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Clean Water Future Encourages Investment to Protect, Enhance Fisheries

Mill Brook culvert maintenance

One of the best ways to keep our waters clean and healthy is to encourage people to invest --- either with time or money --- in their protection and enhancement.

Clean Water Future provides a good example of this with a pilot project for watershed protection on the Upper Connecticut River Valley between Vermont and New Hampshire. It connects people who are not on the land with people who are, and provides an alternative funding mechanism directed at individuals rather than foundations and government agencies.

“Similar to KickStarter, the website asks the public to invest in watershed protection projects,” spokesperson Linda Setchell tells Activist Angler.

“A couple of the projects we have listed currently improve fish habitat: 

“Mill Brook Fish Ladder Restoration Project is rebuilding a fish ladder that was destroyed during last year's Hurricane Irene, which ravaged Vermont's rivers. When in operation the ladder resulted in a 500 percent increase in wild trout spawning rates upstream of the ladder.

“Wood Is Good is a small project that will be dropping trees into a prime trout stream habitat in the backwoods of Vermont to help improve spawning grounds.”

Good ideas here, not just for those who live near the Upper Connecticut, but for activists nationwide.



Discarded Plastic Baits Still a Problem --- Let's Solve It

Carl Wengenroth of The Anglers Lodge on Lake Amistad recently picked up these baits along the shore at the world-class bass fishery on the Rio Grande River.

"This is just from a 25-yard stretch," says Wengenroth, who was working a weigh-in at nearby Black Brush ramp.

"Took only about 5 minutes to get these."

This photo serves as a painful reminder that we still have much work to do in keeping discarded plastic baits out of our waters. We must lead by example, properly disposing of used baits. We must encourage others to do the same. And we must pick up after those oblivious to the damage they do with their sloblike behavior.

By the way, plastic baits typically lose their color and swell after extended time in the water. The latter can be especially harmful for fish that swallow them.




Near Water Is a Healthy Place to Be

Activist Angler's home on a lake, following an ice storm. Photo by Robert Montgomery

Living near water may be good for your health, according to university researchers. I could have told them that.

Theories for the reason include less stress, more outdoor activity, a calmer lifestyle, and the soothing effects of sunsets and walks on a beach, according to the Great Lakes Echo.

I’d also add that living near water puts you right in the middle of all the wonder that is nature, which makes you more appreciative of and respectful for life in general. Here at my little lake, I share my property with ducks, deer, foxes, turkeys, rabbits, skunks, bats, snakes, lizards, frogs, squirrels (too many!), raccoons (who poop on my deck), and even a bear.

And let’s not forget that water contains fish, which facilitates fishing:

“The gods do not deduct from man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.”

By the way, wealth is not a factor. People of limited means show the biggest gains in life spans when they live near water.

That emphasizes that keeping our public waters clean and accessible is vital.

Learn more from the University of Exeter here.


Catch Shares Contributes to New England Fisheries Disaster


Here’s more condemnation of Catch Shares. This is from Food & Water Watch:

 “Food & Water Watch applauds the U.S. Commerce Department for declaring a national disaster for New England’s fisheries. The move will allow the federal government to offer millions of dollars in relief for fishermen and their communities. While this assistance is much needed, it is not the permanent solution to the problem. 

“No one could have predicted the collapse of the cod population in New England.

“What was predicted was the collapse of the region’s small-boat, independent fishing industry due to the catch shares management system. Catch shares, which has been promoted heavily nation-wide by the National Marine Fisheries Service, have forced smaller-scale fishermen out of business, paving the way for industrial fishing methods that can destroy sensitive ocean habitats.

Without significant funds to compensate for these simultaneous disasters, catch shares combined with the cod collapse will be the end of New England’s traditional fisheries. 

“Catch shares dole out allocations of fish, pitting independent fishermen against large-scale fishing operations to compete for allotments or shares, often giving preference to big, commercial operations. These quota are typically given away for free to fishermen and fishing companies who can lease or sell them. But shares tend to consolidate in a small and elite group of wealthy companies. 

“Catch shares also encourage the use of larger boats, damaging gear, and wasteful fishing practices that hurt fish populations and their habitats. More than declaring New England fisheries a national disaster, the dismantling of NMFS’s catch shares program could help the region’s most important industry rebound. If this program continues, the devastating result would be the privatization of a natural resource, which would hurt consumers, fishermen and our oceans.”


Fishing, Hunting Important for Nation's Economy

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) learned this week about the rise in hunting and fishing participation and its importance to this country.

"To put it in perspective, the 37 million sportsmen and women over the age of 16 in America is the same as the population of the state of California, and the $90 billion they spent in 2011 is the same as the global sales of Apple's iPad™ and iPhone™ in the same year," said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.

"Hunting and fishing have been, and clearly continue to be, important elements of our country's outdoor heritage and they are critically important to our nation's economy - particularly the small local economies that support quality hunting and fishing opportunities."

The CSC was briefed by a coalition of angling groups and the outdoor industry, with information obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey on Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation. To show the importance of fishing and hunting participation and expenditures, these groups compared them to mainstream industries.

Released in August, the data shows a 9 percent increase in hunters and an 11 percent increase in anglers, compared to the 2006 survey. (Since this information refers only to those 16 and older, actual participation is likely higher when adding in youth.)

Most importantly, hunters and anglers continued their strong spending habits. From equipment expenditures ($8.2 billion for hunters, $6.2 billion for anglers) to special equipment ($25 billion towards boats, RV's, ATV's and other such vehicles) to trip-related expenses totaling over $32 billion, sportsmen and women continue to direct their discretionary income toward their outdoor pursuits.

"The economic impact of hunting and fishing is profound in South Dakota and across the country," said Sen. John Thune (South Dakota), Republican Senate Co-Chair of the CSC. "It's important that we have policies that promote hunting and fishing and support the outdoor industries."

"People don't think about hunting and fishing in terms of economic growth," added Sen. Jon Tester (Montana), Democratic Senate Co-Chair of the CSC. "The statistics in the new economic impact report are great and will go a long way to telling the public just how important hunting and fishing are in this country."

Beyond the impact to businesses and local economies, sportsmen and women have played an essential and unmatched role in conserving fish and wildlife and their habitats. Sportsmen and women are the nation's most ardent conservationists, putting money toward state fish and wildlife management.

When you combine license and stamp fees, excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, the tax from small engine fuel and membership contributions to conservation organizations, hunters and anglers directed $3 billion towards on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts in 2011 - that is over $95 every second.

This does not include their own habitat acquisition and restoration work for lands owned or leased for the purpose of hunting and fishing, which would add another $11 billion to the mix.

"This is the 75th anniversary of our nation's system of conservation funding - a model that is envied throughout the world - that directs excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment toward state-based conservation,” said Michael Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

“The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs have resulted in robust fish and wildlife populations and quality habitat that is the legacy of the industry and sportsmen and women.”