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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Orvis Sells Ross Reels to the Mayfly Group

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the Mayfly Group, LLC, Colorado Springs, Colo., will acquire the Manchester, Vermont-based Orvis Company’s Ross Reels subsidiary.

Orvis acquired Ross Reels from 3M in June 2013 as part of an acquisition that also brought flyline manufacturer Scientific Anglers under Orvis ownership. Based in Montrose, Colo., Ross Reels produces mid-priced fly reels. Since acquiring Ross, Orvis has developed a clear growth strategy for its Scientific Anglers brand, while concurrently struggling to integrate the Ross Reels brand into its own reel business.  “It became clear that Ross is not a strong fit for Orvis’ long term strategy,” according to Jim Lepage, President of the Orvis subsidiary operating both Scientific Anglers and Ross Reels.

The Mayfly Group, LLC operates various sporting brand names including Abel Automatics, Inc., the manufacturer of Abel fly reels and accessories in Camarillo, Calif.

“With the help of the Abel engineering team, the Ross brand will be updated and new products added; in addition, Ross will re-introduce selected reels from its former product lineup,” said David Dragoo, president of Mayfly.

“We respect the company’s strong tradition, outstanding workforce, well-run factory and quality products. We are happy to have found a strategic buyer that can give Ross Reels the attention it deserves and look forward to seeing it prosper and grow in the years to come.  We wish Ross and its employees nothing but the best,” Lepage said.

About The Mayfly Group
The Mayfly Group, LLC is a private investment company founded in Colorado Springs, Colorado. According to its mission statement, The Mayfly Group’s intent is “To provide outdoor enthusiasts with the best and most dependable products in the world while engaging in efforts to protect and sustain our natural environment.

About The Orvis Company
 Founded in Manchester, Vermont in 1856, Orvis pioneered fly-fishing and the mail order industry in the United States. A leading corporate steward for the environment, Orvis contributes 5% of pre-tax profits every year to protect nature.

About Ross Reels
Founded by Ross Hauck in 1973 and acquired by Orvis in June, 2013, Ross manufactures fly reels, fly rods, complete fly fishing outfits, reel outfits, rod cases, fishing pliers and other outdoor related products in Montrose, Colorado.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 2013 Winter Newsletter

Cross Current Guide Service & Outfitters
Capt. Joe Demalderis 
2010 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide of the Year

Season's Greetings and  Happy New Year! Winter is here, the time for planning the year ahead. There's also fishing to be had from the tropics to rugged winter steelheading and I hope someplace you're able to get some casts in. On the warmer days I still fly fish for northern pike (see below). If you feel hardy enough give me a call. We can do a full or half day at special winter rates. In just a few months spring will be here and with it the first dry flies of the year with hungry trout hot on their heels. That spells the Upper Delaware River System.
The Upper Delaware

"the finest staff of professional fly fishing guides on the Upper Delaware River" Paul Weamer, author the Fly Fishing Guide to the Delaware river
The Upper Delaware is the finest wild trout fishery in the eastern US. I guide on the Upper Delaware from mid April through October. This past season we had some of the best consistent fishing I've seen in years. 2014 should be another excellent season. Reservoirs are already above average capacity and snowfall has been better than its been in a long time. If you'd like to book a day on the river this spring please get in touch with me soon. Every year the spring fills up quicker and quicker. Sometimes I wish May were sixty days long! I have an excellent guide staff working on the river who I'm more than happy to arrange a day with too.
Water flows were excellent thanks to the hard work of Friends of the Upper Delaware River. There was one real heat wave that threatened to heat the river and place the trout in jeopardy, but quick action by Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR) convinced policy makers that a cold water release was needed. The Friends of the Upper Delaware River  are working on river access, spawning habitat restoration, water flow and thermal issues, and working with and educating the potpourri of government agencies that have a hand in the water management of this river. The current water management plan expires this spring. FUDR is the lead organization working toward  implementing a more equitable plan for the future. They can really use your support with a membership contribution. Please join Friends of the Upper Delaware River

Bonefishing, Bare Bones Style


My 2014 season starts in March with bonefishing in the Bahamas. This is the sixth time we'll be at Mangrove Cay, one of the islands that make up Andros. We have a house we rent with nice clean air conditioned rooms, we hire a wonderful cook and housekeeper and are guided daily by the top guides in the area and good guys to spend time on the water with. The dates are 3/5-11, 3/12-18, 3/19-25, 3/26-4/1. All meals, five days fishing, six nights lodging and guides: $2,500 per person based on double occupancy and two anglers to a flats skiff/guide. Drop me a note or call if you'd like to go or want more information. This books fast and due to logistics we need confirmation by early January.

Northern Pike

I've added some other fish to the aquarium this year. In early April, for the cabin fever gang, I've added fly fishing for northern pike. Depending on conditions we'll either be fishing a lake or a river. There are pike up to 20 lbs lurking about, but realistically you're hitting fish in the six to ten pound range. A good fun day on an early spring day when playing hooky feels the sweetest!

Carp on the Fly!

Another recent addition is fly fishing for carp. This is mostly a wade fishing game in some surprisingly pretty rivers and streams. Fly fishing for carp is one of the fastest growing segments in the fly fishing world. It's a sight fishing game, perfect for fly fishing. Carp pull real hard and routinely tip the scales at seven to ten pounds. Carp fishing is best from late June to mid October.

Smallmouth Bass

Then there's smallmouth bass on the middle section of the Upper Delaware. In July 2007, Field & Stream Magazine named this section of the Upper Delaware as one of the top five smallmouth bass rivers in the US. Great fun on the fly or light spin gear. This is best from early July through October. Inch for inch and pound for pound, the sportiest fish in freshwater.

Fall Bonefishing

November, 2014 we're back bonefishing. Mid November is an excellent time to fish the flats and also a great way to ease into winter! This is the same as the March bonefishing trip but we're there for only two weeks getting back well before Thanksgiving.


Winter 2015 is back to Patagonia. You'll be fishing in one of the last great frontiers of trout fishing. Let me know if you'd like to be a part of this trip. It's spectacular! If trout fishing's your favorite fly fishing, at least once in your life you have to fish Patagonia. We also offer booking on an individual basis for those who wish to travel on their own schedule. Patagonia fishing trips can be tied into wine country tours in Mendoza, Argentina or any selection of ecotourism destinations in Chile or Argentina. Just let us know what your thinking and we can help you make it real.

Drop me an email, crosscurrent@optonline.net or call me, 914-475-6779 and let's go fishing!

All the best,

Cross Current Guide Service & Outfitters
Capt. Joe Demalderis
Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide
(914) 475-6779

Monday, December 16, 2013

New York Announces a Temporary Blackout Period for Sporting License Sales and Game Harvest Reporting

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced that beginning Thursday, December 26, the public will not be able to purchase hunting, fishing or trapping licenses, or secure a recreational marine fishing registration or report their harvested game. The temporary blackout period is due to a transition that DEC will undergo from the current computerized licensing system to a newly developed system and is expected to last approximately one to two weeks.

"In order to transfer the most current data and transition to the new system, we need to completely shut down license sales and game harvest reporting," said Commissioner Martens. "The loss of the ability to purchase a sporting license, associated stamp or permit, register to recreationally fish in New York's marine waters or report a harvested deer or bear will be temporary and the public will be notified as soon the new system is accessible."

