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BP Funds to Benefit Gulf of Mexico Fish and Wildlife

About $2.4 billion of BP’s recent settlement agreement of $4.5 billion will go to benefit fish and wildlife habitats along the Gulf Coast. Those funds will be funneled through the National Fish And Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), an independent non-profit conservation groups chartered by Congress in 1984.

"Ducks Unlimited applauds the decision to direct a significant portion of the settlement funds to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation," DU CEO Dale Hall said.

"NFWF is the appropriate organization to manage these funds and determine how they can best be used to benefit Gulf Coast fish and wildlife and the people who depend on these resources for their livelihood and recreation. NFWF's role in managing these funds is good news for the people and wildlife of the Gulf Coast."

Under this agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, BP pled guilty to several criminal charges for its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which discharged an estimated 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

“All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region,” said Bob Dudley, BP’s Group Chief Executive.

“From the outset, we stepped up by responding to the spill, paying legitimate claims and funding restoration efforts in the Gulf. We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today’s resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions.”

The $4.5 billion settlement does not resolve penalties that could result from violations of the Clean Water Act. These penalties could range as high as $20 million if BP is found guilty of gross negligence.

To learn more, check out Ducks Unlimited and this BP press release.


Do More to Protect Yourself From Skin Cancer

I went to the dermatologist yesterday for my annual checkup. He used liquid nitrogen to freeze seven areas of sun-damaged skin from my face, and he sliced a chunk from my nose for a biopsy.

With plans to be around lots of people three times through the weekend, I’m thinking of just hanging a sign around my neck that says, “I’m not contagious.”

Those angry red blotches show up a lot more in real life than in the above photo, by the way.

On the serious side, I’ve spent much of my life outdoors, fishing and playing sports. Now I’m paying for it.

About 3 ½ years ago, a surgeon removed basal cell cancer from my right forearm. He told me that this type of cancer is the mildest form of skin cancer, but he emphasized that it is cancer. He also said that I had a 4 in 10 chance of contracting more basal cell within the next 5 years because that first one revealed a predisposition.

I’ll find out in a week or so if that’s basal cell on my nose.

This has happened even though I’ve been diligent about applying sun block and protecting my skin with long-sleeve shirts and caps since I was a young adult.  As a child, though, I burned frequently and perhaps that laid the groundwork for what I’m now experiencing.

My point is this: No matter how much you think that you are protecting yourself from the sun, look for ways to enhance that protection. And if you have children, protect them as well with sun block, hats, and clothing, no matter how much they protest.

If they need convincing, and you think that they can handle it, show them this photo of advanced basal cell cancer.


Lionfish Threat Grows in Florida Waters

MyFWCmedia photo.

Exotic lionfish are on the increase in Florida waters, and, in response, the state has eliminated the recreational bag limit through August of 2013. It also has removed the need to have a recreational fishing license when using certain types of spears and dip nets.

“With these changes, which are designed to encourage lionfish-control efforts, the only thing that limits your lionfish hunting is your ability to shoot and the size of your cooler,” says Alan Peirce of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

During the past few years, the population has exploded along the southeast coast, including the Keys.

“Today, we are seeing them in places we’ve never seen them before, including the northern areas of the Gulf of Mexico, as their numbers are increasing rapidly,” Peirce continues.

What’s the problem?

Since lionfish are not native to these waters, they have no natural enemies. That means little or no control of their population. And as their numbers grow, they crowd out native species and/or eat them. This hurts recreational fishing and, in turn, the economies that depend on it.

“Now I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but this is a serious situation that needs our full attention,” Peirce says.

“This is especially true for those who scuba dive and snorkel in Florida. As it turns out, harvesting by spear or dip net is currently our best means of controlling the species and minimizing the negative consequences.

“Pole spears with multipronged ‘paralyzer’ tips have proved to be the safest and most effective tool for harvest. Puncture-resistant harvest bags and buckets with a rigid funnel entrance can also be used to safely transfer the fish from the spear to the container while avoiding contact with their venomous barbs.”

For more information about lionfish in Florida waters, go here. Also, REEF is a good source.


AFTCO an Important Ally for Saltwater Anglers

In the Gulf of Mexico, portions of underwater offshore oil structures are left in place to provide marine habitat long after oil production has ceased.

If you’re a saltwater angler and don’t know about the American Fishing Tackle Company (AFTCO), it’s time that you became acquainted. It’s one of our best allies for marine conservation and defending angler access to the ocean’s fisheries.

For more than 50 years, the company has donated proceeds from sale of its tackle and clothing to those causes. In 2012, it contributed $500,000.

According to BD Outdoors, “This $500,000 was distributed to some of the most respected fishing and conservation organizations in the world.

“Many additional grassroots organizations and individuals who share with AFTCO and its customers a passion for recreational fishing also received contributions.

“This year, the most notable causes and organizations that received financial contributions from AFTCO and the Shedd Family included Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, California MLPA lawsuit, Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute, International Game Fish Association, and the Center for Coastal Conservation.”

Read more from BD Outdoors here.

And go to the AFTCO website to read about “defeating the longlines, removing the gillnets, rigs to reefs,” and “the fight against extreme fishing closures.”


We Love to Fish       provides another great example of why I’m so proud to be a part of the recreational fishing community. It offers angling trips for adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

“Each guest on the boat is treated with respect and dignity and makes choices in the design of their day,” says the organization. “For many of our guests, this is their first time on the water and we are honored to share this experience with them.

“At We Love to Fish, we feel that it is our duty to share our expertise and passion of fishing with our guests, at no cost to them.

“Each guest is provided a rod and reel and is able to keep it for future days on the day. We are also proud to be a part of the Special Olympics, with our guests being invited to compete in this year’s summer games.”

To learn more, go here.