Popular Posts

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Planning the Perfect Fly Fishing Trip

 Cross Current Guide Service & Outfitters
The Upper Delaware River and much more...

The shorter days of winter give us longer nights to dream about the fishing that is yet to come.

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season!

The Upper Delaware had an outstanding season for 2011. There were times that were tough for sure, but the seemingly never ending Fall kept the dry fly action going right into Thanksgiving. The wet year gave us excellent water flows that provided miles of water cold enough for trout, something we hadn't seen in more than a decade. Right now the river looks excellent. Water levels are high as are the reservoirs. The brown trout had excellent spawning conditions this past Fall and the rainbows should be looking at the same this Spring.

Here at Cross Current few changes have taken place. The first is our new website. Well, not really "new" but definitely a face-lift. Check it out at CrossCurrentGuideService.com.

We also have added a new destination to our travel itinerary. March 3 through 10 will have us bonefishing in the Bahamas. We'll be staying on one of the more remote and undeveloped islands. Massive white sand flats line the island's entire shores and with them bonefish from 4 to 10 pounds. Call or email if you'd like to join us or want more information on the trip. crosscurrent@optonline.net

We also book destinations to just about anywhere you may want to fish, both hosted and individually. Call or email for details.

The Double Haul Club is up and running providing private access on the East and West Branches of the Delaware. Look for the club's website launch in the very near future. Club membership also includes discounts on local lodging and dining. In addition, club members enjoy travel discounts to any of our travel destinations. Annual membership is only $500 per person. To receive a membership brochure and more information send us an email or visit us at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, NJ or Lancaster, PA.

During January 27, 28, 29, 2012 we'll be at the Fly Fishing Show, in Somerset, NJ. and at the Lancaster, PA Fly Fishing Show during February 18 & 19, 2012. Stop by our exhibitor booth for some fishing talk or drop in on one of the several presentations we’ll be giving. Visit the shows website for times and directions.

Until the next cast,


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Calling Them Shrimp Just Wouldn't Make Sense

The headline reads like the title of a science fiction move: Giant Prawns Invade Texas. Known to be in the Gulf of Mexico for the last few years, giant Asian tiger prawns have now appeared in Texas waters.

These prawns are speculated to be aquaculture escapes and have taken hold in the gulf coast waters where they threaten the native white shrimp, crabs and shellfish. One theory is that floods washed them out of aquaculture ponds in South Carolina, the Caribbean or one of the gulf states.

The prawns are big and competitive and compete for the same food sources as their native relatives. The tiger prawns also think nothing of dining on their smaller cousins and small crabs too.

The giants are known carries to 16 different diseases that are known to be lethal to native species.

I'm guessing due to their large size, sometimes better than a foot long, these prawns are so named because calling them shrimp just wouldn't make sense.

More information on these alien invaders can be found at ProtectYourWaters.net

Monday, December 26, 2011

Legislation to keep vessels with illegally caught seafood out of U.S. ports introduced

A bill introduced in Congress yesterday would prevent pirate fishing vessels from entering U.S. ports to offload their illegally caught seafood. This pirate fishing is often called illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The Administration bill, which implements an international agreement the United States helped negotiate, would benefit U.S. fishermen, seafood buyers, and consumers by keeping illegal seafood out of global trade. It is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who introduced it in the Senate yesterday, and is co-sponsored by Sens. Begich, Snowe, Whitehouse, Murkowski, and Rockefeller.

“Illegal fishing undermines fishermen in the U.S. and worldwide who fish sustainably and legally, and it can devastate fish stocks and ocean ecosystems,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “As one of the top importers of seafood globally, the U.S. is committed to combating illegal fishing and ensuring a level playing field for our fishermen. The international agreement and this bill will close the world’s ports to illegal fishing.”

Illegal fishing deprives law-abiding fishermen and coastal communities around the world of up to $23.5 billion in revenue every year, and undermines efforts to monitor and sustainably manage fisheries. Since seafood caught through IUU fishing enters the global marketplace through wide-ranging ports mostly outside the U.S., keeping that seafood from entering the global market requires an international solution and the cooperation of multiple countries.

“The sustainability of fish and fish products and the economic integrity of those who sell them is a priority for the seafood community,” said John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, an industry association. “Efforts to stamp out illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing go a long way in protecting the resource and ensuring the global seafood industry is operating at the highest standards. It also helps create a level playing field whereby the industry both in the U.S. and around the world plays by the same rules.”

“This legislation further strengthens the United States' commitment to closing our ports to illegally caught fish,” said Gerry Leape, senior officer at the Pew Environment Group. “The U.S. is the third largest seafood market in the world, so passage of this bill will deal a heavy blow to any vessels looking to offload and sell contraband fish.”

This legislation arises from the first binding global agreement to focus on combating IUU fishing, the agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. This international accord is recognized globally as a landmark agreement. As a leader in the negotiation of the agreement, the U.S. was one of the first countries to sign it, an act that expresses an intention to ratify the agreement. The agreement will take full effect when 25 parties to the agreement ratify it.

Three countries – Norway, Sri Lanka, and Burma – along with the European Union have already ratified it, and 18 more countries and the U.S. have expressed an intention to ratify.

Countries that ratify the agreement have four basic obligations:
  • Designating ports through which foreign fishing vessels may enter;
  • Conducting dockside vessel inspections in the designated ports, following established standards;
  • Blocking port entry and access to port services to vessels known to or believed to have been involved in IUU fishing, particularly those on the IUU vessel list of a regional fishery management organization; and
  • Sharing information, including inspection results, with the governments of vessels found involved in IUU fishing during an inspection.
U.S. law already prohibits foreign-flagged fishing vessels, even those operating legally, from landing their catch at most U.S. ports. However, in addition to fishing vessels, the agreement and implementing legislation extends to both transport and other support vessels, which may be carrying IUU fish transferred to them at sea.

The implementing legislation, introduced as the Pirate Fishing Elimination Act, follows the November 14 transmission of the agreement itself from President Obama to the Senate. Congressional approval of the agreement and its implementing legislation will ensure continued U.S. leadership in the global battle to stop IUU fishing and will allow the United States to encourage broad ratification of the agreement worldwide.

NOAA has taken a number of steps to combat IUU fishing and prevent illegal seafood from entering the global marketplace. In September, NOAA and the EU signed a historic statement pledging bilateral cooperation to combat pirate fishing. The U.S. also identifies countries engaged in IUU fishing through the U.S. High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protect Act and participates in international fishery management organizations to address IUU fishing. To find out more about NOAA’s efforts to end illegal fishing, see http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/iuu/.

One of World’s Rarest Birds in Western North Carolina

Biologists recently confirmed the presence of a pair of whooping cranes outside Hayesville, North Carolina, marking the first time the birds have been documented wintering in Western North Carolina.

Whooping cranes are one of the rarest species in the world, with a current estimated global population between 525-550 individuals, which is divided into four main groups. All wild whooping cranes are part of a western population that migrates between Canada and coastal Texas and now numbers approximately 300. In 1999 state and federal agencies, non-profits, and private individuals formed the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) to restore a migratory flock to eastern North America. This carefully-managed and heavily-monitored eastern flock began with a small group of captively-reared birds which has grown to more than 100 individuals, including the two found in Clay County. The third and fourth populations are reintroduced populations of nonmigratory whooping cranes in Florida and Louisiana.

The Western North Carolina sighting of whooping cranes was reported through the BringBacktheCranes.org website on December 9, 2011 by Paul Hudson, of Hayesville, N.C.  After the initial report, Jennifer Davis, of the International Crane Foundation, joined Hudson and confirmed his sighting upon finding the birds foraging in a soybean field.

“With Jennifer’s great tracking abilities and my local knowledge, we found the birds again and got to view them from a safe distance. They lifted their giant wings and displayed while calling, which echoed across the valley,” said Hudson. “What wonderful creatures they are, and I got two chances to see them in the wild. How cool is that?”

Since Hudson’s first sighting, at least two other people have reported the birds.

“We’re pleasantly surprised that we’re beginning to get a steady stream of reports, since the birds don’t usually pass through Western North Carolina and we haven’t put out a call for people to report sightings,” said Billy Brooks, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist who has spent years working with whooping cranes. “It’s wonderful to see people recognizing that these birds are something special in their community.”

