Prescription drugs and other chemicals are contaminating Lake Michigan as far as two miles from the Milwaukee sewage discharges, according to researchers. That’s an unpleasant surprise for those who had theorized that water was diluting the pollutants to non-threatening levels.
With 14 chemicals found at levels of “medium or high ecological risk,” scientists don’t know what effect they are having on fish and other aquatic life. But they are concerned.
“You’re not going to see fish die-offs but subtle changes in how the fish eat and socialize that can have a big impact down the road,” said Dana Kolpin, a research hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. “With behavior changes and endocrine disruption, reproduction and survival problems may not rear their ugly head for generations.”
The chemicals’ ability to travel and remain at relatively high concentrations means that aquatic life is exposed, so there could be “some serious near-shore impacts,” added Rebecca Klaper, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and senior author of the study published in the journal Chemosphere.
Of the 27 chemicals found, the most prevalent were caffeine, metformin (an antidiabetic drug), sulfamethoxazole (antibiotic), and triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal compound found in soaps and other consumer products. The latter is known to be toxic to algae and can act as a hormone disruptor in fish.
The real problem, though, is the witch’s brew created by the contaminants blending together in the fishery. “It’s going to be hard to ease out which of these compounds may do harm,” Kolpin said.
Klaper added that the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District does a better job than other plants at removing many compounds. But its facilities are just not equipped to handle the volume.
“For example, we found quite a bit of caffeine in the lake, and they’re removing about 90 percent of the caffeine that comes in for treatment. They can’t remove everything.”
Capturing these pollutants is a challenge not just for Milwaukee’s treatment plants but for those across the country, according to Kevin Shafer, executive director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.
“At the time wastewater treatment plants were developed, these compounds were just not an issue,” he said.
(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)
Good news for anglers everywhere: Our brothers and sisters in Australia won a huge victory for public access.
And there’s an important message here for U.S. fishermen: Get involved in the political process. Aussie anglers wouldn’t have won if they had just gone fishing instead of fighting back.
“We are pleased the Coalition Government has listened to Australia’s recreational fishers and are conducting a scientific review of the proposal, which will give a sensible balance for Australia’s unique marine environment,” said Allan Hansard of the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation.
“It was clear that the decisions to ‘lock’ recreational fishers out of vast areas of our seas by the previous government was not scientifically based and was done to meet a political agenda.”
The Government’s marine parks announcement marks an historic win by the recreational fishing sector against powerful international environment groups, including the US-based Pew organisation which spent millions of dollars in its failed attempt to ban fishing across huge swathes of Australian territorial waters.
Meanwhile, here’s things are not going so well in the United States. President Obama’s National Ocean Council is moving ahead with plants to “zone” uses of our oceans, telling us where we can and cannot fish. And in Maine, officials are considering a proposal by anti-fishing advocates who want to ban plastic baits.
Down in Georgia, a fishing editor said this:
Fishing is a way of life for millions of Americans. It’s a pastime all can enjoy, as well as a multi-billion-dollar industry through the sale of boats and motors, fishing tackle and even live bait.
The state of Maine, though, seems hell-bent on becoming the nation’s first anti-fishing state, according to a news release from Keep America Fishing.
Not long ago, the state legislature voted to impose restrictions and downright bans on the use of lead-headed jigs and lead sinkers, claiming the loon population was being adversely affected by ingesting that tackle while diving for bait fish.
Earlier this year, Maine’s Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife called for a study to determine the effects of soft plastic lures on fish. Maine’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department is using online research, ice angling reports and litter assessments to determine if there are adverse effects on fish . . .
Legislation introduced during early 2013 legislative sessions called for the outright ban of soft plastic lures.
The state study also includes the impact of hooks! What a waste of time! If soft baits are banned, what’s next?
I’m glad I live where I live!