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Wednesday
Mar252015

Boaters Who Don't Want More Corn In Their Gas Tanks Need to Speak Up Now

Ethanol damage

THE ISSUE: The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is the 2005 federal law that requires the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into our gasoline. When it was written, it assumed that America's use of gasoline would continue to rise and mandated escalating amounts of biofuels to be blended with our fuel. Since 2005, however, gasoline usage has actually declined steadily, which today forces more ethanol into less gasoline.

To keep up with this RFS mandate, in 2010 the EPA permitted E15 (fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol) into the marketplace. Even though E15 is prohibited from being used in marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, small engines like lawnmowers and leaf blowers, as well as any vehicle made before 2001, this fuel can now be found at more than 100 stations in 16 states at the very same pumps as E10 and ethanol-free gasoline.

More than 60 percent of Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) half million members as well as millions of recreational boaters fill their boat's fuel tanks at roadside gas stations where the higher blend ethanol fuels are often the cheapest fuel at the pump. This creates a huge potential for misfueling and puts boaters at risk.

ACTION NEEDED NOW: For years, BoatUS has been battling in Washington to make sure recreational boat owners can buy gasoline that works with their recreational boat engines. Senators Diane Feinstein and Pat Toomey have now introduced S. 577, the "Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015" in the US Senate.

This bill, which has both Democrat and Republican support, will effectively remove the government mandate for higher blends of corn-based ethanol fuels (more than 10 percent) and allow for investment in other more compatible biofuels. BoatUS believes it is a critical step to solving the ethanol issue and urges America's boat owners to contact their Senators now to become  co-sponsors and supporters of S. 577. Boaters can do this here. For more on the Renewable Fuel Standard go here.

From BoatU.S.

Tuesday
Mar242015

Missouri Angler Snags State Record Paddlefish

Record paddlefish snagged in Missouri waters.

Missouri has a new paddlefish record, as Andy Belobraydic snagged a 140-pound, 8.8-ounce trophy Saturday on the north end of Table Rock Lake. The old snagging record, weighing 139 pounds, 4 ounces, also came from Table Rock in 2002.

The record fish measured 6 ½ feet long and was nearly 4 feet in diameter.

The largest fish taken in Missouri waters on hook and line, as opposed to being snagged, was a 130-pound blue catfish, pulled from the Missouri River in 2010.

On March 6 in Thailand, meanwhile, Jeff Corwin, a nature conservationist, caught a sting ray with an estimated weight of 600 to 800 pounds. It measured 14 feet long and 8 feet wide and could be the largest freshwater fish ever caught on rod and reel. Current record is a 693-pound catfish pulled from Thailand’s Mekong River in 2005.

Beluga sturgeon is listed as world's largest freshwater fish by Conservation Institute.

Here’s a list of the largest freshwater fish by species, with the paddlefish as No. 10. Note, though, that the Conservation Institute says that it grows to only 60 pounds and 5 feet long.

Monday
Mar232015

Industry Looks at Boat Design as a Way to Combat Mussel Invasion

Zebra mussels on shopping cart

For years, resource managers focused on education, regulations, and boat inspections to help stop the spread of invasive species such a zebra mussels. But in late January, a new tactic was initiated as a first-of-its-kind boat design summit was staged here.

“If you can build a better boat, it makes it easier down the line,” said Brian Goodwin of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), which develops safety standards and is a sponsor. “There is no silver bullet that will solve the problem. But this is part of it.”

Other sponsors included the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state of Minnesota and Lake Minnetonka’s Tonka Bay Marina. Minnesota ranks No. 1 nationally in boat ownership per capita.

Organizers hoped that the event would stimulate recommendations for new designs for the more than 100 boat manufacturers, marina operators, conservation leaders, and biologists in attendance.

“This is a critical piece we need to look at and make sure we’re doing all we can do to reduce the risk,” said Ann Pierce of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “I think it will be extremely beneficial, and not just for Minnesota.”

