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Friday
Sep052014

Judge Rules BP Grossly Negligent in Gulf Oil Spill

BP could be fined the largest penalty ever levied under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

That’s because U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier recently ruled that the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico occurred because of the company’s gross negligence, meaning BP could be liable for as much as $18 billion in pollution fines.

 That amount is far more than the $3.5 billion that the company had set aside and, according to the Wall Street Journal, “would easily exceed the biggest previous fine under the statute.”

That amount was based on BP’s belief that the court would rule the company liable for simple negligence. But a verdict of gross negligence means a fine of as much as $4,300 for each barrel of crude oil spilled in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The judge could decide on lower penalties per barrel, but still the amount is likely to surpass the previous CWA record of $1 billion paid by Transocean Ltd, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

“More than four years after the BP oil disaster, today’s ruling is a vital step towards restoring important waterfowl and fishing habitat for the next generation of sportsmen and women,” said Vanishing Paradise, a coalition of about 800 hunting and fishing organizations advocating for restoration of the Mississippi River Delta and the gulf.

“The oil spill tarnished hundreds of miles of coastline and marshes important to fresh and saltwater fishing and waterfowling. The areas most damaged by the spill cannot wait any longer for restoration to begin. Recreational fishing is a critical component of the Gulf economy generating $8 billion annually.

“In Louisiana alone, some 10 million ducks, geese and other waterfowl winter along the coast and depend on healthy marshes. We must invest penalty monies in real restoration projects that clean up and restore the waters and coastal habitat that are the backbone of the Gulf region’s economy.”

Friday
Sep052014

Think Lucky . . . And Focus

“They say you forget your troubles on a trout stream, but that’s not quite it. What happens is that you begin to see where your troubles fit into the grand scheme of things, and suddenly they’re just not such a big deal anymore.” --- John Gierach

“If your concentration is getting bad, take up bass fishing. It will really improve your ability to focus. If you aren't ready when that fish hits, you can't set the hook.” --- Lee Trevino

Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen

"You've got to think lucky. If you fall into a mudhole, check your back pocket --- you might have caught a fish." --- Darrell Royal

"It has always been my private conviction that any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses had it coming.: --- John Steinbeck

“If all politicians fished instead of spoke publicly, we would be at peace with the world.” --- Will Rogers

 

Thursday
Sep042014

TRCP Responds to Green Decoys Accusations

On Aug. 14, I posted accusations that Green Decoys is making against the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP). They relate mostly to TRCP’s assertion that it represents sportsmen, as it takes funds from environmental groups that often are anti-fishing and anti-hunting, as well as supportive of tighter gun controls.

In response, TRCP says this:

“The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership stands on its record of success fighting for sportsmen by fighting for conservation and access. Since its inception, the organization has been attacked by anti-conservation forces, usually working through industry front groups, for one simple reason: if sportsmen unite, sportsmen win.

“Before giving any credence to these attacks, we encourage people to research who is making the attacks and who is funding the attacks. In the meantime, the TRCP will keep working to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish.”

It adds that the organization “operates financially with a very high degree of transparency . . . We are funded at numerous levels, from foundation grants all the way down to yearly $35 members. Our annual report and Form 990 are published openly on our website for all to see.”

Finally, it provides links regarding the origin of Green Decoys, and, I’ll acknowledge that it does not seem as transparent as TRCP regarding its origin and funding.  Green Decoys describes itself as “a project of the Environmental Policy Alliance.”

And the Environmental Policy Alliance is “a project of the Center for Organizational Research & Education” which was formerly the Center for Consumer Freedom.  The latter originated with Richard Berman, a public relations specialist, who campaigns against environmental groups and labor unions, among others.

But I must say that I am in sympathy with Berman regarding his opposition to the “nanny culture” in general and some of the “targets” listed on the Berman Exposed website. They include ACORN, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, teachers unions, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Here’s a reminder about  EPA: A couple of years ago, a bureaucrat there compared his agency’s enforcement strategy to Roman crucifixion of Christians. When his comments went public, he was forced to resign.

But you can bet he’s not the only one in the EPA and other federal agencies who thinks that way. Remember Lois Lerner at the IRS?

