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Entries in EPA (43)


Sick Susquehanna Bass Fishery Needs Your Help

Smallmouth bass with a malignant tumor was caught by an angler in the Susquehanna River near Duncannon, Dauphin County. Photo by PFBC

Neglect destroyed a world-class bass fishery at Florida's Lake Apopka. Fifty years later, is history about to repeat itself on Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River, as well as Chesapeake Bay, which it flows into?

Since 2005, anglers and fisheries biologists with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) have noted lesions and sores on smallmouth bass, as well as a declining population because of what is believed to be disease-related delayed mortality in young-of-year fish. In 2013, the Washington Post noted that Susquehanna's smallmouth bass might be the "canary in a coal mine" regarding the river's health. Last June, the U.S. Geological Survey found intersex bass, likely a consequence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, in three Pennsylvania waterways, with the highest incidence in the Susquehanna.

More recently, officials documented the first cancerous tumor. The discovery made media headlines both because of its rarity and the ominous overtones that it conveys regarding the health of this river that provides 50 percent of the fresh water flowing into Chesapeake Bay, site of a recent Elite Series tournament.

"As we continue to study the river, we find young-of-year and now adult bass with sores, lesions, and more recently a cancerous tumor, all of which continue to negatively impact population levels and recreational fishing," said John Arway, PFBC's executive director. "The weight of evidence continues to build a case that we need to take some action on behalf of the fish."

To PFBC's credit, it has been sounding the alarm about the "sick" fishery for years, as well as lobbied the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to categorize the lower portion of the river as "impaired."  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation also has petitioned for that designation, as have the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited and American Rivers. Until the waterway receives that designation, a comprehensive plan can't be developed to address the problem, which probably is pollution.

But DEP has argued that it makes recommendations based on water quality and not species health.  Thus far, it has refused to recommend that the Susquehanna be included on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) impaired waters list.

 "Although we share the continuing concerns about the health of the smallmouth bass population, we do not have sufficient data at this time to scientifically support listing the main stem of the Susquehanna as impaired," the EPA said in a statement.

In other words, for government bureaucrats, sick fish do not equate to a sick river. Yeah, it probably was something they ate.

Prompted both by the inaction of environmental agencies and concern for the future of this world-class fishery, the PFBC recently launched a "Save Our Susquehanna!" campaign so that the smallmouth fishery doesn't die of neglect. And it's going to need your help.

Until the end of this year, PBFC expects to take in at least $3 million from sales of about 130,000 resident and non-resident fishing licenses. When it reaches that threshold, funds from additional sales will be dedicated to projects aimed at reducing pollution in areas of the river where diseased fish have been found. To kick start the effort, the agency already has pledged $50,000, and, once anglers provide a matching amount, work will begin.

Those who purchase licenses also can show their support by buying "Save Our Susquehanna!" buttons for $10 each. Both are available at PFBC's Online Shop, as well as from licensing agents around the state. Finally, people can contribute by sending checks made out to the campaign to PFBC, P.O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106.

"Protect the waters of the river, and you protect the waters of the bay," said B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. "Purchasing a fishing license or making an additional donation is an investment in the future of river smallmouth and Chesapeake Bay largemouth bass fisheries."

Arway added, "The Susquehanna River is sick and someone has to take steps to fix it before it is too late. We need leadership to begin working on fixing problems that we know exist."

Despite spending millions of dollars on rehabilitation projects in recent decades, Florida resource managers have been unable to restore Lake Apopka's bass fishery to what it once was. Sadly, it seems, they waited too long. Let's hope  that the Susquehanna and Chesapeake Bay fisheries do not suffer similar fates.

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



Early Warning System Created for Harmful Algal Blooms

Lake Erie algal boom. Photo by Michigan Sea Grant

Four federal agencies have joined forces to create an early warning system for toxic and nuisance algal blooms (HABs) in the Great Lakes and other freshwater systems.

Harmful algal blooms have emerged as a significant public health and economic issue that requires extensive scientific investigation,” said Suzette Kimball, acting director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

USGS, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will use satellites to gather color dates from freshwater bodies during scans of the Earth. They then will share the findings with state and local agencies so they can provide public health advisories when needed.

“In addition, the project will improve the understanding of the environmental causes and health effects of these cyanobacteria and phytoplankton blooms in the United States,” NOAA said in a press release.

NOAA added that these blooms are a global problem. “Cyanobacteria (blue-green alga)  is of particular concern because it produces toxins that can kill wildlife and domestic animals and cause illness in humans through exposure to contaminated freshwater and consumption of contaminated drinking water, fish, or shellfish,” it said.

HABs have been on the increase since the mid 1990s, according to Michigan Sea Grant College Program. In the Great Lakes, malfunctioning septic systems, products with phosphates (dishwater detergent) and nitrogen (lawn fertilizers), and urban and agricultural runoff likely have contributed.

“Some scientists also link the increase of harmful algal blooms to the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels in the Great Lakes and the ability of the mussels to filter feed,” Sea Grant said. “Essentially, they eat the good algae and phytoplankton but release organisms like blue-green algae back into the water intact.”

HABs annually cost the nation about $64 million because of loss of recreational usage, additional treatment for drinking water, and decline in waterfront property values. In August 2014, Toledo, Ohio, an algal bloom in Lake Erie forced Toledo, Ohio, officials to temporarily ban consumption of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents.

The new collaborative network will build on previous NASA ocean satellite sensor technologies created to study microscopic algal communities in the ocean, which play a role in climate change, ocean ecology, and the movement of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and ocean.


