Local News

NC Now Not Alone in Battle Against Pfiesteria

Posted September 11, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina is no longer alone in its fight against pfiesteria. Maryland is recovering from a rash of fish kills and dealing with the same criticisms we've heard here at home. WRAL-TV5'sBrian Bowman visited Maryland's Eastern Shore.

The Eastern Shore of Maryland is a lot like eastern North Carolina. Farming is a way of life for many families here, and hundreds of miles of water provide a booming seafood industry. But, the latest thing the states have in common is something neither of them wants.

Commercial fisherman Ray Maddox says he knew it was a problem in NC, but didn't expect it in Md.

We begin with alarming new evidence.

Pfiesteria piscicida is big news in Maryland. The same state that linked the fish killing organism to human brain problems is also in the forefront in the battle against it.

Secretary Martin Wasserman of the Md. Department of Environmental Health, says states are starting to join together to fight the fish-killing disease.

The organism, or something like it, showed up first in the lower Pocomoke River last September, then reappeared twice this summer. Maddox had already seen video like this from our state and made the connection.

In many ways, Maryland and North Carolina are a lot alike. In both cases, there has been some speculation, and some finger pointing as to why the organism is showing up now. Some have said that the governments of both states are acting too hastily, using non-scientific information, while others have said that neither government has done enough to isolate the problem and protect its waterways.

Secretary John Griffin of the Md. Department of Natural Resources says there's a lot of work to be done.

More people will have to trust them now that dead fish are turning up in Kings Creek at the Manokin River, a good 15 miles north of the Pocomoke. Whether it has traveled, or if pfiesteria was already there, the people of Maryland, like those here at home are ready for answers.

Photographer:Joe Frieda