The Chesapeake Bay is an important cultural location for the six states it covers, especially Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The whole Chesapeake Bay system is strongly interconnected and provides a great economic benefit to the region. When looking at the Bay, one may only think of the fishing industry, but the watershed provides for the tourism industry, real estate industry, shipping industry, boating industry, forestry industry, and more. All these industries combined allow for the Chesapeake Bay to be valued at approximately 1 trillion dollars!
The fisheries and seafood industry massively contribute to the economy of the Bay. Approximately 500 million pounds of seafood is harvested each year from the Chesapeake Bay. That’s a lot of fish!! The commercial seafood industry in Maryland and Virginia contribute $3.39 billion in sales and $890 million in income. Additionally, the industry provides approximately 34,000 jobs to the local economy. Stripped bass or the Rockfish is the most popular commercial and recreational fish to catch in the bay. Expenditures relating to this, namely travel, lodging, and fishing equipment, can reach up to $500 million!
There are other important marine animals that contribute to the economy of the bay. The Chesapeake Bay is one of the few places left in the world where there is an industry based on harvesting oysters. That being said, the oyster population has fallen to less of 1% of historic levels. Needless to say, rebuilding the oyster population would greatly stimulate the economy of the bay. Blue crabs are an important cultural icon for the people of the bay and contributes greatly to the economy. The Chesapeake Bay supplies approximately a third of the nation’s yearly blue crab supply.
One of the greatest issues surrounding the Chesapeake Bay is pollution. Pollution from non-point sources. Pollution from point sources. All sorts of pollution. The pollution is impacting the quality of the water. Poor water quality diminishes productivity of ecosystems in the bay, which in turn affects the economy.