Assignment 2: The Bay Game

The Bay Game was an amazing experience. This was my second time playing it but it felt like a new game. The last time I played was when I was a first year taking an Environmental Science course and 1) we didn’t keep the bay in such good health, 2) I was a cattle rancher who went into debt within the first three rounds, and 3) I don’t remember the part about Hurricane Isabel, so I felt like the game had evolved more. This year I was a waterman and had pretty good success. Everyone was keeping the bay pretty healthy, meaning that my crabs weren’t taking to much of a hit. Even when the Hurricane did run through the area, we recovered rather quickly in geological time.

The game taught me that everything, in some way, is connected. It is like a action-reaction scenario. One bad mistake at the wrong time can cause the whole system to fall with it. It also taught me that the system is fragile. Too much nutrients can be just as bad as too little nutrients in the water. It is up to us, the future owners of the land in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, to help keep the pay clean for the next generation to come. I personally live on the bay and fish there a lot with my family. I would like to do the same with children one day.

In order to keep the bay healthy in real life, we need some strategies that will work in the long run. We cannot look for strategies that work now but will decrease in efficiency as years go by. That is one thing that Meadows talked about in Chapter 6. It is better to make a slow gradual change in a major area than make big changes in smaller areas. This will make the transition smoother and not cause too much fluctuation in population of crabs. As a fisherman, my income depends solely on how much crabs I can harvest and sell. The more crabs I sell, the more money I make. However, if there is an abundance of crabs, the price per crab will drop. If there is a deficiency of crabs, the price of crabs will rise and there will be less crab to repopulate each year we harvest crabs causing a collapse of the industry. To keep the industry a float, we must keep the population of crabs steady. If the population grows out of hand, the effect would be just as bad as if they were underpopulated. Overpopulation calls for more nutrition than what is produced leading to more deaths of crabs as the population grows.

By controlling the population, we ensure that the crabs will reproduce enough to have enough nutrients to survive. That can only happen if we also control the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen that enters the bay through runoff from industries, land development, and farming. If we can do that, the dominoes will start falling. We might not see the results within a year which isn’t a bad thing. It might take 5 to 10 years to see a drastic change. The leverage point I used were population, but there are many more. Another point could be regulation laws. The amount of crabs that you can harvest a year could change the landscape of the bay in a good way or a bad way.

My plan for the bay would keep fishing, a major industry for all states within the watershed of the Bay, a float by keeping prices steady yearly and keeping the population of crabs under control so that their will be enough time for them to repopulate in the off-season. The Fisherman can’t do it all themselves. Regulators of all types (Land development, Industrial, Fishing, and Farming) have to do their share in helping keeping the bay healthy. Instead of the fisherman making the small change on the local level, let’s make the bigger change on the regional  level.

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