The cranes are a male/female pair, and biologists anticipate they’ll mate when they return north in the spring. Like all members of the eastern population, the birds have identifying leg bands. The male goes by the number 28-08, meaning he was the 28th chick hatched to the eastern population in 2008. The female is 5-10, the fifth chick hatched in 2010.

When young eastern whooping cranes make their first southward migration, they follow closely related sandhill cranes, older whooping cranes, or an ultralight aircraft which leads the birds south from Wisconsin, across Tennessee and Alabama into Florida. After that first guided migration, the birds are on their own to select a route and a wintering area.  The male of this pair spent last winter at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in southeast Tennessee, along with a handful of other whooping cranes which winter there with thousands of sandhill cranes. While Clay County is outside the main migration corridor, it isn’t far enough to worry biologists.

It remains to be seen whether the pair will make Western North Carolina their annual wintering ground. Aside from ecological factors, it may depend, in part, on the behavior of Western North Carolinians. Brooks advises anyone encountering a whooping crane in the wild to give them the respect and distance they need.  WCEP recommends not approaching the birds on foot within 600 feet; remaining in your vehicle; not approaching in a vehicle within 600 feet or, if on a public road, within 300 feet; remaining concealed and not speaking loudly enough that the birds can hear you; and not trespassing on private property in an attempt to view whooping cranes. These birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act.

“It’ll be fascinating to see if these birds remain in Western North Carolina,” said Brooks. “There are a lot of factors that play into that – not only human disturbance, but also whether the habitat has what they need to over-winter.”

Whooping cranes were listed as an endangered species in 1967, the result of hunting and specimen collection, human disturbance, and loss of habitat. Whooping crane numbers dipped to an all time low of 16 individuals in 1941. They once occurred from the Arctic coast to the high plateau of central Mexico, and from Utah east to New Jersey and Florida.  Standing almost 5 feet tall, it’s the tallest bird in North America.  Adult birds are characterized by snowy white plumage, a crimson crown, long thin black legs, and white wings tipped with black that measure almost 8 feet in length.  The plumage of juvenile birds is a mixture of cinnamon and white.  Deriving their name from the distinctive whooping call, the call of the whooping crane can carry for miles.

Recognizing that the few remaining wild birds had become concentrated in small areas, scientists became concerned that a single catastrophic event on either the wintering or nesting grounds could wipe out the population.  This led to efforts to establish additional, separate populations.

The Whooping Crane Recovery Team, a group of biologists that provide policy and recommendations for the species, searched for possible locations to establish a second migratory flock.  In 1999, the team recommended that a flock of whooping cranes hatched in captivity be taught a migration route between central Wisconsin and the west coast of Florida.  The recovery team then sanctioned the ultralight-led migration techniques of Operation Migration, Inc. as the main reintroduction method.

In 2001, Operation Migration's pilots first led captive-reared whooping crane chicks south from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.  This effort to guide young cranes to wintering grounds has become an annual event and is considered key to establishing the eastern population. To prepare for the journey and release into the wild, the young cranes are introduced to ultralight aircraft and raised in isolation from humans.  Project biologists and pilots adhere to a strict no-talking rule, broadcast recorded crane calls, and wear costumes designed to mask the human form whenever they’re around the cranes.

In addition to the ultralight-led method, biologists from the International Crane Foundation  rear whooping crane chicks that are released in the company of older cranes, from whom the young birds learn the migration route, part of WCEP’s “Direct Autumn Release” reintroduction method.
Founding members of WCEP include the International Crane Foundation, Operation Migration, Inc., Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and National Wildlife Health Center, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, and the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team.  Many other flyway states, provinces, private individuals and conservation groups have joined forces with and support WCEP by donating resources, funding, and personnel.  To report a crane sighting or learn more about the project, visit the WCEP website at http://www.bringbackthecranes.org.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Didymo Infestation Leads to the Death of 434,000 Lake Trout

It all started back in August, 2011 when Hurricane Irene trashed the White River National Fish Hatchery in Bethel, Vermont. 

Not only did the hatchery sustain damage and lose thousands of fish including Atlantic salmon, lake trout and native brook trout, but the flood waters injected didymo, aka rock snot, into the hatchery. 

Efforts are under way to disinfect and reopen the facility but in the meantime 434,000 lake trout became homeless. 

These fish were slated for stocking in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie but wildlife managers cancelled that fearing introducing the invasive didymo into the Great Lakes. Second thought was to stock them in already contaminated waters, but in the end no one wanted them and the decision to kill the fish was made. 

The fish were taken from their tanks and dumped into deep pits, covered with lime and buried.  A huge waste of fish as I see it.  Didymo is a diatom that has colonized many waterways with its fibrous coating but it's not poisonous.  Why couldn't these fish be either sold to a commercial wholesaler or donated to shelters and food banks?  I'd like to believe there's a good reason they weren't.  Emphasis on the "I'd like to..."

Take a minute and email your congressman and ask why.  Here the link to make it easy: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rhode Island Bans Felt Soles

Rhode Island becomes the fourth state to ban felt soles in an effort to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. The Ocean State joins Alaska, Vermont and Maryland in having statewide bans. 

A look at Rhode Island's 2012-2013 Fishing Regulations simply states: It is prohibited that any person use foot gear with external felt soles in any state waters, inclusive of freshwater, tidal, or marine. This shall include any waters shared with adjacent states in which any Rhode Island Fishing Regulations apply.

Note that Rhode Island and Maryland ban the use of felt sole in both freshwater and saltwater.

Simms urges support for on-line sales tax

Marketplace Fairness Act creates level playing field for specialty fly shops

BOZEMAN, Montana (for immediate release) – Simms Fishing Products is urging the U.S. Congress to approve legislation that enforces sales taxes on Internet sales from out-of-state retailers with online revenues totaling more than $500,000.

The proposed legislation, titled the Marketplace Fairness Act (S-1832), levels the sales tax collection playing field for local retailers by granting the states authority to enforce existing laws and require out-of-state, online retailers to collect and remit sales taxes to those states. Sponsored by Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), the proposed legislation has strong bipartisan support.

“Our business and the sport of fly fishing depend on healthy specialty fly shops,” said K.C. Walsh, president of Simms. “This legislation will close a critical loophole that has given an unfair competitive advantage to online retailers. Our dealer-partners in states with high sales taxes have been hit hard trying to do business under the current structure.”

The legislation does not mandate a new sales tax. Under current law in 45 states, consumers are supposed to pay sales taxes on the goods they purchase, but online sellers are not collecting the tax in the same way that local brick-and-mortar businesses are.

“With the Internet and modern shopping methods, fly fishers can go online and get an all-inclusive price to have an item delivered to their doorstep,” said Bill Kiene, owner of Kiene’s Fly Shop in Sacramento, Calif. “When an online retailer doesn’t charge California’s 8-10 percent sales tax, that price comes in below what my shop must charge. This bill would rectify that.”

This legislation is being supported by a wide variety of retailers, manufacturers and organizations. The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association and The National Bicycle Dealers Association are in favor of this legislation. Amazon.com, Sears Holdings Corp. and traditional retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. also back the measure.

“Specialty fly fishing retailers have been critical to our growth in revenues and jobs,” said Walsh.
“They are being unfairly impinged by online retailers who do not currently collect sales taxes,
challenging their viability and jobs in local markets. Please contact your legislators to support
the Marketplace Fairness Act.”

About Simms Fishing Products: Established in 1980, Simms Fishing Products is the
recognized leader in guide-quality fishing waders, outerwear, footwear and apparel. Their full
line of gear is available at specialty and large format retailers nationwide. For more information
on Simms, please visit www.simmsfishing.com. For additional media information, please contact
Matt Crawford at Pale Morning Media, matt@palemorning.com or call 802.583.6069.

Pennsylvania Free Saltwater Angler Registry Available Jan. 1

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is reminding saltwater anglers that they can register with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for free beginning Jan. 1 through the PFBC’s website.

NOAA requires annual registration from both Pennsylvania residents and non-residents – 16 years of age or older – who target or catch shad, striped bass and river herring from the Delaware River below Trenton Falls or in the Delaware River Estuary.

