There is no denying that the Chesapeake Bay at its current state has issues. Compare today’s Chesapeake Bay with the bay from 150 years ago and this becomes extraordinarily apparent. It has become a dump zone for all sorts of uninvited nutrients, sediments and waste from sources ranging in the alphabet from agriculture to sewage pipes.
The question of what we should do about the Chesapeake Bay is an ethical one. We can certainly find out what will happen to the bay and the various markets that depend on it through science equations and projections as well as economic principles. However, whether we should or should not individually or as a society make an effort to clean up the bay comes down to ethics. It is ethical because every reasonable solution comes with opposition from another source. If we do nothing about the problems of the bay, it would anger naturalists and everyone involved with the bay clean-up process. If we impose sanctions on fishermen and farmers around the Chesapeake Bay watershed in order to decrease runoff and increase aquatic organisms, it would aggravate farmers and watermen but satisfy scientists looking to clean up the bay. There is not one solution that would make everyone involved one hundred percent content, which is why the solution must come down to ethics.
For me, we will find the best solutions to this overwhelming problem through respect. We must not only have a respect for the Chesapeake Bay and the surrounding environment of the Chesapeake watershed, but also every single person who lives and works within the watershed from New York to southern Virginia. That means that not only do we need to have an understanding of the science and what will happen to the bay if current trends continue, but we also must have a respect for each other. The only way we can bring people with such conflicting views as the scientist who wants to save the crab population and the waterman who needs to make a living from catching crabs together is having respect for each other.
We recently had the opportunity to converse with Captain Russel Dize while trot lining in the Choptank River. He said when crab size regulations recently changed, he kept the crabs that used to be allowed but no longer were in a separate bushel for a day. He ended up throwing back almost two bushels of crabs and a lot of potential profit and I cannot imagine how disheartening that must have been. This kind of frustration creates animosity that simply cannot exist if we hope to create an environment of compromise. The question of what to do about the bay and the reasoning behind these decisions are not always obvious, which is why we need everyone involved on the same page to make the best decision possible. The way we can do that is through respect for everyone and everything involved, because getting this wrong could have disastrous consequences for everyone.