SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES - Habitat loss, poor water quality and harvest pressure continue to threaten the sustainability of the Chesapeake Bay’s recreational and commercial fisheries. Sustaining fish and shellfish populations supports a maritime culture, a strong economy and a healthy ecosystem. The GOAL: Protect, restore and enhance finfish, shellfish and other living resources, their habitats and ecological relationships to sustain all fisheries and provide for a balanced ecosystem in the watershed and Chesapeake Bay. Some SPECIFIC AREAS OF FOCUS: Blue Crab Abundance, Blue Crab Management, Fish Habitat, Forage Fish, Oysters.
VITAL HABITATS - Our increasing need for land and resources has fragmented and degraded habitats across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, challenging the health of many species. Conserving healthy habitats and restoring the connectivity and function of degraded habitats is essential to the long-term resiliency and sustainability of the ecosystem and the region’s quality of life. The GOAL: Restore, enhance and protect a network of land and water habitats to support fish and wildlife and to afford other public benefits, including water quality, recreational uses and scenic value across the watershed. Some SPECIFIC AREAS OF FOCUS: Black Duck, Brook Trout, Fish Passage, Forest Buffers, Stream Health, Submerged Aquatic Vegetation, Tree Canopy, Wetlands.
WATER QUALITY - Many parts of the Chesapeake Bay contain excess nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment, and are listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act. The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), or “pollution diet,” uses Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) to reduce nutrients and sediment in each of the watershed states and the District of Columbia. Reducing pollution is critical to restoring the watershed because clean water is the foundation for healthy fisheries, habitats and communities across the region. The GOAL: Reduce pollutants such as excess nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment to achieve the water quality necessary to support aquatic living resources and protect human health. Some SPECIFIC AREAS OF FOCUS: Development and Execution of the Bay TMDL Watershed Implementation Plans, Water Quality Standards Attainment and Monitoring.
TOXIC CONTAMINANTS - Toxic contaminants harm fish and wildlife in the Chesapeake Bay and pose risks to human health that limit the amount of fish people can consume. Reducing the impacts of toxic contaminants is critical to improving the health of fish and wildlife, thereby improving their recreational value for the public. The GOAL: Ensure the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers are free of the effects of toxic contaminants on living resources and human health. Some SPECIFIC AREAS OF FOCUS: Toxic Contaminant Research, Toxic Contaminants Policy and Prevention.
HEALTHY WATERSHEDS - Many small, healthy watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay region are at risk of degradation as demand for local lands and resources increases. Promoting the long-term conservation and protection of healthy watersheds through stakeholder engagement, collaboration and education is critical to maintaining the health of the larger ecosystem. The GOAL: Sustain state-identified healthy waters and watersheds, recognized for their high quality and/or high ecological value. SPECIFIC AREA OF FOCUS: Healthy Watersheds.
LAND CONSERVATION - The landscapes around the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are ecologically, culturally, historically and recreationally valuable to the people and communities of the region. Stimulating, renewing and expanding commitments to conserve priority lands for use and enjoyment are integral parts of furthering the watershed’s identity and spirit. The GOAL: Conserve landscapes treasured by citizens in order to maintain water quality and habitat; sustain working forests, farms and maritime communities; and conserve lands of cultural, indigenous and community value. Some SPECIFIC AREAS OF FOCUS: Land Use Methods and Metrics Development, Land Use Options Evaluation, Protected Lands.
PUBLIC ACCESS - Physical access to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries is very limited, with real consequences for quality of life, local economies and long-term conservation. Increasing public access to local waterways for fishing, swimming, boating and other activities fosters a shared sense of responsibility and increased stewardship that supports watershed restoration goals. The GOAL: Expand public access to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries through existing and new local, state and federal parks, refuges, reserves, trails and partner sites. SPECIFIC AREA OF FOCUS: Public Access Site Development
ENVIRONMENTAL LITERACY - The future well-being of the Chesapeake Bay watershed will soon rest in the hands of its youngest citizens—more than three million students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Establishing strong, targeted environmental education programs now provides a vital foundation for these future watershed stewards. The GOAL: Enable students in the region to graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to act responsibly to protect and restore their local watersheds. Some SPECIFIC AREAS OF FOCUS: Environmental Literacy Planning, Students, Sustainable Schools.
STEWARDSHIP - The long-term success of the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort will depend on local leadership; local action will depend on strong citizen stewardship. Building a larger, broader and more diverse community of stewards for watershed restoration is needed to achieve the goals and outcomes outlined in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, as it is stewards who bring the action element that will move our work forward. There are more than 600 conservation and watershed organizations in our region that are educating and empowering citizens to restore and protect local rivers and streams. There are tens of thousands of local volunteers who donate their time and talent to our shared goals. The GOAL: Increase the number and diversity of local citizen stewards and local governments that actively support and carry out the conservation and restoration activities that achieve healthy local streams, rivers and a vibrant Chesapeake Bay. Some SPECIFIC AREAS OF FOCUS: Citizen Stewardship, Diversity, Local Leadership.
CLIMATE RESILIENCY - Changing climatic and sea level conditions may alter the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and human activities, requiring adjustment to policies, programs and projects to successfully achieve our restoration and protection goals. This challenge requires careful monitoring and assessment of these impacts and application of this knowledge to policies, programs and projects. The GOAL: Increase the resiliency of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including its living resources, habitats, public infrastructure and communities, to withstand the adverse impacts from changing environmental and climate conditions. Some SPECIFIC AREAS OF FOCUS: Climate Adaptation, Climate Monitoring and Assessment.