DEC is in the transition phase to a new system for computerized sporting license issuance and game harvest reporting since the contract with the provider of the current system ends December 31, 2013 and that provider will no longer be in sporting license business. DEC's new sporting license system is part of a larger multi-agency effort in New York State to consolidate licensing systems and facilitate securing licenses in New York.

Hunters, anglers, and trappers need to purchase their licenses, stamps, and permits prior to December 26, 2013 in order to hunt or fish during the blackout period. There will be outreach efforts about the blackout period so that potential anglers, hunters, and trappers are prepared for this closure period. Hunters are encouraged to purchase remaining first-come-first-served deer management permits (DMPs) prior to the December 26 blackout period. Sporting licenses are available at nearly 1,500 locations across New York State, via telephone (1-866-933-2257) and via the internet at https://nyfgisales.appsolgrp.com/fgnyia/html/index.jsp. For a list of license agents, visit DEC's website.

"If you know of a friend or relative that is planning to hunt, fish, or trap and who may not have already purchased a sporting license, please get the word to them about the black-out period and the need to purchase their license prior to December 26," Commissioner Martens said. "While another announcement will be made when the new system is functional and licenses are available for purchase, we encourage anglers, hunters, and trappers to periodically check the DEC website for updates."

Deer and bear season in Westchester County and deer season in Suffolk County will be open during at least a portion of the blackout period. Small game and waterfowl hunting seasons and many fishing seasons also remain open during this time.

Hunters are required, by law, to report deer, bear, and turkey harvested pursuant to a hunting license within seven days of taking the animal. During the blackout period, hunters will not be able to report their harvest; however, they will be given a seven-day grace period to report their harvest once the new system is up and running.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dolphin killed, Alabama shrimper convicted.

An Alabama man pleaded guilty yesterday in a federal court in Gulfport, Miss., to knowingly shooting a dolphin, the Justice Department announced. Brent Buchanan, 38, of Bayou La Batre, Ala., pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of knowingly taking a protected marine mammal, a federal crime under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.   In court documents, Buchanan admitted to knowingly shooting a dolphin with a shotgun while shrimping in the Mississippi Sound in July or August 2012.

A sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 24, 2014.   The maximum penalty is one year in prison, a $100,000 fine, and a $25 special assessment.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act is a federal law which makes it illegal to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or to attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, any marine mammal in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States.   The Act protects all species of dolphins, as well as other marine mammals such as whales and seals.

The case was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement, with assistance from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine, the Alabama Marine Police, and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resource Division.   The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi and the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

NOAA Office of Law Enforcement is actively investigating a number of other possible dolphin shootings along the northern Gulf Coast since 2012.   Anyone possessing information relating to such an incident is requested to contact NOAA Office of Law Enforcement at 1-800-853-1964 or a state wildlife law enforcement agency.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sign-up for the 114th Christmas Bird Count

Depending on your location one of the dates between December 14, 2103 and January 5, 2014 is the dates for the 114th Christmas Bird Count.

For more than a century, citizen scientists have been collecting data for the longest running wildlife census collecting useful information on bird populations across the Americas. Some observers brave the elements for a few hours while others simply keep a tally from the comfort of their home logging visitors to their feeders, while others spot bids from the warmth and comfort of their vehicle.  Either way, it's an interesting and totally fun way to spend a few hours on your select day, and you don't have to be a hardcore birder to participate.

 Last year was the first time I joined and you can bet I'll be back again this year. You can read about my experience here: My Audubon Christmas Bird Count 2012

To get involved this year or to learn more about The Christmas Bird Count, visit this site: http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count  Even if you live in a big city, there's a location near you.

Monday, December 09, 2013

2013 Sea Surface Temperatures on Northeast U.S. Shelf are still high, but lower than 2012

Sea surface temperatures for the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) remained high during the first half of 2013, but were lower than the record high levels that occurred in 2012, according to NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). Sea surface temperatures (SST) for the Northeast Shelf in the first half of 2013 were just above 9 degrees Celsius; as a whole, they declined more than 1 degree C, making 2013 the third warmest year in the time series. The results are reported in the Center's latest Ecosystem Advisory.

"Surface and bottom temperatures have moderated since 2012, when temperatures reached record highs, but still remain above average, continuing the trend of above average temperatures observed during autumn and winter months,” said Kevin Friedland, an oceanographer in the NEFSC's Ecosystem Assessment Program. Bottom ocean temperatures are being influenced by water entering the ecosystem.

The moderation in temperature from 2012 was not uniform over the Northeast Shelf. Northern "ecoregions", such as the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, remained relatively warm, while the Middle Atlantic Bight cooled to a greater extent. Sea surface temnperature (SST) in the Middle Atlantic Bight declined by nearly 2 degrees C, making it the ninth warmest year on record in that region.
Spring plankton blooms, which usually peak in April in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank, were well below average in 2013. Along the coast of Long Island a strong spring bloom occurred, which is not typical for this part of the ecosystem. The below-average plankton bloom in the Gulf of Maine appears to have adversely affected zooplankton populations that are critical to the base of the food chain.

“An abrupt shift is evident in the time when key spring warming occurs. “We believe that the changes in the timing of warming events have affected plant and animal reproduction,” Friedland said. Thedate of the spring thermal transition - which marks the average temperature between winter and spring - was relatively constant between 1982 and 2006, but since 2006 has occurred two weeks earlier.

The Northeast Shelf ecosystem continues to experience wide swings in physical conditions. The biological responses to these pronounced physical fluctuations have significantly influenced the dynamics of the Northeast Shelf LME, according to the advisory.

To view the spring 2013 summary of conditions for the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem and related background data, go to Ecosystem Advisory.

NOAA Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries Service provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public.

Ship strike reduction rule proves effective protecting North Atlantic right whales

NOAA officials today issued a final rule continuing protections to reduce lethal vessel collisions with the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.

The ship strike reduction rule, first implemented in 2008, requires large ships to travel at speeds of 10 knots or less seasonally, in areas where right whales feed and reproduce, as well as along migratory routes in-between. Thanks to cooperation and partnership with the shipping and transportation industry, indications are that the rule is working as intended.

“Since the ship speed restrictions went into effect, no known fatal ship strikes of North Atlantic right whales have occurred in the management zones," said Mark Schaefer, deputy NOAA administrator and assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management. “This rule is working. Before this rule went into effect, 13 right whales died as a result of being hit by vessels in the same areas during an 18-year study period.”

With only about 425 North Atlantic right whales in existence, these whales are among the most endangered in the world. The top threats to the species are ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear.

Right whales are highly vulnerable to ship collisions, because their migration route crosses major East Coast shipping lanes. Measures taken by NOAA to prevent entanglement of right whales in fishing gear coupled with NOAA and the International Maritime Organization’s ship strike reduction efforts provide one of the most comprehensive approaches ever taken by NOAA to help large whales recover.

The rule requires vessels that are 65 feet and greater in length to travel at 10 knots or less during the seasons right whales are expected to be present in designated areas along the East Coast.

