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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

NY DEC Releases Draft Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan for Public Comment

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today released its Draft Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) strategy to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS in New York State for public comment. Comments will be accepted through December 15.

Aquatic Invasive Species threaten the ecology of New York's rich abundance of waters and can harm water-based recreational opportunities and economies. New York is particularly vulnerable to AIS due to its vast marine and fresh water resources, major commercial ports and the easy access that ocean-going vessels have to the Great Lakes via the State's canal system. Managing an infestation is extremely costly, so prevention is the most cost-effective strategy.

"Prevention of aquatic invasive species is critical to the long-term vitality of waterways across New York State," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "This strategic plan details proposals to further our efforts to help ensure AIS-free waters remain free and additional AIS are not introduced to other waters. We welcome the public's ideas and feedback on the draft strategy." This action-based Strategic Plan updates DEC's "Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Management Plan," which was written in 1993. The draft plan includes more than 50 actions designed to address prevention, detection, and response to AIS. Proposed actions identified in the strategy include:
  • Expand the boat launch steward program statewide;
  • Develop an AIS response framework to guide decision making when AIS are detected, and communicate the reasoning for the response selected;
  • Implement an AIS public awareness campaign and evaluate its effectiveness in reaching target audiences;
  • Expand the use of AIS disposal stations at waterway access sites;
  • Establish regional "first responder" AIS teams to incorporate local expertise in planning and implementing appropriate AIS responses; and
  • Identify and evaluate risks associated with pathways for AIS introduction and movement within New York.
Aquatic invasive species arrive by many pathways including direct introduction, live animal trade, the nursery and landscape trade, recreational boating and cargo transportation. Northern Snakehead, Sea Lamprey, Round Goby, Hydrilla and the New Zealand Mudsnail are examples of aquatic invasive species present in some New York waters, which can prey upon or displace native species, alter habitat or otherwise harm native species.

The Draft Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan can be viewed on DEC's website. Public comments will be accepted from October 30 through December 15. You can send comments to the address below or email them - enter "AIS Management Plan" in the subject line.
Philip Hulbert

NYSDEC Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources
625 Broadway, 5th Floor
Albany, New York 12233-4753

To help slow the spread of both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species, DEC asks all citizens to clean, drain and dry watercraft and gear after boating and fishing; use non-invasive plants in gardens and landscaping; use local firewood; and learn about, look for and report invasive species. Invasive species can be reported online to New York's Invasive Species Database, a partnership with the Natural Heritage Program and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, by clicking the link to "Report an Invasive."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Brooklyn Fish Dealer Sentenced To Four Months For Wire Fraud

 Caught is Scheme to Steal $500k in Fluke

October 22, 1014 Alan Dresner, a federally-licensed fish dealer from Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced today in federal court in Central Islip, New York, for violations stemming from his role in systematically underreporting fluke (summer flounder) that was being harvested as part of the federal Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program, the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division announced.

On April 23, 2014, Alan Dresner pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. The scheme involved his personal falsification and internet submission of at least 120 fisheries dealer reports from July 2009 to December 2011, as part of a scheme to defraud the United States of 246,376 pounds of overharvested and underreported fluke valued at $510,000.

As part of his sentence, Dresner will serve four months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. The defendant was fined $6000 and ordered to make a $15,000 community service payment to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County in order to pay for the enhancement of fluke habitat in the waters of Long Island through the C.C.E.’s Marine Meadows Program. Dresner was ordered to pay $510,000 in restitution to the Marine Resources Account of the New York State Conservation Fund. Dresner was also ordered to surrender his federal dealer license and was banned from accessing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) SAFIS computer system.

“Today, Dresner was held accountable for his role in defrauding a federal research program, a program whose purpose is to help ensure the long-term sustainability of Long Island’s fisheries,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Sam Hirsch for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are committed to protecting the natural resources that the American people depend on today and for future generations as well.”

“This scheme to land tremendous amounts of overages for profit was not only detrimental to the RSA program, but also to the law abiding fishermen who will not be able to participate in this program in 2015,” said NOAA Special Agent Logan Gregory. “The Office of Law Enforcement will continue to focus on ensuring a level playing field by investigating these types of environmental crimes.”

Alan Dresner is “Fish Dealer X” as that person is identified in the related case of U.S. v. Anthony Joseph. As a federal fish dealer, Dresner had a NOAA permit to purchase fish directly from commercial fishing vessels without having to go through an intermediary. In July 2009, Dresner learned that Anthony Joseph, captain of the F/V Stirs One, was consistently overharvesting fluke through Joseph’s abuse of the RSA Program. By July 2009, Dresner was making regular purchases of illegal fluke from Joseph at the Point Lookout, New York, waterfront.

In order to cover-up his illegal fishing, Joseph would mail falsified fishing logs, known as FVTRs, to NOAA.  However, falsified FVTRs were just one side of the coin. This is because fish dealers are required to report their purchases to NOAA on an electronic form known as a dealer report. The dealer reports include information such as date of landing, port of landing, catch vessel, corresponding FVTR numbers, commercial grade, species, price, and weight. NOAA utilizes the data in the dealer reports to set quotas and implement other management measures designed to ensure a sustainable fisheries. The dealer reports also serve as a check on the information that is submitted in FVTRs.  In other words, for their scheme to work, the false data on the FVTRs had to match the false data on the dealer reports. A mismatch would have indicated a serious error or fraud, and would have been a red flag for fisheries managers.  Accordingly, during July 2009 to December 2011, the defendant schemed with Anthony Joseph to file at least 120 false dealer reports with NOAA, representing a loss of 246,376 pounds of fluke valued at $510,000.

