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Thursday
Sep212017

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Human antidepressants are building up in the brains of bass, walleye and several other fish common to the Great Lakes region, scientists say.

In a new study, researchers detected high concentrations of these drugs and their metabolized remnants in the brain tissue of 10 fish species found in the Niagara River.

This vital conduit connects two of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, via Niagara Falls. The discovery of antidepressants in aquatic life in the river raises serious environmental concerns, says lead scientist Diana Aga, PhD, the Henry M. Woodburn Professor of Chemistry in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences.

“These active ingredients from antidepressants, which are coming out from wastewater treatment plants, are accumulating in fish brains,” Aga says. “It is a threat to biodiversity, and we should be very concerned.

“These drugs could affect fish behavior. We didn’t look at behavior in our study, but other research teams have shown that antidepressants can affect the feeding behavior of fish or their survival instincts. Some fish won’t acknowledge the presence of predators as much.”

If changes like these occur in the wild, they have the potential to disrupt the delicate balance between species that helps to keep the ecosystem stable, says study co-author Randolph Singh, PhD, a recent UB graduate from Aga’s lab.

"The levels of antidepressants found do not pose a danger to humans who eat the fish, especially in the U.S., where most people do not eat organs like the brain," Singh says. "However, the risk that the drugs pose to biodiversity is real, and scientists are just beginning to understand what the consequences might be."

"Fish are receiving this cocktail of drugs 24 hours a day, and we are now finding these drugs in their brains." --- Diana Aga

Aga has spent her career developing techniques for detecting contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and endocrine disrupters in the environment.

This is a field of growing concern, especially as the use of such chemicals expands. The percentage of Americans taking antidepressants, for instance, rose 65 percent between 1999-2002 and 2011-14, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Wastewater treatment facilities have failed to keep pace with this growth, typically ignoring these drugs, which are then released into the environment, Aga says.

Her new study looked for a variety of pharmaceutical and personal care product chemicals in the organs and muscles of 10 fish species: smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rudd, rock bass, white bass, white perch, walleye, bowfin, steelhead and yellow perch.

Antidepressants stood out as a major problem: These drugs or their metabolites were found in the brains of every fish species the scientists studied.

The highest concentration of a single compound was found in a rock bass, which had about 400 nanograms of norsertraline — a metabolite of sertraline, the active ingredient in Zoloft — per gram of brain tissue. This was in addition to a cocktail of other compounds found in the same fish, including citalopram, the active ingredient in Celexa, and norfluoxetine, a metabolite of the active ingredient in Prozac and Sarafem.

More than half of the fish brain samples had norsertraline levels of 100 nanograms per gram or higher. In addition, like the rock bass, many of the fish had a medley of antidepressant drugs and metabolites in their brains.

Evidence that antidepressants can change fish behavior generally comes from laboratory studies that expose the animals to higher concentrations of drugs than what is found in the Niagara River. But the findings of the new study are still worrisome: The antidepressants that Aga’s team detected in fish brains had accumulated over time, often reaching concentrations that were several times higher than the levels in the river.

In the brains of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, white bass and walleye, sertraline was found at levels that were estimated to be 20 or more times higher than levels in river water. Levels of norsertraline, the drug’s breakdown product, were even greater, reaching concentrations that were often hundreds of times higher than that found in the river.

Scientists have not done enough research yet to understand what amount of antidepressants poses a risk to animals, or how multiple drugs might interact synergistically to influence behavior, Aga says.

Wastewater treatment is behind the times

The study raises concerns regarding wastewater treatment plants, whose operations have not kept up with the times, says Aga, a member of the UB RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water) Institute.

In general, wastewater treatment focuses narrowly on killing disease-causing bacteria and on extracting solid matter such as human excrement. Antidepressants, which are found in the urine of people who use the drugs, are largely ignored, along with other chemicals of concern that have become commonplace, Aga says.

“These plants are focused on removing nitrogen, phosphorus, and dissolved organic carbon but there are so many other chemicals that are not prioritized that impact our environment,” she says. “As a result, wildlife is exposed to all of these chemicals. Fish are receiving this cocktail of drugs 24 hours a day, and we are now finding these drugs in their brains.”

The problem is exacerbated, Singh says, by sewage overflows that funnel large quantities of untreated water into rivers and lakes. In August, for example, The Buffalo News reported that since May of 2017, a half billion gallons of combined sewage and storm water had flowed into local waterways, including the Niagara River.

Tuesday
Sep192017

Tuesday
Sep192017

Wireless Kill Switch Now Protects Passengers Too

Fell Marine's popular wireless kill switch now has an added safety factor for onboard passengers. The new MOB+ Wireless Man Overboard System allows  up to four people to be connected at the same time, instead of just one. The captain's unit stops the boat, while the other three act as alarm units for passengers. (Here's a video of how the new system works.)

The MOB+ Wireless Man OverBoard system  provides greater freedom of movement than a traditional kill switch lanyard, and stops the engine if the captain  falls overboard

The system consists of an easy to install xHUB, mounted on or near the boat console, and a wearable xFOB. The two communicate wirelessly with each other and stop the engine when the xFOB is submerged in water or is beyond range of the xHUB.

The xFOB can be worn on the wrist, around the neck, or clipped to a PFD using either the xBAND™ or xTAG™ accessories.

