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Entries in climate change (24)

Wednesday
Nov022016

Walleye Will Decline as Bass Expand With Climate Change 

Warming winters and waters will encourage largemouth bass to expand their range in northern states, while walleye populations will diminish and retreat, according the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers and fisheries scientists in the Upper Midwest.

In a recent study about the effects of climate change, USGS revealed that walleye numbers have been declining and bass numbers increasing in Wisconsin during the past 30 years. It added, "This downward trend in walleye populations is likely to continue as climate change will cause lakes to get warmer over time. Researchers identified characteristics of lakes where walleye or largemouth bass were most likely to thrive and found that both species were strongly influenced by water temperature.

"While walleye populations thrived in cooler, larger lakes, largemouth bass were more abundant in warmer lakes."

In other words, what's best for bass is not best for walleye, added Gretchen Hansen, an author of the study and research scientists for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources."Going forward, we predict that many Wisconsin lakes are going to become more suitable for largemouth bass, and less suitable for walleye."

The trend will be most notable, she added, in smaller inland lakes.

Larger fisheries are not immune, however, with Minnesota's Mille Lacs a notable example. Biologists believe that warming water is a primary reason for walleye decline in this 132,516-acre lake.

But it's not just that the walleye don't thrive in warmer water. Neither do forage, such as cisco, which they rely on to stay fat and healthy. Also known as tullibee, these baitfish seek refuge in the coldest parts of lakes during summer.

"I liken them to sticks of butter swimming around, a pretty fatty fish with high energetic content," said Paul Venturelli, an assistant professor in fisheries at the University of Minnesota.

In looking at 2,100 lakes in Wisconsin, USGS scientists considered not just water temperatures from 1979 to2014, but acreage, depth, water clarity, and historical weather. "Wisconsin's lakes are going to get warmer in the future, but how much warmer they will get varies among lakes," said Luke Winslow, a research hydrologist.

Scientists estimated that the percentage of lakes with conditions conductive to high largemouth bass abundance will increase  from 60 to 89 percent by mid century. In contrast, the percentage of lakes likely to support natural reproduction of walleye is predicted to decline from 10 to less than 4 percent.

On a positive note for walleye, the percentage of lake acreage likely to support natural reproduction should decline by a much smaller amount, from 46 to 36 percent. "Walleye populations in large lakes appear to be more tolerant of warming than walleye populations in small lakes," said Hansen, who added increasing stocking rates could help mitigate the decline.

Wednesday
Oct262016

Another Reason to Dislike Ethanol

A University of Michigan researcher reports that he's found yet another reason to dislike ethanol.

Despite their supposed advantages, biofuels created from corn and soybeans cause more emissions of climate change-causing carbon dioxide than gasoline, according to John DeCicco, research professor at the university's Energy Institute.

"When it comes to emissions that cause global warming, it turns out that biofuels are worse than gasoline," he explained.

The federal government's push for biofuels has been based on the assumption that they are inherently carbon-neutral. That means the amount of carbon released as emissions from an engine burning ethanol supposedly is offset by the amount of carbon the corn removed from the atmosphere as it grew.

Using U.S. Department of Agriculture cropland production data, DeCicco created a "harvest carbon" factor. During the past decade, as consumption of ethanol and biodiesel more than tripled,  he discovered, the increased carbon uptake by crops offset just 37 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

Anglers and other boat owners already dislike ethanol because of the damage it has done to their engines. In addition, critics point out that it's less efficient than gasoline, and it has increased runoff pollution of our waters as farmers plow buffers to plant more corn.

Monday
Oct172016

Smallmouth Expansion With Climate Change Not All Positive

At a glance,  what's there not to like about milder winters and warmer waters for northern waters?

"Smallmouth bass, a popular recreational species, are expanding their range northward with climate change," said the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in reporting on findings that it compiled from reviewing 31 studies across the U.S. and Canada that document fish responses to climate change.

But, it cautioned, "one of the takeaway messages is that climate change effects on fish are rarely straightforward, and they affect warmwater and coldwater fish differently."

For example, an expanding smallmouth population  will result in new species interactions and altered predator-prey dynamics. That will  complicate life even more for coldwater fish species already stressed by milder conditions. Thus, managers will be tasked with both accommodating the desires of anglers who want to catch bass and  maintaining native species.

That means managing not only the fish but "the expectations of the stakeholders for fisheries changing with climate change," said USGS.

Fish most at risk are those living in arid environments and coldwater species, including walleye and trout, as well as prey species that these larger fish depend on for food. "Climate change can cause suboptimal habitat for some fish," the agency said. "Warmer water, for example, can stress coldwater fish. When stressed, fish tend to eat less and grow less."

Other climate change consequences:

  • Increased frequency and severity of droughts, especially in arid areas, will exacerbate the impacts of regulations on water flow and use for fish and aquatic systems, as well as people.
  • Altered migration times for some coldwater species will allow species that never spawned together before to hybridize. Native westslope cutthroat trout in the Rocky Mountains already are hybridizing with rainbow trout, a non-native species.
  • Abundance and growth of some coldwater species will be reduced. Changes in range, abundance, migration, growth, and reproduction already are occurring for sockeye salmon.

“Even though climate change can seem overwhelming, fisheries managers have the tools to develop adaptation strategies to conserve and maintain fish populations,” said Craig Paukert, a lead author and fisheries scientist at the USGS Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Missouri.

“Thanks to this synthesis, we can see the effects of climate change on inland fish are no longer just future speculation, but today’s facts, with real economic, social, and ecological impacts,” added Doug Austen, Executive Director of the American Fisheries Society.

 “Now that trends are being revealed, we can start to tease apart the various stressors on inland fish and invest in conservation and research where these programs will really make a difference in both the short and long term.”

Sunday
Oct182015

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."

Friday
Aug282015

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.