Theft of domestic marine resources has far-reaching consequences beyond illicit financial gain. Fisheries managers operate on the basic assumption that fishers and dealers make accurate and honest reports to NOAA. When harvested fish is misreported or unreported, the integrity of fisheries statistics and associated mathematical models are jeopardized. Recently, based in large part on the recently quantified illegal fluke harvesting revealed by the guilty pleas in the Jones Inlet Seafood, Charles Wertz Jr., Anthony Joseph, and Dresner cases, on Aug. 12, 2014, the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council voted to suspend the RSA Program for 2015 in order analyze the effect illegal fishing has had on the soundness of the RSA Program.

Anthony Joseph pleaded guilty to wire fraud, mail fraud, and falsification of federal records on April 11, 2014, for his fisheries fraud crimes related to Alan Dresner and Jones Inlet Seafood. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 20, 2015.

The case was investigated by agents of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, with assistance from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police. The case is being prosecuted by Christopher L. Hale of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section, Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

2014-2015 Winter Storm Names

First, just to set the record straight, it's not the National Weather Service who names winter storms, it's The Weather Channel. This is the third winter season they are doing this and you can be sure it will continue in future years. It's a good social marketing gig for them.

The Weather Channel can dominate all the winter weather talk on the social networks like Twitter and Facebook by using #hashtags connected to the storm names. Good move Weather Channel, but lousy names, at least a few of them.

You can be your own judge.Visit their page Winter Storm Names 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Be Safe in Your Canoe & Kayak this Fall

I've been seeing a lot of canoes and kayaks on the river this fall, both fishermen and recreational paddlers enjoying the warm fall days and brilliant foliage. I can't help but notice that some of these paddlers are ignoring the cold water temperatures, routinely in the mid 50's and sometimes even down into the 40's. At these temps, it doesn't take long for hypothermia to set in putting an unfortunate fisherman or leaf peeper into a life threatening situation.

For these reasons, when I saw this recent press release form BoatUS I thought it very well worth sharing. The one thing I'll add to this is to have a dry bag along with a change of warm, dry clothing.

Have fun on the water this fall and many more to come!

For Paddlers, It’s High Season for Safety

ANNAPOLIS, Va., October 6, 2014 – It may be sunny outside with blue skies above, but waters are deceptively cold and unforgiving in the fall. For paddlers with just a few inches of freeboard to spare, getting wet this time of year can have serious consequences, so the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has these seven tips for fall paddlecraft safety.

Know how to re-board: All paddlecraft are different, so before you hit a lonely, remote stretch of river or bay, learn (in a safe place) how to get back in the boat quickly and efficiently as hyperthermia is a threat that increases by the minute. Some paddlers add extra floatation inside the boat as it can help reboarding. (Tip: this can be accomplished simply by inflating a beach ball or purchasing aftermarket float bags). If you do ever fall out and can’t get back in, stay with the kayak or canoe – it’s a bigger target for rescuers to see.

Don’t keep it a secret: Tell people where you’re going by filing a float plan. It could be as simple as telling your spouse, in writing, where you are going and what time you plan to return. Writing it down makes it become habit. Be as specific as you can – this isn’t the time to forget to mention you’re heading to your hidden fishing hole two miles off the beaten channel.

Understand the basic rules of navigation: You may not be out there with icebreakers just yet, but there may still be some recreational boating traffic and potential ship traffic. The simple challenge is the smallest boats are hardest to see. One simple tip to help visibility is to spray the tips of your paddles a bright color. Paddlers also can help themselves by understanding some basic rules of navigation.

Don’t leave without a bailer: With low freeboard -- or the distance from the water to the gunwale -- paddlecraft are prone to getting water aboard. Once it starts, it’s only a matter of time before your canoe or kayak becomes ever lower to oncoming waves. Keep water out and buoyancy up by having a bailer ready (Tip: tie one to each seat).

Thermal up or down: Neoprene gloves, a drysuit or wetsuit tops and hats are the ultimate protection in retaining body heat this time of year. However, have outdoor gear that offers versatility by being able to cool down or warm up when appropriate. Even if it may feel like summer, never leave shore in just a t-shirt and shorts. It only takes just a short change of weather or a dunking to drench you and the hypothermia clock starts ticking. A bright colored rain parka can also be seen at great distances.

Going remote? Go Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): Advances in GPS technology have brought down the cost of personal locator beacons, but if your budget is tight you can still rent a PLB from the BoatUS Foundation for $45 weekly, plus shipping. There are no additional subscriber fees and paddlers going to remote locations can order online at BoatUS.org/epirb or call 888-663-7472 (Tip: mention code “DISC10” for a 10% discount on the weekly PLB rental rate through December 1, 2014).

Keep it secure up top: If you need to get your favorite kayak or stand-up paddleboard to the lake on your car or truck’s roof this fall, go to BoatUS.com/addingpaddlecraft for a quick read on the three basic types of roof rack systems and ways to safely tie down the load. Your kayak has no desire to meet the road or become a hazard for oncoming vehicles