Beginning Jan. 1, anglers who fish in Pennsylvania and its boundary waters have the option to register through the free PA Saltwater Angler Registry Program (PA-SARP), or to register for a fee through the federal online registry or by calling toll-free 1-888-674-7411. A web button in the left column of the PFBC website called “PA-SARP” directs anglers to the free registration page.

“As a registered saltwater angler, you may be asked by NOAA to participate in surveys about your fishing activity,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “Information obtained from these surveys is used to determine the health and sustainability of marine fisheries and to make informed decisions about how many fish can be caught the following year.”

Anglers must have a valid Pennsylvania fishing license prior to registering with PA-SARP.

Anglers do not need to register if they meet one of the following exceptions:

  • Are under the age of 16.
  • Hold a Highly Migratory Species Angling Permit.
  • Fish commercially under a valid license.
  • Possess a valid registration with the National Saltwater Angler Registry administered by NOAA or from another exempted state.

Please note that River herring (also known as alewife and blueback herring) and hickory shad (endangered species) are regulated with a closed fishing season, year-round. These species are not to be targeted. If caught, they are to be immediately released.

“Saltwater anglers should carry their Pennsylvania Saltwater Angler Registration Card with them while fishing as proof of compliance with this registration program,” Arway added. “And anglers should contact the applicable state agency when fishing the tidal waters outside of Pennsylvania to be sure they are in compliance with the states saltwater angler registration requirements.”

For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at www.fishandboat.com.

Friday, December 16, 2011

$485 Million in Grants to Clean Up Abandoned Coal Mines

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that grants will be awarded in 2012 totaling more than $485 million to remove health and safety hazards caused by past coal mining activities.  This is $90 million more than last years grants.

The money for Abandoned Mine Land (AML) grants is from coal receipts and is divvied up through a federal mandated formula in the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA).

“When our nation enacted mining reform in 1977, we made a simple and bold promise that the revenues from coal extraction today should help clean up the legacy of coal mining many years ago,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “These grants help fulfill that promise while putting men and women to work across the country on restoration projects that will bring lands back to life, clean up rivers, and leave a better legacy for our children and grandchildren.”

The top states relieving grants are Wyoming ($150 million); Pennsylvania ($67.2 million); West Virginia ($66.5 million); Kentucky ($47 million); and Illinois ($24 million)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sportsmen say "Personal Experience" is their #1 Influence

77 percent of anglers and 78 percent of hunters name “personal experience” as the number one influence when deciding to buy a particular brand. This is from a recent study by Southwick Associates on that very topic.

"This is a clear message to companies that if they provide a product that delivers on its promises every time a sportsmen uses it, they may well have made that hunter, shooter or angler a customer for life,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com.

Ranking right up there with personal experience and brand loyalty in purchase decisions is recommendations from experienced friends.  No surprise here as the "referral" is what's driven sales for decades.

Magazines, even with their declining subscription rates, are still ahead of television, radio and the internet as far as influencing buying decisions through advertising. Feature magazine articles also hold a big influential place with fishermen and hunters.

A surprise outcome is that endorsements by sporting and other celebrities place pretty far down on the list as to what influences a particular brand.  Could this mean manufactures will start dropping the proliferation of signatures on their products that in many cases seem like just an excuse to raise prices.

Anyone who's a fisherman, hunter or a shooter can participate in Southwicks's marking surveys by simply visiting   AnglerSurvey.com, HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com 

Launched in 2006, AnglerSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and HunterSurvey.com help the outdoor equipment industry, government fisheries and wildlife officials and conservation organizations track consumer activities and expenditure trends. The information above represents only a small sample of the vast amount of data collected from the complete survey results and available to government agencies, businesses, the media and other interested parties. Results are scientifically analyzed to reflect the attitudes and habits of anglers and hunters across the United States

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ocean Dead Zones are Shrinking Habitat for Billfish and Tuna

NOAA researcher collaborates on important study of how ocean dead zones are shrinking habitat for blue marlins, other tropical billfish and tunas

The science behind counting fish in the ocean to measure their abundance has never been simple. A new scientific paper authored by NOAA Fisheries biologist Eric Prince, Ph.D., and eight other scientists shows that expanding ocean dead zones – driven by climate change – have added a new wrinkle to that science.

In the December 4 paper published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, these scientists sound an alarm that expanding ocean dead zones are shrinking the habitat for high value fish such as marlins in the tropical northeast Atlantic Ocean. As dead zones expand, marlins, other billfish and tunas move into surface waters where they are more vulnerable to fishing. Dead zones are areas in the ocean where oxygen levels are so low that creatures cannot survive over the long term.
“By combining the disciplines of oceanography and fishery biology, we are getting a much clearer picture of how climate driven dead zones are shrinking the habitat for some of the world’s most valuable fish to commercial and recreational fishermen,” Prince said. “With a clearer picture, we will be able to make better management decisions for the long-term health of these species and their ecosystems.”

In the past, Prince has studied the movement of marlins and other billfish in ocean waters off Florida and the Caribbean as well as in the tropical waters of the eastern Pacific. The new paper combines Prince’s research on marlins in the northeast tropical Atlantic Ocean off Africa with oceanographic research in the same waters by Lothar Stramma  and his colleagues at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Science in Kiel, Germany, as well as scientists at the University of Miami Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Prince tagged blue marlin, one of the most valuable recreational species on the planet, with pop up satellite tracking devices to record their horizontal and vertical movement. He compared this information on fish movement with detailed oceanographic maps developed by Stramma and his colleagues on the same ocean areas showing the location of zones with low dissolved oxygen. Prince, Stramma and Sunke Schmidtko, who was at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle at the time of the research, are the three equally contributing first authors of the paper.

Blue marlins and many other billfish are high energy fish that need large amounts of dissolved oxygen. By comparing the movement of the blue marlins and the location of low-oxygen areas, the scientists show that blue marlins venture deeper when dissolved oxygen levels are higher and remain in shallower surface waters when low dissolved oxygen areas encroach on their habitat from below.

 “The shrinking of habitat due to expanding dead zones needs to be taken into account in scientific stock assessments and management decisions for tropical pelagic billfish and tuna,” said Prince. “Without taking it into account, stock assessments could be providing false signals that stocks are healthy, when in fact they are not, thus allowing overfishing that further depletes these fish stocks and threatens the sustainability of our fisheries.”

While the new paper focuses on the tropical northeast Atlantic Ocean off Africa, the expansion of low-oxygen zones is occurring in all tropical ocean basins and throughout the subarctic Pacific, making the compression of habitat a global issue. The problem for pelagic fishes in the tropical Atlantic is particularly acute, the authors note, because many of these fish species and the unintended catch, called bycatch, are already fully exploited or overfished.

The new paper follows earlier research by Prince published in 2010 in Fisheries Oceanography based on tagging of marlins and sailfish in the waters off Florida and the Caribbean, which also showed these billfish prefer oxygen-rich waters close to the surface and move away from waters low in dissolved oxygen.

To read the new paper, “Expansion of oxygen minimum zones may reduce available habitat for tropical pelagic fish,” visit the Nature Climate Change website.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Regional Saltwater Recreational Fishing Plans Released by NOAA

NOAA released the first regional saltwater recreational fishing action plans designed to help improve fishing opportunities and address recreational fishing priorities in each of the nation’s six coastal regions and for the angling community that fishes for tunas and other highly migratory species.

Saltwater angling is a treasured national pastime that provides significant benefits – jobs, income and sales - to our nation’s economy. In 2010, saltwater recreational fishing contributed $50 billion in sales to the U.S. economy and supported 326,000 jobs in fishing and across the broader economy.

The new action agendas mark the first time NOAA has both national and regional strategies in place to address the priorities of the nation’s estimated 11 million saltwater anglers who took approximately 73 million fishing trips in 2010. The plans are based on goals and objectives identified by participants at the 2010 Saltwater Recreational Fishing Summit.

“We worked closely with saltwater anglers and their supporters on plans designed to improve stewardship and fishing today and for future generations,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “We’ll revisit the regional action plans regularly to ensure we continue to address our shared goals.”

