Week of April 12, 2010
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Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have
for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote
Joining a nationwide effort to challenge Washington's authority, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter last week made his state the seventh to exempt guns made and kept in the state from any federal regulations.
House Bill 589 was listed on Otter's website among legislation that had been signed into law. The governor added Idaho to the list of states that have adopted what has become
known as "Firearm Freedom Acts." The movement began in Montana, where a court case was filed seeking affirmation that the state – and not bureaucrats in the nation's capital – has the right to manage in-state issues and actions.
Idaho's legislation cites the Second, Ninth and 10th Amendments as justification for its exemption, as well as the Constitution's Commerce Clause.
Stephen P. Sinnott, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced recently the prosecution of several Wisconsin bait dealers under the Federal Lacey Act. They included Hayward Bait and Tackle, Inc., of Hayward; Friesses Minnow Farm, Inc., of Cumberland; Gollon Bait & Fish Farm, of Dodgeville; and Gollon Brothers Wholesale Live Bait, Inc., of Stevens Point.
Hayward Bait and Tackle, Inc. and Friesses Minnow Farm, Inc. were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb to 36 months probation including special conditions for monitoring the defendants’ compliance with state and federal law. Hayward Bait and Tackle was also ordered to pay a fine of $5,000 and Friesses Minnow Farm was ordered to pay a fine of $4,000. Each company was also ordered to pay the cost of the additional monitoring during the term of probation.
Both bait dealers imported fathead minnows and white suckers from Minnesota into Wisconsin without acquiring the necessary permits for the importation. Hayward Bait and Tackle imported bait fish between January 17, 2005, and February 13, 2007 which had a market value of $306,891, and Friesses Minnow Farm imported bait fish between January 10, 2006, and May 22, 2007, which had a market value of $281,480. Both companies pleaded guilty to the charge on October 29, 2009.
Gollon Bait & Fish Farm was also convicted in December 2009 for illegally importing bait fish and was ordered to pay a fine of $6,000 and sentenced by Judge Crabb to 36 months
probation, including special conditions for monitoring the defendant’s compliance with state and federal law. Gollon Brothers Wholesale Live Bait, Inc. pleaded guilty and was sentenced on January 8, 2010 to 24 months probation, including special conditions for monitoring the defendant’s compliance with state and federal law, and was ordered to pay a fine of $4,800.
Between January 4, 2007, and continuing until May 14, 2007, Gollon Brothers transported and received bait fish including white suckers, shiners, and fathead minnows, having a market value of $586,621.75, from companies in Minnesota and Arkansas without acquiring the necessary permits for the importation into Wisconsin.
As part of the terms of probation, all four companies will be required to undergo additional testing and monitoring of their facilities and bait fish. The costs of this monitoring, which could reach $120,000 for each company during the course of the probationary term, will be born by the defendants.
The federal Lacey Act makes it unlawful to import, receive, and acquire, in interstate or foreign commerce, any fish transported in violation of any law or regulation of any State. Wisconsin state law prohibits the importation and transportation of live fish into Wisconsin for use as bait without a valid import permit and health certificate certifying that the fish being imported are free from certain diseases. The Wisconsin law was enacted, in part, to protect Wisconsin resources, while allowing for the future growth of the fish farming industry.
CHICAGO-Over the last six weeks, field crews from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intensively sampled throughout the entire Chicago Area Waterway System and no Asian carp were observed or collected. A total of 25 biologists have been involved in the effort that began on February 16, which has included sampling with both electrofishing and nets. A commercial fishing vessel supplemented the netting effort.
A team of fisheries and invasive species experts are currently developing a longer term monitoring plan to outline continued sampling/monitoring efforts over the next three months as part of the larger Asian Carp Control plan that includes both short and long term actions.
“It is critical that we have a better understanding of where Asian carp are in the Chicago Area Waterway System and a better idea of population size so we can better assess the risks to the Great Lakes. That’s why this monitoring effort is so important,” said John Rogner, Assistant Director of the Illinois DNR.