In the mid-Atlantic area, the 10-knot speed restrictions extend out to 20 nautical miles around major ports. NOAA Fisheries researchers report that approximately 80 percent of right whale sightings in the mid-Atlantic are within 20 nautical miles of shore. NOAA also established a program for temporary voluntary speed limits in other areas when an aggregation of three or more right whales is confirmed.
The rule allows vessels to exceed the limit if needed to ensure vessel safety.

The rule is part of NOAA’s broader ship strike reduction efforts. Existing protective actions include surveying whale aggregation areas by aircraft, extensive mariner outreach programs and mandatory ship reporting systems that provide advisories and information on right whale locations to mariners.  

Friday, December 06, 2013

Interior Dept. Rule Greenlights Eagle Slaughter at Wind Farms, Says Audubon CEO

New Rule Will Authorize 30-Year Permits for Killing America's National Bird
New York, NY - In a stunningly bad move for eagles, the U.S. Department of the Interior has finalized a new rule that would make it possible to grant wind energy companies 30-year permits to kill Bald and Golden eagles. Audubon's CEO released the following statement:
Bald Eagle
Photo by; Jim Grey
“Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. “It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the Bald Eagle. Audubon will continue to look for reasonable, thoughtful partners to wean America off fossil fuels because that should be everyone’s highest priority. We have no choice but to challenge this decision, and all options are on the table.”
Now in its second century, Audubon connects people with birds, nature and the environment that supports us all. Our national network of community-based nature centers, chapters, scientific, education, and advocacy programs engages millions of people from all walks of life in conservation action to protect and restore the natural world. Visit Audubon online at www.audubon.org.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Commission takes action to rebuild Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, but ignores sharks.

Elizabeth Wilson, who directs The Pew Charitable Trusts' international ocean policy unit, issued the following statement today at the conclusion of this year's annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, or ICCAT.

"Delegates from 55 governments spent the past week in Cape Town debating the future of Atlantic bluefin tuna and several species of sharks, while also exploring ways to combat illegal fishing and fraud. They took positive action to rebuild Atlantic bluefin tuna populations and end illegal fishing in the Atlantic Ocean, but failed to address the plight of vulnerable shark species that are being significantly impacted, as fisheries remain largely unregulated.

"ICCAT has taken the next step in supporting the recovery of severely depleted Atlantic bluefin tuna by maintaining catch limits, in line with scientific advice, for both the western and eastern bluefin populations at 1,750 metric tons and 13,400 mt, respectively. The future of one of the ocean’s most iconic and valuable fish—the Atlantic bluefin tuna—is brighter today. This decision will help the species stay on a path toward full recovery.

 "However, despite evidence of ongoing and persistent overfishing, ICCAT member governments, for the third time, delayed the mandatory implementation of an electronic system for tracking the catch and trade of bluefin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean.

 "There is clear evidence of continued illegal fishing in the eastern Atlantic bluefin fishery, with one study indicating that actual catch exceeded the quota by 57 percent between 2008 and 2011. Delaying the electronic bluefin catch document system for another year leaves loopholes wide open for fraud and illegal fishing. It undermines management efforts and threatens the recovery of this severely depleted species. To guarantee that the new 2015 deadline is met, all ICCAT member governments must make a full-faith effort to test the system during the upcoming year. That includes submitting all the necessary information required to make it fully operational as soon as possible.

 "ICCAT did show leadership in the fight to end illegal fishing by mandating that to gain authorization to fish in its convention area, every large fishing vessel has to have an International Maritime Organization, or IMO, number. Each number is unique and stays with that vessel until it is scrapped. To evade authorities, over the years, owners have been able to change vessel names, radio call signs, and flags of registration—essentially changing their entire identity—with ease. Requiring IMO numbers will prevent this type of subterfuge from continuing in the ICCAT area.

"The decision means that, as of 2016, every vessel at least 20 meters long fishing in ICCAT fisheries will need an IMO number. That number also must be reflected in relevant ICCAT records. ICCAT today made great strides toward ensuring that illegal fishers cannot disguise their identity. We urge all other fisheries management bodies to follow this example by mandating IMO numbers for vessels fishing or operating in their areas of competence, and demanding timely and thorough reporting of data by flag states.

"Taking steps to better implement last year's commitment to conduct port inspections, ICCAT members adopted the use of forms to report vessel information and inspection results.

"Unfortunately the governments that are members of ICCAT have failed to limit catches of porbeagle and shortfin mako sharks in the Atlantic Ocean, despite clear scientific advice that overfishing is depleting their populations. It is deeply disappointing that, even after years of debate, these species will not be properly managed even though they are inherently vulnerable.

"An estimated 100 million sharks are killed annually around the world to meet demand for their fins and meat. Sharks are particularly at risk because they grow and reproduce slowly. ICCAT’s inaction runs contrary to the recommendations of precautionary science and will accelerate the decline of these top predators across the Atlantic Ocean."

The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Learn more at www.pewtrusts.org.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A book you'll want to own: The Total Fishing Manual

"If hooking a panfish on a worm under a bobber doesn't make you smile, you should go see a doctor." Anthony Licata

That one line, early on in Field & Stream's: The Total Fishing Manual, sets the tone for a book on the many varied tactics used in fly, lure and bait fishing that transform an all around fisherman into a well rounded angler.

Want to know the top 15 greatest lures of all time? You'll find that here. This book is packed with tips and information from panfishing to some of the toothiest and most aggressive game fish that swim. Joe Cermele and the editors of Field & Stream show how to pick the best flies, lures, baits and tackle for just about any fishing situation you'll face. You'll learn how to get the most out of your tackle and equipment. There are no wasted words in this book that you'll be sure to reference again and again.

I just finished reading it and think it's one of those fishing books that will be around for a long time. Lots of good fishing tips, some you know, others you don't, and ones you forgot. When I was a kid this is a book I would have read over and over and over (heck, I'll probably do that now).

Follow this link to Amazon and check it out: The Total Fishing Manual (Field & Stream): 317 Essential Fishing Skills (Field and Stream)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Releases Annual List of Candidates for Endangered Species Act Protection

Yadkin River goldenrod.
Yadkin River goldenrod.  Photo credit: USFWS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released the Candidate Notice of Review, a yearly status appraisal of plants and animals that are candidates for Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection. Three species have been removed from candidate status and three have a change in priority from the last review conducted in November 2012.  There are now 146 species recognized by the Service as candidates for ESA protection.

“Protecting America’s most at-risk wildlife one of our highest priorities,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “We are currently working with landowners and partners across the nation to implement voluntary conservation agreements on some 5 million acres of habitat for more than 130 candidate species, helping address some of the threats they face before they are ever listed under the ESA.”

Candidate species are plants and animals for which the Service has enough information on their status and the threats they face to propose as threatened or endangered, but for which a proposed listing rule is precluded by other, higher priority listing actions. The annual review and identification of candidate species helps landowners and natural resource managers understand which species need to be conserved, allowing them to address threats and work to preclude the need to list the species.

Although candidate species do not receive ESA protection, the Service works to conserve them and their habitats using several tools: a grants program funds conservation projects by private landowners, states and territories; and two voluntary programs ­– Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCAs) and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) ­– engage participants to implement specific actions that remove or reduce the threats to candidate species, which helps  stabilize or restore the species and can preclude the need for ESA listing.

