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Entries in climate change (21)


Banning Fishing Won't Save Coral in Biscayne National Park

Too many in this country, especially anglers, fail to recognize that the anti-fishing movement is strong and going stronger, not only in private organizations such as PETA, but in federal government. Right now, anti-fishing elements in both groups are strategizing together about how to establish National Marine Monuments that would prohibit recreational fishing off the New England coast

The National Park Service (NPS)  already has closed portions of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and now it's going after a recreational fishing ban on part of Florida's Biscayne National Park, under the pretense of protecting coral.

 But because its decisions affect just one part of the country at a time, outrage regarding its actions usually is limited to those personally affected by the loss of access and the fishing industry in general, which tries its best to awaken anglers to this threat.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen exposed how anti-fishing proponents have corrupted NPS management in her recent critique of its proposal.

"Putting a no-fishing zone at the forefront of Biscayne’s coral-protection strategy would seem to suggest that NPS believes fishing is the primary threat to our reefs," she said.

"But scientists have determined that poor water quality and periodic extreme water temperatures are responsible for most coral losses in Biscayne over the last two decades. Furthermore, overfishing is just one of five major threats to Biscayne’s coral reefs that NPS has identified, including reduced freshwater flows into Biscayne Bay, invasive species, water quality/pollution and climate change.

"Knowing this, how can NPS propose that eliminating fishing in 7 percent of park waters will vastly improve the state of park reefs?"

She also correctly contrasts that political move to impose an preservationist ideology with how NPS managers at Everglades National Park properly developed a management.

" Everglades’ GMP (general management plan) has gone through the same tortured process that Biscayne’s has, yet when the final plan was recently released, it was rightly praised by fishermen and environmental groups alike because it was grounded in a consensus-based plan that balanced ecological protection and public access. The plan vastly expands pole/troll zones across Florida Bay to protect vital seagrass beds from boat motors while allowing folks to enjoy fishing and boating in their public waters via dozens of new, marked access routes."

That plan, she correctly pointed out, supports both fish habitat and fishing.

"In Biscayne, the plan lays out a false choice between fish habitat or fishing," she said. "It’s not too late for the Park Service to develop a GMP for Biscayne that can actually deliver the conservation benefits it’s designed to provide, and do so with the support of all stakeholders in our community — the type of GMP that neighboring Everglades National Park recently proposed."


Are Anglers, Hunters Endangered Species In Minnesota, As Well As California?

Slowly, but inevitably, anglers and hunters are becoming endangered species in California, the most Leftist state in the nation.  Based on an editorial that I read in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, I fear that Minnesota's anglers and hunters might not be far behind, despite the state being the "land of ten thousand lakes."

While many Democrats do fish and hunt, Leftist ideology is anti-fishing and anti-hunting both directly and indirectly. Directly it takes the form of many preservationist and animal rights groups, which want to restrict access to public lands and waters, as well as ban fishing and hunting outright. Indirectly it manifests as a nanny-state bureaucracy which over-regulates and over-taxes.

For example, California fishing licenses cost an average of 76 percent more than in other states, according to the California Sportfishing League. It's no surprise, then, that fishing license sales have dropped nearly 55 percent since 1980, even as the population has increased from 23 to 38 million.

Now, to Minnesota, which, sad to say, was turning Left before this editorial. Just last year, a Democrat state senator proposed and the legislature approved changing the name "Asian carp" to "invasive carp" so as not to offend the state's Asian population. If that's not a sign that the state has fallen into the PC rabbit hole, I don't know what is.

Here is the headline for the editorial, written, it seems, by people who learned about the outdoors solely through Disney movies: "From hunting to fishing, humans are doing damage as 'super predators.'"

And here are a couple of choice excerpts from the editorial, which was prompted by a study: 

"The upshot is that humans have evolved into 'super predators' unwilling or unable to maintain the natural equilibrium. All manner of 'normal' human activity — including global trade, fossil-fuel subsidies, food processing, and recreational hunting and fishing — contribute to failing ecosystems worldwide."

"Scientists said last week that global warming caused by human emissions has exacerbated the severity of the current California drought by 20 percent. Scientists in Minnesota have said repeatedly that agricultural practices and suburban-style development are helping to destroy the state’s cherished lakes. We’ve met the enemy, and the enemy is us."

Here's something that might be pertinent and that the Star-Tribune staff obviously has no clue about: Recreational fishing and commercial fishing are NOT the same thing. And recreational anglers do far more to sustain and enhance fisheries than they do to damage them. This includes catch-and-release, which has become almost universal, as well as millions of dollars contributed annually by anglers for fisheries management and conservation via license fees, excise taxes on equipment, and private contributions to fishery groups.

And that global warming thing? Yes, the climate is changing. It always has, and always will. But it is a disturbing indication of the lunacy of the newspaper's editorial staff, and possibly an indictment of readers in Minnesota that "global warming caused by human emissions" is presented as fact. It is not fact. No quantifiable evidence exists to support that statement.