“Intensifying our sampling and monitoring efforts in high-risk areas for Asian carp provides us with critical data on population dynamics, potential range expansion and movement of the species,” said Charlie Wooley, Deputy Regional Director of the Service. “The Service will continue to support monitoring efforts in coordination with Illinois DNR crews to ensure we cover as much areas possible this field season.”
Field crews set approximately 5.6 miles of net and sampled for a total of 60 hours using electrofishing gear in the main channels, barge slips, marinas and other off-channel areas. Species collected in highest abundance were common carp (1,000) and gizzard shad (+1,000). Other species observed or collected included bluntnose minnow, drum, pumpkinseed sunfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, channel catfish,
yellow perch, green sunfish and yellow bullhead. All fish collected were returned to the channel.
Early sampling efforts were coordinated around warm water discharge areas in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC), Des Plaines River, Little Calumet River, South Branch Chicago River and Cal‐Sag Channel. Warm water discharge areas were targeted due to the tendencies of fish to congregate in warm water areas during colder temperatures.
In order to validate the sampling techniques upstream, field crews also sampled in areas far below the electric barrier where Asian carp populations are present. IDNR biologists recovered 36 Silver carp and four Bighead carp near Starved Rock Lock and Dam‐approximately 70 miles downstream from the electric barrier. Field crews expanded the search for Asian carp as ice receded from the waterways and water temperature rose.
The Regional Coordinating Committee is developing a three month monitoring plan to extend sampling efforts through the field season.
The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee includes representatives from the City of Chicago, Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Fishery Commission and White House Council of Environmental Quality.
These partners are working to address the threat Asian carp pose to the Great Lakes through the development and implementation f the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework. The Framework, which is guided by the latest scientific research, encompasses over 32 short and long term actions and $78.5M in investments to combat the spread of Asian carp. For a full copy of the framework go to: www.asiancarp.org
TRAVERSE CITY, (AP) — Closing shipping locks in Chicago waterways to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes would cost the area economy about $4.7 billion over two decades, according to an analysis released Wednesday.
That report from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce envisions a far greater economic ripple than a February study commissioned by the state of Michigan, which is leading a legal campaign to close the locks temporarily while a long-term solution to the Asian carp threat is devised.
The new "study shows, through well-reasoned economics, that closing these locks will have a devastating effect on our local economy, resulting in the loss of potentially hundreds of area jobs and hurting a range of industries and services," said Jim Farrell, executive director of the Illinois chamber's Infrastructure Council.
Bighead and silver carp have infested Chicago-area rivers and canals that link Lake Michigan with the Illinois River and ultimately the Mississippi River. Biologists say the plankton-gobbling invaders, which eat up to 40 percent of their body weight daily, could enter the Great Lakes through the locks and disrupt the food chain, starving out valued species such as salmon and walleye.
The U.S. Supreme Court twice has rejected Michigan's request to order the locks closed.
In their February report, transportation specialist John Taylor of Wayne State University in Detroit and James Roach, a consultant, said Illinois was overstating the economic damage closing the locks could cause. They estimated it would boost the costs of transporting and hauling cargo by about $70 million annually — a fraction of Chicago's $521 billion economy.
That figure would remain constant as long as shipping traffic continued at current levels, Roach said — suggesting a total of about $1.4 billion over 20 years. The Illinois chamber last week released reviews by three economists that criticized the methods and conclusions in the Michigan report, which the chamber described as "irresponsible and inaccurate."
Joseph Schwieterman of DePaul University, the author of the Illinois report, said in a phone interview that his analysis was not intended to refute Taylor and Roach, but to take a broader look at potential economic hardships from closing the locks. In addition to shipping cost increases, which he calculated at $89 million, Schwieterman said shifting cargo to trucks would cost $27.5 million a year in highway wear and tear. He projected losses of $5.1 million for marinas and other boating facilities and $19.6 million for tour and cruise companies.
