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Entries in invasive species (244)

Saturday
Apr222017

Stop the Snakehead Derby for Maryland's C&O Canal 

C&O CANAL Pennyfield Lock on June 3rd, 2017 at 9 a.m.

The Stop the Snakehead Fishing Derby will raise awareness and reduce the negative impact of snakeheads in our ecosystems. Snakeheads have spread beyond the Potomac River and throughout many tidal rivers in the Chesapeake Bay. In 2015 the species was found reproducing in the C&O Canal.

Please share the Snakehead Derby Flier with anyone you can. Our goal is to put a dent in the snakehead population and reduce the number of this invasive species in Maryland.

To sign up for this event use the online form and submit.

Prizes and giveaways provided by Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 
United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Bass Pro Shops

Purposes of Fishing Derby
1. Raise awareness about snakeheads and other invasive species.
2. Raise awareness about fish that live in the C&O canal and that could be negatively impacted by snakeheads.
3. Remove any snakeheads that are caught, thus reducing potential impacts to C&O canal fish.

Rules of Fishing Derby
• June 3rd is a FREE FISHING DAY!! and no fishing license is needed
• Meet at Pennyfield Lock on June 3rd at 9:00 am. Check-in at the staging area. 
• Between 9:00 am and 12:30 pm, anglers can fish anywhere between Swains Lock and Violettes Lock (toward the inside of the floating boundary markers). When a fish is caught, the angler should flag down one of the staff in fluorescent vests. The staff member will measure the fish, record its species, take your name, and send the information to the staging area at Pennyfield Lock. Prizes will be awarded to anglers who catch the biggest fish and most different species. Anglers are encouraged to release the fish except if it's a snakehead
• If an angler catches a snakehead, then the snakehead should not be released alive. In order to increase the odds that an angler will catch a snakehead, snakeheads may be caught anywhere along the tow path. Staff may assist in taking the snakehead to the staging area and in disposing of the snakehead. The angler is welcome to take the fish home with them to eat. Prizes will be awarded for biggest snakehead caught.

Accommodations for individuals with disabilities will be provided upon request. Seven days advance notice is requested. Limited fishing gear may be available to borrow.

Thursday
Apr132017

Feds Stall Even More on Plan to Protect Great Lakes From Asian Carp

What had been a slow walk to better protect the Great Lakes from invasion by Asian carp now has been delayed indefinitely.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been scheduled to release draft results of a study that it began in April 2015, with intent of structural or technological upgrades  at Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Illinois River near Joliet. A final version was to be released in 2019. The area is downstream of electrical barriers, intended to repel silver and bighead carp, but which have questionable effectiveness.

But now release of the draft "has been deferred pending further coordination" with government officials and advocacy groups, according to Allen March, Corps spokesman. He added that more consultation is needed "to address things like the range of diverse ecosystems and national economies that could be impacted by outcomes of the study."

In a nutshell, Illinois, especially Chicago, and Indiana oppose any option that would include closing the manmade connection between the river and Lake Michigan or otherwise impede commercial navigation. Fearing what might happen to a billion-dollar sportfishery if the carp enter the Great Lakes, other surrounding states long have lobbied for more aggressive action.

"After a lengthy review process, which included extensive outreach and collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders, it seems that the administration has decided to side with a narrow group of special interests intent on preventing actions to address the movement of Asian carp toward Lake Michigan," said Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

And Molly Flanagan of the Alliance for the Great Lakes added that "no credible reason" exists for additional delay.

The action was announced after 16 Congressional members, mostly from Illinois and Indiana, sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for delay until a new assistant secretary of the Army for civil works is appointed.

In a statement, the lawmakers said the Corps "should not hastily recommend a structural alternative that could negatively impact the economy and the safety of towboat crews."

They also pointed out that 5 million pounds of carp have been removed from the Illinois River and argued that the leading edge of the invasion still is well below Brandon Road. But that amount is but a small fraction of the total biomass in the waterway. Additionally, the leading edge of the invasion by mature carp might not be advancing as rapidly as it once was, but the prolific exotics continue to spawn closer and closer to Lake Michigan. And the younger, smaller fish are much more likely to penetrate the electric barriers, possibly riding through in the wake of barge traffic.

