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Early Warning System Created for Harmful Algal Blooms

Lake Erie algal boom. Photo by Michigan Sea Grant

Four federal agencies have joined forces to create an early warning system for toxic and nuisance algal blooms (HABs) in the Great Lakes and other freshwater systems.

Harmful algal blooms have emerged as a significant public health and economic issue that requires extensive scientific investigation,” said Suzette Kimball, acting director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

USGS, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will use satellites to gather color dates from freshwater bodies during scans of the Earth. They then will share the findings with state and local agencies so they can provide public health advisories when needed.

“In addition, the project will improve the understanding of the environmental causes and health effects of these cyanobacteria and phytoplankton blooms in the United States,” NOAA said in a press release.

NOAA added that these blooms are a global problem. “Cyanobacteria (blue-green alga)  is of particular concern because it produces toxins that can kill wildlife and domestic animals and cause illness in humans through exposure to contaminated freshwater and consumption of contaminated drinking water, fish, or shellfish,” it said.

HABs have been on the increase since the mid 1990s, according to Michigan Sea Grant College Program. In the Great Lakes, malfunctioning septic systems, products with phosphates (dishwater detergent) and nitrogen (lawn fertilizers), and urban and agricultural runoff likely have contributed.

“Some scientists also link the increase of harmful algal blooms to the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels in the Great Lakes and the ability of the mussels to filter feed,” Sea Grant said. “Essentially, they eat the good algae and phytoplankton but release organisms like blue-green algae back into the water intact.”

HABs annually cost the nation about $64 million because of loss of recreational usage, additional treatment for drinking water, and decline in waterfront property values. In August 2014, Toledo, Ohio, an algal bloom in Lake Erie forced Toledo, Ohio, officials to temporarily ban consumption of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents.

The new collaborative network will build on previous NASA ocean satellite sensor technologies created to study microscopic algal communities in the ocean, which play a role in climate change, ocean ecology, and the movement of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and ocean.


Put Used Baits and Lines Where They Belong--- In the Trash

Great blue heron hanging by monofilament line. Photo by Robert Montgomery

In general, anglers are good stewards. Because they enjoy the outdoors, they understand that it makes good sense to take care of it. This is especially true with fish care and handling.

As a group, however, we've been a little slow to address the need to properly dispose of used plastic baits and monofilament line. Fortunately, that's changing.

B.A.S.S. first started emphasizing proper disposal of baits a few years ago, and Eamon Bolten followed with the founding of a ReBaits program to recycle those baits. Today, we have  Keep America Fishing's national Pitch It campaign, which encourages anglers to pitch their worn-out baits into trash cans or recycling containers.

Additionally, more states, organizations, and companies are providing recycling bins for discarded monofilament line, both in stores and at boat ramps. Florida is one of the leaders, with its Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program and more than 40 counties providing recycling bins.

"Every day, improperly discarded monofilament fishing line causes devastating problems for marine life and the environment," says the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

 "Marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and birds become injured from entanglements, or might ingest the line, often dying as a result.  Human divers and swimmers are also at risk from entanglements and the line can also damage boat propellers.

Dolphn crippled by fishing line. FWC photo

"The Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program is a statewide effort to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment, to encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and to conduct volunteer monofilament line cleanup events."

FWC researchers note that clumps of monofilament line are the most common foreign objects found during manatee necropsies. They also point out that birds frequenting piers and other fishing hotspots  often are hooked accidentally when trying to grab bait off an angler’s line. Additionally, discarded monofilament line hanging from trees, piers, and other structures can ensnare birds. Once entangled, birds can have a difficult to impossible time flying and feeding.

“It is not uncommon to find dead pelicans entangled with fishing line and hooks,” said FWC biologist Ricardo Zambrano.

Please, properly dispose of both used baits and fishing line, and encourage others to do so as well. It's the right thing to do for fish and wildlife and the future of the sport that we love so much.