A few examples of top priorities in the six regions include:
  • Hawaii and the Pacific Islands: A project to increase the number of fish available in the future by improving the survival of fish caught and released by anglers.
  • Alaska: A project to identify and restore important fish spawning habitat by opening up fish passages on rivers and streams and removing marine debris. 
  • Northwest: A project to develop and evaluate a new, more flexible management approach for Chinook salmon that may allow for increased recreational fishing. 
  • Southwest: Multiple cooperative scientific research projects with anglers to improve survival of fish caught and released by anglers and improve information on recreational catch and effort. 
  • Northeast: A project to work with the regional fishery management councils to ensure that Atlantic herring, mackerel, squid and butterfish populations are maintained at healthy levels. This project would also focus on reducing the unintended catch of forage fish such as river herring, which are important food for striped bass and other fish prized by saltwater anglers. 
  • Southeast: A project to investigate more flexible management strategies to provide greater fishing opportunities to the charter boats and other recreational “for-hire” boats.
Each of the regional action agendas includes projects that address the five national recreational fishing action goals which are:
  • Improving recreational fishing opportunities 
  • Improving recreational catch, effort and stock status data 
  • Improving social and economic data on recreational fisheries 
  • Improving communications Improving institutional orientation to promote greater understanding of saltwater angling issues. 
 The new action agendas include ongoing projects or projects expected to be completed in the next 12 to 24 months. The projects improve science and stewardship and help build stronger partnerships with the saltwater angling community through a more visible and responsive regional NOAA presence. To read the regional saltwater angler action agendas go to: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2011/12/recfish.html

Monday, December 05, 2011

Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Photography Contest Deadline Extended to Dec. 31

HARRISBURG – Picture yourself as the winner of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) annual photography contest! There’s still time since the Commission has extended its deadline for entries to December 31. Past winners have seen their works featured in Commission publications such as Pennsylvania Angler & Boater magazine and enlarged as visuals for PFBC sportshow exhibits.

The contest is a great way for angling and boating photographers to not only show their craft but to also show their appreciation for the Commonwealth’s fishing and boating opportunities and aquatic resources. There are three judged categories this year with highly valued top prizes. The category “Anglers and Boaters” invites photographers to participate with submissions showing themselves and family members on the water. “Waterway Scenics” invites inspiring environmental images of your favorite Pennsylvania stream or lake. The category “Reptiles and Amphibians” encourages photographers to capture a moment when they might see a frog, toad, snake, turtle, salamander or skink in their native habitat.

To obtain an entry form, complete with contest rules and past winning entries, visit http://fishandboat.com/photocontest.htm.

The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at fishandboat.com.

Spring Gearhart
Editor, Pennsylvania Angler & Boater

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Make Striped Bass a Gamefish!

Striped Bass Gamefish from Taylor Vavra on Vimeo.

Join Stripers Forever

Mustad Hook to be Swallowed

O. Mustad & Sons, the famous family owned Norwegian hook and tackle company is reported to be soon taken over by another Norwegian company, the privately owned  independent investment company NLI Development.  Rumors have been flying around for awhile that Mustad was being sold and speculation pointed to Pure Fishing and Rapala as the likely buyers but this news squashes that theory. 

The Mustad Hook Company traces its roots back over 175 years when they got their start making nails on a small farm in Norway and in 1871 added fish hooks to their product line. Today their slogan boasts they are the "best selling hooks on the planet".

In 1996 Mustad purchased the famous and respected UK hook company, Partridge of Redditch.  Now Mustad finds itself about to be swallowed by the Norwegian investment giant, NLI Development.

Once again, the big fish eats the little fish.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Once Extinct, Twice Discovered

Seemingly everyday there is an animal species that drops off the face of the earth with a new label: Extinct.  So I always find it pretty cool when some of these long lost species re-emerge from the cosmic soup to be discovered again. 

About a year ago I remember reading about a landlocked salmon that was thought extinct for seventy years only to be found colonizing a lake in its native Japan. Today I came across a frog, a toad, and a sponge that have reappeared after being declared no longer around decades ago.

The sponge was found alive and well near Singapore by a research team after thought vanished from the seas over a hundred years ago.  Called Neptune cups, the sponge is known to grow to large proportions, so large they were once used as children's bath tubs.  The newly discovered specimen is a little one, reported to about the size of a goblet.

The Ha-Hula lake in Israel was the site of a re-found frog, the Hula painted frog.  A female frog was the only one found so it's fate is still questionable.

The Bornean rainbow toad, aka the Sambas Stream toad got some scientists excited when it was found anew on Borneo this past July.  Never even photographed before, the rediscovery allowed for pictures of this brightly colored toad to be finally documented.

You can find pictures of these animals at Mongabay.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Orvis Makes Consumer Reports 2011 “Nice” List For Second Holiday Season

Annual Consumer Reports Naughty & Nice List Rates Top Ten Retailers in Each Category in Regard to Shopping Policies

SUNDERLAND, VT (Holiday 2011) -- With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just days away, Consumer Reports has announced their 2011 Naughty & Nice Holiday List. First introduced in 2010 as part of a public-education campaign, the Naughty & Nice Holiday List looks at shopping policies and the companies behind them, citing the top ten “Nice” and top ten “Naughty” retailers.

The Orvis Company has once again earned a berth in the top ten “Nice” ranking based on the company’s top-notch customer service, which includes live chat on its website to better serve customers by initiating a personal online dialog when they linger on a product. “At Orvis, our customers always come first,” explains Perk Perkins, CEO of The Orvis Company. “We are honored to be recognized by Consumer Reports for our efforts, particularly for the Live Chat service on our website, just one of many innovations designed to serve our customers better.”

The Naughty & Nice Holiday List is based on input from Consumer Reports reporters and editors who cover shopping, travel, hospitality and telecommunications. Consumer Reports notes that the Naughty & Nice Holiday List is based on specific policies and is not reflective of a company as a whole. This year’s List includes high profile companies from a variety of fields including: air travel, electronics, apparel retailing, credit-card lending and concert ticketing.

The full report can be viewed at www.consumerreports.org. For more information on Orvis visit orvis.com

About The Orvis Company

Founded in 1856, Orvis helped pioneer the mail order industry in the United States. The company now operates more than 80 retail stores in the U.S. and the U.K. including its Flagship store in Manchester, VT and maintains a network of over 400 dealers worldwide. The oldest continuously-operated catalog company in the country, Orvis is the premier outfitter of the distinctive country lifestyle and sporting traditions. Learn more at www.orvis.com.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Business as Usual for Striped Bass Management

On November 8th a proposal to reduce the striped bass harvest was defeated by a vote of 9 to 6 by the Striped Bass Management Board. Stripers Forever reported that The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) disregarded a great amount of public testimony as well as government statistics that show the fishery is rapidly deteriorating, due at least in part from the poor recruitment of young fish and the over harvesting of large ones.

The states with commercial fisheries led the effort to continue harvesting at current high levels. States voting to deny any striped bass harvest reduction were: MA, NY, NJ, MD, VA, and NC. while ME, NH, RI, CT, PA, and DE voted to hold public hearings to consider a harvest reduction.

With the coast wide recreational catch off by 75% the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service should have exercised caution and erred on the side of conservation. The feds claim overfishing is not occurring, but with a 75% decrease in the recreational catch they should have realized something is wrong. This high risk style of management threatens the health of the striped bass and other fisheries.

DEP Encourages Pollution Just Be Buried Deeper!

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) came out with a press release announcing the process to use acid mine runoff from coal mines in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, including Marcellus Shale wells.

DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said, “Acid mine drainage impairs more than 5,000 miles of streams in our state, making it ideal for operators to take the drainage out of our waterways and put it to use for hydraulic fracturing,”

Each day, more than 300 million gallons of acid mine drainage discharges into state waterways from sites in the anthracite and bituminous coal regions. Instead of cleaning up that mess, the DEP is recommending the problem be buried deeper. Hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus Shale wells takes place 5,000 to 8,000 feet below groundwater tables. Their logic rests on the assumption that the polluted water is not too likely to find its way into groundwater.

It's somewhat funny to hear an agency with the title Department of Environmental Protection come out with ideas like this.  Using the same logic the commonwealth of Pennsylvania should consider opening the gas wells to other toxic waste disposals too.  After all it's so deep in the ground there's no way it can hurt anything, right?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Striped Bass Assessment: Not Overfished and Overfishing Not Occurring

Striped bass are one of the most sought after fish by recreational anglers along the Atlantic coast.  Recreational landings were estimated to be as high as 30.5 million pounds in 2006 to as low as less than 750,000 pounds in 1989. With recruitment levels that averaged 9.5 million fish from 1982 through 2010 show the popularity of this fish in the harvest of a sizable number of the available population each year.  The commercial harvest, though lower than the recreational catch adds another 139,000 pounds to 7.06 million pounds to the take, depending on the year.  We're still riding high on on the The 2003 year class of 20.8 million fish, the largest since 1982.