Silver carp (top) and bighead carp.Do You Have a Better Idea?

Want to earn big bucks? Tell the state of Michigan how to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes and possibly decimating the sport fishery there.

The state has allocated $1 million for the global competition, with most of it going toward a prize for the best idea. The rest will be used to publicize and initiate the campaign, expected to begin this summer.

"Somebody out there possibly could have a really good idea," said Joanne Foreman of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "Maybe they're not in fisheries or hydro-engineering."

Mary Flanagan with the Alliance for the Great Lakes added, "I think in the fight against Asian carp, there aren't really any bad ideas. We have to try a bunch of different things."

As silver and bighead carp spawn ever closer to Lake Michigan, the last barriers of defense are electronic barriers, but they are iffy at best. Officials fear that smaller fish could pass through them in the wakes of barges. Additionally, the best way to prevent invasion, closing the manmade connection between the Great Lakes and the Illinois River, almost certainly never will happen because of opposition from Illinois, Indiana, and power commercial navigation interests. Finally, the federal government, both under Barack Obama and Donald Trump, seems to see no urgency in developing a plan to keep the carp out.

All the other Great Lakes states, meanwhile, have pressed for years for an effective solution, with about $388 million spent since 2010, mostly by the feds. They have good reason to be concerned, too, as sport fishing in the Great Lakes region is worth about $7 billion annually. Michigan's tourism industry alone is valued at about $38 billion, with much of it focused on the outdoors.

Friday
Jan132017

Zebra Mussels Threaten Popular Connecticut Bass Fishery

The largest reservoir in Connecticut and one of its most popular bass fisheries is at risk of infestation by zebra mussels.

"They're not on in Candlewood yet, but they're right on our doorstep," said Len Greene of FirstLight Power Resources, which owns and manages the lake and a hydro power station on it. "It was only a matter of time before they migrated there."

"There" is the station's foundation on the Housatonic River and nearby boulders. In 2009, the invasive mussels were found in nearby Lakes Lillinonah and Zoar and in the river itself.

And the threat lies in way that power is generated, by pumping water between the lake and the river. In the past, FirstLight has voluntarily limited pumping during times when mussels reproduce to lessen the threat, and plans to continue doing so.

"We've been able to buy five years with the pumping restrictions," Greene added. "It's an unfortunate situation that I think was inevitable at some point, given that zebra mussels spread everywhere they can."

As officials try to decide on the best way to repel a zebra mussel invasion, Candlewood Lake Authority has suggested  a smaller than normal winter drawdown to reduce the risk when the lake refills with river water. Typically, water is drawn down 6 1/2 feet to knock back another invasive, Eurasian watermilfoil. Executive Director  Larry Marsicano added that the authority can monitor the area around the intake pipe.

"We're still trying to manage the risk of them getting a toehold," he said. "Even if one gets pumped in, it takes two to tango."

Aside from the threat that they post for blocking water intakes with their dense colonies, zebra mussels also improve water clarity as they feed on algae and plankton. That would allow for more light penetration, encouraging already problematic watermilfoil to grow faster and spread into deeper water.

Monday
Dec122016

Honoring Our Angling Heritage

We fish mostly because of the personal gratification that it provides: We catch fish. We spend quality time with friends and family. We relax. We compete.

But as we do all of that, whether we realize it or not, we also fish to sustain a tradition and honor our heritage. We do that by passing on a code of ethics and etiquette to our children that makes them not only better anglers but better people.

*    *    *    *

This is an excerpt from "Honoring our Heritage" in Why We Fish, available at Amazon, along with my other books about fishing and nature.