The best part of finding that editorial was reading a lengthy comment from at least one Minnesota resident who has not fallen into the Leftist abyss. Here are some excerpts:

"License fees and contributions collected from hunters and hunting advocacy groups (Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Ruffed Grouse Society) account for most of the wildlife conservation dollars spent in this state." 

"The hunters I associate with are ethical. We won't take the shot unless we are certain it will result in the most humane kill possible. We'll never kill something that doesn't end up on the dinner table (coyotes being the only exception) and we never kill more than we need."

"I'm also a landowner. I manage my property to benefit all wildlife. I leave my corn and soybeans standing over winter to provide winter food for deer. I've planted countless trees, shrubs and grasses that benefit birds, mammals and pollinators."

"It's obvious that the authors of this study have a confirmation bias. It reads like it was commissioned by PETA." 

And it's obvious that the editorial staff of the Star-Tribune has that same bias.


New Challenges Face America's Trout, Says TU

America’s native trout have declined dramatically over the last century thanks to a number of threats ranging from hatchery fish stocking to logging and mining to poorly designed roads and livestock grazing practices. Now a new suite of threats, from energy development to a changing climate, poses even greater challenges.   

According to a new Trout Unlimited report titled, “State of the Trout,” these threats are greater than ever, and they make for an uncertain future for coldwater fish if steps are not taken to protect and restore habitat, reconnect tributaries to mainstem rivers and keep native trout populations viable for the benefit of anglers and the country’s riparian ecosystems.

The report notes that, of the nation’s 28 unique species and subspecies of trout and char, three are already extinct. Of the remaining 25 species, 13 occupy less than 25 percent of their native ranges.

Trout across America are dealing with the cumulative effects of resource extraction, climate change and the introduction and persistence of non-native fish into native trout waters. But, according to the report, there is hope for trout and for those who fish for them all across the nation. The report lays out a roadmap for native trout recovery and persistence, but it will require a host of advocates playing vital protection and restoration roles for years to come.

“It’s daunting when you consider the scope of the threats facing coldwater fish in the United States,” said Chris Wood, TU’s president and CEO. “But if you step back and look at the work that TU and our partners are already doing all across the country, it’s encouraging to see progress and to know that, with help from volunteers, private industry, government agencies and elected officials, we can replicate that progress and keep trout in our waters.

“And that’s why this report isn’t just for anglers or for biologists,” Wood continued. “This is a report for all Americans, because trout require the cleanest and coldest water to survive—and we all need clean water.”

Like Wood, report author Jack Williams, TU’s senior scientist, believes all Americans have a stake in this report, and that it will require a collective effort to ensure a future for native trout in America.

“The reasons many populations of native trout are on the ropes is because of our growing human population and the increasing demand on water resources,” Williams said. “For eons, the great diversity of trout genetics and life histories coupled with their widespread distribution allowed them to thrive. The changes we’ve made to their habitat over time, just by pursuing our lifestyle, has had a huge impact on water quality, connectivity and trout habitat. We’ve also stocked non-native trout on top of native populations, to the point where even well-adapted native trout are overcome by repeated stockings.”

Williams notes that common-sense conservation measures in the years to come can help native trout recover. But, restoration needs to take place across entire watersheds and be sustained over decades.

For instance, in Maggie Creek in northwest Nevada, collaborative restoration has been underway since the late 1980s. TU’s work with ranchers, the Bureau of Land Management and mining companies have restored 2,000 acres of riparian habitat and today native Lahontan cutthroat trout have been completely restored in 23 miles of Maggie Creek and its tributaries.

In Maine, where TU and its partners helped negotiate the removal of two dams and construction of fish passage on a third, more than 1,000 miles of the Penobscot River has been reopened to Atlantic salmon, striped bass, herring and shad.

In the West, in states like Idaho and Colorado, sportsmen and women have mobilized and helped protect millions of acres of intact, functional habitat that is vital to trout and the waters in which they swim. Broad-scale restoration work on streams in the Driftless Area of the Midwest has translated into waters that once held only 200 fish per mile to holding 2,000 fish per mile.

TU’s public and private partners are key to the report’s findings. Without help from government, private entities and volunteers, trout truly do face an uncertain future.

"The health of America's trout is directly connected to the health of our nation's watersheds—watersheds that provide clean drinking water, drive economic growth and support recreational fishing opportunities for millions of people across the nation," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. "The ‘State of the Trout’ report provides a valuable overview of the health of these fisheries, helping Trout Unlimited, the Fish and Wildlife Service and our partners identify priority areas for conservation."



Climate Change Complicates Fisheries Management

Photo taken March 1 by Activist Angler near neighbor's dock on lake in Missouri Ozarks.

The history of our planet is defined by climate change. One hundred million years ago, dinosaurs roamed a temperate land that we now know as Antarctica. Then, a warm Earth turned frigid and glaciers covered much of North America.