Though striped bass are assessed as a single stock there are three distinct stocks of fish that make up the population: Hudson River, Delaware River, and Chesapeake Bay.  The overall stock abundance has decreased each year since 2004, especially in areas dependent on the Chesapeake Bay stocks.  This clearly illustrates the need to manage each of the three primary populations separately or at the least and perhaps simplest, manage the fishery  like the entire population was in the condition of the worse of the three.

Copies of the stock assessment update are available on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission website at www.asmfc.org.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A new day for menhaden management

Written by Ted Venker on 09 November 2011

Commission vote reduces menhaden harvest for first time ever

BOSTON, MA - For the first time in history, there will be reductions in the harvest of Atlantic menhaden after a vote today by the Menhaden Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). Menhaden, which serve as the primary forage base for most predatory fish, have declined to the lowest level ever recorded, sparking alarm in the recreational angling community which has long expressed concern over the impact of industrial menhaden harvest on sportfish stocks.

“This is a long-anticipated decision and it is a great relief for anglers to know that managers have finally begun the process of rebuilding this critical species,” said Charles A. Witek III, chairman of the Atlantic Fisheries Committee for Coastal Conservation Association. “The turning point was finally having science in hand that showed what many of us have been saying for a long time. We still have work to do to ensure that menhaden are properly managed to fulfill its role as a forage base, but we are finally out of the starting blocks.”

Anglers and conservationists have chafed for years under management standards that indicated the spawning stock of menhaden was perfectly healthy and the fishing mortality rate was fine or only “slightly” over the overfishing threshold. As menhaden began to disappear from parts of the coast, it became clear that something was wrong with the way menhaden were being evaluated. Ultimately, outside scientists recommended changing reference points to better reflect the status of the stock and in a landmark decision, the Board agreed. With today’s vote, the reference points change from the current 8 percent Maximum Spawning Potential (MSP), which means 8 percent of an unfished stock, to 15 percent MSP as the overfishing threshold. They then adopted a target, the point for which management measures are intended, of 30 percent MSP, which will require a 37 percent reduction in harvest when implemented.

“The most critical thing that happened today is that the debate over whether or not to manage menhaden at all, is over,” said Richen Brame, CCA Atlantic Fisheries director. “Clearly these fish do indeed need to be managed, and managed conservatively. The debate now becomes about how conservatively should they be managed, and that is a much better scenario for menhaden, for sportfish and for anglers. It took a very long time and a lot of work by many, many groups, but the ASMFC did the right thing today.”

During the public comment period leading up to this vote, the ASMFC received almost 92,000 comments, the overwhelming majority of which were in favor of reductions in menhaden harvest by the greatest amount available. With today’s decision, the focus will now turn to the next management action that will determine exactly how to implement those reductions.

CCA is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the nation. With almost 100,000 members in 17 state chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977. For more information visit the CCA Newsroom at www.JoinCCA.org.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

International Fly Fishing Hall of Fame 2011 Inductees

On October 8, 2011 the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum inducted  Doug Swisher and Carl Richards, Cathy & Barry Beck, Roderick Haig-Brown and John Alden Knight into the International Fly Fishing Hall of Fame.

Theses noted anglers were honored with this prestigious recognition for their significant contributions to fly fishing and to the history of the sport.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

America’s Great Outdoors Report

Today the US Department of the Interior released a final 50-State America’s Great Outdoors Report.  This report outlines over 100 of the country’s most promising projects designed to protect special places and increase access to outdoors.

You can read the entire press release on the Department of Interior's website: AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOORS

The full report includes:

24 projects to restore and provide recreational access to rivers and other waterways

23 projects to construct new trails or improve recreational sites

20 projects that will create and enhance urban parks

13 projects that will restore and conserve America’s most significant landscapes

There are also 11 initiatives requested by states to establish new national wildlife refuges, national park units and other federal designations; five projects that will assist states and communities to protect key open space; and five initiatives to educate young people and connect them to nature.

New Report Shows US Fish and Wildlife Service Fisheries Program Helps Support 68,000 Jobs in U.S. Economy

Fisheries’ recreation and conservation activities are huge economic drivers for nation

WASHINGTON -- The fisheries program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in association with state agencies and other conservation organizations, contributes $3.6 billion to the nation’s economy and supports 68,000 jobs across the country, according to a new report issued by the agency.

“The report confirms once again that fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreational activities are an economic engine for our country,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “When we invest in restoring fish and wildlife habitat and creating opportunities for people to enjoy outdoor recreation, we are investing in economic growth and jobs for the American people.”

Overall, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation contribute an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy each year, Salazar noted. One in twenty U.S. jobs are in the recreation economy – more than there are doctors, lawyers, or teachers.

The report, Conserving America’s Fisheries, An Assessment of Economic Contributions from Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Conservation, shows that each dollar invested in the Service’s Fisheries Program, combined with its partners, generates about $28 in economic contributions and value.

The economic contributions generated are evidenced at sporting goods stores, marinas, guides and outfitter services, boat dealerships, bait shops, gas stations, cafes, hotels, and many other enterprises.

“Since 1871, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fisheries Program has been a leader in managing species, conserving habitat and sustaining the biological health of America’s aquatic resources,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “These resources are inextricably tied to the health and wealth of our nation. These benefits are ecological, scientific, aesthetic, recreational, commercial, subsistence, social, cultural – and economic in nature.”

The report – the first time that Service economists have analyzed the economic contributions of the nation’s fisheries programs – finds that a total of 68,000 American jobs are associated, directly or indirectly, with the fisheries conservation programs and projects.

The report also shows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery System alone generates $900 million in industrial output and $550 million in retail sales. National Fish Hatchery programs generate 8,000 jobs and $256 million in salaries and wages.

Meanwhile, the National Fish Passage Program works with partners to reopen an average of 890 miles of river habitat annually, which has a economic value of $483 million and supports 11,000 jobs. That is more than $542,000 in economic benefit per stream mile restored.

The Service’s Fisheries Program plays a vital role in conserving America’s fisheries, along with key partners from states, tribes, federal agencies, other Service programs, and private interests.

The fisheries program consists of almost 800 employees nationwide, located in 65 Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices, 70 National Fish Hatcheries, 9 Fish Health Centers, 7 Fish Technology Centers and a Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives.

The program supports the only federal fish hatchery system, with extensive experience culturing more than 100 different aquatic species.

These employees and facilities provide a network that is unique in its broad on-the-ground geographic coverage, its array of technical and managerial capabilities, and its ability to work across political boundaries and embrace a national perspective.

For a copy of the report, or to see the summary of the report titled Net Worth: the Economic Value of Fisheries Conservation, please visit http://www.fws.gov/FHC.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Can Catching a Spiny Dog Fish Make Someone Happy?

When you catch a spiny dog fish you might not want to grumble your usual expletives anymore.  That is if the fish is one of the many tagged by NOAA Fisheries that have a reward on their hide.  Otherwise swear to your hearts content.

White tags are worth $20 while orange and green tags can fetch $100.  The caveat is the green tagged fish must be kept whole and either iced or kept frozen.

If you happen to reel in one of these small sharks that are tagged write down the tag number and contact:

Call Toll Free: 877-826-2612
Email: sharkrecap@noaa.gov

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fin clipping hatchery fish may not be as harmless as believed

CBC/Radio Canada reports on their website that the common fish hatchery practice of clipping adipose fins may be harmful to fish.  A study at the University of Victoria found the adipose fins are sensory organs that help the fish negotiate turbulent water.

You can read the whole article on the CBC website:  Common hatchery practice could be harming salmon

Monday, October 17, 2011

Good News for New England's Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic salmon are showing some of the highest returns in decades to some of New England's salmon rivers.  By no means a recovered population the higher returns none the less show promise after years of decline.