For example, the Service’s Southeast region completed a CCA with Alcoa Power Generating Inc. to conserve the Yadkin River goldenrod.  This plant occurs in two discrete locations along a 2.5-mile stretch of the Yadkin River in North Carolina.   The continuing implementation of the CCA fully addresses threats to the species by controlling invasive exotic vegetation and implementing a propagation and population expansion program and includes regular monitoring and reporting.  As a result of these efforts, the goldenrod no longer meets the definition of a candidate species and was removed from the candidate list.

The removal of the other two species announced today – Brand’s phacelia and Orcutt’s hazardia (two plants native to California and Baja California, Mexico) – was based on new information that provided a better understanding on the range and distribution of populations, as well as implementation of management actions that addressed habitat loss and degradation and impacts from recreational activities.

All candidate species are assigned a listing priority number based on the magnitude and imminence of the threats they face. When adding species to the list of threatened or endangered species, the Service addresses species with the highest listing priority first. Today’s notice announces changes in priority for three species – the southern Idaho ground squirrel, Kentucky arrow darter, and Cumberland arrow darter – based on changes in taxonomy.

The Service is soliciting additional information on the candidate species, as well as information on other species that may warrant protection under the ESA. This information will be valuable in preparing listing documents and future revisions or supplements to the candidate notice of review.

The complete notice and list of proposed and candidate species appears in the Federal Register and can be found online at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/cnor.html

50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish.

It's no secret that most of the best trout fisheries in the US are tailwaters. That's what prompted Terry & Wendy Gunn to put together a book of the 50 best. In addition to being writers, fly fishing TV show hosts, speakers and just plain old excellent anglers, Terry and Wendy own Lees Ferry Anglers on the Colorodo River, just below the Glen Canyon Dam; they are far from strangers when it comes to tailwaters.

It was over a year ago when Terry contacted me to write the chapter on the Upper Delaware River. To say I was flattered would be an understatement. Just finding myself the recipient of a call from one of the who's who in fly fishing was over the top enough.

In this book that's divided into regions, West, Rockies, South, and East you'll find experts like Tim Linehan, Mike Lawson, Craig Matthews and 52 others. There are actually 56 tailwaters that made the grade, I guess the publisher just liked the ring of "50 Best..." better than "56 Best..." If it were me, I would have asked Terry and Wendy to add one more river (I'm sure it's out there, just as I'm sure there's someone who'll say, "hey, why wasn't Dioxin Creek included") and went the "57 Varieties..." route.  There's good reason why I'm not a publisher.

If you're in need of some winter reading material, a Christmas present, or a bucket list, pick up 50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish

Terry and Wendy have autographed copies available through Lees Ferry Anglers

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Report Reveals Continuing Coastal Wetlands Losses in U.S.

The United States is losing wetlands in coastal watersheds at a significant rate, according to a new report released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These wetlands are vital to the survival of diverse fish and wildlife species. Wetlands also help sustain the country’s multi-billion-dollar coastal fisheries and outdoor recreation industries, improve water quality and protect coastal communities from the effects of severe storms.

Suisun Marsh, California, by USFWSThe report, Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009, which was also funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, tracked wetland loss on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts, as well as the Great Lakes shorelines. It concludes that more than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands are being lost on average each year, up from 60,000 acres lost per year during the previous study.

“Wetlands are important to our nation’s heritage, economy and wildlife – especially when it comes to coastal communities,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “When a study shows that an area four times the size of Miami is disappearing every year, it underscores the importance of strengthening our collective efforts to improve wetlands management, to reduce losses and to ensure coastal infrastructure and resources are protected.”

“Wetlands are essential to fish and shellfish, and are integral to the health of the nation’s multi-billion dollar commercial and recreational fishing industries,” said Mark Schaefer, NOAA Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management. “The three most valuable species that depend on habitats supported by our wetlands—crab, shrimp, and lobster—had a combined value of $1.6 billion in 2012. The disappearance of this habitat could be detrimental to our nation's seafood supply.”

Notable wetland losses were recorded along the Gulf Coast (257,150 acres) and accounted for 71 percent of the total estimated loss during the study period. The Atlantic Coast lost 111,960 acres and the Pacific Coast 5,220 acres. Although the losses along the Pacific Coast were 12pt in comparison to the others, they represent an important component of coastal wetlands in this region, which has a predominantly high, rocky coastline. The watersheds of the Great Lakes region experienced a net gain in wetland area of an estimated 13,610 acres.

“In addition to the important economic and safety benefits they provide to people, coastal wetlands are also vitally important to native fish and wildlife species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “While they comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s land area, they support 75 percent of our migratory birds, nearly 80 percent of fish and shellfish, and almost half of our threatened and endangered species. We can’t sustain native wildlife for future generations without protecting and restoring the coastal wetlands that support them.”

The increase in the overall rate of wetland loss was attributed to losses of saltwater wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico due to coastal storms, in combination with freshwater wetland losses in both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Large losses of freshwater, forested wetland areas were attributed to urban and rural development and some forestry practices.

In some coastal watersheds, rising ocean levels are encroaching into wetlands from the seaward side, while development from the landward side takes a further chunk out of the existing wetland area and prevents wetlands from being able to migrate inland. This dual threat squeezes wetlands into an ever 12pter and more fragile coastal fringe.

As evidenced in published reports to the Congress on the status and trends of wetlands in the lower 48 states, conservation programs on agricultural and other undeveloped lands have helped conserve and restore wetlands. These programs have helped ameliorate wetland losses in the Great Lakes States and in agricultural portions of other coastal watersheds and are viewed as important programs contributing to wetland conservation strategies.

“For decades, USDA conservation efforts have contributed a great deal to protecting and restoring our wetlands," said Ann Mills, Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources & Environment. "Today’s report to Congress underscores the value of these conservation programs, many of which are authorized under the Farm Bill, and serves as yet another reminder that America needs passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible to continue these critical investments in wildland conservation.

Several federal agencies are collaborating to better understand how wetlands are affected by land use practices and other factors and incorporating wetlands protection into policy. These efforts have been incorporated into activities under the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan (National Ocean Council 2013), which describes the specific actions federal agencies will take to address key challenges and promote stewardship of coastal resources.

The data in this report provide new and more comprehensive information about coastal wetland trends and may be instrumental in forming additional recommendations to improve the management of wetlands in coastal watersheds, reduce losses and ensure coastal infrastructure and resources are protected.

The report is available online at http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Documents/Status-and-Trends-of-Wetlands-In-the-Coastal-Watersheds-of-the-Conterminous-US-2004-to-2009.pdf.

For more information on wetland issues, visit www.fws.gov/wetlands and www.habitat.noaa.gov/coastalwetlandsreport.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Texas Game Wardens “Like” End Result of Angler’s Facebook Post

AUSTIN – A South Texas man has pled guilty to nine charges of possession of oversized red drum, one charge of no saltwater fishing license, and one charge of exceeding the possession limit for red drum.

The investigation leading to the filing of charges against 30-year-old Luis Castro began with a Facebook post showing a man holding a large red drum with eight other oversize drum on display in the bed of a pickup truck. (The bag limit for redfish is three per day, and they must be between 20 and 28 inches. Only one redfish longer than that can be kept, and only with a properly completed redfish tag attached to it.)

