Category Archives: Conservation

The Darkness.

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism, or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

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The ocean remains neglected. Unexplored, used as a planetary trashcan, underfunded and abused.  It’s not a surprise, not a news flash. Just a fact. And it only seems to alarm those of us who pay close attention. The killing of the ocean just does not grab the attention of the masses as much as, say, Kim Kardashian’s offspring.

I don’t want to turn this into a preachy, annoying plea from the cheap seats to save the world. I don’t want to condemn people that keep the fish they catch. There are abundant species that can be kept without harm. It should not be denied, however, that keeping a striped bass these days is contributing to a swelling, grotesque problem we are inflicting on ourselves, and the fish. And it’s not like we don’t know any better – we’ve been here before with striper. We’ve killed them to the brink, and we know our efforts can save them. We’ve proven it. Yet, we keep taking home as many as we can, and then complain about the lack of striper fishing. Almost the very definition of insanity.

Why is this on my mind? I just read that every bluefin tuna tested in the waters off California has shown to be contaminated with radiation that originated in Fukushima. Just to be clear – ALL OF THEM. Every. Single. One.

On the eastern seaboard of this great country, the Atlantic bluefin is endangered. We have killed most of them. We continue to kill them. Out west, the bluefin are all deeply contaminated – radioactive. Unfit for consumption, in my book. (Not in the book of those who fish for it, package it and sell it).

I know the few of you who read these pages don’t come here for this kind of topic. Thankfully, I have more pleasant things to discuss in the coming days – reviews of new rods, lines, kayaks, and trip reports. But it’s hard to discuss fish without discussing fish, if you know what I mean. Fishing is a wonderful thing – it’s a significant part of my life and brings a lot of light with it. The places I get to go, the things I see – all because I decided to at least try to be a decent fly fisherman. It helps me forget the darkness that is ever-present in the world. At least for a while.

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Hat Tip to TU.

When the good people at Trout Unlimited are not playing a significant role in improving the lives of fish and fisherman, they can occasionally be found chatting with members and followers on their Facebook page. 

Just before Christmas, the status of that Facebook page asked readers to submit the last fly they used to catch a trout. The question immediately reminded me of something I’d otherwise forgotten – that when I sent my money to TU for my membership this past summer, they had been running a promotion where my membership fee would earn me a collection of TU swag, including stickers, a hat, and a collection of various and popular trout flies. I was on the TU page to join anyway, not necessarily expecting more than a newsletter in return, but was happy to learn I’d receive a bunch of goodies.

Time passed, and the TU package arrived at my house. Everything promised was included, except the flies. A note inside, I recall, said the flies were in a back-ordered status, and would follow shortly. I stuck a sticker on my stripping basket and promptly forgot about the whole deal .

And then, that question was asked on Facebook, and I remembered I’d never received my flies. I made a smart ass comment- completely in jest, mind you – that I certainly hadn’t used a TU fly because I had not received them yet. I even left one of those winky face things that is now the universal symbol for – “Hey. Just kidding”.

Not fifteen minutes went by before I received an email on my Facebook account from a Brennan Sang – a community manager for TU. He was concerned that I hadn’t received flies and wanted to know how he could help. I sheepishly explained that I was just kidding – I was feeling like a whiner – and that I’d forgotten about the flies, but explained what had happened. He said he wanted to look into it – and just a few short days later, a small collection of trout flies arrived in the mail.

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In an era of customer service that ranges from passable to dismal across a myriad of industries, the fly fishing world is pretty lucky. Some of the major rod builders have excellent customer service, as anyone with an expensive broken rod will attest. What TU did for me was a small thing, but the attention to detail and the commitment to make things right even after I’d expressed my relaxed attitude about the whole deal, deserves to be commended. They don’t just want to do great work, they want to do it right. We’re lucky to have them.

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Filed under Conservation, Fly, Free Stuff, Gear, Trout Unlimited, Uncategorized

No Bunker = No Bass.

