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Regulate Phosphorus to Save Rockfish

As a former resident of Maryland, I am writing to express my concerns about pollution devastating the Chesapeake Bay. Nitrogen and phosphorus, common in fertilizers, fuel excessive algae growth that leads to hypoxia, which is bad news for fish in the Bay.
    Striped bass are the most recognizable species suffering. Hypoxia forces the fish to remain in shallower, warmer waters, which can be extremely stressful and decreases their resistance to disease. This problem is evident when looking at many of the fish that contract an ugly skin disease. This past summer I was fishing in the Bay with my family, and my younger brother caught one of these diseased stripers. On its underbelly was a small red patch similar to a scab you would see on a person. Despite the fact that this was a mild case of the disease, it was still very shocking to see firsthand.
    Agricultural runoff is the largest contributor to eutrophication in the Bay. That is why I propose that Maryland enact legislation and regulations to hold farmers accountable for their agricultural production practices. The policy would include a permit program that would restrict the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus farmers release into the environment, as well as offer incentives and subsidies to those who meet the program’s standards. Farmers could meet these standards through a variety of methods. This would lead to a significant decrease of polluted runoff.
    Implementing this plan could be costly for the state and farmers alike. However, it will benefit the state of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay in the long run. Ignoring this issue will result in the steady loss of many species. Once species like the striped bass are exhausted, an even larger cost will be imposed on the state. I urge you and your readers to support this issue and continue to vocalize the need for a solution.

–Andrew Matson, State College, Pennsylvania