On Nov. 1, game wardens in Cameron County were contacted about the Facebook picture, which had originally been placed on line by Castro’s brother. Accompanying the image was the comment, “just for fun.”

Game wardens ended up receiving multiple complaints regarding the Facebook post. TPWD dispatchers and game wardens were able to review records which eventually resulted in the positive identification of Castro and his place of employment.

On Nov. 6, game wardens interviewed Castro and obtained a signed written statement. Five days later, Willacy County Justice of the Peace George Solice issued an arrest warrant for Castro and game wardens arrested him the same day. Following arraignment, he was released with a court date of Nov. 19.

“Anglers on several social media sites were posting negative comments, and a day after the picture was originally posted, it was removed,” said Game Warden Maj. Alan Teague. “However, the picture had been saved by many anglers and reposted.”

Teague said the picture made it to fishing groups as far away as Florida.

“With tips from anglers and hard work by our game wardens and dispatchers, we were able to track the individual to a city in South Texas,” Teague said.

During sentencing, Justice of the Peace Solice noted how important recreational fishing is to the people in Willacy County which includes Port Mansfield.  Before sentencing Castro, the judge pointed out that there are people in the county whose livelihood depends upon the quality and future of recreational fishing.

“It was an obscene number of fish that you caught,” the judge said to the defendant.  “We are all living paycheck-to-paycheck but none of us are going hungry.  It was completely unnecessary to take that many fish.”

Castro was fined $2,600 and an additional $2,645.91 will be assessed as part of the civil restitution.

Tests Find Asian Carp eDNA in PA, WV Sections of Ohio River

State officials from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) have confirmed that environmental DNA (eDNA) from the invasive Asian silver carp has been found in two water samples collected from the Ohio River.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) tested 200 water samples collected from the upper Ohio River between Wheeling, W.V., and Pittsburgh on Oct. 21-22. The tests found eDNA in one Pennsylvania sample taken from the Ohio River in Aliquippa, Beaver County, about six miles upstream of the confluence with the Beaver River. A second positive eDNA result was found in a West Virginia sample near Chester in Hancock County. None of the samples tested positive for bighead carp.
Researchers use eDNA analysis as a tool for the early detection of Asian carp, which include silver and bighead carp. The findings indicate the presence of genetic material left behind by the species, such as scales, excrement or mucous. But eDNA does not provide physical proof of the presence of live or dead Asian carp.
“Unfortunately, the test results provide some evidence that this invasive species could be in the upper Ohio River in Pennsylvania,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “This is an early warning sign, since we don’t know for certain the origin of the genetic material. We don’t know if the eDNA came from live or dead fish or if it was transported from other sources, like bilge water or storm sewers, or even waterfowl visiting the basin.”
“The states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia have been cooperatively working over the last two years to address Asian carp upstream migrations in the Ohio River,” added Curtis Taylor, Chief of the West Virginia Wildlife Resources Section. “These efforts have focused on fishing down these species at the population’s leading edge by using contracted commercial fishermen. The main reach of this effort has centered in the Meldahl and Greenup navigation pools that span the river between Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.” This cooperative effort will continue in 2014.
Asian carp are a significant threat to aquatic ecosystems because of their voracious appetite and ability to quickly reproduce. Once in a waterway, they devour much of the microscopic algae and animals that other species rely on for food, effectively decimating other species. This, in turn, can harm local economies which rely on the revenue generated from sport fishing and boating.  
Because of the destructive nature of the Asian carp species, officials urge anglers and boaters to help slow the spread. Anglers and boaters should thoroughly clean gear and boats before entering new waters and learn how to identify Asian carp. A video teaching people how to identify bighead and silver carp is available from the USFWS on YouTube at http://youtu.be/B49OWrCRs38.
Anglers and boaters are urged to contact the PFBC or WVDNR if they suspect the presence of Asian carp. Both agencies maintain a website for easy communication: PFBC - http://fishandboat.com/ais.htm and WVDNR - www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/asian_carp.shtm.
Additional information is available on the national Asian carp website at: http://asiancarp.us/.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

First Evidence of Grass Carp Reproduction in the Great Lakes

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that four grass carp (a species of Asian carp) taken from the Sandusky River in Ohio are the result of natural reproduction within the Lake Erie basin.

Grass carp can threaten native fish populations and could be detrimental to ducks, geese and other large aquatic birds that rely on the vegetation that these carp destroy. Grass carp were brought to the U.S. to control aquatic plants in the 1960s. They eat large quantities of aquatic plants, which could degrade areas important for spawning and early development of native fish.

 Fish captured by a commercial fisherman in October 2012 were examined by USGS scientists and determined that they were at least one year in age and had the capacity to become spawning adults. Bones in the heads of fishes, called otoliths, are useful to biologists because they provide a history of the chemistry of the water the fish inhabited over its life. Analysis of those bones indicates that the four captured grass carp had lived in the Sandusky watershed their entire lives. Scientists ruled out the possibility that the fish originated from a fish farm by comparing their otoliths to those from reference pond fish.

"These findings are significant because they confirm recent USGS research indicating that shorter rivers, like the Sandusky, are potential spawning sites for grass carp and other Asian carps as well," said USGS scientist Duane Chapman. "The study may also provide resource managers an opportunity to address the spread of grass carp before it becomes problematic."

Successful reproduction of grass carp in the Great Lakes is an indication that other species of Asian carp—silver, bighead and black carp—might be able to reproduce there. Silver, bighead, and black carps have spawning and development requirements similar to grass carp. Bighead and silver carps have reached extremely high densities in the Mississippi River Basin and there is great concern that they may invade the Great Lakes Basin.

Scientists are confident that these grass carp are the result of natural reproduction for a number of reasons. The Sandusky watershed has a naturally occurring high ratio of strontium to calcium, and fish inhabiting the Sandusky River have strontium to calcium ratios in their otoliths that reflect this unusual chemistry. The otoliths of the Sandusky River grass carp were not only higher in strontium to calcium ratio than pond fish, but also reflected the Sandusky River’s natural fluctuations in this ratio, which are caused by rainfall. Pond fish otoliths reflected the stable and low strontium to calcium concentration of ponds.

This study was done in cooperation with Bowling Green State University and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Fisherman Faces Misdemeanor for Having Illegal Striped Bass

Over $600 Worth in Fish Found in Restaurant



A Babylon pizzeria owner was served misdemeanor charges Sunday after he was caught by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) with 60 pounds of striped bass that he was illegally selling in his restaurant.

According to Captain Timothy Huss, on October 16, 2013, State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) ECOs began investigating an anonymous tip stating a village of Babylon resident and pizzeria owner was illegally selling striped bass. ECOs set up surveillance at the business of Mr. Frank Genovas to determine any validity to the tip. That evening, ECOs observed an employee at the pizzeria, Franchesco's Pizzeria in Babylon, bringing a large striped bass into the restaurant from the back lot. ECOs proceeded to conduct an inspection of the restaurant and located three untagged striped bass in a cooler and 23 pounds of fillets in portion sizes located in a separate cooler. ECOs interviewed Mr. Genovas and employees regarding the origins of the fish and also noted the night's special entrée was locally caught bass.

A total of 60 pounds of untagged striped bass worth more than $600 were seized by the ECOs and donated to Long Island Cares Charity.

