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Entries in fish farmers (6)


A Carp Is Not Just a Carp; Here's the Difference

Many people, including anglers, don't understand that we have several kinds of carp now swimming in our waters, all of them fish from other countries. And all of them problematic in one way or another.

The fish in the top photo is a common carp. It was introduced more than a century ago, with the help of the federal government. It's now in lakes and rivers all over this country, and has degraded water quality in many of them, mostly because it roots on the bottom and stirs up sediment.  State agencies sometimes use a rotenone treatment to wipe out a lake's fishery, primarily because of overpopulation by common carp. When someone says "carp," this is the fish that most people think of.

Grass carp (that's me with an illegally stocked grass carp) were first introduced during the 1960s, to help control aquatic vegetation, mostly exotic milfoil and hydrilla. The problem is that they eat ALL plants, including beneficial native vegetation. Some have escaped and are reproducing in our rivers. More recently, there's concern that they might establish a breeding population in the Great Lakes. They're far too easy to purchase and stock illegally by people who have no idea of the problems that they cause.

Finally, Asian carp. That description applies to both silver (top) and bighead carp. The silver carp is the one that you see so many photos of as it flies through the air. Both are growing larger here than in their native habitat, with bigheads now exceeding 100 pounds. These are the most recent introductions, brought in by fish farmers in the South. They escaped and now are outcompeting native fish for food and habitat in many of our major rivers, most notably, the Missouri, Mississippi, Illinois, and Ohio. In some places, they account for more than 95 percent of the biomass. There's concern that they, too, will establish breeding populations in the Great Lakes.


Politicians Failing to Combat Asian Carp Threat

The Toledo Blade offers a great opinion piece that captures the frustration many of us feel because our elected officials seem to have every intention of allowing Asian carp to invade the Great Lakes.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The environmental watchdogs who have been sounding the alarm for well over a decade are understandably disgusted with the apparent lack of political will to apply the appropriate fix, no matter how painful or how politically bitter it might taste in the area around ground zero -- that Chicago waterway.”

I’ve said in the past that we now are enduring catastrophic problems with invasive aquatic species because of four special interest groups: shipping, aquaculture, and the exotic pet and plant industries.

Actually, as the editorial points out, there’s a fifth group equally responsible: self-serving politicians. They care only about catering to those who will fund their re-election campaigns and not about looking out for the public interest. As a consequence, they bow to those other four special interests ---- time after time after time . . .


 Buy Better Bass Fishing Here


Anglers Oppose Sale of Black Bass in New York

Largemouth bass art by Al Agnew.

B.A.S.S. and other angling groups are united in their opposition to a proposal in New York to allow sale of black bass in restaurants and at fish markets.

Primarily they are concerned that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation includes no requirement that fish raised commercially be tagged or otherwise marked to ensure that sellers and buyers are not dealing in illegally caught wild bass. 

“This concern is not unfounded given that the commercial growers in New York contend that if black bass are raised as a food fish for distribution to New York City fish markets, they likely could not keep up with the demand,” said Noreen Clough, National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S. 

“It is well known that unscrupulous fish vendors across the country purchase illegal fish from poachers, and this would be especially lucrative given that black bass are expected to bring between $12 and $14 a pound in the New York market.”

Speaking on behalf of the New York B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, State Conservation Director Barb Elliott added, “The New York DEC has already documented the illegal poaching for potential live sale of black bass.

“We feel the legitimizing of the black bass in public markets will create additional impacts on wild black bass populations and we are extremely concerned about the lack of enforceable safeguards . . . Without DNA testing, definitive identification cannot possibly be made between wild caught and farm-raised fish.”

Under current regulations, only licensed hatchery operators can sell black bass within the state. But under the proposal supported by the New York Farm Bureau and the aquaculture industry, anyone who purchases the fish from a licensed hatchery can resell them.

 “Opening up the New York state market for New York fish growers is an important step in helping these businesses grow and support new farm jobs,” said Dean Norton, Farm Bureau president. “This is also a win for consumers because it allows our fish farmers to meet a strong and growing demand for black bass in New York, and not be forced to export their products to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, simply to stay in business.” 

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens added, “The proposed regulations will make it easier for aquaculturists and fish markets within and outside of New York state to sell hatchery-reared bass for food, while continuing to protect wild bass populations that are the foundation of our popular and economically important bass fisheries.”

“New York provides excellent fishing opportunities for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, and DEC has included measures in this proposal to safeguard the state’s black bass sport fishery.”

But angling advocates insist those safeguards are inadequate because they establish only container labeling and record-keeping requirements.

“The proposal makes no attempt to require individual tagging of farm-raised bass, making it impossible for anyone to visually distinguish a farm-raised black bass from a wild-caught black bass,” said Mike Cusano, chairman of the Onondaga County Fisheries Advisory Board.

“While tagging fish individually will not stop poaching, it should be considered as the absolute minimum requirement in the DEC’s proposed regulation.”

In a letter asking DEC to reconsider the proposal, Clough said, “Your leadership is critical for ensuring that the popular sport of bass fishing and your well managed bass fishery are not only protected in your state, but set an example nationwide regarding the prevention of commercial exploitation of sport fish.”

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


Michigan DNR Busts Arkansas Man for Selling Asian Carp

Grass carp photo from Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Congratulations to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). It recently charged an Arkansas fish farmer with a dozen felony counts for illegally selling Asian carp in Michigan.

In this case, the fish involved are grass carp, not silver or bighead. The latter arguably pose a bigger threat to fisheries in the Great Lakes and other waterways.

But grass carp can go damage as well, gobbling up beneficial aquatic vegetation, which provides habitat for fish and other aquatic life, as well as filters sediment and nutrients from the water.

In the wake of devastation by grass carp, fisheries often experience troublesome algae blooms. Additionally, the “biomass” of the carp limits growth and reproduction by other species.

According to the MDNR, the resident of Harrisburg, Ark., is charged with possessing 110 grass carp in a semi-trailer designed to carry live fish. He allegedly sold two live grass carp to undercover investigators May 16 in Midland.

MDNR officials traced the semi-trailer back to the company Farley's Arkansas Pondstockers. They believe Costner used the truck to travel around Michigan selling the live carp in parking lots.

Read the full story here.


Pity the Poor Fish Farmers


Absolutely incredible.

Here is the perfect example of how special interests now dictate public policy instead of reason and concern for the general welfare. Or, in other words, how we now let the tail wag the dog --- er, pig.

Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas says that a law banning the transport of live Asian carp across state lines is unfair to fish farmers. Make that Arkansas fish farmers.

Poor babies. Now they can’t sell more of the fish that have devastated public waters across much of the United States and now threaten the Great Lakes.

And, oh, by the way, that happened because those exotic carp escaped from those same fish farmers.

"Today these farmers are faced with the difficult decision of draining the ponds that currently contain bighead carp, now of little value, so that they may begin another crop cycle with a different species," Pryor said. "This process could lead to the potential release of large numbers of cultured bighead carp into the Mississippi River drainage."

Really, Senator Pryor? Is that a threat? And . . . so what. Releasing more bighead and silver carp into our rivers now would be like pouring a drop of water into a lake already overflowing its banks.

What should happen, of course, is that those fish should be killed, with state and federal officials making certain that the work is done properly.

But that would be too sensible a solution. After all, it would result in the fish farmers losing a little money, and we can’t have that. Can we, Senator Pryor?