"The tourism role is a small part of the overall potential damage but it's a large and vibrant industry at risk," he said.
Stormwater and flood management would be the most expensive result of lock closure, he said. If the locks no longer could be used to regulate river levels and send excess flow into Lake Michigan, a $1.8 billion underground tunnel would have to be constructed. Schwieterman estimated losses at $582 million the first year after lock closure, $531 annually over the next seven years, and $155 million annually thereafter. Over 20 years, he said, the total would reach $4.7 billion.
Taylor said on April 7 his study focused only on shipping costs at the request of Michigan officials who commissioned it. On that topic, his and Schwieterman's findings were not far apart, he said. "This is not going to be an exact science," Taylor said.
Farrell said Michigan had used the Taylor-Roach study and DNA evidence of Asian carp's presence beyond an electronic barrier in the Chicago waterways to stir unjustified fears of an imminent invasion. "We want to be positive contributors to solving this problem, but we want to do it without harming the economy," he said.
John Sellek, spokesman for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, said the Illinois study exaggerated potential economic damages, but "even if you accepted their study, their 20-year loss pales in comparison to the $7 billion the Great Lakes fishing industry generates every year."
A slow moving frontal system brought heavy rain and even some accumulating snow to the Great Lakes basin this week. Some locations recorded upwards of 2 inches of rainfall as well as large hail and damaging winds. Across the northern third of the basin, several inches of snow were reported Thursday. Drier air is expected for the upcoming weekend along with a return to more seasonable temperatures.
Lake Level Conditions
Currently, Lake Superior is near its level from one year ago. Lakes Michigan-Huron and St. Clair are 3 and 11 inches, respectively, below their April 2009 level while Lakes Erie and Ontario are 15 and 18 inches, respectively, below their levels of a year ago. Much of the difference between last year's and this year's levels of Lakes Erie and Ontario can be attributed to the significant amount of snow that fell in 2009 versus what has fallen this year. Over the next month, the water levels of Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are both expected to increase by 3 inches. Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie are both predicted to rise 4 inches over the next thirty days while Lake Ontario is expected to rise approximately 7 inches over the same timeframe. Over the next few months, all of the Great Lakes are expected to be below their levels of a year ago with the exception of Lake Superior which will be near the prior year's level.
Forecasted March Outflows/Channel Conditions
The outflow from Lake Superior into the St. Mary's River is
forecasted to be below average. The outflows from both Lake
Huron into the St. Clair River as well as the Detroit River are, also, forecasted to be below average. Near average flows are expected for the Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River.
Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels. Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.
The disinfection solution iodophor, presently used for salmon eggs, has been found to eliminate active viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) from fertilized walleye and northern pike eggs. Iodophor disinfectant solutions contain iodine formulated for use on fish eggs. USGS and USFWS researchers also found that although some of the disinfection treatments reduced the hatch, iodophor treatment at 90 minutes after fertilization did not alter egg hatch or fry development.
VHS has caused large fish kills in wild fish in the U.S., especially in the Great Lakes region, where thousands of fish have died from e virus over the last few years. The disease causes internal bleeding in fish, and although in the family of viruses that includes rabies, VHS is not harmful to humans. Thus far, the virus has been found in more than 25 species of fish in Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie, St. Clair, Superior and Ontario, as well as the Saint Lawrence River and inland lakes in New York, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Effective disinfection methods are critically important to natural
resource agencies that collect eggs from wild fish stocks and
to private aquaculture because the spread of the virus to a fish hatchery could be devastating, said Mark Gaikowski, the USGS researcher who led the research team. “If VHS virus is introduced into the aquaculture industry, it could lead to trade restrictions, as well as direct economic losses from the disease,” Gaikowski noted.
Experts fear the disease could potentially spread from the Great Lakes into populations of native fish in the 31 states of the Mississippi River Basin. Regulatory agencies in the U.S. and Canada have already placed restrictions on the movement of fish or fish products that could pose a risk for the spread of VHS virus to regions outside of its known geographic range.