"DEC establishes fishing limits and fish food laws to protect fish populations and ensure the food people are consuming is safe and sustainable," said DEC Region 1 Regional Director Peter A. Scully. "When individuals overfish their recreational limit, they not only deplete the fishing stock, but take advantage of those commercial fishermen who play by the rules."

Mr. Frank Genovas, 53, of Babylon was cited for four misdemeanor level commercialization charges including:
  • Possessing untagged striped bass;
  • Taking striped bass without a commercial striped bass permit;
  • Failing to have a food fish license; and
  • Possessing striped bass fillets in a retail establishment without maintaining the associated fish carcass.
Each charge carries a penalty of up to $5,000 and/or up to one year in jail.

Mr. Genovas is scheduled to appear at the 1st District Court in Islip on Dec. 11, 2013.

All persons taking striped bass commercially are required to possess a commercial fishing license. Licensees are issued a limited number of tags and are required to file harvest reports for each fishing trip. This system allows DEC to account for the number of fish taken commercially and properly manage the species which has been threatened by low population numbers in the past.

Individuals spotting illegal activities are encouraged to call DEC's Environmental Conservation Police at (631) 444-0250  during business hours, and 1-877-457-5680  or 1-800-TIPP-DEC at all other times to report suspected illegal activities.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 National Saltwater Angler Survey

In 2013, NOAA Fisheries conducted their first national survey of saltwater anglers’ opinions and attitudes. The results provide insights into what motivates anglers and what anglers consider to be a successful fishing trip.

In summarizing the report, the number one reason people go fishing is to enjoy time with friends and family. The least important reason given was to catch their limit.

One of the things that struck me in the survey is that less than 40% of the respondents felt that NOAA and/or other fisheries managers had their best interests first when making management decisions.

On the conservation and habitat side, 95% of the people who took the survey feel that providing quality opportunities for future generations is important.

Take the time to read the survey and then hope fishery managers take the time to read it too.

Check it out here: http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/economics/fisheries/recreational/attitudes-and-preferences-of-anglers/index

Monday, October 21, 2013

Climate Conditions Shift Where Marine Species Are Found

Climate change has resulted in shifts in where and at what depths many marine species are found. These shifts have not been uniform, and sometimes have occurred at different rates and in different ways than expected. The leading explanation for these changes has been biological differences among species, but a new study suggests that the local climatic conditions are more likely causing these shifts.

In a study published September 13 in the journal Science, researchers from the U.S. and Canada suggest that climate velocity – the rate and direction that climate shifts in a particular region or landscape – explains observed shifts in distribution far better than biological or species characteristics.

The team compiled four decades of data from research vessel surveys of fish and invertebrates conducted around the continental shelves of North America by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

The surveys were conducted across nine regions, including the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Alaska and Eastern Bering Sea, and off Canada’s Atlantic coast. Covering approximately 3.3 million square kilometers (just over 2 million square miles), these areas were sampled using research vessel bottom trawl surveys that collected 60,394 samples between 1968 and 2011. The surveys captured 128 million organisms from 580 populations of 360 species or species groups, collectively called taxa.

“This is the first time we’ve combined U.S and Canadian fisheries data from the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts of North America at this scale,” said study co-author Michael Fogarty, a fisheries biologist at the Woods Hole Laboratory of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC).  “We also sampled a broad range of ecosystem types, from sub-tropical to sub-Arctic.  The shifts in species distributions were not always intuitive, or what was expected to happen. For example, individual species like American lobster shifted north in the northeast U.S., while big skateshifted south on the West coast, and Pacific cod in Alaska remained essentially the same.”

Many marine and terrestrial species are not shifting in response to climate change as expected. To understand why, study authors measured range shifts, studied regional temperature changes, and considered geographic constraints.  For example, the Gulf of Mexico has an east-west coastline that prevents a northerly or poleward shift of species in response to warming ocean waters,. Species there shifted deeper, into cooler bottom waters.

Previous studies that attempted to explain why the shifts were occurring at different rates and in different directions than expected did not have the data necessary to study changes in detail. By looking at the larger data sets, researchers working on this study could examine individual species and groups of species within a geographic region, the temperature range inhabited by each species or species group, and the impact of temperature changes over time. By determining the preferred temperature for each species, where the preferred temperatures moved, and then where the species had moved, the researchers found that many of the species matched those shifts over time in what they called "the complex mosaic of local climate velocities."

Across all taxa, 74 percent shifted latitude in the same direction as climate velocity, and 70 percent shifted depth in the same direction. Likewise, 73 percent of shifts to lower latitudes and 75 percent of shifts to shallower water were explained by climate velocity.  Local variations in the environment appear to be a much more accurate predictor of species shifts than variations in the species life histories and other factors.

“The world is changing, and that includes the ecology of the oceans,” said Fogarty, who heads the NEFSC’s Ecosystem Assessment Program. “Ocean temperatures are not the same from the surface to the bottom. Study after study show that climate change is affecting global fisheries, and we need to be aware of the changes and begin adapting to them.”

The authors suggest that marine species may shift more rapidly than species on land because there are fewer barriers to dispersal in the marine environment and species can more completely seek out their temperature, or thermal, niches. Rapid range shifts, however, will fundamentally reorganize marine communities, resulting in fisheries conflicts across borders and challenges to traditional management approaches.

“We will continue to see shifts in the range of marine populations, and the shifts will change the ecosystem, those who fish for these species in the ecosystem inbcluding the coasta lcommunities supporting the fisheries, and the management systems regulating the fisheries,” Fogarty said. “We can begin to forecast climate velocities and use these forecasts as a tool in manging fisheries in the future.”

In addition to Fogarty, other authors of the study include lead author Malin Pinksy, Jorge Sarmiento and Simon Levin of Princeton University, and Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Pinsky, a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton, recently joined the faculty at Rutgers University.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New Zealand Mudsnails Launch Invasion into Pennsylvania

New Zealand mudsnails are small, measuring less than one-quarter inch, with a long, narrow, coiled shell with deep grooves. Like other aquatic invasive species, they disrupt ecosystems by rapidly multiplying and competing with native species for space and food.  New Zealand mudsnails

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission confirm that New Zealand Mud Snails are in Spring Creek, Centre County, PA. Biologist with the PA Department of Environmental Protection took samples from the stretch between the state fish hatchery and Bellefonte, PA. Snail experts from South Carolina’s College of Charleston and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum confirmed the findings.

“Based on studies conducted in western U.S. streams, if the population grows quickly, they could become the dominant organisms in the benthic – or bottom dwelling – community, upon which many others species depend for food,” said Bob Morgan, the PFBC’s ecologist who studies aquatic invasive species. “Because this is the first known occurrence of the New Zealand mudsnail on the Atlantic slope of the eastern U.S, the effects of the snail on higher organisms, such as fish, are not certain at this time.”

 The mudsnail has spread to Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. They were discovered in the Snake River in Idaho and Wyoming in 1987; in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in 1991; and in Lake Erie about 4 miles north of Presque Isle Bay in 2007. Additional populations were found in a small stream near the Niagara River in New York in 2008 and in another Lake Ontario tributary in 2011.