In addition to attaching themselves to hulls, mussels often stow away on boats in any place that water accumulates, including motors, bilges, livewells, and transom wells. Pontoon boats, the fastest growing sector of the boating industry, and wakeboard boats, which collect water to create wakes, especially are conductive for aquatic hitchhiking. For example, lifting strakes on pontoons enable them to go faster, but they often are sealed only at one end, allowing small mussels entry at the other.

“For a lot of companies, it’s going to be a retooling,” said Bob Menne, owner of Premier Marine, the fourth-largest pontoon manufacturer in the nation, and the only one, he said, to weld strakes and keels to keep out zebra mussels.

“We take it as a very serious issue,” he said.

Thursday
Mar192015

Still No Plan to Address Susquehanna's Sick Smallmouth Bass

Despite evidence that smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River are ill, state and federal officials refuse to categorize the waterway as “impaired.” And until it receives that designation, a plan can’t be developed to address the problem, which probably is pollution.

"We are absolutely certain that the smallmouth bass population of the middle Susquehanna River is sick, based upon the continuing presence of lesions and tumors in young and adult bass," said John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fishing and Boating Commission (PFBC).

"We've been collecting data since 2005, and believe that these fish health issues are causing a decline in the population, which means the river is sick. It is not necessary to know the exact source or cause of the sickness before the Commonwealth declares the river as impaired."

Yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supported the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in its decision to exclude nearly 100 miles of the Susquehanna in its 2014 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report.

In 2012, PFBC asked DEP to declare that section of the river from Sunbury to Holtwood Dam, near the Maryland border, as impaired. Both then and in 2014, DEP asserted that it lacked sufficient data to make that determination.

Now the earliest that the river could be declared impaired is 2016.

Update

Arway recently spoke to the game and fisheries committee of the state House of Representatives about this issue. According to Triblive.com, here's what happened:

He also continued his call to have the Susquehanna River officially declared “impaired.” Once the premier flowing smallmouth bass fishery on the East Coast, it's been in decline in recent years, with smallmouth bass populations shrinking and more and more fish showing up sick, he said.

The commission, state Department of Environmental Protection and federal Environmental Protection Agency are doing a study to determine what's causing the problems, he said. A report is due by September.

After that, action needs to be taken, he said. Sick bass have been showing up since 2005, but no one's done anything but collect data since, Arway said.

An impaired designation would set the stage for a corrective plan, he added.

“We know the fish are sick. The (Department of Environmental Protection) admits the fish are sick. The question is, why are they sick and what are we going to do about it? And we haven't started down that road yet,” Arway said.




Thursday
Mar192015

Volunteers Once Again Improving Habitat at Lake Havasu

As volunteers lead a resurgence in the Lake Havasu Fisheries Improvement Program, anglers are being surveyed to help determine the success of the 20-year effort.

“We’re trying to find out what people are catching, how many fish they are catching,” said David Bohl, president of the Lake Havasu City chapter of Anglers United, who suspects that smallmouth bass are becoming the dominant species.

 “We want to see if they are satisfied. Hopefully, they’re catching a lot of fish.”

Extending into next fall, the project is financed with a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with a goal of 5,000 responses. Surveys are available at a half dozen access locations around the 20,000-acre impoundment on the Colorado River.

The original $27 million program to add a variety of habitat and increase access began in 1993 for the reservoir that was built during the 1930s for water storage, and since has become one of the most popular fisheries in the arid Southwest. Effort lagged a bit at the end of that 10-year program, but volunteers since have revived it.

Between 100 and 200 brush bundles are dropped monthly during summer, with much of the work being done by members of the Lake Havasu Marine Association (LHMA). Along with Anglers United, other partners include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona Game and Fish, and California Fish and Wildlife.

“It’s one of the best places where every arm of government, volunteers, and nonprofits are working together to get something done,” said BLM’s Jason West, who coordinates the program.

As an example of the cooperative effort, area landscapers provide tree branches and other brush, which are bundled with rope, weighed with sand bags and sunk in coves, where they are believed to provide habitat for about seven years, as they slowly decompose.

At least anecdotally, the fishery has benefitted from the long-term effort, with both size and quantity improving, according to BLM biologist Doug Adams. Program advocates hope the survey will provide more definitive evidence.