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Entries in conservation (191)

Thursday
Dec152016

California Delta Bass Threatened by Water Infrastructure Bill

The United States Senate recently passed a comprehensive new water infrastructure bill, containing language that will likely be alarming to be many bass anglers — especially those who value the incredible fishery on the California Delta.
 
The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), which passed the Senate by a vote of 78-21, had already been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier last week and is now awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature.
 
While it contains many positive elements pertaining to water diversion in treasured American waterways like the Florida Everglades, a line buried in the massive document calls for federal and state conservation officials to “remove, reduce or control the effects” of several non-native species in the California Delta. The list of species features 10 fish, including the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and striped bass.
 
The move could have dire consequences for a bass fishery that is known as one of the nation’s best.
 
“We’re not just talking about eliminating creel and bag limits like they’ve done on the Columbia River (in Oregon),” said Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. national conservation director. “They’re talking of going way beyond that now. There’s talk of spraying aquatic vegetation and destroying habitat that’s used not only by bass, but my many other types of wildlife as well.
 
“If they start destroying habitat — congregating fish into one small area — and then start using nets and electrofishing boats to remove fish, it would be an awful scenario.”
 
The California Delta is a vital spawning pathway for multiple species of salmon that are prized by the commercial fishing industry. The salmon — many of which are listed as endangered species — migrate from the ocean up the Sacramento River and its tributaries to spawn. Then the juvenile fish have to make their way back out to the ocean through the river.
 
Many with an interest in the salmon industry have long believed that largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass greatly reduce the salmon population by eating those juvenile fish. But studies have shown that bass prey on a very small percentage of the salmon fingerlings, Gilliland said.
 
The salmon runs have been heavily affected by dams and water diversion for farming purposes.
 
B.A.S.S. and other conservation entities, including the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), have expressed concern in recent days that the language about non-native species was added to an important piece of legislation — a mammoth document — almost as a hidden footnote to appease the pro-salmon crowd.
 
“I think that was put in there to be politically correct,” said Gilliland, who also serves on the Government Affairs Committee of the ASA. “They want to do what they can to protect those salmon runs and bring them back. They have a big economic impact in not just California, but some of those runs provide for commercial fishing all the way up the Pacific coast. There’s obviously a huge value to that.
 
“But there’s also value to the recreational fishing side of it for stripers and bass and catfish and other non-native species. Congress is not valuing that any. To people who care about those other species, they’re basically saying ‘We don’t care about you.’”
 
Gilliland said several alternatives have been recommended that would not require the eradication of non-native predators, but all were dismissed.
 
“A lot can be accomplished on this front with water diversion and timing of the releases out of the dams in regard to where the salmon are in their run,” Gilliland said. “There needs to be some strategy in terms of when they stock salmon versus where the bass are, depending on seasons. That’s also a big thing.”
 
Earlier this year, a petition was filed by the California agricultural industry aimed at removing bag and length limits on black bass in the Delta. That plan was defeated by a coalition comprised of B.A.S.S., the ASA, the California Sportfishing League, Coastal Conservation Association California, Coastside Fishing Club, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Fishing League Worldwide, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Water4Fish.
 
If there’s a silver lining to the new federal legislation, Gilliland said the language added to the bill isn’t as harsh as it could have been.
 
“The original language called for ‘eradication of non-native predators,’” he said. “But the language that made it into the bill says to ‘remove, reduce or control the effects’ of non-native predators.
 
“That leaves some wiggle room. We think there are some other alternatives that are built into this process. We need to make sure the powers-that-be are aware of those and that this thing doesn’t just become a runaway train."

----- B.A.S.S.

Sunday
Nov272016

Help Kids First Cast, Inc. Pass on the Passion

"At a young age, I was fortunate to have grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and friends who have shared their passion of fishing with me.  Through the years, this passion for fishing would sustain me through the good and the bad times. It became my “lifeline."  This lifeline brought me experiences that helped give me knowledge, happiness, physical and mental health. But best of all, it allowed me to always learn more about myself."

When I read those words by Diane Aspiazu, president of Kids First Cast, Inc., I knew that we were kindred spirits. Of course, we are not alone. Many of us who fish know this, and that intangible value is what prompted me to write Why We Fish.

But not everyone is doing what Diane and other volunteers up in Idaho are doing to "pass it on," and that is why I encourage you to learn more about this great organization, contribute to it, and think about starting a similar organization in your area.

Recreational fishing is under siege as never before and, if we are to turn the tide we much show those who don't fish--- especially children---- how it can enrich their lives in ways that they can't even imagine until they give it a try and get hooked.

Here is KFCI's mission statement:

Build and sustain healthy communities by providing education, conservation, and outdoor recreation in a safe and inviting environment for kids and their families while enjoying the sport of fishing.

Monday
Nov072016

For the Future of Fishing . . . 

Support these great volunteer organizations that teach about conservation and stewardship and share our love of fishing with kids, families, and those with special needs.

You also can find Kids First Cast, Inc., an Idaho-based organization,  and Fishing's Future, a Texas-based organization, on Facebook.

 

Friday
Nov042016

Idaho Removes Bass from Hawkins Trout Fishery

Using a two-step strategy, Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) hopes that it has removed illegally stocked largemouth bass from little Hawkins Reservoir in the southeastern part of the state.

"There are so many now that, if you walk the shoreline, it is littered with bass," said regional fisheries manager David Teuscher before removal was begun. He added that the introduced species  eats fingerling trout and competes with larger trout for forage.

"We had largemouth bass that were introduced at another location and studies there show that almost every bass tested had a trout in its stomach," the biologist said. 

Bass likely were dumped into the put-and-take trout fishery three or four years ago, and Teuscher estimated that they now outnumber trout 100 to 1.

B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director Gene Gilliland opposes anglers moving fish both because of the illegality and possible consequences to the ecosystem where they are introduced. But for fisheries like Hawkins, where bass are self-sustaining and trout are not, he questioned the bass eradication strategy.

"There are many cases where bass have been put where they do not, and will never belong," he said. "But our world, our climate, our aquatic environments are changing.

"At what point do we conclude that these invasive black bass are indeed better suited and more adaptable to altered environments than are preferred native species that must be maintained with expensive stocking programs?"

One angler, in responding to the plan, said, "I don't get it. Yes, big fish eat little fish, but, as long as people like catching them, what difference does it make? Bass are a fighting sport fish that everyone likes to catch."

At Hawkins, first bag and size limits were removed and anglers encouraged to harvest bass. Then the reservoir was chemically treated to kill remaining fish, and trout stocked two weeks after that.

IDFG estimated that stocked fish won't become "sizable" until the fall of 2017.

 

Monday
Oct242016

Good News for the Arapaima

Conservation efforts are paying off for the arapaima, the world's largest scaled freshwater fish, according to a recent study in Brazil's Amazon River basin.

Here's the important takeaway:

The study looked at protected freshwater lakes along the Juruá River in Brazil, a tributary spanning about 2,081 miles. Efforts to preserve these freshwater ecosystems are often hindered by conflicts with commercial fishing. Patterns of community management accounted for almost 72 percent of the variation in arapaima population sizes across 83 lakes studied along the river. 

Each lake managed by residents had an average of about 305 arapaimas, while open-access lakes had only nine, according to the study.

“What we’re documenting, I think for the first time in a freshwater fishery, is that if you move these lakes from an open-access ‘tragedy of the commons’ to the stewardship of a local community, and you regulate the fishing by bringing in the community-based management, these stocks just go through the roof,” Peres told TakePart. “It’s like if you put your money in a bank account, and it earns not 3 or 4 percent a year but 200 or 300 percent a year.”