*    *    *    *

Actions that reflect good etiquette and ethical behavior by anglers include the following:

  • Honor another’s trust. If someone shares with you his “secret spot,” don’t tell anyone about it, no matter how tempted you may be.
  • Whether in a boat or on shore, don’t cast your line across another’s or into “his water.” Doing so not only is unethical but could result in a tangled mess that keeps both of you from fishing.
  • Understand and follow fishing and boating regulations. Obeying the law is not only ethical; it also keeps you from paying fines and possibly even going to jail and/or having your fishing privileges revoked.
  • Handle fish gently. Don’t suspend them out of the water with fishing line. Don’t touch the gills. After you net or lip them, don’t allow them to flop around on shore or in the bottom of the boat. If a fish “swallows” the hook, cut off the line at the eye and leave it in.
  • Never keep fish just to “show off.” You should be prepared to clean and eat any that you take home.
  • Have your boat ready to go before you back it down the ramp. When you take it out, move it quickly out of the way so that others can use the launch area.
  • Help with loading, unloading, and cleaning the boat.
  • Take live bait home with you or dispose of it well away from the water instead of dumping it into the lake. Be certain that your boat and trailer don’t carry any uninvited hitchhikers, such as nuisance plants or zebra mussels.
  • Don’t move fish of any kind from one water body to another. In addition to being unethical and illegal, it could do irreversible damage to a fishery that you were trying to improve.
  • Always ask permission before crossing private property or fishing a pond or stream on private property.
  • If you are wading, try to avoid trampling aquatic vegetation. Enter and leave the water at places where the banks are low or at gravel bars, so you will do less damage to the shorelines.
  • If you are fishing on private land and keeping fish, offer to share your catch with the landowner.
  • Leave an area just as clean as you found it. And especially never discard line or soft plastic baits. Even better, pick up the trash left behind by others. Littering, of course, is against the law. Picking it up shows respect for the resource.
  • Avoid spills and never dump pollutants, such as gas and oil, into the water.
  • Share your knowledge and enjoyment of the sport by taking others fishing.
  • Through your own behavior, promote angling ethics and etiquette.

 And when you are fishing with children, be especially mindful of your actions. You are teaching by example. Consequently, your behavior determines not only what people today think of anglers but those of coming generations as well. In other words, the future of fishing depends on it.

Thursday
Dec082016

Snakehead a Concern in Arkansas, as Well as Potomac

Although the Potomac receives most of the notoriety for its snakehead population, some Arkansas waters have them as well. And that has prompted Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGF) to begin a new monitoring program that it hopes will help keep the population in check.

"We need to refresh our information on exactly what species are in these areas and what the population dynamics are before the snakehead populations grow to cause any sort of impact," said Jimmy Barnett, AGF aquatic nuisance species program coordinator." "These baseline data will be critical in future management of the fisheries and the fight against invasives."

According to Barnett, biologists are concerned about the possible impact that the exotic predator is having on bass and other native fish. To find out what is going on, the agency will conduct in-depth fisheries profiles of about 40 sites in eastern Arkansas.

Back in the spring of 2008, a breeding population of northern snakeheads was found there in ditches and near an irrigation pump. Worried that they would spread into waterways connected to the White, Arkansas, St. Francis, and Mississippi Rivers, resource managers quickly applied rotenone, killing about 100 of the invasive predators and collecting 55 specimens for live study. AGF also  attempted to eradicate the fish with  the Piney Creeks drainage near Brinkley. But occasional reports still surface of someone catching or seeing a snakehead there.

"Snakeheads have spread slowly since their introduction, but the last three years in a row, we've seen them expand their range," Barnett said. "They once were only found in one of our fisheries districts, but now we're seeing them reach out to the edges of three other districts."

Barnett says the recent prolonged flooding in east Arkansas and the drainages connecting the White, Cache, and Arkansas Rivers may have increased the speed at which the species has spread.

"There have been a lot of sloughs and ditches that have had water in them for a longer period of time that could have helped the species reach new areas," Barnett said.

Anglers can help in the fight against snakeheads by continuing to kill any they catch and reporting them to the regional AGF office nearest the body of water where it was found.

"People should take a picture of the fish for positive identification, and try to keep the fish until they've talked to a biologist about it," Barnett said. "A native species, the bowfin, looks similar to the snakehead, so we want to verify these sightings to help paint an accurate picture of the species' expansion."

Snakeheads likely were introduced into Arkansas waters by a fish farmer, who intended to raise the exotic fish commercially before their possession became illegal. Upon the advice of state and federal officials, he decided to kill the fish by removing them from his ponds and dumping them on levees. Unfortunately, snakeheads can live for several hours out of water and even crawl to water, which probably is what happened.