. Oysters, for example, play a major role in filtering the bay's water.

These parts of the ecosystem must be protected if the system is to endure.

The proposal to expand power dredging flies in the face of what we know about the ecosystem and threatens to undercut the natural system that maintains us.

Dorsey Burger


Hastening the end of work on the water

It is an outrage that the Ehrlich administration wants to open more of the Chesapeake Bay to power-dredging for oysters while the species is in a harrowing decline ("More motorized oystering proposed," Aug 17).

I grew up on Lake Erie, where in the 1960s a feeder river caught fire and nutrient over-pollution caused huge algae blooms and fish kills.

Today, the lake stands as a reasonably good-news story, with cleaner water and a teeming fishery.

The success story stemmed from reductions in phosphates in detergents, cities that cleaned up their sewage treatment plants and fishing limits that helped species recover.

These were government-induced changes. The changes didn't represent rocket science then, and they aren't impossible now.

And this three-decades-old solution is light years ahead of a numbskull idea to rake every last oyster out of the bay - an approach that will make certain that this generation of watermen will also be our last.

Charles Beckman


Will oysters follow path of mammoths?

Wooly mammoth hunters were once a powerful lobbying group, a mainstay of the economy and the cornerstone of our traditional way of life. They are now long gone. Why? No mammoths.

I fear our beloved oystermen will suffer the same fate if the state increases oyster dredging ("More motorized oystering proposed," Aug. 17).

We should be doing just the opposite by putting a blanket moratorium on oystering.

It worked for the rockfish, and such a policy might well have saved the mammoth.

We look back and wonder at what went on in the head of the man who cut down the last tree on Easter Island.

Let's not give future historians the impression that we are equally short-sighted.

John Irvine


So the Ehrlich administration thinks it`s a good idea to help watermen scrape up the few remaining oysters by once again increasing motorized dredging. Brilliant.

Once they've scooped up the last of the oysters, and the watermen are looking for a new species to make extinct, they could all head out to the Midwest to hunt passenger pigeons.

Oh, wait a minute ...

J. Wistar Huey III

Ellicott City

Power dredging could aid the bay

For years the engineering and scientific experts of the Oyster Recovery program have ignored the generations of knowledge that has enabled watermen to eke out a living here on the Chesapeake Bay ("More motorized oystering proposed," Aug. 17).

The overly loud clamor of groups masquerading as conservation associations has again wrongly tarred watermen as greedy.

If the experts were to stop their shrill crisis management of issues and study them with the help of oystermen, they might see power dredging as something beneficial to everyone concerned about the health of the bay.

Marc Castelli


Faux meat benefits animals and arteries

I am delighted to see developments in an area my organization has invested in and followed for more than six years now ("Steak a la laboratory," Aug. 12).

If people lack the discipline to give up eating animals despite ample evidence that animals feel pain and fear during their lives, when they are transported to slaughter and at the slaughter, at least fewer animals will suffer if meat comes from a laboratory.

Meanwhile, no one has to wait. There are already countless soy foods that deliver a similar taste to chicken, burgers, bologna, and even lobster and shark fin.

Taste buds adjust just as they do after a switch to skim milk from whole milk.

Your arteries and the animals will benefit from faux meat now, and from cultured meat later if you fancy it.

Ingrid E. Newkirk

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