The waterproof xFOB has more than 300 hours of battery life, and is powered by an easy-to-change standard coin cell battery.

The xHUB connects to boat power (12V-24V) and to  engine-stopping system. The setup is intuitive and easy to use through a one-click user interface and compatible with all major outboard and most stern-drive engine brands.

Monday
Sep182017

Pledge to Take Someone Fishing, Earn Chance to win 'Ultimate Outdoor Experience'

By pledging to introduce someone to the outdoors between now and NHF Day on Saturday, Sept. 23, participants will be eligible to win a Richard Childress Racing VIP race weekend package or the Ultimate Outdoor Experience in America’s Conservation Capital from Big Cedar Lodge and Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

How a Good Idea Became a Great Tradition

More than 100 years ago, hunters and anglers were the earliest and most vocal supporters of conservation and scientific wildlife management. They were the first to recognize that rapid development and unregulated uses of wildlife were threatening the future of many species.

   Led by fellow sportsman President Theodore Roosevelt, these early conservationists called for the first laws restricting the commercial slaughter of wildlife. They urged sustainable use of fish and game, created hunting and fishing licenses, and lobbied for taxes on sporting equipment to provide funds for state conservation agencies. These actions were the foundation of the North American wildlife conservation model, a science-based, user-pay system that would foster the most dramatic conservation successes of all time. Populations of white-tailed deer, elk, antelope, wild turkey, wood ducks and many other species began to recover from decades of unregulated exploitation.

During the next half-century, in addition to the funds they contributed for conservation and their diligent watch over the returning health of America’s outdoors, sportsmen worked countless hours to protect and improve millions of acres of vital habitat—lands and waters for the use and enjoyment of everyone.

In the 1960s, hunters and anglers embraced the era's heightened environmental awareness but were discouraged that many people didn't understand the crucial role that sportsmen had played-and continue to play-in the conservation movement.

The first to suggest an official day of thanks to sportsmen was Ira Joffe, owner of Joffe's Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pa. In 1970, Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer adopted Joffe's idea and created "Outdoor Sportsman's Day" in the state.

With determined prompting from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the concept soon emerged on the floor of the U.S. Senate. In June 1971, Sen. Thomas McIntyre, N.H., introduced Joint Resolution 117 authorizing National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September. Rep. Bob Sikes, Fla., introduced an identical measure in the House. In early 1972, Congress unanimously passed both bills.

On May 2, 1972, President Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day, writing, "I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations."

By late summer, all 50 governors and over 600 mayors had joined in by proclaiming state and local versions of National Hunting and Fishing Day. The response was dramatic.

National, regional, state and local organizations staged some 3,000 "open house" hunting- and fishing-related events everywhere from shooting ranges to suburban frog ponds, providing an estimated four million Americans with a chance to experience, understand and appreciate traditional outdoor sports.

Over the years, National Hunting and Fishing Day boasted many more public relations successes, assisted by celebrities who volunteered to help spotlight the conservation accomplishments of sportsmen and women. Honorary chairs have included George Bush, Tom Seaver, Hank Williams Jr., Arnold Palmer, Terry Bradshaw, George Brett, Robert Urich, Ward Burton, Louise Mandrell, Travis Tritt, Tracy Byrd, Jeff Foxworthy and many other sports and entertainment figures.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, celebrated the fourth Saturday of every September, remains the most effective grassroots efforts ever undertaken to promote the outdoor sports and conservation.

Sunday
Sep172017

Sports Fishing Strengthened by Increases in Participation, Spending

Fishing participation is up nearly 20 percent during the past 10 years, according to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), citing the recently released 2016 National Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation national survey from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Conducted every five years in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, the survey also shows that anglers increased their overall spending by 2 percent during the past five years.

“Dedicated efforts by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), state fish and wildlife agencies, the recreational fishing industry and independent programs have made increases in recreational fishing possible,” said Glenn Hughes, vice president of Industry Relations for the ASA.

“Thanks also goes to ASA’s Government Affairs team and our partners who helped ensure that legislation and policy decisions were in place to provide access, clean water and fisheries conservation, which anglers need for a successful day on the water.”

Overall, fishing participation increased 8.2 percent for individuals 16 to 65 years of age during the last five years. This is the highest level of participation since 1991. Revenue from equipment purchases to all trip expenditures  increased from $45 billion to $46.1 billion during the same time.

“This report absolutely underscores the need to increase public access to public lands across the United States,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

“Hunting and fishing are a part of the American heritage. As a kid who grew up hunting and fishing on public lands who later took my own kids out on the same land, I know how important it is to expand access for future generations. Many folks east of the Mississippi River rely on friends with large acreages or pay high rates for hunting and fishing clubs. This makes access to wildlife refuges and other public lands more important."

Encouraged by the findings, RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson said, “We’re excited to see the fruits of our efforts to increase fishing and boating participation validated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s latest report –  a true benchmark of the industry.

“The results of this report show that RBFF has had a positive impact on participation since its inception, and we only plan to build upon these numbers.”

 ASA has developed tools and materials for the recreational fishing industry to further assist in the effort. The emphasis is on effectively reaching anglers through recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) practices. Several state agencies and industry partners are already implementing these R3 practices to help achieve 60 million anglers during the next five years.
 
RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources