February 10, 2003

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Bills banning lead sinkers introduced - Emotions run high in Minnesota & legislature

   Citing concerns over Loon mortality from ingestion of lead , the Audubon Society has sponsored legislation that has been introduced in both chambers of the Minnesota State legislature.

           

   Targeting lead sinkers one ounce and under, and referencing studies primarily from New England states they are pushing forward with legislation, while discounting existing studies done in MN, MI other Great Lakes States and by the federal government.

           

   The  bills HF. No. 192,  and SF 23 basically state: An angler may not use a lead sinker to take on any

waters lying wholly within the state or any portion of boundary waters within the jurisdiction of the state except use is permitted in the waters of Lake Superior where depths from surface to bottom are twenty feet or greater.  A person may not sell or offer to sell a lead sinker in the state except for the intended use in the waters of Lake Superior and that the lead sinker must be packaged and labeled  "Intended for use in Lake Superior Only".   For purposes of this section, "lead sinker" means a device that: (1)  contains lead;(2)  weighs one ounce or less; (3)  is designed to be attached to a fishing line; and (4)  is intended to sink the fishing line.

   With emotions running high and fanned by environmental and animal rights groups, legislators apparently are ignoring recent scientific studies released by the USGS National Wildlife Health Research Center. 

           

   The most comprehensive research on lead fishing sinker impacts on birds was commissioned in 1999 by the USFWS and conducted by USGS' National Wildlife Health Research Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Scientists radiographed samples of 2,749 individual birds representing 30 species and reviewed necropsy records of 36,671 other birds from the files of the National Wildlife Health Center dating from 1975–1999. The results showed 23 out of the 3,000 radiographed birds (including 11 loons out of 313) had ingested lead sinkers. Review of the nearly 37,000 necropsy records indicated 27 birds had ingested lead fishing sinkers.

           

   The results showed that only 3.5% of common loons (from a sample of 313) had ingested lead sinkers and just 27 of 36,671 waterbird and bald eagle carcasses (0.007%) contained ingested lead sinkers.  Fishing tackle, other than sinkers, including hooks, line, and other materials, was also found in 14 common loons, 99 brown pelicans, 12 cormorants,  one bald eagle, one great blue heron, and one Pacific loon.

 

Michigan parks & campgrounds need hosts

   Michigan DNR officials announced the Campground Host Program is seeking participants for the 2003 season. The program allows individuals to camp in a state park or state forest campground at no charge in return for providing assistance in the campground.

           

   Hosts direct visitors to their campsites, answer questions about the park or state forest, arrange campground activities and perform light maintenance and other services, depending on the host's talents and interests. Retired couples, teachers and students, as well as families, are just some of the people who enjoy volunteering as campground hosts.

           

   Campground hosts can be individuals or teams. Hosts must be at least 18 years old, provide services five days/30 hours per week (including weekends and holidays), serve a minimum of four consecutive weeks and furnish their own camping unit, equipment and personal items. Hosts also must attend a training session May 6-7 at the Ralph A.

MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon.

 

   Campground hosts are chosen by park and forest managers, who may require an interview or request additional information. Selection is based on the individual's familiarity with the state park or state forest system, camping experience, special skills, availability, knowledge of the area and the needs of the specific park or forest campground.

           

   Information and applications are available from the DNR's web-site by clicking the "Inside the DNR" link, then clicking "How Can I Help?" 

           

   Persons interested in being a campground host at a state park should apply directly to the park of their choice, or contact Monica Terrell at 517- 335-3034 for an application and list of vacancies. Individuals interested in serving as a state forest campground host should call Ada Takacs at 989-275-5151 ext. 2049.

New MN DNR regs/restrictions offer 66 lakes with bigger pike

New regs/restrictions offer 66 lakes with bigger pike

   The chance of catching a large northern pike in certain Minnesota lakes should increase in coming years, thanks to special regulations set to take effect on 66 inland lakes and one stream when the Minnesota's 2003 fishing season opens in May, according to the DNR.

 

   Anglers who commented on the long-term decline of large northern pike in Minnesota's lakes prompted the regulations. In response, DNR fisheries managers compiled a list of 75 lakes with potential to grow larger northern pike if special regulations were implemented.  That list was pared down to 66 lakes after a public comment period and DNR staff review. Each of the lakes chosen will be regulated by one of the following size limits: 24 to 36" protected slot ,  30" minimum, or a 40" minimum.

 

   The characteristics of the northern pike population were used to determine which regulation would be implemented on an 

individual lake. Originally, the DNR had intended to implement

special northern regs on 30 to 50 lakes, but broad public support prompted fisheries managers to propose more lakes, according to Ron Payer, director of the DNR Division of Fisheries.

 

   "The decline in northern pike size has been well documented," Payer said. "Anglers gave us a strong mandate to do something and there was a lot of interest in special regulations on targeted lakes."
 

   The additional 66 lakes and one stream brings the total number of Minnesota lakes with special regulations for northern pike to 98 - still less than 1% of the 4,000 Minnesota lakes with northerns. Fisheries managers will continue to evaluate additional lakes that would benefit from special northern pike regulations, although Payer said additions will be limited.
           

   Spearing will not be banned from lakes with special regulations unless it is banned under existing regulations. However, length restrictions make it challenging for spearing enthusiasts because it can be difficult to judge the size of a fish underwater.

New PA White Bass record

   When Robert Hornstrom of Meadville headed out to nearby Conneaut Lake on November 8, he had high hopes for a good day of fishing. Considering that he came home with the new state record white bass, one could say: “mission accomplished.”

   Hornstrom was jigging with a quarter-ounce spoon when the fish struck. The fish measured just over 19" with a 15 ½" girth.  The new record, 3 lbs, 15.7 oz, surpasses the previous white bass benchmark by a little more than an ounce and a half. The two previous state record white bass also came from Conneaut Lake.

Michigan sturgeon season – registration begins Feb 12

   Michigan DNR officials announced lottery dates for anglers who want to participate in the annual sturgeon fishing season on Black Lake in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties.

           

   Registration begins Feb. 12 at noon. The fishing season opens Feb. 15 and runs through February 28, or until the total harvest goal of five fish has been reached. All applicants 17-years and older must hold a valid Michigan fishing license. The schedule below outlines the times and dates for open registration and when drawing results will be announced. Each registration period applies to one specific day of fishing, which is the day following each drawing.

 

   Following the daily drawing at 7 p.m., the list of successful applicants will be available from the RAP Hotline at 800-292-7800, and it also will be posted at the Black Lake Hotel, 1712 N. Black River Road, Cheboygan. Participants are urged not to call the hotel.

 

   Unsuccessful applicants may reapply for the next day. Successful lottery participants must claim their tags or

notify DNR personnel by 10 a.m., or forfeit their opportunity for that day. Unclaimed tags will be distributed through a second daily drawing at the Black Lake Hotel at 10 a.m. Tags are not transferable, and anglers must present proper identification when picking them up.

 

   Anglers may fish between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the day they are eligible to fish. A 36" minimum size limit applies. All tags, flags and other items required by successful applicants will be available at the Black Lake Hotel, starting at 7 a.m. on the morning for which they are valid. 

 

   Penalties for illegally taking lake sturgeon are instituted to assist in rehabilitation. Violators face up to $3,500 in fines and restitution and/or up to 180 days in jail, plus the loss of their fishing license.  There is a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone illegally taking a lake sturgeon.

 

   The lottery schedule is available on the DNR web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr . Also, see p. 22 of the 2002 Michigan Fishing Guide, also available on the DNR web site.

 

DNR seeks comment on recreation plan – due March 1

   Michigan DNR officials reminded residents of the March 1 deadline for public comment on the State's Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).

 

   The National Parks Service requires SCORPs from all states applying for Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars, which are used to develop facilities for public outdoor recreation.  The DNR Office of Grants, Contracts and Customer Systems administers LWCF funds for the state, allocating funds to state and local government projects as well as other public agencies.

 

   The DNR has contracted with Michigan State University Department of Park, Recreation, and Tourism Resources to develop the new plan. As part of the plan development process, MSU prepared documents outlining significant

outdoor recreation issues and policy guidelines for using LWCF to address statewide recreation needs. In addition to these written documents, DNR and MSU held three informal public information sessions to receive feedback on these goals and objectives.

 

   Get an online copy of the SCORP at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/DRAFTSCORPlan_54149_7.pdf, or you may request a copy from the address below.  Written comments on the draft document will be received by the DNR until March 1, 2003 at the following address: 

 

SCORP

Grants, Contracts and Customer Systems

Department of Natural Resources

PO BOX 30425

Lansing, MI 48909-7925

Canada signs Kyoto Treaty - Creates new powers for Feds

   January 1 will begin life in Canada under what amounts to a new Constitution, one in which the federal government assumes new control of what once was the authority of the provinces. Natural resources will now belong to Ottawa and under the Endangered Species Act, the government will now be able to take your land without compensation.

 

   Prime Minister Jean Chretien ratified the Kyoto Protocol on December 17, after months of rancorous debate in

parliament. What will become very clear is that the treaty

had little to do with the environment. Its purpose was a grab for centralized control by Ottawa, bypassing the Constitution as we know it today.

 

   Ironically, the number of Americans making refugee claims in Canada has grown since Sept. 11, 2001.  The number of Americans seeking refuge in Canada increased by 135 % before the end of October.  Immigration lawyer David Matas claims "Rights have eroded more in the U.S. than they have here."

