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Monday
Aug252014

Sharks, Dead Zones, Oil Spills, and Other Realities

Remember the mayor in the movie “Jaws”? He didn’t care about the reality. He cared about the perception, even though people were dying.

Some in the fishing community are that way too, I think, based on my experience writing about issues that they don’t want to deal with.

Recently, I posted a piece about “dead zones” degrading our waters and how, unlike climate change, we can do something about the problem.  And, not surprisingly, someone complained, saying that the Gulf of Mexico “ain’t dead by a long shot, calling it so is a misrepresentation of the facts or just piss poor reporting on science.”

The only problem with that assessment is that I did NOT say the Gulf of Mexico is dead. I simply pointed out that a dead zone occurs there annually because of nutrient overload flowing down the Mississippi River.

Additionally, the “dead” area is not oxygen depleted from top to bottom, and I did not say that it is. The problem exists mostly in subsurface waters.

In 2013, I wrote a piece about how dolphins, turtles, and some species of fish are likely casualties of the Deep Horizon oil spill. I added, “No one is suggesting that the coastal states aren't open for tourism business or that the fishing isn't good, but some species still are being harmed.

Nevertheless, I received comments from angry anglers who disputed the science and accused me of harming the sport fishing economy of Louisiana by writing about such things. (By the way, check out this article, which details how aquatic life in the Gulf is thriving because of the oil industry.)

Years ago, I also was criticized by communities and chambers of commerce for reporting on Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV) outbreaks at major impoundments.

For me, the bottom line is the welfare of resource, and, if there’s a problem, I want it solved or at least dealt with in a way that minimizes the damage done. I don’t know the motivation of those who don’t want to deal with the reality, but I have my suspicions.

Like the mayor of Amity, communities dependent on recreational fishing for economic prosperity don’t want to acknowledge events that might discourage tourism--- and don’t want anyone else to either.

Understanding what’s going on with anglers who criticize exposure of fisheries-related problems is a little more mysterious. But I suspect that it relates to the intense political divide in this country between the Left and the Right. Yes, I realize that not all anglers are conservative, but the majority are. And they bristle at the idea of anything “environmental,” which conjures up visions of Big Government intrusions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and on behalf of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

That division is one of the main reasons that such controversy exists regarding new proposals for the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

Yes, we needed EPA, ESA, and CWA for better stewardship of our wildlife, land, air, and waters. But over time, they’ve all been abused by environmentalists and bureaucrats to further political agendas and infringe on personal freedoms and property rights.

As an angler who prefers less intrusive government, I understand that. But as an ardent conservationist who knows the importance of science-based management of our natural resources, I’m not going to reject everything “environmental” because I don’t like what the word connotes.  

Monday
Aug252014

Animal Rights Activists Threaten Wildlife Management in Michigan

 

*     *       *        *

The animal rights movement is more active than ever before, and working hard to limit and/or eliminate fishing, hunting, trapping, and science-based management of our wildlife resources. You may not be at war with them, but they are at war with you.

This from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation regarding the battle in Michigan:

Efforts led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) over the last two years in Michigan have put the state's ability to properly manage its natural resources at risk.

Thankfully, those from Michigan's sportsmen's community and the Michigan Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus have joined forces to combat HSUS's objective of stripping the Natural Resource Commission's (NRC) authority to manage wildlife based on scientific principles. These sportsmen efforts translated into nearly 300,000 certified signatures in support of enacting the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (SFWCA).

This citizen-initiated law will safeguard the NRC's authority to manage Michigan's fish and wildlife using the best available science.

On August 13, the Michigan Senate demonstrated its commitment to conservation by voting in favor of the SFWCA. The decision now goes to the House of Representatives, whose approval would codify the SFWCA without the need for the governor's signature. Lack of approval would send the SFWCA to the November ballot for popular vote where the emotionally charged and ill-informed campaigns of HSUS could sway voters from making the best decision for Michigan's wildlife resources.

It is imperative that representatives hear from constituents who support professional fish and wildlife management and are encouraged to vote in favor of the SFWCA on August 27. Opponents will be working hard to sway legislators, so it is up to the sportsmen's community to surpass their efforts in these final two days. At nearly two million strong, the voices of Michigan's hunters and anglers cannot be ignored.

Please contact members of the Michigan House of Representatives today and urge them to support the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act!

Look up your Michigan House member here. Read more here.