“Spring Creek is one of the most heavily fished streams in the state, with anglers travelling to it from all over the world,” added Morgan. “Given the presence of the mudsnail in other areas of the country, it’s not surprising they have been found here. As with many aquatic invasive species, they are nearly impossible to eradicate once established. This is even more difficult with the mudsnail because it usually takes only one small snail to be able to produce offspring. But we must do our best to slow its spread to other waters.”

Anglers and boaters are urged to “Clean Your Gear!” before leaving a water and entering another one.

New Zealand mudsnails require some specialized disinfection measures. Gear should be visually inspected and any clinging matter should be removed and disposed of in the trash. To kill mudsnails, three methods are effective. Gear can be frozen for a minimum of six hours, or it can be soaked in hot water - 120°F to 140°F - for five minutes. This last method is not recommended for Gortex.

Also, a 2005 study by the California Department of Fish and Game showed that mudsnails can be killed by soaking gear for five minutes in a one-to-one solution of Formula 409® Cleaner Degreaser Disinfectant and water. After soaking gear for five minutes, thoroughly rinse it with plain water. Simply spraying gear with the disinfectant or the mixture does not work. Also, general cleaners have not been shown to be effective against the mudsnail.

If you suspect that you have found New Zealand mudsnail (or any other AIS) in another waterway, please report your information at: http://fishandboat.com/ais-reporting.htm. When reporting an AIS sighting it is very important to include as much information as possible including close-up photos of the organism, the exact location (GPS coordinates work best), a description of what you found, and your contact information.

For more information about New Zealand mudsnail, visit http://www.paseagrant.org/fact_sheet_group/invasive-species/ and scroll down to Fact Sheets – Invertebrates and the mudsnail photo/link.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New York to Decrease Sporting License Fees

Beginning February 1, 2014 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is decreasing sporting license fees.  This price reduction could increase participation and tourism bringing additional revenue to many of the states rural areas where most of these activities take place.

Another change is that New York will no longer issue licenses on a "season year". The new licensing system will issue individual licenses for 365 days from the date of issue.  For example, if a fisherman buys their license on April 1 to fish in the spring that license will be effective until the following April 1. Under current regulations, that same angler would have had to purchase another license in October to fish in the fall as the current "season system" goes from Oct 1 to Sept 30.

Individuals will have to pay closer attention to their own license expiration dates in order to remain in compliance since there will no longer be one common start and end date to the license year. The new system will also make online license purchases easier on the DEC website.

The current license process is confusing due to the number, type and potential combinations of hunting and fishing licenses. In addition, fees are presently higher in New York than in many neighboring and comparable states. The proposal would:

  • Reduce by 11 the number of licenses available while maintaining all current hunting and fishing privileges and opportunities
  • Reduce the price of a hunting license by 24 percent from $29 to $22
  • Reduce the price of a fishing license by nearly 14 percent from $29 to $25
  • Make fishing licenses valid for one year from the date of purchase
  • Create a non-resident license structure which is the same as the resident license structure
  • Fold trapping privileges into the hunting license for no additional fee for certified trappers
  • Maintain Junior Trapper and Trapper Mentor opportunities
  • Reduce fees for non-resident hunting and fishing licenses to attract more out-of-state participants
  • Retain discounted licenses for youth, seniors, military disabled and Native Americans.

License Current New
NYS Residents
Annual Fishing License $29 $25
Annual Hunting License $29 $22
Annual Bow Hunting Privilege $21 $20
Annual Muzzleloading $21 $11
Out-of-State Residents
Annual Fishing License $70 $50
Annual Hunting License $140 $100
Annual Bow Hunting Privilege $140 $40
Annual Muzzleloading $140 $30
Annual Turkey $50 $20
One-day Fishing $15 $10

Fishermen Face Felony Charges for Spearing Striped Bass

A group of four fishermen are facing felony charges after they were caught by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Officers with 74 striped bass that they had allegedly illegally speared in waters off Valiant Rock in Block Island Sound, Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

In late August, the Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) were on a routine patrol from Shinnecock to Fishers Island when they observed three divers with spear guns in hand boarding the fishing vessel Sea Spearit at Valiant Rock in a shallow area East of Gull Island. Upon boarding the vessel, operated by Christopher R. Miller of Montauk, the ECOs found both tagged striped bass and untagged striped bass in coolers. Some of the tagged fish bore the tags belonging to Mr. Miller; others were tagged with tags belonging to Mr. Miller's sister, Tanya J. Miller, who was not present on the ship.

All the fish had spear wounds evident in their gill areas. New York State Environmental Conservation Law forbids the taking of striped bass for commercial purposes by spear due to the fact there is a slot size limit that is hard to determine until the fish are actually in hand, and that this is considered a much easier way to secure a fish whose populations have to be managed in order to ensure the continued viability of the fishing stock.

"Fishing limits were established to maintain a healthy, sustainable striped bass population and violators of this law will be subject to arrest and prosecution," Commissioner Martens said. "When individuals use inappropriate methods to harvest a critical resource like striped bass, they are depleting the fishing stock and penalizing commercial fisherman who play by the rules and harvest fish using appropriate methods."

After ordering the boat back to Montauk, ECOs took possession of the fish and brought them to the Suffolk County Medical Examiner's Office for weighing, which determined that the total unlawfully harvested striped bass weighed 926.5 pounds, valued at $4,632. Felony charges can be filed in instances where the value of harvested fish exceeds $1,500.

Miller and two of the other divers surrendered on October 4 at State Police Headquarters in Riverside. Their arraignment date is set for Nov. 4 in Southold Town Court.

A warrant was also issued for Peter J. Correale of New Canaan, CT, who is presently out of the country and will be charged at a later date.

All three of the individuals who surrendered were charged with a Class E Felony of taking striped bass for commercial purpose with prohibited spears in excess of $1,500 in value. They were also charged with two violations for taking fish out of slot sized and possessing untagged striped bass.

The individuals facing these charges are:
  • Ship captain Christopher R. Miller of, Montauk;
  • Erik A. Oberg of Montauk;
  • Mica Marder of East Hampton.
Mr. Miller was also charged with a violation for unlawful possession of striped bass tags and failing to display a dive flag as required by the NYS Navigation Law.

On October 2, ECOs also caught Miller off of Montauk Point with three speared striped bass hidden in a compartment on his boat. The total weight of the fish was approximately 100 pounds with a value well over the $250 threshold, making this a misdemeanor under the ECL with a minimum penalty of $5,000.

His court date for this misdemeanor charge is December 4 in East Hampton Town Court.

Individuals spotting illegal activities are encouraged to call DEC's Environmental Conservation Officers at (631) 444-0250 during business hours, and 1-877-457-5680 or 1-800-TIPP-DEC at all other times to report suspected illegal activities.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Supports Measure to Strengthen the NFHP

The 10-year mark of the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) and Action Plan, was commemorated with a resolution passed at the business meeting of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) in September 2013.

With this resolution, state fish and wildlife agencies recognize NFHP as a state-led effort and will work towards increasing support for implementing the Action Plan, distinguishing its value in furthering the conservation of fish, wetland and wildlife habitats and enhancing fishing opportunities for the public.