El Nino now in strongest phase

   WASHINGTON — El Nino has strengthened and is expected to worsen the drought in the U.S. Plains states while drenching California and the Southeast through the spring, the government said.

           

   NOAA said El Nino, which is blamed for vicious droughts and floods worldwide, had entered its "mature stage" and would linger through April. El Nino usually occurs every 4 to 5 years and can last up to 18 months. El Nino has meant scant rainfall and snow for the already drought-

stricken Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states.

 

   In recent years, mild winters have kept ice coverage sparse as we are realizing even today on the Great Lakes.  For Lake Michigan during the winter of '97-'98 maximum ice coverage never exceeded 15%. This winter to date has kept with the recent trend: Current Lake Michigan ice coverage is at a minimum, so are Lakes Erie and Superior. As of January 12, Lake Michigan's mid-lake temperatures are still running around 40º. Without ice  cover we normally see significant evaporation and lower water levels.

Great Lakes mayors seek more control

U.S., Canadian cities want input into Great Lakes issues

   Mayors of American and Canadian cities bordering the Great Lakes said November 7 they will seek a greater voice in Washington and Ottawa in drafting long-term plans to protect and restore what they called one of North America's most precious natural assets, the Chicago Tribune reported.

 

   For too long, federal and state governments have had all the power in determining policies and programs that affect the lakes, said Mayor Richard Daley, who attended a conference at Chicago's Hancock Center with more than 20 officials from Great Lakes cities.

 

   "Many of us have long believed that mayors deserve a bigger role," Daley said. "We have never been at the table in the past. I think local government has to be there. Issues of concern include invasion by foreign marine species, industrial and agricultural pollution and development on the lakes' shores."

   Regulation is another problem, said Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist. "Under the Jones Act, which imposes ridiculous federal regulation, foreign-flag ships are prohibited from carrying American passengers between U.S. cities. As a result, once-common routes that connected cities across the Great Lakes have died.  Designed to protect business interests of ports on the East and West Coasts, the law instead has hurt tourism in the Midwest. It has hurt cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland," he said.

 

   Though numerous government agencies are involved in regulating such things as water levels and fish populations, local leaders typically are not well represented, officials said.

             

   At another meeting with Great Lakes colleagues here last May, Daley and other mayors called for creation of a national environmental trust fund to clean the lakes that would be patterned after a fund begun several years ago to restore Florida's Everglades. 

Coast Guard proposes $25,000 daily fines for shippers ignoring NISA Act

Wants fines for non-submission of Ballast Water Management Reports

   The U.S. Coast Guard has proposed penalty provisions for non-submission of Ballast Water Management Reports.

 

   Posted in the January 6, 2003 Federal Register  under an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM): (Volume 68, Number 3)] [Proposed Rules], the Coast Guard is also proposing expanding the applicability of the reporting and recordkeeping requirements to all vessels bound for ports or places within the United States, with minor exceptions. The proposed actions would increase the Coast Guard's ability to protect against introductions of new aquatic invasive species via ballast water discharges, as required by the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control and the National Invasive Species Acts.

 

   Comments on the ANPRM must be received on or before April 7, 2003:  By mail to the Docket Management Facility (USCG-2002-13147), U.S. DOT, room PL 401, 400 Seventh St SW., Washington, DC 20590; by fax to the Docket Management Facility at 202-493-2251; or electronically through the Web Site for the Docket Management  System at http://dmses.dot.gov/submit/ .

 

   This proposed rule will not broaden the class of vessels required to conduct ballast water exchange. The Coast Guard will address this subject in a separate rulemaking

that is under development. The Coast Guard is also developing regulations to convert the voluntary guidelines in 33 CFR part 151, subpart D to a mandatory BWM program.

 

   Violators of either the mandatory exchange provisions (for vessels bound for the Great Lakes or portions of the Hudson River) or the mandatory reporting and recordkeeping provisions (for all vessels bound for ports or places within the United States) would be liable for a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation, with each day of a continuing violation equaling a separate violation. Knowing violations of either provision would be class C felonies.

 

   Under the proposed changes, all vessels operating in United States waters bound for ports or places in the United States would now have to submit these reports and keep records, regardless of whether they operated outside of the EEZ.

           

   According to data from the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs Service, and the U.S. Maritime Administration, there are approximately 70,000 arrivals in U.S. ports annually. Of these, 50,000 have a foreign port of origin and the remaining 20,000 have a domestic port of origin. Those vessels arriving from foreign ports of origin have already been reporting ballast water management practices under existing regulations. Under the proposed rule, the 20,000 arrivals from domestic ports will now submit ballast water reports.

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