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Entries in Great Lakes (109)

Thursday
Jan022014

Harmful Algal Blooms Are Growing Problem for Fisheries

 

Click on photo to see map of toxic algae alerts during summer of 2013.

Traditionally a problem in the Midwest and around the Great Lakes, harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a growing problem nationwide, according to the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. For example, Kentucky officials found toxic algae (at four lakes) during 2013, for the first time ever.

“No one wants a green, sick lake,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director. “And yet that’s what communities across the country are facing. Excessive runoff is feeding an explosion of toxic algae that is choking our waters, closing our beaches, and posing a threat to people, pets, and wildlife. This is a national problem that demands a national solution.”

This past summer 21 states issued advisories and warnings for HABs at 147 locations. While New York led the way with 50 warnings, a bloom covered Florida’s St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon with fluorescent green slime, killing fish, dolphins, manatees, and birds.

In an attempt to increase public awareness of this problem, the center teamed with Resource Media to release a report, “Toxic Algae: Coming Soon to a Lake Near You.” Additionally, the communications company also created a first-of-its kind national online map to show locations of blooms.

The problem is flying below the radar, the center said, because no federal agency tracks closures and warnings nationally, few studies have assessed the national cost of HABs, and not enough states monitor their waters.

Friday
Dec202013

Microplastic Beads Pollute Great Lakes

An array of skin care cleansers on the market promise to exfoliate and unclog pores. Some of these skin-scrubbing products contain tiny beads of plastic scattered through a gel or creamy paste. After washing with these cleansers, consumers rinse the soapy stuff—along with its teeny spheres—down the drain, giving nary a thought to what happens to the plastic bits, which are less than 1 mm in diameter.

Now, researchers are finding plastic microbeads in the Great Lakes. They say the miniscule spheres could harm aquatic animals that mistake them for food. Perhaps more ominously, they worry that the plastic balls could help transfer toxic pollutants from the Great Lakes to the food chain, including fish that people eat.

Read more here.

And this from Michigan State University:

Microplastics are a common finding among ocean researchers, and are troublesome because they can act as a sponge for pollutants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They can also directly harm aquatic organisms, as when fish mistake these particles for food. So are Great Lakes fish eating plastic? The Ohio Department of Natural Resources fisheries researchers have found plastic in yellow perch during their ongoing diet analysis studies. 

Wednesday
Sep112013

Take a Bite Out of Carp Invasion

Okay, enough is enough.

 

Chef Philippe Parola wants us to east more Asian carp.

Down in Louisiana, fear of flying carp is keeping froggers out of the bayous at night.

On Lake Tunica in northern Mississippi, a woman sustained a broken collarbone when she collided with a barrage of silver carp while tubing.

In reporting on the latter, the Natural Resources Defense Council said:

“Despite somewhat sensational coverage that implied she was attacked, she wasn’t. The fish were doing what comes naturally when startled.

“Her experience is, sadly, not unique. Vast stretches of our waterways are being eliminated from recreational use by the carp’s presence. Folks in places like Peoria, Illinois, have long since abandoned recreational activity on the Illinois River for fear of similar incidents.”

The feds aren’t going to solve this problem. In fact, silver and bighead carp eventually will make their way into the Great Lakes and possibly devastate the sport fishery there because of politics and bureaucratic incompetence.

As with most everything else, the best means of dealing with this expanding invasion is private initiative. Or, as Gary Tilyou, Louisiana Inland Fisheries administrator advises: “When one jumps in your boat, eat it.”

And Tilyou is not the only one in Louisiana recommending that solution, which, admittedly, will require considerable corn meal.

“The Asian carp is not just a Great Lake problem,” says Chef Philippe Parola. “Our solution is to break down these delicious invasive fish and mass produce precooked boneless fish fillets for U.S. grocery stores and restaurants.

“This solution will immediately and rapidly remove these invasive fish from our waters.”

He adds that commercial harvest of silver and bighead carp will create jobs, boost local economies, “and offer a much cleaner, domestic fish. To date, more than 85 percent of U.S. fish consumption is imported and the majority of these imported fish are contaminated with pollutants or abused with overdoses of sodium for preservation and weight purpose.”

Also a recreational angler, Parola is at the forefront of a movement that seeks to control carp, lionfish, wild hogs, and other invasives by popularizing them as food.  As global commerce and increased mobility have accelerated these invasions in recent years, this campaign seems as likely as any government intervention to take a bite out of the problem.

Especially if anglers and others will give carp a chance.

“The meat is white. I’ve eaten it numerous times,” says Tilyou. “It’s not common carp. That’s a different fish.”

Parola adds, “The taste is a cross between scallops and crab meat.”

Besides buying “silverfin” at the markets and restaurants when it becomes available, anglers can help in other ways. The most obvious way is to keep carp when they jump in the boat, as Tilyou suggests.

But snagging and bowfishing tournaments also can reduce populations and put food on the table. And, the field is wide open for figuring out ways to get these filter feeders to bite on baits.

To find out more about eating invasive carp, check out Chef Parola’s web site at www.chefphilippe.com.

He is quick to advise that the carp should be bled as quickly as possible to improve the taste and he acknowledges that bones are abundant. That’s why he has focused on marketing items such as gumbo, cream bisque, and fish balls and cakes, as opposed to raw fillets.

