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Entries in conservation (146)

Monday
Aug182014

Scientists Propose Length-Based Records for Threatened Species

When I first saw the following headline, I feared that this was one more assault on sport fishing by the preservationist movement:

Scientists Want to End Traditional Trophy Fishing of Threatened Species

But that is not the case. In fact, what these researchers are proposing makes a lot of sense.

“The most common method of certifying the size of landed fish is based on mass. But weighing large fish typically requires anglers to transport them to an official land-based weigh station—a method that makes it unlikely that the fish will survive,” says an article at Sciencemag.org.

“In many cases, this means the loss of egg-bearing females, because the females are larger than males in many species. So by killing big fish, the authors note, trophy anglers often remove individuals that are capable of producing the most high-quality larvae and helping depleted populations recover.

“Shifting to length-based records could reduce such mortality, says the research team, led by researchers at the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. Anglers could use cameras or smart phones to validate catches and release record fish where possible.”

Additionally, scientists propose this for just 7 percent of the species on the list maintained by the International Game Fish Association. Those are the ones listed as either  vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

David Shiffman, the study’s lead author and a marine biologist studying shark biology and conservation at the University of Miami, says the analysis was inspired by recent hearings concerning a proposed ban on killing scalloped and great hammerhead sharks in Florida waters— two species listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

“Several anglers said they were opposed to protecting these species, one of which is so depleted that it just became the first species of shark protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, because it would stop them from going for IGFA world records,” he says.

Thursday
Aug142014

Green Decoys Argues TRCP Is Not Credible Voice for Anglers, Hunters

Activist Angler stopped promoting the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership awhile back, as I became more and more troubled by its political and financial ties to left-leaning groups, foundations and politicians. You can read one of my posts related to that here.

Here’s the essence of the issue for me: While TRCP has “conservation” in its name and many conservation groups for its members, it seems more closely allied, especially financially, to preservationists, many of whom want to restrict where we can fish and impose tighter gun controls. Some of those backers also believe that manmade climate change is “settled science,” and, as a consequence, advocate for ever tighter and more burdensome environmental regulations that are not supported by science.

I’m not suggesting that TRCP doesn’t do some good on behalf of fish and wildlife habitat. I believe that it does, and many of its coalition members are champions for fishing and hunting. But I also suspect that TRCP is a compromised organization and, over time, morphing into a preservationist Trojan horse amidst the conservation community.

With that in mind, today I received a press release from Green Decoys, which says, “A review of TRCP’s most recent tax records finds that it receives 77 percent of its contributions from just 8 donors, many of which are San Francisco-based environmentalist foundations.”

Will Coggin, senior research analyst, adds, “TRCP provides Big Green and Big Labor with a convenient mask for their agendas: Sportsmen. TRCP is nothing more than a puppet with a camo hat, in the pay and in the pocket of radical and left-wing interests . . .

“Sportsmen and other grassroots members of these organizations should be worried that they are being used as pawns by environmentalists,” continues Coggin. “You can’t receive the majority of your contributions from a handful of elitist urbanites and claim to be a credible voice for backwoods hunters and anglers.”

Go here to read what Green Decoys has to say about TRCP:

Here’s an excerpt:

On the Sideline for the Second Amendment

TRCP claims to support the right to hunt and fish, and so it should be a vocal proponent of gun rights. But when pressed, TRCP couldn’t offer a stance. “[O]thers know far more than we do about the Second Amendment,” TRCP stated. Bizarrely, WyoFile reports that Whit Fosburgh, head of TRCP, “doesn’t view President Obama as a threat to gun rights.” TRCP’s non-stance is even stranger given that a portion of every sale of firearms and ammunition is earmarked for conservation programs.

Thursday
Jul312014

Sport Fishing Advocate Retires With Warning for Anglers

Gordon Robertson, retiring vice president and lead for government affairs at American Sportfishing Association

First, I was saddened to learn that recreational fishing’s champion in Washington, D.C., was retiring, effective June 30. Then he told me something that disturbed me even more.

“The angler’s image as a conservationist needs to be rescued,” said Gordon Robertson, who officially stepped down June 30 from his post as a vice president and lead for government affairs at the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).