For more information about this subject, as well as recommendations on the disinfection process, see the new USGS Fact Sheet on
line at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3107/
Spring fishery workshops offer current research and information related to the status of the Lake Huron fishery. Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State U, in partnership with the DNRE, USGS Great Lakes Science Center, and local fishery organizations will be hosting five evening regional workshops across Lake Huron’s coastline.
Workshops are open to the public, and will provide valuable information for anglers, charter captains, resource professionals, and others interested in attending, including updates related to salmon management in Lake Huron, walleyes in Saginaw Bay, forage fish surveys and results from the recent Lake Huron predator diet study, among other Lake Huron related topics.
Five evening Lake Huron Regional Fishery Workshops (approx. 2-3 hours each) are open to the public at no cost.
Workshop opportunities include:
Port Huron: Wednesday, April 14, 7:15-9:30 p.m.
Great Lakes Maritime Center
51 Water Street, Port Huron, MI 48060
Ubly: Thursday, April 15, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Ubly Fox Hunter’s Club
8780 S Ubly Rd, Ubly, MI 48475
Alpena: Monday, April 19, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
NOAA Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center
500 W. Fletcher St., Alpena, MI 49707
Tawas City: Wednesday, April 28, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Day’s Inn of Tawas
1020 U.S. 23, Tawas City, MI 48763
Cedarville: Monday, May 3, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Les Cheneaux Sportsman’s Club
M-134, Cedarville, MI 49719
(Approx. 10-11 miles east of blinking light in Cedarville)
Up to 30 million lbs headed to far east market
Big River Fish from Pearl, Illinois is planning to ship 30 million pounds of the invasive species to China. The commercial fisherman says it will begin shipping Asian carp to Chinese markets this week.
We've had groups in China taste it. They came here and ate it, and say it's the best carp they've ever had," owner Ross Harano said. Apparently the rivers in China are too polluted to grow quality carp, so the Illinois fish will be sold at a premium
to high-end Chinese restaurants. Big River Fish expects to make around $20 million per year exporting the carp, and the demand could grow, Harano says.
Right now, there's an estimated 100 million pounds of the fish in the Illinois River, so it begs the question, will this be the end of the Asian carp invasion? Harano expects his business to increase 10 times over. The company says it will add nearly 200 jobs because of the overseas market, including 140 jobs for commercial fishermen.
The Michigan DNRE reminds everyone that after the ice melts on Michigan’s lakes, it is not uncommon to discover dead fish or other aquatic creatures. Typical Michigan winters with heavy snow and ice cover create conditions that cause fish and other creatures such as soft-shell turtles, frogs, toads, and crayfish to die.
“Winterkill is the most common type of fish kill,” said DNRE Fisheries Division Chief Kelley Smith, “It is particularly common in shallow lakes and streams. It can have significant impacts on fish populations and fishing quality.”
Winterkill occurs during especially long, harsh winters. Shallow lakes with excess aquatic vegetation and mucky bottoms are particularly prone to this problem. Fish and other aquatic life typically die in late winter, but may not be noticed until a month after the ice leaves the lake because the dead fish and other aquatic life are temporarily preserved by the cold water.
“Winterkill begins with distressed fish gasping for air at holes in the ice and often ends with large numbers of dead fish that bloat as the water warms in early spring,” Smith explained. “Dead fish and other aquatic life may appear fuzzy because of secondary infection by fungus, but the fungus was not the
cause of death. The fish actually suffocated from a lack of dissolved oxygen under the ice.”
Dissolved oxygen is required by fish and all other forms of aquatic life. Once the daylight is greatly reduced by ice and snow cover, aquatic plants stop producing oxygen and many die. The bacteria that decompose organic materials on the bottom of the lake use the remaining oxygen in the water. Many locations had conditions for winterkill with heavy ice and snow cover; some locations likely ran out of dissolved oxygen to support fish and other aquatic life.
“The DNRE is still concerned about Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHSv) infections, particularly after a stressful winter, and asks citizens to report fish with symptoms of this disease,” Smith said.