Bottom line for me: Environmental funding groups push agendas in favor of bigger and more intrusive government and that inevitably leads to loss of freedom and abuse of power by unelected bureaucrats like that EPA official and Lois Lerner. Yes, TRCP does some great things on behalf of sportsmen, but, as it does so, it takes money from those groups, which also support anti-fishing and anti-hunting organizations and policies.  What does that cozy relationship mean for the future of fishing and hunting?

Wednesday
Sep032014

Dirk Encourages Anglers to Sink Teeth into Asian Carp Problem

Dirk grills Asian carp burgers.

Dirk Fucik has no illusions that he can turn back the Asian carp invasion that threatens the Great Lakes. But by making, selling, and even offering free samples of “carp burgers,” his Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet Shop in Chicago has been encouraging fellow anglers and others to slow the spread of these exotic species one bite at a time.

“We have been promoting the eating of Asian carp for about five years now,” said Fucik, a longtime member of B.A.S.S.

“We give out free samples every week at the shop, have worked with Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Army Corp of Engineers to give away carp burgers at the Taste of Chicago, and we are partnered with the Shedd Aquarium in promoting the use of Asian carp.

“It’s a great-eating fish,” he added. “We just have to get past the bones and the stigma of carp.”

At Taste of Chicago, an annual food festival, Fucik typically gives away 800 burgers in two hours, with 90 percent of those who try them approving.

“When Americans think of carp, they think of German carp,” he said. “And that fish is a bottom feeder. It is a dark-fleshed meat, and it’s strong in flavor and bony.”

By contrast, Asian carp are plankton eaters, and their meat is white, resembling cod. But they are bony. To solve that problem, Fucik extracted the large bones and then ran the meat and small bones through a meat grinder.

“It’s similar to burger meat,” he said.

And at about $6 a pound, it’s much cheaper than salmon burgers at $18.

“We should all embrace the use of Asian carp for food purposes,” he said. “It is a great lean, low-fat protein and, being a problem invasive species, eating it is a great solution.”

Asian carp burgers with tomato jalapeno chutney.

Dirk's  Carp Burgers:

2 pounds Asian carp fillets, ground
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs( this is optional)
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 teaspoons dry oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
4 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients except panko crumbs. Grind the fish twice to make sure there are no more bones and to blend the spices. Add panko crumbs and form into patties or choose not to use breading. The burgers will be a little softer but just handle with care.

If you want to add cheese, use a soft cheese. Form a small ball of cheese and insert into the center of the burger. Form the burger around the cheese.

Cook for about 5 minutes per side on a hot grill, the cheese will start leaking out when they are almost done.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Monday
Sep012014

Nursery-Raised Coral Spawning to Build Reef Habitat in Keys

Staghorn coral photo from Southeast Fisheries Science Center

In August, researchers at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) observed transplanted nursery-raised staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) spawning for the first time at Tropical Rocks, about 4 miles offshore of Marathon.

These corals were supplied by the Coral Restoration Foundation and Mote Marine Lab nurseries and outplanted by FWC. The project was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act via The Nature Conservancy.

The FWC and the Conservancy are reseeding coral reefs in efforts to aid recovery of wild staghorn populations, which contributes significantly to reef growth, island formation, and coastal protection, while providing essential habitat for a number of important reef fish.

“This is the first time that we have seen staghorn coral spawning at the reef tract that included corals grown as part of our nursery program,” said Caitlin Lustic, coral recovery coordinator for the Conservancy in Florida.

“This spawning event shows that outplanted corals have the ability to reproduce just like a natural colony and furthers our goal of creating breeding colonies of coral that can repopulate reefs on their own.”

The FWC, in collaboration with the Conservancy and other American Recovery and Reinvestment Act partners, began construction on the Middle Keys coral nursery in late 2009 but suffered setbacks due to a coldwater kill and, later, a warm-water bleaching event. The goal of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project was to expand the current nurseries, develop new nurseries and outplant high numbers of nursery-grown corals throughout the Florida reef tract and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“With this project, we developed excellent working relationships with the Conservancy and the rest of our partners,” said Kerry Maxwell, coral researcher with the FWC.

“Together we boosted threatened staghorn populations and realized the ultimate goal of the project: spawning. Even though the project backed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is complete, I anticipate we will all continue to collaborate toward the common goal of coral reef restoration.”

To learn more about corals go here.

To learn more about Conservancy efforts to protect Florida’s coast, including coral reef habitat, go here.