On Maine's Penobscot River,  more than 3,100 salmon have been counted at the Veazie dam so far. That more than doubles the number that returned last year and makes this year the highest return since 1986.  Also in Maine, the Narraguagas River has already shown 186 salmon returned compared with last years return of 76 fish.  Fisheries personnel on the Kennebec River have counted 63 fish, a small number but an improvement over last years return of just 7 salmon.

Maine isn't the only place showing improved Atlantic salmon returns.  Massachusetts and New Hampshire's Merrimack River is having the best run in more than 30 years with over 400 salmon entering the river.  Many Canadian rivers are having larger runs this year too, but perhaps most exciting is that in Ireland, the Tolka River is having its first Atlantic salmon run in more than a century!

These returns aren't even close to signaling a recovery of this migratory fish that is listed as endangered in the state of Maine.  But, it is a sign that recovery efforts are beginning to pay off.  Better survival in the open ocean is cited as one of the reasons for better returns.  Dam removals and better fish passage structures on existing dams in the salmon rivers have had their positive impact too.

Fisheries managers would like to see increasing salmon returns for at least four or five more years before declaring a positive trend.  but that still doesn't detract from this years positive salmon return news.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New York's "Trees for Tribs" Stream Planting

Program Launches with Restoration Plantings in Hard Hit Flood Area

Together with the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today held the first tree planting event as part of the Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tributaries" program at Marcy Field (Municipal airstrip and multiuse park) in the Town of Keene, Essex County. Today's planting served as a kickoff for the Lake Champlain tributary corridor tree planting program, to be a program of the State Tree Nursery in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County.

The program's goals are to restore and protect the stream corridors that connect to Lake Champlain, comprising the Lake Champlain Watershed. At today's event, volunteers and local groups planted trees along an area of the Ausable River corridor damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.

"In the wake of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, homeowners and communities across the state have witnessed the devastation that swollen rivers and streams can pose to people and property," Commissioner Martens said. "Our Lake Champlain Basin Trees for Tributaries program will provide no cost trees and shrubs to restore damaged banks of streams, tributaries and rivers damaged by the tropical storms and subsequent flooding. I am happy to announce this program in 2011, which Governor Andrew Cuomo has proclaimed New York Year of Forests to celebrate the United Nations' International Year of Forests in recognition of the great importance of New York's forests as the source of clean air and water, habitat for fish and wildlife, open space for public recreation and enjoyment, and a healthy forest products industry."

The Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tributaries" program is one of several Lake Champlain conservation projects, which are part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and these conservation projects are receiving a total of $1.3 million dollars. On October 12, 2011 the Obama Administration released a report which details how AGO is opening up access to lands and waters, restoring critical landscapes, and supporting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. The report outlines combined conservation and recreation successes, including gains in youth employment, new trail designations, the creation of urban campgrounds, and historic investments in large landscapes from Lake Champlain to the Florida Everglades.

"AGO is not only protecting our environment, it's creating jobs," said United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. "We're working with farmers and ranchers to conserve working agricultural lands; we're restoring our forests in ways that create jobs in recreation and forest products; and we're creating employment opportunities for young adults, veterans and others on our National Forests."

I'm very pleased with this newly launched effort focused on the health of rivers and streams in the Adirondacks severely damaged by the recent storms," said Senator Betty Little. "Restoration follows recovery. Communities, landowners, sportsmen and environmentalists all are eager to begin the process of improving the quality and condition of these waterways and this is a great way to start."

"DEC thanks NRCS for its support and partnership in the Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tributaries" program. The program is modeled after the Hudson River Estuary "Trees for Tributaries" program started by the Hudson River Estuary Program in 2007," said New York State Forester Robert K. Davies. "This program will restore riparian areas, part of the "green infrastructure" that is the first line of defense against storm and flooding events, which have been identified as priorities in the state's Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy, Open Space Conservation Plan, and Climate Action Plan."

Creating the Lake Champlain Basin program provides a focus within state governments for the restoration, enhancement and protection of riparian areas and stream and tributary corridors. With the increased intensity and duration of storm events, taking action now to protect stream and tributary corridors is a tangible way for land owners to restore and protect their property from erosion and flooding. Studies have long documented the ability of trees and shrubs and other plant materials to absorb rain water and slow down water flows, as well as binding and stabilizing stream and riparian corridors banks.

In addition to stabilization benefits, trees and other natural vegetation along waterways (also called riparian forests) can reduce up to 69 percent of total nitrogen, 60 percent of total phosphorous, and 71 percent of total sediment from an average agricultural setting. Riparian buffer restoration is one of the most low cost ways to meet water quality goals established for major water bodies. Riparian forests also provide much-needed shading, cooling and food for trout and other fish habitat. DEC has enlisted the support of many partners including the federal government, local governments and volunteer watershed protection organizations that already are heavily involved in community and watershed protection programs.

In partnership with NRCS, the State Tree Nursery at Saratoga will be providing free native tree and shrubs grown at the State Tree Nursery. "The Saratoga Tree Nursery is proud to be providing native tree and shrub species for the Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tributaries" program," said Nursery Manager David Lee. "Planting stock is grown from seed and cutting stock sourced within New York State to provide trees and shrubs best adapted to the climate of the state."

The "Trees for Tributaries" program will coordinate volunteer and technical assistance for landowners within the Lake Champlain watershed to protect their stream and riparian corridors through a tree and shrub planting effort next spring. A similar program within New York's upper Susquehanna watershed is also being funded in partnership with the federal Chesapeake Bay program. Private landowners, municipalities and not-for-profit landowners within the New York portion of the Lake Champlain watershed will be eligible to apply to participate in the "Trees for Tributaries" program. Applications will be sought this winter for spring plantings. Further details will be posted on the webpage listed below when they become available.

To read the Progress Report or for more information about the America's Great Outdoors initiative, visit: www.americasgreatoutdoors.gov or http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/ago.

For more information on the Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tributaries" program, visit DEC's website, or email the program at treesfortribs@gw.dec.state.ny.us or call the Division of Lands and Forests at 518-402-9405.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Conservation, Recreation & Preservation Generate $1 Trillion Per Year for U.S. Economy

A study by Southwick Associates estimates that the Great Outdoors is worth $1 trillion dollars to the US economy.  Following is a press release from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership outlining the study.

Oct. 12, 2011 Contact: Vaughn Collins, , vcollins@trcp.org
With unemployment rate still over 9 percent in the third quarter Labor Department jobs report, study illustrates job growth potential.

WASHINGTON – Officials looking for cost-effective ways to stimulate the economy should look no further than out their own windows: That’s where the authors of a new economic study demonstrate that the great outdoors and historic preservation generate a conservative estimate of more than $1 trillion in total economic activity and support 9.4 million jobs each year.

“As a former Secretary of the Interior, governor, senator and mayor, I have witnessed firsthand how historic preservation, conservation and outdoor recreation result in tremendous benefits to our nation’s economy,” said Dirk Kempthorne. “This study is a valuable tool for reaffirming and quantifying those benefits.”

“Sportsmen put billions of dollars of their own money annually into conservation through the licenses they buy and the excise taxes that they pay on hunting and fishing equipment,” added Lindsay Thomas, a former U.S. Congressman and current chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “This combined with the other taxes that are paid through activities associated with outdoor recreation and historic preservation total over $100 billion annually contributed to state and federal coffers.”

Conducted by Southwick Associates, the study is packed with highlights including:
  • In 2006, the total contribution from outdoor sports in the United States was nearly $730 billion per year, generating more than 6.4 million U.S. jobs and $99 billion in federal and state tax revenues. This includes hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and other outdoor sports that include hiking, camping, skiing, paddle sports and bicycling.
  • In 2006, the combined spending effect of hunting, fishing and wildlife watching associated with National Forest Service land totaled $9.5 billion in annual retail sales, supported 189,400 jobs and provided $1.01 billion in annual federal tax revenues.
  • Every million dollars invested in residential historic rehabilitation generates approximately 36 jobs, $1.24 million in income and nearly $200,000 in state and local taxes.
  • In 2010, 15 million visitors to Civil War battlefields managed by the National Park Service in just five states (Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia) generated 7,700 jobs.
Commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the study is being conducted as part of a larger ongoing effort by NFWF to determine the economics associated with natural resource conservation.

