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Monday
Nov172014

Freshwater Fish Harvest Data Inadequaate

Those who plan dams and other river projects don't know how important rivers are for fish harvest , according to scientists. AP Photo by Janet Jensen

Wow. Researchers say that worldwide accounting of freshwater fish harvested for consumption is “inaccurate and grossly underestimated” and that the amount “could equal the current amount of marine fish caught.”

As a consequence of this, planning for dams and other river projects doesn’t adequately account for the effect they might have on fish populations.

That’s bad news not only for commercial harvest of freshwater fish, but recreational angling as well.

“It’s not a question of whether we should stop using water for other purposes, but we need to consider what harms are being created, and if they can be mitigated,” said one of the Michigan state scientists. “People are losing jobs and important sources of food because fish habitats are being degraded, greatly reducing fish production in these waters.”

Read more here.

Friday
Nov142014

Happiness Is a Large Fish

In a Plano video, Chad Morganthaler and Tom Rowland talk about why they fish, conservation, and the importance sharing the experience with kids.

And my book, Why We Fish, does as well.

 “Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man having caught a large fish goes home through an alley.” --- Author unknown

 “Bass fishermen watch Monday night football, drink beer, drive pickup trucks and prefer noisy women with big breasts.  Trout fishermen watch MacNeil-Lehrer, drink white wine, drive foreign cars with passenger-side air bags and hardly think about women at all.  This last characteristic may have something to do with the fact that trout fishermen spend most of the time immersed up to the thighs in ice-cold water.”  --- Author unknown

 “Do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish.” --- Mark Twain

 “Hatchery fish have the same colours, but they always seem muted like bad reproductions of great art.” --- Bill Barich, This Sporting Life

 “The angling fever is a very real disease and can only be cured by the application of cold water and fresh, untainted air.” --- Theodore Gordon

Wednesday
Nov122014

Click on the photo to learn more

Wednesday
Nov122014

Atlantic Salmon Reproducing in Great Lakes

Atlantic salmon fingerlings. USFWS photo
A chance discovery by a college student reveals that Atlantic salmon are reproducing in the Great Lakes --- at least in the St. Mary’s River, which connects Superior and Huron.

“We were conducting research for my sturgeon thesis when we found the Atlantic salmon fry,” said StefanTucker, a Lake Superior State University graduate. “It was very exciting to everyone who was a part of my research to imagine what we had just stumbled upon.

“While sorting through my samples at the lab with Roger (Greil), we began to ID the salmonids and Roger had a suspicion that they were Atlantics,” he added. “We caught wild Atlantics in our next two sampling events, so we wanted to confirm our ID and we sent a few to Dr. Gerald Smith at University of Michigan, who confirmed the identification.

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) are native to Lake Ontario, but their populations severely declined by the late 1800s, according to Tucker’s abstract. During the early to mid-1900s, Atlantic salmon were stocked throughout the Great Lakes in effort to reestablish them into Lake Ontario and introduce the species into the upper Great Lakes. However, these efforts had minimal success.

In 1987, LSSU, in cooperation with MDNR Fisheries, began stocking Atlantic salmon in the St. Mary’s River. While the effort has resulted in a very successful recreational fishery, along with an excellent educational experience for students, it appeared that Atlantics were still not reproducing naturally even though they would return to the river spawning grounds every year. Biologists wondered if competition from other salmonids spawning in the St. Mary’s in greater numbers – including chinook and pink salmon – was keeping Atlantics from thriving.

While this is the first documentation of natural reproduction of Atlantic salmon in the upper Great Lakes, Tucker’s study concludes that “the extent of natural reproduction and mechanisms influencing reproductive success are unclear and warrant further attention.”

Tuesday
Nov112014

Anglers Get Good Return on Their 'Investments'

It’s too bad that most federal government programs aren’t as financially sound as the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR).

For fishing, this incredible use-pays, user-profits strategy has shown a more than 2,000 percent annual return on monies invested in fisheries and conservation, according to  “The Benefits to Business from Hunting and Fishing Excise Taxes,” a report compiled by Southwick Associates and Andrew Loftus Consulting on behalf of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

How does that happen?

Anglers pay excise taxes on fishing tackle and motorboat fuel. That money goes into a dedicated fund managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which allocates the money as matching funds to the states for fisheries conservation.

“Excise-tax collections and import duties averaged $110 million annually between 1955 and 2006 (equipment only, not motorboat fuels),” revealed the report. “At the same time, wholesale-adjusted purchases of taxable fishing equipment by anglers averaged $2.3 billion per year, resulting in an average annual return of 2,157 percent.”

Not all individual fish and wildlife projects show such huge returns, the authors added. “And the nature of some projects is such that a return simply can’t be quantified.

“However, today’s $30 billion hunting and fishing equipment industries have been built on a foundation of plentiful hunting and fishing opportunities --- thanks to the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration excise tax paid by business.”

Because this program is so profitable, Washington politicians occasionally try to steal these dedicated funds for other purposes. The last time it happened was 1994. Should they ever succeed, results could be catastrophic.

“There is no other funding source that could take up the slack on the scale of our excise-tax-funded Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs,” the report said. “Losing that excise –tax investment would literally be the end of hunting and fishing as we know it.”