Thousands of years later, a warming planet allowed black bass to flourish on this continent and Viking culture to expand in Europe. But then came the Little Ice Age. By the time that Columbus set sail in 1492, frozen seas had forced the Vikings to abandon settlements in Greenland, while those in Iceland struggled to survive.

Of course, we can see these dramatic shifts only through the lens of history. Pinpointing definitive start and end dates is impossible. And those who lived during those frigid times knew nothing of climate change. They knew only that it was cold.

Today, we recognize that climate’s only constant is perpetual change. What we don’t know is where today’s changes are in context with what occurred before and what will come tomorrow. Are we on the precipice of a major shift? Are we in the midst of a long, gradual change? Are we experiencing an anomaly?

Today, we also know that our climate --- the prevailing weather conditions, which include temperature and precipitation, averaged over a series of years --- is moderating. (The “causes” of that change have become a political issue, only slightly less controversial than abortion, and I won’t get into that here.)

“The underseas world is on the move,” says National Geographic. “Climate change is propelling fish and other ocean life into what used to be cooler waters, and researchers are scrambling to understand what effect that is having on their new neighborhoods.”

On the sportfishing front, that’s demonstrated by the fact that the snook, a cold intolerant species, is expanding its range up the east coast of Florida. In freshwater, northern fisheries are experiencing warmer year-around temperatures. For example, Lake Champlain annually freezes over two weeks later than it did in the early 1800s.

At a glance, that might seem like good news for bass and bass anglers, with cold-water species as the only casualties.

That’s not the case, and that’s why fisheries managers will find their jobs increasingly difficult, as well as complicated, in the years to come. One of the reasons for that is not because bass will expand their range, but because they are likely to become more dominant in fisheries where they now are marginal. That’s a formula for friction among users regarding management strategies.

As to the negatives for bass, remember Largemouth Bass Virus? Scientists found that outbreaks were most lethal in warm water.

And a longer growing season for bass also is conducive to larger and longer blooms of algae, some of them toxic. Additionally, warmer temperatures could invite invasion by parasites, diseases, new exotic species, and problematic, invasive plants.

“Giant salvinia and hyacinth that are now limited by freezing winters will spread north,” said Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director and a former fisheries biologist. “The result will be the need for expensive control to prevent them from causing ecosystem chaos. Ask Texas or Louisiana what they spend on weed control each year! That could be Oklahoma or Kansas or Nebraska in the future.”

Southern waters, meanwhile, might become too warm for healthy bass fisheries.  “You don’t see great bass populations at the equator and it would likely get even warmer there and other parts of the tropics and subtropics. Maybe even Mexico and peninsular Florida,” he explained.

The conservation director also is concerned about climate fluctuations that seem to accompany warming waters. Short-term droughts can degrade or destroy until precipitation returns and those fisheries recover, probably with assistance from resource managers.

Up in Wisconsin, study of a lake during drought revealed that shoreline species lose refuge areas, forcing them into open water where they become more vulnerable to predation, and, as a consequence, the entire ecosystem is altered.

 Also, excessive rains can flush systems and deplete nutrients, causing changes in the food chain that bass and other species may not adapt well to.

What can managers do to help fisheries cope with climate change?

“As waters warm and cool-water species decline, it will be imperative that agencies adapt quickly to avoid getting behind the curve,” Gilliland said. “Although it will be difficult for them to persuade older/traditional constituents that the past cannot be revived, they will need to move on and adopt new technologies, new protocols, learn new science, and manage evolving warmer-water ecosystems.” 

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


Coral Diseases Threaten Marine Fisheries


Coral reefs, among the most valuable marine habitats for fisheries, are suffering. Overfishing, world climate change, and other stressors likely are contributing to their degradation and increasing susceptibility to disease. 

One of the most recent examples comes from Hawaii, where a new disease has been found on coral colonies.

This disease can spread fast and has the ability to kill a small coral colony within a week,” said Anne Rosinski, a marine resource specialist with the state’s Division of Aquatic Resources.

Additionally, the state reported that a “mass bleaching event” of coral colonies occurred last fall. Scientists don’t know if there is a direct connection between the disease and the bleaching, “though bleached coral is generally more susceptible to diseases.”

Here is what NOAA says about the value of coral reefs:

  • The commercial value of U.S. fisheries from coral reefs is more than $100 million. In addition, the annual value of reef-dependent recreational fisheries probably exceeds $100 million per year.
  • Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species. Scientists estimate that there may be another 1 to 8 million undiscovered species of organisms living in and around reefs.
  •  Storehouses of immense biological wealth, reefs also provide economic and environmental services to millions of people. Coral reefs may provide goods and services worth $375 billion each year.
  • Millions of people visit coral reefs in the Florida Keys every year. These reefs alone are estimated to have an asset value of $7.6 billion.
  • Coral reefs buffer adjacent shorelines from wave action and prevent erosion, property damage, and loss of life. Reefs also protect the highly productive wetlands along the coast, as well as ports and harbors and the economies they support.