Big Catfish for Cameron Takes June Honors in ODU Contest 

Meet Cameron Jackson (right) from Tennessee, the June winner of the Outdoors Unlimited Magazine's youth angling photo contest.

This catfish (probably a blue) that he's holding with his friend, Jeffrey, weighed 42 pounds.

Camping and fishing with his family along the Tennessee River for the weekend, Cameron decided to put out two limb lines baited with bluegill. When he and Jeffrey went to check them on Monday morning, here's what they found, according to Cameron:

"One was empty. And the other, it looked like it was hung on a log or something. So I started pulling it in by hand, and realized it was a fish.

"I told Jeffrey to hold my phone. So I jumped in the water and got the fish so the line wouldn't break.

"We took it back to where our campsite was . . . We weighed it, and it weighed 42 pounds. Being the true fisherman that I am, we turned it loose. That's one day I'll never forget!"

For winning, Cameron will receive tackle packs from Daiichi Hooks(Blakemore) and Snag Proof Lures, as well as a copy of Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies--- Growing Up With Nature.


Jake Bests a Big One to Win ODU Photo Contest for May

Meet Jake Gluszek from New Jersey, the May winner of the Outdoors Unlimited Magazine's youth angling photo contest.

While fishing a youth derby in a pond at Mount Laurel, he hooked and lost a 2- to 3-pound bass while fishing with a minnow."

"Once we saw that there were some good bass in the pond, I tied on a chatterbait and he wound up tying into that giant," said his father, who added that Jake was "stunned at the catch" because he didn't realize that bass could grow that large.

The fish weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces.

"It's safe to say that Jake's bass could have eaten the second biggest catch of the day," his dad added.

For winning, Jake will receive tackle packs from Daiichi Hooks (Blakemore) and Snag Proof Lures, as well as a copy of Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies--- Growing Up With Nature.

Activist Angler will tell you about the June winner tomorrow.


Fishing Remains Among Most Popular Outdoor Activities

 Fishing remains among the most popular outdoor activities for adults, according to the 2015 Special Report on Fishing released recently by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) at  the Outdoor Foundation at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show (ICAST) in Orlando, Fla. The report reveals that more than 2.4 million people had their very first fishing experience in 2014, and a total of 46 million Americans participated in fishing.

"We are pleased with the findings of this report, including the 2.4 million newcomers who tried fishing for the first time in 2014," said RBFF President and CEO, Frank Peterson.

 "Fishing remains a popular outdoor activity and with increasing numbers of newcomers, we look to growing overall participation in the future, securing critical support for state conservation efforts."

"Recreational fishing is an essential piece of America's outdoor tradition, often leading children to a love of the outdoors and a healthy, active lifestyle," said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation.

"We hope this report will help the fishing industry — and the entire outdoor industry — engage young fishing participants and ultimately create the next generation of passionate outdoor enthusiasts."

The sixth annual report details fishing participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geography.


Overall Participation – 46 million Americans (15.8% of the U.S. population ages 6 and older) participated in fishing in 2014

Women Anglers – More than 47% of first-time fishing participants are female

Outdoor Activity – Among adult outdoor participants, fishing is the second most popular outdoor activity

Newcomers – More than 2.4 million people had their first fishing experience in 2014

Social – Nearly 82% of fishing trips involve more than one person

Youth – Fishing participation as a child has a powerful effect on future participation – more than 85% of adult anglers fished as a child, before the age of 12

Future Participants – Almost 4.3 million youth (11%) would like to try fishing, a growth opportunity for the industry

Number of Outings for Hispanic Participants – Hispanic fishing participants average 25.8 days on the water per year; over six days more than the average for all fishing participants (19.4 days)

Spontaneous – 81% of fishing trips are spontaneous or planned within a week of the trip

Motivation – Spending time with family and friends continue to be the largest reason to participate in fishing, specifically, 72.2% for ages 6-12 and 66.8% for ages 13-17