MARYLAND BRIEFING

MARYLAND BRIEFING

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ENVIRONMENT

Patuxent's Quality Gets Low Marks

Water quality in the Patuxent River received poor marks in an assessment released yesterday by the Patuxent Riverkeeper and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences.

Data collected by state and federal agencies regarding dissolved oxygen, aquatic grasses and other factors were used to determine the overall health of the river, a method similar to determining the health of the Chesapeake Bay for its annual report card. The river was given a D-minus. The bay got a C-minus in 2007.

The Patuxent Riverkeeper, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, is recruiting volunteers to conduct water quality tests for next year's report card and for a daily log on www.pwqi.net.

The Patuxent is a Chesapeake tributary and drains some 900 square miles. It is the longest waterway located entirely in the state, running from Howard and Montgomery counties south to Calvert and Charles.

-- Christy Goodman

Regulators Propose Crab Limits

Maryland is putting forth bushel limits, but no size limit, as it seeks to reduce this year's harvest of female crabs by a third.

State fishery regulators suggested the bushel limits yesterday but said they have abandoned plans to forbid watermen from keeping females larger than 6 1/2 inches. The size limit was strongly disliked by watermen, who complained it would force them to stop work and cull through their crab pots to pick out the largest females.

Instead of a flat bushel quota, the proposed regulations call for limits in September and October according to how many bushels per day a crabber caught from 2004 to 2007. The most prolific crabbers would be limited to taking 50 bushels of females a day in October; the least prolific would be restricted to a single bushel.

Maryland also plans to end the female harvest Oct. 22 and put females off limits completely for recreational crabbers.


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