The study has commanded the attention of many, including America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation, a coalition of more than 770 organizations representing tens of millions of citizens with diverse political backgrounds who have united in support of conservation, recreation and preservation programs as a means to create jobs and improve the economy.

“Natural resource conservation and historic preservation programs provide hundreds of thousands of jobs and strong returns on public investments that primarily help rural communities and cannot be exported abroad,” said John L. Nau III, chairman emeritus of the Civil War Trust and co-chair of the AVCRP. “This country needs jobs that leverage private investment and conserve our precious natural resources and historic spaces.”

“The jobs that our public lands and cultural heritage create are jaw-dropping,” said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society and the AVCRP’s other co-chair. “This study is yet more evidence that investing in the environment is good for the fiscal health of our country.”

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Threat to thousands of sustainable fishing jobs prompts fisherman, Alaska Natives to take their story to the Lower 48

Tour will highlight proposed Pebble mine's threat to fishing jobs, Native way of life

Seattle — Alaska Natives, commercial fishermen, sportsmen and seafood processors are heading south to the Lower 48 to raise awareness and build support for protection of Bristol Bay Alaska, which is threatened by the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine.

The mine, potentially three times as large as the largest mine that now exists in North America, would threaten the headwaters Bristol Bay, putting thousands of fishing jobs at risk, along with a Native way of life that has existed for centuries. The real gold in Bristol Bay is the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, a sustainable resource that returns year after year.

In six cities, commercial fishermen, Alaska Natives, sportsmen and seafood processors will highlight the economic risks posed by the mine. The Save Bristol Bay Road Show will also feature a screening of the award-winning documentary, "Red Gold," delicious Bristol Bay sockeye prepared by local chefs, and locally produced beers.

Melanie Brown, an Alaska Native and commercial fisherwoman, and Ben Blakey, of family-run Snopac Products, a seafood processor, will travel to all of the cities as featured speakers, sharing the importance of the region as an economic engine, source of jobs, and resource for food. in each city, the program will also feature sportsmen, fishing guides or commercial fishermen, whose livelihoods depend on the clean waters and sustainable fish runs of Bristol Bay. More than 12,000 jobs depend on the commercial salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, along with more than 1,000 jobs related to sport fishing and countless other businesses.

The Save Bristol Bay Road Show visits the following six cities:

Seattle: Monday, October 17, Leif Erikson Lodge, 7 p.m.
Portland: Wednesday, October 19, Bagdad Theater, 7 p.m.
Corvallis: Friday, October 21, The Arts Center, 7 p.m.
San Francisco: Monday, October 24, Temple Nightclub, 7 p.m.
Santa Fe: Tuesday, October 25, Center For Contemporary Arts Cinematheque, 7 p.m.

For information, please visit: www.savebristolbay.org/roadshow

The Save Bristol Bay Road Show is coordinated by the Save Bristol Bay campaign, part of a broad, bipartisan, national coalition that supports protecting Bristol Bay and its natural resources from the severe risks of massive-scale development, including the Pebble Mine.

The Road Show is sponsored by the generous help of companies including Tiffany & Co., ExOfficio, Icicle Seafoods, Orvis, Sage, and Chef's Collaborative.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

EPA Launches New Website to Protect Wetlands

Urges Public to Report Any Violations of the Law

(New York, N.Y. - Oct. 6, 2011) From helping control floods to serving as natural buffers against water pollution to providing recreational opportunities and habitat for fish and wildlife, wetlands offer benefits almost too numerous to count. Members of the public can help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency protect these vital areas by reporting suspected violations of the federal laws that protect wetlands in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the areas that comprise EPA Region 2. Violations can now be easily reported on EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/region02/water/wetlands/violations.html.

“Clean water is a vital natural resource and its protection is directly tied to preserving wetlands and other bodies of water,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “This website will give the public the ability to report possible violations of wetlands protection rules before significant damage has been done to a wetland.”

Once a suspected violation is submitted on the website, EPA scientists will perform an investigation to determine if regulatory action is required. Wetlands are protected by the federal Clean Water Act, and the Corps of Engineers - or in many instances a state or territory - must issue a permit before a wetland can be impacted. EPA works in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, the states and territories to oversee and enforce wetlands regulations. Suspected violations can be submitted anonymously, though a lack of contact information may hinder EPA’s ability to proceed with an investigation.

EPA Region 2 boasts a diversity of tidal and freshwater wetlands, including mangrove swamps and salt flats in the Caribbean, tidal salt marshes of the New York and New Jersey coasts, and coastal freshwater wetlands of the Great Lakes region. Interior regions also have a diversity of freshwater wetlands including swamps, bogs, fens, wet meadows, and marshes. Notably large wetland complexes in the region include the New Jersey Pinelands, the Hackensack Meadowlands and New York's Great Swamp.

For more information on wetlands, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/water/wetlands/.

Missouri Bans Felt Soles

Beginning March 1, 2012 trout fishermen in Missouri will no longer be allowed to use felt soled, or other porous soled waders.  Pending public comment, The Missouri Conservation Commission has approved a regulation change banning the use of porous-soled waders or footwear incorporating or having attached a porous sole of felted, matted, or woven fibrous material when fishing in trout parks and other specific trout waters.

Their hope is to prevent the introduction of  Didymosphenia geminata, aka, didymo or rock snot.  Right now the state is free from the scourge but with didymo reported in the White River just south of the Missouri-Arkansas border, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wants to do what they can to prevent its introduction.

Didymo forms large, thick mats on the bottoms of cold-water streams and rivers.  In extreme cases, it can interfere with fishing tackle making fishing nearly impossible. All in all, not goor for the environment or the economy.

Didymo is native to the northern parts of North America and Europe.  MDC Fisheries Biologist Mark VanPatten says that didymo is kept in check naturally in other places by lower pH levels in the water. Missouri has many  limestone waters that create higher pH levels.  These higher pH levels can allow didymo to spread unchecked.

VanPatten warns, “There is no way to control or eradicate didymo once it gets established in the state.”

“Adapting waders is not a cure,” VanPatten warns. “It is just one step in prevention. It is still vital to check and clean or dry all waders and all other gear that have had contact with the water.”

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Trout Unlimited Receives Prestigious American Fisheries Society Award for Work in PA

Eastern Abandoned Mine Program receives distinction for work in Pennsylvania

Arlington, Va. — Trout Unlimited's Eastern Abandoned Mine Program (EAMP) was recently honored with one of the American Fisheries Society's (AFS) highest awards, the Presidents Fishery Conservation Award.

The award is given annually to an individual or organization for singular accomplishments or long-term contributions that advance aquatic resource conservation at a regional or local level. Trout Unlimited's Eastern Abandoned Mine Program was chosen for successfully advancing the restoration of trout streams at a watershed level of resolution. Trout Unlimited began its work in 1998 on abandoned coal mine cleanup in the Kettle Creek watershed in northcentral Pennsylvania. Since then it has completed nearly a dozen projects targeting abandoned mine drainage in the Kettle Creek watershed and provided technical assistance on more than 65 abandoned mine cleanup projects for other groups across Pennsylvania.

Amy Wolfe, EAMP Director, Rebecca Dunlap, EAMP Manager and Dr. Shawn Rummel, EAMP Field and Research Coordinator, accepted the award, which was presented on September 6 at the AFS annual convention in Seattle. AFS, founded in 1870, is the oldest and largest professional society representing fisheries scientists.

"Receiving this award is a tremendous honor," said Amy Wolfe. " our close collaboration with many AFS members, government agencies and other grassroots organizations has helped us to advance restoration of streams polluted by abandoned mine drainage throughout the West Branch Susquehanna watershed and beyond. This is certainly a team effort."

Trout Unlimited's Eastern Abandoned Mine Program is focused on the conservation, protection, and restoration of coldwater fisheries and their watersheds throughout the Appalachian region that have been impacted by historic coal mining. A main focus for Trout Unlimited's Eastern Abandoned Mine Program is the West branch Susquehanna Restoration Initiative, which was launched in 2004 as a comprehensive and collaborative effort aimed at the restoration of coldwater streams and the ultimate recovery of the West Branch Susquehanna River.

