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Skipjacks for the 21st Century


The Rise and Fall of
the "Two-Sail Bateau"

A Second Season
for Skipjacks

Saving (Working) Skipjacks

Knauss Fellows for 2003

In Memoriam


This Issue's Videos:

Uncertain Future for Skipjacks?

The skipjack City of Chrisfield at a dock in Eastern Shore, Maryland - photo by Skip Brown

Call them killer angels. With their long lifting bowsprits, raked wooden masts and sweeping sheer lines, skipjacks not only recall but actually sustain the age of sail as we move into a new century. The official Maryland state boat, skipjacks have become a symbol of the Bay itself and its rich maritime history. At the same time, these and other sailing craft with their heavy metal dredges have garnered a large share of the blame for dismantling - especially during the latter half of the nineteenth century - the Chesapeake's virgin oyster reefs.

Both keepers of a tradition and exploiters of an important ecological resource, skipjacks have captured our imagination while presenting us with a poignant dilemma. How do we preserve the precious past while safeguarding the Bay's ecological future? In "Saving Oysters...and Oystermen: The Paradox of the Commons" Michael Fincham considers this question, while tracing both current scientific efforts to restore the Bay's vertical oyster reefs and maritime heritage programs aimed at repairing and keeping afloat the nation's last commercial sailing fleet - the skipjacks of the Chesapeake Bay.

This issue complements and serves as a companion to the last issue (volume 1, number 3) of Chesapeake Quarterly, which posed the question, "Does the Bay need a new oyster?" Taken together, we hope that these two issues help to explain many of the complexities - ecological, scientific, social and historical - that face the Chesapeake's struggling oyster fishery. Read more . . .

- The Editors

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