Information on VHS can be found at www.michigan.gov/dnrfishing. If anglers or citizens see unusual die-offs of fish with clinical signs of VHSv, please e-mail information about the fish kills to DNR-FISH-Report-Fish-Kills@michigan.gov. If you suspect a fish kill is caused by non-natural causes such as a chemical spill, please call your nearest DNRE location or Michigan's Pollution Emergency Alert System at 800-292-4706.
The Michigan DNRE introduced a new tool for selecting your next hunting, trapping or outdoor recreation spot ‑‑ an interactive mapping application called Mi‑HUNT (www.michigan.gov/mihunt).
Mi‑HUNT is a cutting‑edge, Web‑based application that allows users to view and navigate through all public lands open to hunting and trapping in Michigan. Mi‑HUNT displays multiple layers of information, which can be customized to fit your specific outdoor interests and trip planning needs.
“No matter where you are in Michigan, you can find public land for hunting or trapping,” said DNRE Director Rebecca Humphries. “This sophisticated application is the first of its kind in Michigan and state‑of‑the‑art nationwide, allowing
hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to view, print, measure and
create custom routing to their desired destinations.”
The interactive layers of Mi‑HUNT allow the user to view:
► All state game and wildlife areas, federal land, state forest land and private lands open to hunting and trapping
► vegetation types
► topography of land
► recreational facilities such as forest campgrounds, trails, boat launches, and parking areas
► aerial photography;
► street maps and directions.
Mi‑HUNT was made possible with a grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The application was developed by the Michigan Department of Information Technology‑Center for Shared Solutions using DNRE data.
The Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac has announced its spring and summer schedule of programs from April through June. The center is located next to Mitchell State Park on M-115 in Cadillac, and is one of 10 Department of Natural Resources visitor centers around the state.
There is no fee for the programs, and all programs are subject to change. Participants can call in advance to confirm a scheduled program by calling 231-779-1321.
The programs include:
April 17, Laser Shot Simulations
April 24, Geo-caching Applications
May 1, Hunter Safety Instructor Refresher Class
May 8, Morel Mushrooms and Other Edibles
May 15, Made in Michigan Products Day
May 22, Geo-caching Applications
May 29-30, Memorial Day Weekend. On May 29, come enjoy
the Live Michigan Snakes program by Nature Discovery from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m. at the center. On May 30, a full day of activities is planned, including coffee hour and
rolls at the center with a special wetlands video being shown from 7 to 7:45 a.m.; a guided wetlands hike with Ranger Rick from 8 to 10 a.m.; Float Fishing on the Canal from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with bait and tackle provided; 3D Archery Shoot with white-tailed deer, black bear and turkey from 2 to 4 p.m. Laser Shot Simulation inside the center from 6 to 8 p.m. and Pellet Gun Marksmanship Challenges from 6 to 8 p.m. at the center’s shooting range.
June 5, Pellet Gun and Archery Shooting Ranges
June 12, Michigan Free Fishing Weekend
June 19, Kayaking Adventure Program
June 26, Project GO - Get Outdoors Day
Mitchell State Park is located on M-115 in Cadillac. For more info, call the visitor center at 231-779-1321.
For information about the park, visit www.michigan.gov/mitchell.
LANSING, Mich. – Michigan is angling for more business in the fishing and tourism industries with two new laws that will increase the number of fish anglers can keep.
One establishes a 72-hour fishing license as an option between the 24-hour license and the annual one. The other allows anglers to keep an additional two-day’s possession of fish.
The extra two-day possession limit will benefit mostly weekend vacationers, said Todd Grischke of the state agency’s Fisheries Division. “If they catch their limit in one day, they can freeze those fish, and then go out the next day and catch another day’s limit and not break the law,” he said.
The change addresses the catch limits of many species, including salmon and northern pike, both with a one-day limit of five; whitefish, with a maximum of 12; and rainbow trout, with a limit of 10. But the fish that’s got anglers buzzing about the changes is the walleye, Grischke said.