Want Even More Ethanol in Your Fuel? It Could Happen

As thousands of boat owners can attest, E10 (10 percent) has damaged or destroyed their  marine engines.

So . . . how would you feel about the EPA increasing the amount of ethanol that must be blended into the nation's fuel supply for 2015 and 2016? This move would require the use of a record amount of ethanol, forcing higher-level blends in more gas stations.

As if E10 (10 percent ethanol) weren't bad enough , the agency permitted E15 in 2010 to reach the total ethanol usage goal required by the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, lawnmowers, etc. can't use E15, nor can vehicles made before 2001. Even so, E15 is now found in 24 states at the same pumps as E10.

"Millions of recreational boaters fill their boat's fuel tanks where the higher blend ethanol fuels are often the cheapest fuel at the pump," says BoatU.S. "The only warning you may have is one sticker mixed in with all the other warning labels on the pump. This creates a huge potential for misfueling and puts boaters at risk of using fuel that will damage their engines."

If you want to tell EPA how you feel about its proposal to force even more ethanol  into our fuel, go to this BoatU.S. site.


California Could Ban Lead, Zinc, Copper Fishing Tackle

Unless public outcry forces a reversal by the California Department of Toxic Substances (CDTS),  the state is moving ahead with regulations that could ban fishing gear that contains lead, zinc, and copper. This follows quickly after the recent announcement that lead ammunition will not be allowed on state property and for all bighorn sheep hunting.

“It appears that politics, rather than science, was the basis for CDTS’s decision. While there are many sources of pollution that pose a serious threat to California’s ocean and streams, anglers are not among them,” said David Dickerson, president of the California Sportfishing League (CSL), which is spearheading opposition to the potential ban.

An environmental attorney and former CDTS director added that sellers and retailers of fishing tackle likely will be subjected to costly and onerous regulations, as well as potential fines.

“The result could be a wide range of enforcement options requiring restrictions or bans on sale, product reformulation, additional environmental impact studies, development of disposal programs, or funding for fundamental research and development,” said Maureen Gorsen. “The bottom line is that the cost of manufacturing fishing gear will increase significantly and these costs will be passed on to consumers.”

CDTS’s intentions were revealed in its draft of a Priority Product Work Plan for the Green Chemistry Initiative, which identifies seven product types, including fishing gear, for regulation and/or ban. Legislation authorizing the initiative was passed in 2008, but implementation was delayed for more than five years because of complexity and the potential for massive costs to small businesses, according to John Kabateck, California executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

“Green Chemistry is yet another example of Sacramento pursuing its agenda of environmental extremism without any concern for costs to consumers or California’s economic future,” he wrote in the Sacramento Business Journal in 2013.

 “The department has issued a broad proposal that will enable it to regulate the manufacturing and distribution of any product it chooses that could impose unworkable burdens on tens of thousands of small businesses in the state.”

And CDTS is doing so with fishing tackle even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2010 that lead gear does not pose an unreasonable risk to wildlife.  Also, a recently passed budget bill contains a provision to prohibit the use of federal dollars to ban lead fishing tackle.

In public hearings, the department admitted that it has no scientific studies to show that lead poses an environmental problem in California, added Dickerson. “State regulators failed to comply with state law that requires them to conduct an independent analysis before including any product in this regulatory process,” he said.

The CSL president predicted that additional regulations will encourage businesses to flee California to more business friendly states. “Furthermore, when fishing is no longer an accessible and affordable source of recreation for millions of anglers, it will have a substantial impact on California’s economy and jobs.”

A recent CSL study revealed that fishing license sales have dropped more than 55 percent since 1980, with the state ranking last nationally in fishing participation by percentage of its population.

“The high cost of fishing licenses and unwarranted limits on fishing have contributed to a significant decline in participation,” Dickerson said. “Increasing the cost of gear and potential bans will only accelerate the decline, and threaten California jobs that are dependent on outdoor recreation and tourism.”

In addition to CSL, others lobbying for delisting of fishing gear include the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Travel Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the California Parks Hospitality Association, the California Association for Recreational Fishing, the American Sportfishing Association,  and Coastside Fishing Club.

Anglers who want to voice their opposition to a lead ban can sign at petition on CSL’s website.

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



EPA Plans to Force More Ethanol Into Fuel

Despite the negative effects and abject failure of ethanol, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to force more of it into our fuel in 2015 and 2016.

The only ones who will benefit from this are those who grow corn and produce ethanol, and possibly their political friends in Washington, D.C. who receive something under the table. Ethanol-blended fuel is less efficient than regular gasoline. It’s also harmful to the environment and has caused millions of dollars in damage to outboard and other internal combustion engines.

And by mandating that more ethanol be used in gasoline, EPA increases the likelihood that even more engines will be destroyed.

Go here to speak out against the decision.

And check out this posted at Boating:

  • Corn ethanol does not lower CO2 compared to gas.
  • Corn ethanol causes a larger dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Corn ethanol leads to nitrogen fertilizer polluted ground water.
  • Corn ethanol leads to pollution from pesticides.
  • Corn ethanol leads to plowing of grass lands to add corn fields.
  • Corn ethanol leads to destruction of forest lands to add corn fields.
  • Corn ethanol is increasing the Ogallala Aquifer depletion.
  • Corn ethanol pollutes the air with formaldehydes and acetaldehyde.
  • Corn ethanol use leads to higher levels of ozone pollution.
  • Corn ethanol is often distilled using coal as a heat source.
  • Corn ethanol distillers exhaust high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) pollution.