Family Traditions That Come Back To Bite Us

BY ON October 27, 2011

Pile of live crabs

I grew up in the Tidewater Area of Virginia. Our family loves to go to the beach, and we absolutely love seafood. We can not have a family function without fried fish and blue crabs. We don’t purchase frozen fish fillets from the supermarket. We either catch them ourselves, or we purchase them from a local seafood market that’s right near a pier.

I fondly recollect my father and uncles going on fishing excursions before most of our family functions. And I have lasting childhood memories of going crabbing with my father. Yes, crabbing. I remember taking traps and chicken pieces (I think they were rotten) out to a pier to catch crabs. It’s fun, and an incredible bonding experience for the family. My two oldest kids now look forward to the crabbing and fishing trips with my father. The best part about it is the delicious crabs that we are able to bring home, cook and eat. Yummmmm.

However, joining the Moms Clean Air Force has made me more conscious of the environment and the effects that certain industries can have on the air that we breathe and the food that we eat. Could our family traditions be harming us? Are there any dangerous air polluting plants near our favorite fishing spots in Virginia?

The answer is, Yes. According to this Map of polluting coal plants, there are several coal-fired power plants in the VA, MD, and DC area. There is one just minutes away from my parent’s home. As reported by the American Observer: “Coal-fired power plants are major causes of the nitrogen build-up that suffocates underwater life in the Chesapeake Bay.”

Since the 1990’s, pollution has caused a dramatic decline in the blue crab population of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s been such a problem that Congress declared a Blue Crab disaster in 2008. Since then, Congress and organizations such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation have stepped in to replenish the declining population by implementing programs to clean up the dirty coal plants and reduce the amount of crabbing that is done by commercial crabbers. Of course, crab fishers are not happy about the limits on crabbing, as this affects their livelihood.

President Obama declared the Chesapeake Bay a national treasure in 2009 because of what the area has to offer: parks, museums, seafood, military installations…the list goes on. But if you grew up in the Tidewater area, or anywhere near the Chesapeake Bay, you didn’t need this declaration. You already knew you were extremely blessed to be living in an area rich in environmental treasures.

What do people with treasures do? They protect them.

Here are 6 things you can do to protect the environmental treasures near you:

  1. Please check out this Map to find out if there is a polluting coal plant near you and your loved ones.
  2. Warn your family and friends if they are living close to a dangerous plants.
  3. Get involved with efforts to ensure that your local representatives are supporting legislation that supports the EPA and the Clean Air Act.
  4. Hold your representatives accountable if they are working with lobbyists and corporations that are trying to dismantle the EPA.
  5. Donate to local and national organizations working to protect the environment.
  6. Join the Moms Clean Air Force, which is an easy way to get involved. MCAF will provide you with the resources and the tools to learn what’s happening in your area. They will also help you to connect with your member of Congress and let them know that you support the Clean Air Act.

I joined the Clean Air Force because my kids have a right to clean air. My kids have a right to enjoy all of the beauty that comes with living near the Chesapeake Bay. I want them to continue to enjoy trips to the beach, crabbing with their granddad, and all the delicious seafood they can catch.

Do you have any similar family traditions that may be harming you? Do you live close to a polluting coal plant?


Photo Credit: CC Image courtesy of warrantedarrest on Flickr

TOPICS: Activism, African-American Community, Coal, Dads, Mercury Poisoning, Pollution

  • Great post! We’re working on killing a proposal for the largest coal plant in Virginia in Hampton Roads. This plant would be a death blow for the Bay. Gotta save the crabs!! (And all of us, of course.)

  • Hi Betsy, I grew up in Hampton Roads. I am not there now but my family and friends are still there so that area will always be home for me. So how can I get involved. Is there a petition?

  • Hi Ronnie! You can sign a petition here:

    We also have a FB page called Stop the Coal Plant in Surry, Virginia:!/groups/38570883349/. I post lots of updates and info there.

    Working (slowly) on a blog post for Moms Clean Air talking about the whole thing.


  • Anthony

    My wife and I lived in Northern Va. and the Eastern Shore. We moved to the Florida Keys in 1987. We always talk about our lives in Va. I can remember I was at my office in Va. Beach and we were watching the local tv channel and the announcer was asking a waterman about the crabs he was catching. The deal was that there was a big rain storm in Richmond and caused flooding, that spread sewage to the Bay. A ban was put on eating crabs and oysters. When the waterman was asked if he was told that there was a ban on eating crabs, he responded with these crabs are for selling!

  • Dominique Browning

    Great post. The good news is that pollution can be cleaned up! Enough people have to make noise to tell politicians that’s what we want. Your readers should be aware that even if they don’t live NEAR a coal plant, their air is being polluted–because all those heavy metals and toxins like mercury drift through the skies–they don’t recognize state lines! Thank you for an inspiring piece.

  • Abbie

    Long Island Sound has similar problems, but the Nitrogen comes mainly from wastewater and runoff. It leads to hypoxia and even anoxia and has contributed to many die offs. We need to form a Moms Clean Water Force too!