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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pennsylvania's Biggest Fish of 2010

Pennsylvania reportedly has more miles of stream and river than any state in the lower 48.  With that much water around it's no wonder fishing has a deep rooted tradition in the the commonwealth.

From 10 lb largemouth bass to 15 lb walleye, anglers fishing in Pennsylvania's streams, rivers and lakes reported some impressive catches to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC).

Check out the complete list of reported lunkers on the PFBC website: Pennsylvania's Biggest Fish of 2010

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NOAA Begins National Survey of the Economic Contributions of Saltwater Angling

NOAA is again surveying saltwater anglers across the nation to update and improve estimates of the overall economic contributions of saltwater recreational fishing to the U.S. economy.

“The money that millions of recreational anglers spend on fishing trips each year produces tens of thousands of jobs and billions in sales revenue,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This year’s survey is a chance for saltwater anglers to help NOAA get an updated, accurate picture of how recreational fishing translates into economic vitality and jobs for Americans.”

NOAA and the saltwater angling community need timely economic data to help evaluate the economic importance of recreational fishing activities. The data give a more accurate look at the economic effects of fishing regulations and changes in the ecosystem caused by natural or manmade events. The information gathered in the survey will contribute to more informed decisions on a variety of recreational fishing issues.

"By surveying the recreational fishing community, we are following through on one of the recreational fishing community's top priorities identified at the 2010 sportfishing summit," said Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA's Fisheries Service. "The survey will ensure that NOAA and the fishery management councils have the best data when considering management actions that affect anglers.”

Throughout 2011, NOAA will survey a random sampling of the more than 15 million saltwater anglers in each of the 23 coastal states and Puerto Rico for the 2011 National Marine Recreational Fishing Expenditure Survey. The survey will include a random sampling of people who fish from shore, from docks, from party or charter boats and from privately owned boats. Field interviews have begun and will continue throughout the year. Surveying began in January in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, California, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. It will begin in the remaining Atlantic states and Texas in March and April, and in Alaska, Oregon and Washington in May. This is NOAA’s second national survey focusing on how much saltwater anglers spend on their sport.

NOAA and its state partners will ask anglers how long their fishing trips last and how much they spend on bait, boat fuel, ice, charter fees and other expenses. Anglers will also be asked to participate in a follow-up survey that will ask them to estimate what they spend on durable goods such as boats and fishing tackle used for saltwater angling for the previous 12 months. Those who participate in both parts of the survey will help NOAA produce accurate economic information.

Economists from NOAA’s Fisheries Service throughout the country as well as regional and state partners are assisting with the 2011 survey. Once the economic data are collected, they will be analyzed and released as a NOAA report. The most recent economic study in 2009 showed that anglers’ expenditures generated $59 billion in sales and supported more than 385,000 jobs.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov.

Asado: The Fire of Good Food & Friendship

I like my asado in the open. Meat splayed on metal crosses and grilled over a fire prepared on the ground for just such a purpose. In some restaurants and at some fancy lodges, tourists are treated to a sterile asado; food grilled behind glass over gas flames or in a modernistic wood grill. No earthy ambiance or traditional flair to pay respect to the creatures that will become the main course.

Asado can be used to describe the style of cooking or it can be used to describe the social event. Either way an asado should come from the heart with great care taken to ensure a quality meal and a good time. The cooking, meal and social gathering are hard to keep separate. An asado is basically a barbecue the rich cultures of Argentina, Chile, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay have transformed into a grill feast to be shared with friends and family.

To start an asado the meat is paramount as is the cooking fire that is composed of hard woods sometimes rendered down to glowing charcoal. The meat is placed on an asador, a metal frame that holds the whole animal open for even exposure to the heat of the fire. Asador can also be used to describe the cook. The meat can be chicken, beef, lamb or goat with the choice usually being regional and often a combination of two or more types. Sausages, called chorizo are made from pork and cooked on a grill or parrillo while the main course is still being prepared. These chorizos are sometimes served along with morcillas, a type of grilled blood sausage.

But it's not all meat. The vegetable dishes that accompany an asado offer the perfect compliment to the pure earthiness of the grilled meats. Carrots, beets, potatoes and salads made from lettuce, tomato and onions along with a type of potato salad called Ensalada rusa are all part of the meal. Add in some local breads and a dessert of fresh fruit and the eating part of the asado is complete.

But of course, let's not forget the people. The friends and family that have come together to share in the preparation and dining on this great fest is what transforms an asado into an Asado with a capital A. The laughter, music and friendship are the true skewers of the gathering.