“Conservation once meant wise use of our natural resources,” he continued. “The word ‘conservation’ has been hijacked by the preservationist community and now policy makers don’t see anglers as conservationists.”

Instead, many politicians now view groups such as the Ocean Conservancy, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council as having “conservation” agendas. Unless we reclaim what is ours through vocal activism, we will suffer loss of access and angling opportunities. As a consequence, the health of aquatic resources will suffer, because recreational fishermen are the nation’s first and foremost conservationists.

On the positive side, Robertson, who spent a dozen years at ASA, pointed out that recreational fishing continues to enjoy “an enormously positive image” among the public. We must capitalize on that, he added, “to make better habitat, more anglers, and an even stronger image.”

The West Virginia native also cautioned that we should not neglect working with the environmental community when we do share common interests on broad issues, such as water quality. “We need to strike a relationship that fosters those bigger accomplishments while gaining recognition for the role of the angler in conservation,” he said.

What I’ll remember Robertson most for was his leadership in creation of the Keep America Fishing (KAF) program in 2010. It’s now the largest angler advocacy group in the country, representing more than one million.

As KAF coordinated efforts to combat efforts to ban lead fishing tackle and restrict access, Robertson learning something that helped convince him that the image of the angler as a conservationist needs to be revitalized. “Too many anglers are apathetic and geographic,” he said.

“Some issues, like lead, resonate better than others. But collectively we need to think about the future of the sport.”

That’s just what Robertson did during his years with ASA, according to those who worked with him, including two former national conservation directors for B.A.S.S.

“Gordon Robertson has done more for anglers and sportfishing in this country than most will ever know,” said Noreen Clough. “Among other things, in his quiet but extremely effective way, he guided the last reauthorization of federal legislation that provides funding for Wallop-Breaux federal (Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program), which makes significant grants to states to manage their fisheries and fishing programs.”

She added that his ability “to work effectively on Capitol Hill, even in this climate, is testimony to his political savvy and patience.”

Bruce Shupp added, “Gordon, and his predecessors, were always the first, best, and most important contact for me to get B.A.S.S. engaged in the most effective way to advocate and/or combat issues affecting the resource and industry.”

Both during his time at B.A.S.S. and as New York fisheries chief, Shupp said, “Gil Radonski, Norville Prosser, and Gordon filled the same ASA role. They were all excellent at their jobs, served the industry very well, and are among the most respected professionals I had the pleasure of working with. I hope ASA will find a similar caliber replacement.”

In that regard, ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman pointed out that Robertson “set a high bar when it came to professional excellence, which had a significant influence on everyone with whom he worked. His ability to work with Congress and federal and state agencies on complex resource issues is unparalleled.”

Fortunately for anglers, Robertson won’t step away immediately from ASA. Working a reduced schedule, he will continue to assist with on-going projects, as well as in the search for his replacement.

Whoever is selected to replacement him, however, certainly will have big boat shoes to fill.

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

Sunday
Jul062014

Kendall Jones, Conservation, and the Arrogance of the Ignorant

A farmer wants to harvest more corn from a field so he grows more plants. But he doesn’t get more corn. Why?

More plants diminished the nutrients that each received, lessening production.

In other words, he couldn’t grow more corn because his field had a finite carrying capacity.

Farmers understand this.

So do wildlife managers. That’s why we have hunting seasons for deer, turkey, and other game. That’s also one of the main reasons that big game hunting is allowed in Africa.

I mention this for two reasons:

1. The furor that Kendall Jones has created recently among “animal lovers” by posting photos of her big game kills in Africa.

2. These same people, who know nothing about wildlife management and ecological balance, would like nothing better than to prohibit both hunting and recreational fishing worldwide.

And they are hateful, malicious, and unrelenting in their zeal and ignorance.

A tweet (now deleted) from singer Diane Warren: “I wish someone would hunt that texas cheerleader bitch animal murderer and hang her head in a lions den. But what do I really think…— Diane Warren

A petition at Change.org to ban Jones from Africa collected more than 100,000 signatures with this incredibly naïve concept of wildlife management:

“Kendall Jones is an American-born hunter who has entered the continent and has been hunting African wildlife under the facade of conservation. She has publicly stated that she hopes to have a television hunting show and she is using endangered and helpless African animals as a stepping stone to further her popularity on social media platforms . . .