“This resolution affirms AFWA’s commitment through the states in supporting the increasing scope of the National Fish Habitat Partnership. State support of the both the National and individual partnership efforts is essential for the continuing success of the initiative and maintaining the National Fish Habitat Partnership as a state-led effort” said Kelly Hepler, Chair of the National Fish Habitat Board and Assistant Commissioner, Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game.

The NFHP is working through 18 regionally-based partnerships in 47 states. Many of these partnerships work hand-in-hand with state agencies and have been instrumental in the success of the work of the partnerships in conducting on-the-ground conservation activities.

The NFHP is a priority of AFWA’s Fisheries and Water Resources Policy Committee, and it has received nearly $3 Million in Sportfish Restoration funding since 2008 through the Multistate Conservation Grant Program. This funding is used for implementation of Partnership priorities and to restore aquatic habitat across the country.

AFWA’s NFHP resolution is complementary to a Memorandum of Understanding recently signed by the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce underscoring their commitment to the NFHP and implementing the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and, reporting their activities annually to each Department’s Secretary.


About the National Fish Habitat Partnership:
The National Fish Habitat Partnership works to conserve fish habitat nationwide, leveraging federal, state, and private funding sources to achieve the greatest impact on fish populations through priority conservation projects. The national partnership implements the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and supports 18 regional grassroots partner organizations. For more information visit, http://fishhabitat.org/ , http://www.facebook.com/NFHAP , https://twitter.com/FishHabitat , http://www.scoop.it/t/fish-habitat

Importance of Waters and Wetlands Documented in New EPA Report

Scientists from sportsmen’s organizations favorably review report that will guide development of
a new rule clarifying the Clean Water Act’s role in safeguarding ‘waters of the United States’

A recently released report by the Environmental Protection Agency fairly and accurately documents the connectivity of wetlands and streams to downstream waters, according to a panel of prominent aquatic scientists who discussed the report’s findings in a conference call today. These wetlands and streams support a range of fish and wildlife species as well as sportsmen’s ability to access high-quality hunting and fishing opportunities.

Titled “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters,” the EPA report will guide development of a soon-to-be-release rule clarifying the federal Clean Water Act’s role in safeguarding the so-called “waters of the United States.” According to the EPA, the report represents the state of the science on the connectivity of waters in the United States. According to sportsmen, the report and related rulemaking play a key role in conserving the streams and wetlands important to all Americans, especially hunters and anglers.

“The report is a very good synthesis of the science that riparian and floodplain wetlands are, as a category, physically, chemically and biologically connected with rivers,” said Scott Yaich, director of conservation programs with Ducks Unlimited and a participant in today’s call.

“However, with respect to what the EPA calls ‘unidirectional wetlands,’ which includes wetlands as diverse as the prairie potholes of the Dakotas, the Carolina bays of the East Coast and the playa lakes of Texas and the southern Great Plains, their scientists were – not surprisingly – unable to draw a broadly applicable conclusion,” Yaich continued. “Nevertheless, the science that was compiled demonstrates that a great many of these wetlands are connected to and have significant impacts on downstream waters.” 

With the September release of this report and the rulemaking, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers opened a new chapter – and in the view of sportsmen a welcome chapter – on the issue of wetlands and streams management. This includes the opportunity to resolve inconsistencies resulting from conflicting Supreme Court decisions concerning what constitutes the “waters of the United States” – and therefore which wetlands and streams the federal government has jurisdiction to regulate – and subsequent agency guidance.

“Overall I was pleased with the depth and breadth of the report in its review of the physical, chemical, and biological connections between headwater streams and downstream water bodies,” said Helen Neville, Ph.D., a research scientist for Trout Unlimited who spoke during the teleconference. “Working primarily in the arid West, I can’t over-emphasize the importance of small, connected and healthy headwater streams for a unique, iconic Western native trout species like the Lahontan cutthroat trout, and I commend the report authors for thorough science review of stream connectivity.”

“The report is correct in saying that the effects of small water bodies in a watershed need to be considered in aggregate,” said Joy Zedler, Aldo Leopold professor of restoration ecology, Botany Department and Arboretum, University of Wisconsin-Madison, who also participated in the scientist forum. “Wetlands are essential to the physical, chemical and biological integrity of watersheds precisely because they work together to cleanse the water, abate the floods, recharge water supplies and store carbon. And we should not forget the ways in which aggregated wetlands serve biodiversity. This is especially true throughout the Prairie Pothole Region.”

Ducks Unlimited, the Izaak Walton League of America, the National Wildlife Federation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited convened the forum to illustrate the importance of the new report in the Clean Water Act’s ability to maintain and restore the integrity of the nation’s waters and wetlands.

“Simply put, the Clean Water Act cannot work well if there is confusion about which waters are protected by its provisions and which are not,” said moderator Steve Moyer, vice president for government affairs at Trout Unlimited. “Key to answering this central water policy question is the science documenting the roles played by headwater streams and wetlands – resources that are central to fish, wildlife and our nation’s invaluable sporting traditions – in the health of rivers, lakes and bays downstream.”

Friday, September 27, 2013

EPA Announces Second Opportunity for Public Comments on Proposed Ban on Boat Sewage Dumping into Lake Erie

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reaffirmed its initial determination that there are adequate facilities around Lake Erie for boats to pump out their sewage. The determination will allow the establishment of a “no discharge zone” for 593 square miles of the lake, its tributaries and bays, and 84 miles of shoreline that comprise the New York State portion of the lake. The EPA is providing an opportunity for the public to comment on the boat sewage dumping ban for a second time. The EPA initially made a determination in December 2012 that adequate sewage pump out facilities exist and that the state’s proposal to designate areas of Lake Erie as a “no discharge zone” can go forward. The EPA received significant comments questioning the availability of sewage pump-out facilities, particularly for larger vessels, and the EPA conferred with New York State to gather more information. That information gathering is now complete and the EPA is confirming its original opinion that there are adequate facilities.

“Declaring this area of Lake Erie a ‘no discharge zone’ would provide cleaner water for Lake Erie and the people who use the lake,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA and New York State looked carefully at the information and agree that Lake Erie has enough facilities to remove treated waste from all types of vessels and keep it from entering the lake.”

A “no-discharge zone” means that boats are completely banned from discharging sewage into the water. Boaters must instead dispose of their sewage at specially-designated pump-out stations. Discharges of sewage from boats can contain harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, which have a negative impact on water quality, pose a risk to people’s health and impair marine life. The EPA is encouraging public comment on its proposed approval until October 28, 2013.

EPA’s tentative determination is available in the Federal Register at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/.

The proposed no discharge zone for the New York State portion of Lake Erie includes the waters of the lake from the Pennsylvania-New York State boundary, as well as the Upper Niagara River and numerous other tributaries, harbors and bays of the Lake, including Barcelona Harbor, Dunkirk Harbor and the Buffalo Outer Harbor.

Lake Erie, its harbors, bays, creeks and wetlands support fish spawning areas and habitat, commercial and recreational boating, and plethora of recreational opportunities.

For more information about no discharge zones, visit http://epa.gov/region02/water/ndz/index.html. For the notice that appeared today in the Federal Register, visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-09-27/pdf/2013-23688.pdf .

To comment on the proposed EPA approval, email, fax or mail comments to Moses Chang at chang.moses@epa.gov , Fax: (212) 637-3891 . Mailing address: Moses Chang, U.S. EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866.

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