To learn more about the cooking part of an asado, Francis Mallman's classic Argentine cookbook, Seven Fires is invaluable. To enjoy an asado simply eat, drink and have fun.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NJ Gov. Signs Free Saltwater Fishing License Bill

New Jersey will apply to the federal National Marine Fisheries Service for an exemption from the National Saltwater Angler Registry Program.  Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that will establish a free fishing registry in the state as mandated by a federal law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act that was reauthorized by Congress in 2007.

The bill overwhelmingly passed in the state senate and assembly before it was singed into law by Governor Christie.

Senator Jeff Van Drew, one of the laws sponsors said, “At a time when residents are struggling to pay their property taxes and other escalating costs, it will be nice to be able to say that New Jersey is still a place where someone can go out on the ocean, and throw a line in the water for free.”

Maryland Bans Felt Soles

Maryland will become the first state to enforce a felt sole ban for wading in its waters.  This ban becomes effective March 21, 2011.

This ban will take place as an attempt to stifle the spread of aquatic invasive and nuisance species with didymo being the main culprit in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) view.

"You couldn’t find a more effective method for transporting microscopic species from one place to another than the felt soles used by anglers,” said Jonathan McKnight, Associate Director of DNR’s Wildlife & Heritage Service. “Felt is an excellent collection material, and it stays wet over time between locations, which allows organisms to survive.”

Fish diseases like whirling disease are also carried by felt soles.  Whirling disease can have a devastating impact on trout fisheries.

So by the looks of it, felt soled waders in Maryland have about a month to shop for and buy a new pair of wading boots.

US Fish & Wildlife Service Distribute $749 Million to State Wildlife Agencies

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today the distribution of more than -$749 million in excise tax revenues generated by sportsmen and women to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration and Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Programs.

“Hunters and anglers have provided the foundation for wildlife conservation in America for more than 75 years. They continue to provide dedicated, critical funding for fish and wildlife agencies across the nation, especially at a time when many state budgets are under pressure,” said Secretary Salazar. “These funds will support important fish and wildlife management and conservation, recreational boating access, and hunter and aquatic education programs.”

Program funds come from excise taxes paid by manufacturers, producers, and importers on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.

The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment for 2011 totals more than $384 million, of which more than $79 million is for hunter education and safety programs. The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program apportionment for 2011 totals nearly $365 million, of which nearly $55 million is for recreational boating access facilities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program reimburses up to 75 percent of the cost of each eligible project while State fish and wildlife agencies contribute a minimum of 25 percent, generally using hunting and fishing license revenues as the required non-Federal match.

“Our partnership with America’s hunting, fishing and boating community through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs is the cornerstone for funding fish and wildlife conservation,” said Curtis Taylor, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Section. “Fish and wildlife can be conserved, protected and restored through science-based management and this year’s apportionment is critical in order for state fish and wildlife agencies to continue their work on behalf of everyone who values our nation’s natural resources.”

Please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program Web site at http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/ for more information on the goals and accomplishments of these programs and for individual State, Commonwealth, and territorial funding allocations. Some examples of activities planned by State fish and wildlife agencies in 2011 include:

Florida – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will construct a restroom facility and a pavilion at the Escambia County Archery Park. They will also construct a trap and skeet range and a .22 plinking range at Tenoroc Shooting Range. This will provide more recreational shooting opportunities for the public.

Rhode Island – The Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife will acquire approximately 85 acres adjoining Carr Pond near North Kingstown, Rhode Island. This property is a former Girl Scout property. The pond is the site of an extremely productive herring and alewife run. The property will provide protection of fish and wildlife habitat in the area and recreational opportunities for the public.

Texas – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will construct a new two-lane boat ramp, parking lot, courtesy dock, and lighting in Muenster, Texas. The new facility will provide the only public access to the lake for fishing and other recreational boating pursuits. This will be the first public boat ramp in Cooke County.

Oregon – The agency will identify sturgeon population limiting factors, develop responsive management strategies, and define pertinent monitoring and evaluation activities as part of management plan development. They will also measure juvenile recruitment through young-of-the-year sampling in the lower Columbia River and carry out a pilot study of set line sampling for adult and sub-adult white sturgeon. Sampling for young-of-year white sturgeon will increase the effects of environmental stressors on the population. A supplementary benefit of this task is the opportunity to collect DNA tissue samples that represent fish in a single year’s recruitment. DNA samples will be available for future characterization of effective spawning population size and for genetic stock comparisons with fish collected outside the Columbia River.

Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program funding is available to all 50 states, the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. One-half of the 11 percent excise tax on bows, arrows, and archery equipment and 10 percent excise tax on handguns, pistols, and revolvers make up the funding for hunter education programs. The other one-half of the excise tax are for wildlife restoration purposes, including the 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition.

Each state or territory receives a Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment derived from a formula that incorporates its total land area and number of paid hunting license holders. Each state or territory may not receive more than 5 percent or less than one-half of 1 percent of the total apportionment. Fish and wildlife agencies use these funds to manage wildlife populations, conduct habitat research, acquire wildlife habitat, enhance wildlife habitat, and public hunting access, carry out surveys and inventories, administer hunter education programs, and construct and maintain shooting and archery ranges.

The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program funding is available to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. States receive funds through a formula based on the land and water area of the state or territory and its total number of paid fishing license holders. Sport Fish Restoration funds come from excise taxes and import duties on sport fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels, and pleasure boats. No State may receive more than 5 percent or less than one-third of 1 percent of the total apportionment.

Fish and Wildlife agencies use the funds to pay for stocking sport fish; acquiring and improving sport fish habitat; providing aquatic resource education opportunities; conducting fisheries research; maintaining public fishing access, administering the aquatic resource education program, and constructing boat ramps, fishing piers, and other facilities for recreational boating access.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have generated a total of more than $13.7 billion since their inception – in 1937 in the case of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program, and 1950 for the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program. to conserve fish and wildlife resources. The recipient fish and wildlife agencies have matched these program funds with more than $3.4 billion. This funding is critical to continue sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations and provide opportunities for all to connect with nature.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Catch & Release Bonefish & Permit in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has followed Belize's lead in protecting bonefish and permit with a catch and release law.  Effective late December 2010 bonefish and permit join tarpon as a protected species.  Fishing for tarpon has been catch and release since 2004 in Puerto Rico. 

Here's the press release issued by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources:

In order to update and improve management measures for commercial and sport fishing resources in Puerto Rico waters, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources has prepared a new fishing regulation, which will go into effect in late December 2010. The new regulations build upon the previous version approved in 2004. 

The sport fishing community participated very actively in the numerous public hearings around the island, and enthusiastically supported the new measures to protect bonefish and permit as catch and release species. Tarpon have enjoyed this same protection since 2004. Common snook are protected in Puerto Rico through a slot limit that prohibits their retention below 22" and above 38" fork length.

With these and other progressive fisheries measures, Puerto Rico seeks to satisfy the marine sport fishing expectations of visitors and residents alike, as well as to conserve commercial fisheries resources for future generations.

Turneffe Atoll

Last year the Government of Belize passed a catch and release law, the first of any Caribbean nation, and an important first step to protecting the Turneffe Atoll, the largest and most diverse coral atoll in the western hemisphere.

Like many environmentally sensitive areas, the Turneffe Atoll is threatened on several fronts including improper development, coral reef degradation, invasive species and unsustainable commercial fishing.

Help the Turneffe Atoll to once again become a healthy ecosystem with social and economic benefits for its residents and to be an example for similar ecosystems througout the world.  Support the Turneffe Atoll Trust.

Stripers Forever

Our favorite fish is under more pressure than ever, and Stripers Forever, a free membership, internet-based organization, is fighting to conserve striped bass by ending the commercial fishery and managing the resource for personal use/recreational fishing.  We need as many members as possible to show the politicians how many people depend on striped bass for recreation, food, and income.  
If you haven't signed up yet as a member of Stripers Forever, here are a few things you should know:
  • Membership is free – no dues
  • There are no meetings to attend
  • Everything is done via the internet and e-mail
  • Many of the top fisherman in the country support Stripers Forever
  • Stripers Forever’s only goal is to conserve striped bass by designating them as game fish, which means they would be managed for the benefit of the recreational fishing public, now and in future generations.  Game Fish management has saved and enhanced the fishery for a number of species around the United States, and stripers are already game fish in 6 of the 13 states that make up their East Coast migratory range.
Here is all that you have to do -- it will take less than a minute and costs nothing:
Select “Become A Member”
Fill out the very easy to follow sign-up sheet.
  • If you aren’t sure whether or not you are already a member, sign up anyway.  Our membership software only allows one membership per e-mail address, so you won’t receive redundant e-mails.  If you signed up in the past but changed e-mail addresses you need to sign up again.
        While you are on the SF website, poke around a bit. You’ll find a wealth of information about what’s going on with this fishery.
Thank you.  Brad Burns - President of Stripers Forever