The Chesapeake Bay wetlands

Expensive Wildife Conservation Efforts Yield Mixed Results

June 04, 2008 10:26 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
Chesapeake Bay’s oysters have declined despite lavish spending to restore them, while humpback whales, sea lions, and other species have rebounded thanks to conservation efforts.

30-Second Summary

Costly government efforts to restore the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay have failed, according to The Washington Post, with potentially dire consequences for the Bay, oystermen and oyster-related business.

Government authorities so far have spent $58 million constructing artificial oyster reefs and stocking new populations, hoping to combat pollutants washing into the bay. But recent studies show continued declining numbers of both oysters and oystermen.

Many researchers say “the prognosis … is continued failure,” but scientists say they are seeking new strategies.

Meanwhile, conservation efforts for some other species have achieved considerably better results.

USA Today reports that humpback whales in the North Pacific were close to extinction, but have “made a dramatic comeback” over the past 40 years. From 2004 to 2006, the population rose to 18,000–20,000 in the North Pacific, compared to fewer than 1,500 in 1966.

Jeff Waters, of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary, told USA Today, “It’s not a complete success, but it’s definitely very encouraging in terms of the recovery of the species.”

Sea lion populations have also benefited from conservation policy. Their population has grown in the Pacific Northwest since they were included under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Even some oyster-restoration projects have met with success.

In Florida’s Mosquito Lagoon, The Nature Conservancy uses mesh mat as artificial habitat that “encourages new oysters to settle, increasing oyster growth and other wildlife that depend on the reefs.”

Headline Links: Chesapeake Bay conservation efforts fizzle

Background: The trouble with the Chesapeake

Related Topics: Other oyster efforts

Reference: Efforts to save the Bay


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