“It’s one of the most popular food fish,” he said. “Bass, for example, are a species that are most often caught and released. When you look at those two species and compare them, people would have a much higher interest in harvesting and keeping walleye.”Grischke said that possession limits are intended to keep species at a healthy number and to ensure all anglers get their fair share.
“Most of the possession limits are there to make sure that there’s an equitable distribution of natural resources,” he said.
“Some of the limits are in place to protect the species from
over-harvest. In some cases, where walleye are spawning, they get backed up against barriers and they kind of become a nuisance. We do have harvesting seasons to help with that.”
Geoff Steinhart, a fisheries professor at Lake Superior State University, said that catch limits are also enforced for biological reasons. “Sometimes catch limits may be adjusted to encourage faster growth,” he said. “For example, increasing catch limits should remove more fish, which can decrease competition and increase growth rates of the remaining fish.”
Walleye seem to be thriving in the western basin of Lake Erie and in Lake Huron in Saginaw Bay, Steinhart said.
“In Lake Erie, there has been a decrease in nutrient inputs over the last several decades, so the walleye population may have declined since the heyday in the 1980s,” he said. However, Richard Haslett of Madison Heights, president of the Michigan Charter Boat Association, said he’s concerned about the walleye population in those areas.
“My concern would be if they’re going to raise the limit in Lake Erie because we haven’t had good fish hatches there,” he said. “The last really good hatch was 2003. But areas like Saginaw Bay, I don’t think there would be any problem because we have good fishing going on right now.”
The bills were sponsored by Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart and Rep. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell
The new laws will take effect April 1, 2011.
Twenty-six Free Fishing events were announced today by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis. During these specially-designated activities in each DEC region, the agency waives the requirement to purchase a fishing license with the goal of encouraging new interest in fishing and educating the public about New York's unique natural resources.
"These events are a great way to take part in one of New York's oldest and most exciting outdoor recreational activities," Commissioner Grannis said. "Fishing is a wonderful way to spend time with family or to enjoy solace in nature, and we hope that young and old alike take part in these fun and educational events."
DEC's Free Fishing events provide participants with an opportunity to learn about fish identification, fishing equipment and techniques, fisheries management, angling ethics and aquatic ecology in their communities. No fishing license is
required to participate. Many activities, such as family fishing
clinics, also provide equipment to use (check with the event contact to find out the specifics). Each of DEC's nine regions can sponsor up to four free fishing events per year. Most free fishing events occur during the period from April through October.
For a listing of currently posted events and contact information, visit the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27123.html. Be sure to keep checking the list, as new events may also be added during the fishing season.
In addition, each year DEC designates the last weekend of June as "Free Fishing Weekend." For 2010, New York's Free Fishing days are Saturday and Sunday, June 26 and 27. During those two days, anyone can fish New York State waters and no fishing license is required. This event started in 1991 to allow people the opportunity to sample the incredible fishing New York State has to offer. It is the perfect time to take a friend or relative fishing since no license is required.
Six Ohio state wildlife officials have been suspended from their jobs with pay after they were indicted on felony charges that resulted from their not pursuing charges against a North Carolina wildlife officer who reportedly used an Ohio address to avoid paying out-of-state licensing fees.
Suspended after the Brown County indictments were Wildlife Chief David Graham, Assistant Chief Randy Miller, Human Resources Administrator Michele Ward-Tackett, Law Enforcement Administrator James Lehman, District 5
Manager Todd Haines and Wildlife Officer Allan Wright. All six
will remain on leave until the cases against them are resolved.
The state report found that Wright illegally allowed a friend who lived out of state to use Wright's Ohio address to obtain a hunting license, saving $104 over the cost of an out-of-state license. Wright is charged with two felony counts of tampering with records and a misdemeanor count of falsification.
Wright's superiors are charged with to covering up the potential misdemeanor by handling the matter administratively
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EDITORIAL: Reducing fish kills
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