Trout Unlimited is the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds

Trout Unlimited calls on PA to do more to protect streams from gas drilling

Trout Unlimited Calls on Gov. Corbett to Tighten Marcellus Shale Environmental Standards and Dedicate Portion of Fee Revenue to Conservation

"Gov. Corbett's Marcellus Shale plan announced yesterday is a step in the right direction towards improving existing environmental standards related to Marcellus Shale development, but these measures, including the allocation of funding from an impact fee, must be greatly strengthened to adequately protect Pennsylvania's natural resources," said Katy Dunlap, Trout Unlimited's (TU) Eastern Water Project Director.

Echoing the state's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommendation, Gov. Corbett called for extending the distance between a gas well and surface water from 100 feet to 300 feet. While an improvement, the 300-foot distance must be measured from the edge of the well pad - as opposed to the well bore - to provide a reasonable buffer between drilling activities and water resources. The Governor's plan did not make this distinction. Additionally, for high quality, exceptional value streams and other important trout waters, TU calls for even greater setbacks from well pads - to be determined on a site-specific basis - to assure that coldwater resources are protected from possible pollution incidents.

"Gov. Corbett's proposed impact fee shows that environmental protection is not a priority for his administration," Dunlap said. "While Pennsylvania communities should receive compensation for damage and stress to local road and municipal systems due to Marcellus Shale drilling activities, some portion of the revenue generated from an impact fee must be used to mitigate the impacts on the state's natural resources as well," Dunlap continued.

Corbett's proposed impact fee ignores the environmental impacts caused by Marcellus Shale development, both the (1) short-term impacts that can be addressed by the agencies inspecting and enforcing Marcellus-related incidents; and (2) long-term impacts that can be addressed by conservation and restoration funding programs.

TU and its Pennsylvania Council strongly urges the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Corbett administration to ensure that a percentage of any impact fee be directed toward conservation funding programs such as Pennsylvania's Growing Greener Fund and conservation agencies that have taken on additional inspection and enforcement duties to Marcellus development, such as the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

Trout Unlimited is the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds

Sylvia G. Bashline August 13, 1933 - September 20, 2011

A friend of the outdoors and a noted outdoor writer was lost on September 20, 2011 when Sylvia Bashline passed away at her home. She was predeceased by her husband  James "Jim" Bashline in 1995, also a well known outdoor writer.

Mrs. Bashline was perhaps most known for her excellent cookbooks for fish & game, including The Bounty of the Earth Cookbook and many others.  She served as food editor for Field & Stream magazine from 1976 to 1990 and from 1991 to 1996 as the food columnist for Outdoor Life magazine.

A past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, Mrs. Bashline also served on the board of the Outdoor Writers of America becoming their executive director in 1984, a position she held for ten years.

Mrs. Bashline enjoyed trout and Atlantic salmon fishing, and ruffed grouse hunting.  In honoring her wishes, her love of the outdoors can be continued through memorial contributions to any of the following:

Sylvia and Jim Bashline Writers' Fund 
c/o OWAA, 615 Oak St., Suite 201
Missoula, Montana 59801

Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art
P.O. Box 33
176 Water Company Road
Millersburg, PA 17061

Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Association1240 North Mountain Road
Harrisburg, PA 17112

Rest well Mrs. Bashline.  The world is a better place for you having visited.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Pennsylvania Passes New Boating Regulation

Beginning Nov. 1, 2012, boaters will be required to wear life jackets on boats less than 16 feet in length and on canoes and kayaks from Nov. 1 through April 30.

Laurel Anders, director of the Bureau of Boating and Access described the need for the regulation,  “While boating accidents are more frequent during the traditional summer season, the risk of an accident being fatal is significantly higher when the air and water temperatures are colder in late fall through spring,”

She added, “Over the last 15 years, cold-water incidents represented only eight percent of boating-related accidents, but resulted in 24 percent of the fatalities.”

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Why rob the hatchery? Because that's where the fish are!

Stream conditions must be tough when thieves, also known as poachers, raided the San Joaquin Hatchery in California and made off with 1,000 jumbo trout in the three to four pound range.  In the process they also left behind an additional 70 dead trout.

The knuckleheads involved in this break-in were probably looking to sell them to restaurants or in outdoor markets. So anyone who has noticed any strange or suspicious activity in California is being asked to call Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095.  Wow, this request should have the phone ringing off the hook!

The fish thieves have obviously taken poaching to a new level as they in a way followed the advise of legendary bank robber, Willie Sutton.  Why did they rob the hatchery?  Because that's where the fish are!

There is a $1,000 reward being offered by The Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters program (CalTIP).  You can learn more about this program on their website: www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.aspx.

This happened a couple of weeks ago on August 21, so by now you should be able to easily sniff the thieves out.

Proposed Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area Unveiled

As part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today formally proposed the establishment of a new national wildlife refuge and conservation area in the Kissimmee River Valley, south of Orlando, Fla., to preserve one of the last remaining grassland and longleaf pine savanna landscapes in eastern North America.

Building on the conservation work of private landowners, state and federal conservation agencies, conservation groups, and the public, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal is a strong example of how conservation partners are working to preserve the area’s rich ranching heritage and way of life, while protecting the headwaters of the Everglades in the Kissimmee River Basin and connecting valuable habitats benefiting the area’s rich fish and wildlife resources.

“We established the America’s Great Outdoors initiative to help support the efforts of local communities, private landowners and other key stakeholders to protect working lands and signature landscapes like the northern Everglades,” Secretary Salazar said. “This initiative honors the stewardship of generations of Florida cattle ranchers and other landowners who understood that we all have a stake in preserving the health of our land, water, and wildlife. This proposal, which will continue to be shaped by the local communities and landowners, will help protect both the ranching traditions in the area and the wildlife that call this area home. The establishment of this refuge promotes one of our key Everglades restoration goals, which is to restore habitat and protect species.”

Two-thirds of the proposed Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, or up to 100,000 acres, would be protected through conservation easements purchased from willing sellers. Private landowners would retain ownership of their land, as well as the right to work the land to raise cattle or crops. The easements would ensure the land could not be developed.

The Service would also purchase up to 50,000 acres outright from willing sellers to create the proposed national wildlife refuge where visitors could hunt, fish, hike and view wildlife. The Service has identified six areas where these refuge lands could potentially be purchased. In some cases, the refuge acquisitions would augment existing conservation lands, such as state parks and wildlife management areas.

Today’s announcement builds on several other key conservation priorities championed by Secretary Salazar as part of the America’s Great Outdoor initiative and developed with the input of private landowners, conservation stakeholders, and state, local and tribal elected officials, including:

· The proposed Dakota Grassland Conservation Area, which will conserve prairie landscapes, wildlife resources and working lands in the Prairie Pothole Region, an area that supports more than half of the nation’s migratory waterfowl;

· The successful community-based conservation initiatives taking place in the Crown of the Continent, a vast and intact landscape that includes portions of northwestern Montana as well as British Columbia and Alberta; and

· The 1-million-acre Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area in Kansas – the first new unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System established under the Obama administration.

A preliminary proposal for the project was first announced in January 2011. By the end of March, the Service had held four public meetings and received more than 38,000 comments. The public input was used to refine the proposal.

Details of the proposal, including maps, are in a Draft Land Protection Plan and Environmental Assessment that can be viewed at: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/evergladesheadwaters.

During the six-week public review and comment period that ends Oct. 24, 2011, the Service will host two additional public meetings to answer questions and gather comments. The first hour of each meeting will be in an informal open-house format, during which the Service and its partners will present information and answer questions. Following that, the session will be in a formal public hearing format. Speakers will sign up to speak and will be given a specified time limit in which to offer comments.

The public meetings are scheduled for:

1 – 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011
South Florida Community College Theatre for the Performing Arts
600 W. College Drive
Avon Park, FL 33825

1 – 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011
Osceola Heritage Park
The Exhibition Building – Hall A
1901 Chief Osceola Trail
Kissimmee, FL 34744

Comments may also be submitted in writing to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Proposed Everglades Headwaters NWR and Conservation Area:

By email to EvergladesHeadwatersProposal@fws.gov;
By mail to P.O. Box 2683, Titusville, FL 32781-2683;
By fax to 321-861-1276.

Time permitting, the Service is also planning to consider requests from organizations for informational presentations held in the local area during the public review and comment period. During these sessions, the Service would be able to share information about the proposed refuge and conservation area, but would be unable to accept verbal public comments at these meetings. However, written comments could be submitted to the Service representative.