“With enough support globally we can take a step in the right direction with regards to animal conservation, and help put an end to practices such as these, in hopes of conserving what precious little is left of our natural world.”

And a caption of Jones with an elephant in the International Business Times said this: “African elephants are being hunted to extinction and are  now critically endangered.”

That’s not true. In some countries, they were nearly poached to extinction. In others, their numbers must be reduced regularly. Jones did not kill a “critically endangered” elephant.

This post, however, is not about Kendall Jones, her character, or her motivation. It’s about hunting in the 21st century.

The truth is that we cannot have healthy and sustainable populations of many wildlife species without management. That’s because we share this planet with them, and, with our cities and farms, have diminished the habitat available for them. Just as a field can’t grow an infinite amount of corn, a forest can’t sustain an infinite number of deer.

What happens when wildlife aren’t harvested by hunters to manage their numbers? Conflicts increase, often with harm occurring to both animals and people, as well as property. Also, more animals are likely to die of disease and starvation when their numbers reach unsustainable levels.

Additionally, as hunters and anglers already know, they are the real conservationists because they put their money where their mouth is. What they spend to hunt and fish goes directly for management, betterment, and, yes, even protection of wildlife, whether in the United States or Africa. In this country, hundreds of millions of dollars annually are collected through excise taxes on hunting gear and fishing tackle and then distributed to the states through the Wildlife and Fish Restoration Program.

In many countries of Africa, meanwhile, the huge fees that big game hunters pay to shoot individual animals go to overall protection of the species. And they do not shoot “endangered” species, as Change.org alleged.

Also, animals shot legally are worth much more to local economies than those that are illegally poached. And as hunters keep numbers to what is sustainable for the habitat available, they reduce wildlife damage to crops and villages.

But facts mean little to the millions of people like Diane Warren who know nothing about ecological balance and what we must do if we want to continue sharing the finite resources of this planet with a multitude of wildlife species.

They don’t want us to hunt and fish, and, as I’ve said before, they are unrelenting. While we are out enjoying a day in the woods or on the water, they are working actively to soil our image, and, ultimately, prohibit us from enjoying those pastimes that define us as a nation of sportsmen and conservationists.

And if we aren’t ever vigilant in promoting hunting and fishing, and the many benefits that they provide both to us as a society and to wildlife in general, we will lose.

 

Tuesday
Jul012014

Loss of Access Threatens Future of Fishing

Anglers are losing access to their favorite fisheries.

Sometimes, it’s because of development or budget cuts. Other times it’s because government bodies or even private groups have shut down public launch areas.

The latter is happening with increasing frequency because of a fear that invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil will be accidentally introduced via contaminated boats and trailers. Sometimes the concern is legitimate. Other times, it’s simply an excuse to keep out the public.

This threat has grown so severe that one in five anglers surveyed by AnglerSurvey.com reported having to cancel or quit fishing a particular location in 2011 because they lost access to it. Most were able to shift their fishing to another location, but a third of affected anglers said that the loss caused them to quite fishing altogether.

“While access issues can often be overcome by fishing somewhere else, we are still losing some anglers each year due to problems with fishing access,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which conducts the surveys at AnglerSurvey.com.

“When we add up the anglers lost year after year, whether as a result of marine fishery closures or dilapidated boat ramps, access remains a major long-term problem for sportfishing and fisheries conservation.”

You can help slow down this loss of access and possibly even reverse the trend.

First, be a responsible angler by making certain that you do not allow invasive species to hitchhike on your boat and/or trailer, and encourage others to do the same. When fishermen set good examples, those in power have less reason to try to deny access. Additionally, if you belong to a fishing club, encourage it to work cooperatively with lake associations and government bodies on plans to keep out invasive species.

Also, familiarize yourself with access issues, both locally and nationally. Attend public meetings when access issues are on the agenda. Write letters, send e-mails, and make phone calls to officials, emphasizing that quality access is important.

Solution: Make sure you leave every area better than you found it, be committed and vocal about preventing the spread of invasive species, and get involved locally so that angler interests are represented when decisions on access are made.

Check out five more threats facing fishing at Recycled Fish.