Anyone paying attention to those things that have a negative impact on the environment, and more specifically, the ocean, will not need to be bought up to speed on the overfishing of Menhaden, or Bunker. It has been the topic of bestselling books, and, nobody needs another depressing diatribe by a fly angler on the decline of the fish. (Though, said fisherman cannot be blamed for their frustration.)

Nor should we all remain quiet. So, let’s keep it simple. No Bunker, Menhaden, etc, ….no Striped Bass. (among other species.) Omega Protein insists its half-billion pound Menhaden harvest is not making a dent in the resource. Make sense to you?

“The most important fish in the sea” has been put through more than 50 years of overfishing. The stock is at a record low.  Who is suffering from the loss of menhaden?  You are.
 
Omega Protein has been doing everything it can to prevent the implementation of a total allowable catch and a rebuilding effort. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they maintain that menhaden are merely suffering from poor recruitment – their half billion pound harvest has nothing to do with it: Don’t let them get away with it!

Visit Menhaden Defenders, make your voice heard.

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Filed under Bunker, Conservation, Nonsense, Ocean

Atlantic Sturgeon Endangered.

After a century of abuse, the Atlantic Sturgeon has arrived on federal endangered species protection lists. 

Once in abundance along the eastern seaboard, and locally, in the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay, the seldom seen Sturgeon have become scarce enough to earn an air of myth. The National Marine Fisheries Service estimate that, before the year 1890, some 180,000 adult females were spawning along the Delaware river, driving a very profitable fish and caviar industry. Today, they estimate some 300 remain.

It is worth noting that the Atlantic sturgeon is not just any fish; not always a delicate species with such a harsh response to it’s environment and treatment. Sturgeon can live up to 60 years, have been recorded at greater than 15 feet, can weigh hundreds of pounds, and scientists consider them the most primitive of the bony fishes, with remarkably close relations to those that swam with the dinosaurs.  Although it has been illegal to fish for, catch or keep Atlantic sturgeon for more than a decade in most watersheds, recovery remains absent.

“The most significant threats to the species are unintended catch of Atlantic sturgeon in some fisheries; dams that block access to spawning areas, poor water quality, which harms development of sturgeon larvae and juveniles; dredging of historical spawning areas; and vessel strikes. As a result, NOAA Fisheries determined that listing sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act is warranted.”NOAA

Most of the coverage I’ve read locally focused heavily on the fact that this endangered species designation could disrupt plans to further dredge the Delaware River, a $240 million dollar project that aims to increase the depth of the river by five feet.  Dredging, historically, has caused damage to environmentally important resources, and will do so again if allowed to operate in this key spawning area of the Sturgeon. It remains to be seen if this project will make it’s way into the budget and become a reality.

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Good News for Local Bay Fisherman. (Me.)

Local news reports that, under an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the nearby Indian River power plant will be retiring it’s three most ancient generating units; dinosaurs that drink copious amounts of bay water for the purposes of cooling. They will rely on only the remaining generator, which is equipped with a self contained cooling system, requiring significantly less water top operate.

According DNREC officials, the reduced water intake at the plant should have a significant effect on crab and fish populations.

“The decrease in water intake is expected to save an estimated 300,000 blue crabs and Atlantic croaker, 40,000 winter flounder, 1.6 million bay anchovy and 60,000 Atlantic menhaden, said John R. DeFriece, program manager for DNREC’s Discharge Permits Program.”

I had absolutely no idea that the power plant was a massive fish eating machine, but now we know, and things are clearly improving. If there are 1.6 million bait fish for striped bass and blue fish, and an additional 40,000 winter flounder to chase, the locals will surely approve.

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Filed under Bay Fishing, Bluefish, Conservation, Fishy Water, Flounder, Places, Saltwater, Striped Bass, Surf Fishing, Water Watch

Bunker.

Richmond Times Dispatch.

MidCurrent.

Contact your ASMFC representative.

Hat tip for the links: Fishing Jones.

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Filed under Bunker, Conservation, Ocean, Saltwater