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Entries in ballast water (5)


That's Not a Goby . . . THIS Is a Goby!

Fish in the top photo is a round goby, an exotic fish introduced to the Great Lakes in the ballast water of ocean-going ships. They grow to about 6 inches maximum, but 3 to 4 inches is the norm. Also, they have proven to be among the favorite forage for smallmouth bass, and anecdotal evidence suggests that they are growing faster and larger on a goby diet.

Fish in the bottom photo is the world record marbled goby, caught in Thailand by John Merritt. It checked in at 5 pound, 3 ounces. IGFA says that it is "likely the largest of gobies." And with a mouth like that, it likely could turn the tables on some of those smallmouth bass that are eating its smaller, globe-trotting cousin.

You can see more "weird world records" at Sport Fishing.

The International Sport Fishing Association (IGFA) is the official record keeper for both fresh and saltwater species. You can see the full list here. For line class records and additional information, you must become a member.


Court Ruling Against EPA Could Impact Anglers

A recent federal court decision possibly will be a good news/bad news proposition for bass anglers and other boat owners.

The U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed in its responsibility under the Clean Water Act to protect the nation's waters from aquatic invasive species introduced by ballast water discharge. The most glaring evidence of that has been the introduction of zebra and quagga mussels into the Great Lakes by ocean-going ships. They've since spread across much of the country, forcing states, cities, and businesses to spend billions of dollars annually for control costs and/or to mitigate damage.

Additionally,  troublesome round gobies and dozens of other species also have hitched a ride to this country in ballast water.

As a consequence of this action, EPA must develop stricter regulations regarding ballast water, although the court did not set a deadline. In responding to the decision, the agency said that won't happen until 2018, adding that it still is "studying the recent decision by the 2nd Circuit to determine the best course of action."

Environmental groups, which sued EPA over its ballast water policy, praised the decision.

“This is a huge win for our environment, economy, fish, wildlife, communities, and businesses,” said Marc Smith, policy director for the National Wildlife Federation.

“The court, in no uncertain terms, has told the federal government that it needs to uphold its responsibility under the Clean Water Act to protect our drinking water, jobs, and way of life. This decision is welcome news for the millions of families, anglers, hunters, paddlers, beach-goers, and business owners who have borne the brunt of damages from aquatic invasive species for far too long."

But Bill Frazier, conservation director for the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation, warned that with this good news possibly comes some bad.

"This is a very big deal," he said. "As with most things, EPA possibly will overreach and extend (its restrictions) to all waters. If so, this may be the death knell for recreational boaters moving from one water body to another."

Frazier added that specific consequences might include mandatory inspections and/or certificates for moving boats from one lake to another,  fees to pay for such programs, and possible closing of access areas if costs prove to be prohibitive. 


Invasive Species Threat Goes Both Ways

Mostly resource managers have been concerned about Asian carp invading the Great Lakes through a manmade connection with the Mississippi River basin. But exotics already in the lakes also could migrate out and spread into rivers throughout the Midwest, if the electric barrier separating the two systems is not 100 percent effective.

One of those is the Eurasian ruffe, a small perchlike fish that entered Lake Superior during the mid 1980s in the ballast water of European freighters. It then spread to Lakes Michigan and Huron, and, this past summer, researchers found ruffe DNA in Chicago’s Calumet Harbor.

“The Eurasian ruffe is a relatively small fish that produces a lot of eggs and reaches maturity very quickly,” said Lindsay Chadderton, Aquatic Invasive Species Director for The Nature Conservancy’s Great Lakes Project. “They feed from the bottom of the food chain, and they’re going to compete with native and introduced species dependent on the same fauna.”

On the positive side, Illinois officials emphasized that no live ruffe have been captured in the harbor. They said that the DNA could have come from a bait bucket or ballast tanks, not an actual fish.

Still, even the possibility that the ruffe could be poised to spread inland underscores how vulnerable both the lakes and the Mississippi River basin are to invasive species and the need for an effective two-way barrier, according to The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups.

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


California Boaters Must Take Test to Help Stop Spread of Quagga Mussels


Quagga mussels on a flip flop.

As a society, we’d rather react to problems instead of acting to prevent them. That’s because the latter usually requires tough and potentially unpopular decisions by those who govern us.

By contrast, reacting to a problem with yet another law or regulation gives the impression of problem-solving and, thus, is a politically safe option, even though nothing is accomplished except the growth of government.

How local, state, and federal bureaucrats address the tremendous threats posed by exotic species provides a perfect example of this behavior.

For instance, residents of Lake County, California, now are required to pass a written test before being issued a quagga mussel sticker for their boats. According to the Record-Bee, “The test will consist of 12 true or false questions that pertain to the quagga mussel and how to prevent it from getting into the waters in Lake County.”

In case you don’t know, quagga mussels --- along with zebra mussels, round gobies, and dozens of other exotics --- were introduced into the Great Lakes by the ballast water of ocean-going cargo ships. From there, quaggas and zebras have spread across the country, devastating ecosystems and threatening water-supply infrastructures, while forcing businesses and governments to spend billions on damage control.

Yet we haven’t stopped exotics from entering the Great Lakes in ballast water. Instead, we require recreational boaters to take true-or-false tests about quagga mussels and charge them for the privilege.


Congress Could Weaken New York's Regulation to Keep Out Exotic Spcies

Zebra mussels on Lake Erie beach.

Here’s a perfect example of why invasive species cost this nation billions of dollars annually and do irreparable harm to our fisheries and other natural resources:

Congress seems poised to pass a bill that would negate New York’s tough new regulations for ballast water in ships enroute to the Great Lakes.

Zebra mussels and dozens of other exotics have entered the Great Lakes in ballast water. Along with altering ecosystems with their filter feeding and prolific colonies that smother habitat, the mussels block water intakes, costing states, municipalities, and industries billions of dollars in maintenance and control costs.

Here is what Buffalo News says:

“The measure exempts ballast water — the water kept in the hulls of ships to keep them balanced, and the main repository for alien invaders like the zebra mussel — from the federal Clean Water Act and any tougher state regulations . . .

“If the bill becomes law, international standards that environmentalists decry as too weak would be the main barrier between invasive species and the Great Lakes . . .

“New York’s proposed ballast water standards are 100 times more stringent than pending international ballast water standards for existing ships — and 1,000 times more stringent for new ships — prompting the shipping industry to complain that the technology doesn’t exist to meet the new rules.”

Of course, the main argument against tough standards for ballast water is that it will increase the cost of doing business for the shipping industry and thus hurt economic recovery.

Perhaps those who make such arguments are unaware of the damage that zebra mussels --- brought to this country by ballast water --- have done to this country’s economy, not to mention our fisheries.

And with weak standards for regulation of ballast water, if the next exotic that could be just as damaging as the zebra mussel is not yet in the Great Lakes, it soon will be.