Friday
Aug222014

'The Whole World Is a Fish . . . '

“Poets talk about ‘spots of time.’ but it is really the fishermen who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and the fish is gone.” ---Norman Mclean

“You cannot catch trout with dry breeches.”--- Spanish proverb

“You can observe a lot just by watching.”--- Yogi Berra

Why We Fish --- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen

“Hell, if I'd jumped on all the dames I'm supposed to have jumped on, I'd have had no time to go fishing.” --- Clark Gable

“Only when the last tree has been felled, the last river poisoned, and the last fish caught, man will know that he cannot eat money.” --- Cree Indian saying

“Man can learn a lot from fishing — when the fish are biting no problem in the world is big enough to be remembered.” --– Orlando A. Battista

Thursday
Aug212014

Sky Isn't Falling, But Dead Zones Are Real

The Mississippi River dead zone is overloaded with nutrients from upstream sources. This photo shows the color change between the hypoxic (brown) and oxygen-rich (blue) waters. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Climate change occurs naturally. It always has, and it always will vary from day to day, week to week, season to season, year to year, decade to decade, and century to century. Possibly humans play a role in that change in some way, but no verifiable evidence supports that. Even if it did, we, as one nation, could do little to nothing about it because our contribution is miniscule compared to what’s happening in China, India, and the rest of the world.

The billions of dollars wasted on this sky-is-falling hysteria could be far better spent on providing food and clean water to the millions who need it.

By contrast, dead zones pose legitimate threats to our fisheries and oceans and could be minimized if we changed our ways.

LiveScience.com reports the following:

“Agricultural practices are the biggest culprit for dead zones in the United States and Europe. Rains wash excess fertilizer from farms into interior waterways, which eventually empty into the ocean. At the mouths of rivers, such as the Mississippi, the glut of phosphorous and nitrogen intended for human crops instead feeds marine phytoplankton.

“A phytoplanktonic surge leads to a boom in bacteria, which feed on the plankton and consume oxygen as part of their respiration. That leaves very little dissolved oxygen in the subsurface waters. Without oxygen, most marine life cannot survive.”

In the United States, the most notorious dead zone occurs each summer in the Gulf of Mexico, spreading out from the mouth of the Mississippi River. This year, it consumes more than 5,000 square miles, slightly smaller than last year. On average, it is estimated to cost $82 million annually in diminished tourism and fishing yield.

More than 150 dead zones have been identified in this country, most of them along the coasts. A few occur inland, notably the Great Lakes.

Some of them have been cleaned up through improved management of agricultural runoff and sewage. But as fertilizer and factory farming both increase, LiveScience.com warns, “the United States is creating dead zones faster than nature can recover.”

More than 400 dead zones have been identified worldwide, covering about 1 percent of the area along continental shelves.  But likely many more than that exist, since portions of Africa, South America, and Asia have yet to be studied.

Tuesday
Aug192014

Obama to Provide More Protection for Multi-Tasking Fish in Pacific

It’s edifying --- and not a little bit frightening --- to check in occasionally on what’s happening with the true believers regarding environmental preservation and animal rights. Incredibly, I found an article online that deals with both.

1. President Obama is going to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument by tenfold, banning fishing and just about any other activity across 782,000 square miles.

By the way, President George W. Bush created this preserve in 2009, but he exempted sport fishing from the ban. That won’t be the case with this president, whose National Ocean Policy is all about “zoning” uses of our oceans, coastal waters, and even inland. In other words, unelected bureaucrats and their friends in the environmental groups with anti-fishing agendas are going to tell us where we can and cannot fish.

Depressingly, I could find only one piece online that voiced concerns for U.S. fishermen--- and that was from an Australian publication, Fishing World. Everything else is glowing PR favoring expansion.

2. Fish can multi-task!

No kidding! I read it in the same article.

Before I explain, allow me to congratulate the person who wrote the headline for this piece. It’s my favorite part of the article. Here it is:

Fish found to have cognitive & cooperative abilities perhaps superior to those of Members of Congress

You’ll get no arguments from me on that.

But then consider this:

“Various studies demonstrate, according to Brown, that fish can ‘perform multiple complex tasks simultaneously,’ an ability that was until recently considered to be uniquely human; ‘have excellent long-term memories,’ including of times, places, locations, social experiences, and aversive situations;   ‘live in complex social communities where they keep track of individuals and can learn from one another, a process that leads to the development of stable cultural traditions…similar to some of those seen in birds and primates’;   ‘show signs of Machiavellian intelligence such as cooperation and reconciliation’; use tools; and ‘use the same methods for keeping track of quantities as we do.’”

That Eisteinian assessment of bass, catfish, and carp comes from Dr. Culum Brown, a biology professor in Australia.

So. . . what else do you suppose that big largemouth was doing at the same time it spied your frog twitching across the surface? Was it playing cards --- I’ll refrain from naming the game --- with friends? Was it picking up its fry from school? Was it also considering a very enticing Texas-rig lizard that your friend was retrieving?

The next time that I catch a bass, I think that I'll ask her.