Also, you can learn about lionfish from Maurice “Mojo” White in the Bahamas. At his www.lionfishhunter.com site, he will tell you how to safely handle and prepare this invader with toxin-tipped fins. In recent years, it has spread throughout the Caribbean and up the East Coast as far as Long Island.

Following are recipes developed by Parola for “silverfin”:

Silverfin fried strips. 4 servings

16 strips of silverfin fish (boneless if possible)

2 eggs

1 cup of Kleinpeter half & half for eggwash

1 cup of Louisiana fish fry seasoned flour

Peckapepper mango sauce for dipping

Preheat fryer at 350. In a bowl, crack 2 eggs, stir well, and then add half & half. Stir well again. Place the strips in eggwash.  Coat each strip with seasoned flour. Fry until done. Serve with mango sauce.

 

Silverfin cakes. 4 servings

1 pound of silverfin white meat

4 ounces of melted unsalted butter

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 whole egg

1 ounce of crumbled bread

Seasoning and hot sauce to taste

Poach or steam silverfin meat until fully cooked.  Break it up in pieces to remove bones. Place the meat in a mixing bowl. Add butter, mustard, egg, and lemon juice. Mix well and add crumbled bread. Season to taste. Make small cakes, roll in egg wash and seasoned flour, and then fry.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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

Tuesday
Sep102013

Separation Still Not Considered an Option for Keeping Carp out of Great Lakes

The latest manifestation of a strategy by the federal government to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes carries a $50 million price tag but still no mention of separating the lakes from the Mississippi River basin.

That omission does not please a growing number of stakeholders who believe that the only way to keep the exotics from destroying Great Lakes fisheries is by eliminating the manmade connection between the two watersheds.

“I think we could take carp control more seriously by disconnecting the Chicago waterway,” said Jim Diana, director of Michigan Sea Grant and a fisheries professor at the University of Michigan. “In absence of that, we’ll have all these kinds of temporary solutions that might work.”

And just a few months ago, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said, “Ultimately, I think we have to separate the basins. I really feel that is the ultimate solution. We have to do it.”

Until that announcement at a meeting of Great Lakes governors, most thought that Illinois would continue to side with Chicago and the Obama administration in opposing disconnection of the waterways.

Although it doesn’t include separation, the new 2013 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework does call for an improved electric barrier south of Chicago, as well as creation of barriers at other tributaries feeding the lakes, nearly two dozen of which have been identified as potential entry points. It also calls for expanded sampling and emphasizes testing of new tools, including water guns, netting, chemical controls, and pheromone attractants.

“This strategy continues our aggressive effort to bolster our tools to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, while we work toward a long-term solution,” said John Goss of the White House Council on Environmental quality, who oversees the initiative.

“The 2013 framework will strengthen our defenses against Asian carp and more innovative carp control projects from research to field trials to implementation.”

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

Monday
Aug192013

Asian Carp More Adaptable Than Previously Thought

Researchers from Purdue University have made some unsettling discoveries regarding Asian carp.

“It looks like the carp can probably become established in a wider range of environmental conditions than once thought,” said Reuben Goforth, an assistant professor of forestry and natural resources.

Goforth and associates learned that the exotic invaders are spawning in waters previously thought too narrow or slow moving. That means even more sport fisheries are at risk.

On a semi-positive note, he added, ‘’While the presence of eggs indicates a successful spawning of these fishes in new areas, it’s not known yet whether those eggs would be successful in surviving to adulthood.”

Additionally, they found evidence of carp spawning far upstream and eggs drifting in water as late as September in Indiana’s Wabash River. Previously, reproduction was thought to end in July.

Until now, most information related to where Asian carp might spawn was based on data gathered from their native habitats in Asian rivers and streams.

“The reason truly invasive species are so successful is because they overcome obstacles,” Goforth said. “When you base their limitations on what happens in their native ecosystems, it’s a good start. But it may be a good idea to go back and take this new data to recalculate more precise limits based on these new understandings.”

Support Grows for Separation 

Those who want to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp invasion by removing the manmade connection between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin have a new ally.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn surprised many when he endorsed that solution during a meeting with other governors here.

“Ultimately, I think we have to separate the basins,” he said. “I really feel that is the ultimate solution. We have to do it.”

Chris Kolb of the Michigan Environmental Council called Quinn’s remarks “a very positive step forward.” And Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said, “I think it’s great to see people talking about longer-term solutions.”

In the past, Illinois sided with Indiana, the city of Chicago, and the Obama administration in opposing the separation. They argued that closure would increase flood risks, while damaging tourism and commerce.

“It’s important that we deal with this issue, but it’s also important that we deal with it in a way that preserves the logistical advantage and opportunity to move commerce through the region,” said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

But Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have long favored the strategy and even sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chicago’s water district. In a suit they lost, they claimed that refusal to separate the watersheds created a public nuisance.

The strongest argument for closing the aquatic highway, though, is that an explosion of Asian carp in the Great Lakes could decimate the system’s fishery, worth an estimated $7.5 billion annually. Additionally, the connection leaves the way open for other invasive species to cross watersheds.

The connecting canal was constructed more than a century ago, to allow Chicago’s sewage pollution to flow downstream, instead of contaminating the city’s Lake Michigan water supply. It also allowed for commercial navigation.

(These articles appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)