Week of May 16, 2005

World

National

Canada

Regional

General

Michigan

Minnesota

Pennsylvania

Ontario

       Weekly News Archives

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World

Aussie Navy Fires On Illegal Fishing Trawlers

Twenty-seven vessels have been boarded and 240 crew members arrested in the past week as Australia steps up the campaign against illegal fishing.

 

Patrol boats opened fire with automatic weapons after two Indonesian boats refused to stop.  Fifteen of those captured are large "ice" boats, which can store tons of fresh fish, Federal Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald said. Many of the boats had satellite navigation.

 

Several were "linked" via sophisticated radar and communications equipment to avoid surveillance and capture.

Two of the boats were carrying more than one ton of fish and large quantities of shark fin.

 

Senator Macdonald said  27 crew members were to be charged with fishing illegally in Australian waters. A further 109 

are being questioned. "These illegal fishermen are becoming increasingly brazen and well-organized and we will not turn a blind eye to this practice," Senator Macdonald said.  "We are talking about large-scale commercial operations rather than simply subsistence fishing."

 

The Northern Territory News revealed last month that a foreign boat had been spotted fishing about 3.5 km off the Territory coast, well inside the 200 nautical mile limit. It escaped capture. A second boat also escaped last month after warning shots were fired across its bow.  And this month the Northern Territory News published photos of an Indonesian fishing boat found stranded in a creek on the Territory coast.

 

Of the 27 boats captured this week as part of Operation Clearwater, six have been taken to Darwin, 19 to Gove and two have been destroyed.


National

Ehlers introduces bill to protect and restore Great Lakes

Legislation would provide $4B over six years to bolster existing programs

WASHINGTON - Attempting to accelerate efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes, Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers last week introduced legislation that would boost federal spending on those efforts to $4 billion over the next six years.

    

 Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, introduced the Great Lakes Environmental Protection and Restoration Programs Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2129) in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday. The bill has 17 original co-sponsors, including primary co-sponsor Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

     

The legislation would reauthorize and increase funding for several major environmental programs operating in the basin, providing about $4 billion over six years for the Great Lakes. The bill includes federal programs at the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Agriculture, the Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the EPA. It also would codify the executive order issued by President George W. Bush last year to create a permanent, cabinet-level Great Lakes task force.

     

“The most effective way to undertake a major restoration initiative is to do so within the context of current programs, through higher funding and improved coordination among federal, state, and local agencies and cooperation with interested stakeholders,” Ehlers said. “It does us no good to try to reinvent the wheel.”

    

Ehlers, who chairs the Environment, Technology and Standards Subcommittee of the House Science Committee, 

said the bill is specifically targeted to address the costly big-ticket items that will have a dramatic impact on improving the health of the Great Lakes. This includes $1.65 billion for cleaning up Areas of Concern (AOC), which is consistent with recent low-end estimates from site experts on AOC sediment remediation needs; and $640 million for fisheries, wildlife, ecosystem and habitat restoration programs.

 

The bill also reauthorizes the State Revolving Loan Fund and provides $20 billion over five years to assist communities with the critical task of upgrading and improving their wastewater infrastructure.

 

“Sewer system improvements are a critical component of keeping the Great Lakes and their tributaries clean, and the State Revolving Loan Fund has been a successful program for helping cities and towns undertake these very expensive upgrades,” Ehlers said.

     

Ehlers added that the bill provides about $900 million for research and monitoring programs, including extramural grants to public universities and private institutions. These activities are critical to the successful planning, implementation and oversight of restoration efforts, he said.

 

“In 2003, the Government Accountability Office pointed out that there were many programs aimed at cleaning up the Great Lakes, but that they weren’t coordinated or focused on measurable, strategic goals,” Ehlers said. “With this legislation, we are looking to fix those problems and marshal our resources better to clean up the Great Lakes, which are a vital resource, both environmentally and economically, for our nation and the world."


Bush Removes Logging Barrier

he Bush administration on May 5 overturned a significant legacy of the Clinton presidency: a ban on roads, logging and development on 58.5 million acres of national forests. The so-

called roadless rule had affected 31% of all national forest land. A new rule gives governors 18 months to propose to the Agriculture Department which national forest land should be left untouched and which should be opened for other uses.


Efforts To Re-Open Areas Closed To Longlining Fail

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) has decided not to issue Exempted Fishing Permits at this time that would allow pelagic longlining in areas currently closed to

this gear.  The Recreational Fishing Alliance and Billfish Foundation have been busy on Capitol Hill the last two weeks opposing efforts to re-open areas currently closed to pelagic drift longlining.


Legislation Introduced To Ban Fish Farming In Federal Waters Offshore

Federal legislation, if passed, would declare that no aquaculture shall occur in waters beyond the three-mile state boundaries until federal agencies study diseases, pollution, genetic mixing risks and economic effects, among other issues. Once the studies are completed, Congress would not have to act again to lift the ban, said Murkowski’s spokesman Elliott Bundy. The decision to issue aquaculture permits or not could be made administratively, though the decision would be subject to congressional oversight.

 

The legislation also requires that each federal agency must consult with the governor of the nearest state before approving a permit. Also, if a permit is issued, it must be approved by the regional fisheries management council.

 

Mark Vinsel, executive director of United Fishermen of Alaska in Juneau, said his group opposes fish farming categorically, but is “very pleased with Sen. Murkowski taking the lead pro-actively on this issue on behalf of Alaskans.”  “Sen. Murkowski’s legislation is generally in line with our position,” he said. The UFA, an umbrella group of 31 commercial fishing groups and hundreds of individuals, supports the involvement of the regional councils, Vinsel said.

 

“What I think is important especially for Alaskans to know, when you look at what’s going on federally, and this was clear at the Managing our Nation’s Fisheries conference a few weeks ago, management of fisheries is under a microscope because of both the Pew Ocean Commission report and,

more importantly, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report.”

 

“The U.S. Oceans Commission was more supportive of the regional council system, but we are at risk of them throwing out the baby with the bathwater if we don’t support our council and the local input and control that this gives us over fishing in federal waters,” Vinsel said. “Our whole fishing economy can be at risk from people who have positions on whether this works or not in other parts of the country.”

 

Murkowski said she wants to make sure aquaculture gets a thorough review before it proceeds.  The administration, she said, is drafting a bill to allow fish farming in offshore waters.  “We have only rumors about what may be in that draft bill,” Murkowski said in a news release. “The administration has had meetings on the general topic of aquaculture, but has done little or nothing to work with those of us who represent fishing constituencies in the development of the specifics that will appear in the draft bill.”

 

A recent Washington Post story noted that Murkowski’s bill could potentially stop efforts to develop aquaculture around drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, which some want to keep in place after oil work is done because of the ecosystems that have developed around them. Bundy, Murkowski’s spokesman, said it’s unclear how the bill might affect those ideas. “It’s been raised by a couple of reporters, really, who were doing stories on the possible implications on using rigs for aquaculture. We haven’t done an analysis of that yet.”


Canada

Retired Mounties expose big problems at RCMP Labs
“This is where they should be spending $100 million a year – Not the gun registry!”

Ottawa – Two retired RCMP officers with 70 years collective experience. Last week blew the lid off the whole DNA backlog cover-up at the RCMP forensic laboratories.

 

Retired forensic scientists, Dave Hepworth and Gary Mcleod delivered a scathing report on the status and effectiveness of the RCMP forensic laboratories to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice. Their testimony and the evidence provided in their report contradicted the statements made to the committee on March 22nd by RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli and Deputy Commissioner Peter Martin.

 

Saskatchewan M.P. Garry Breitkreuz, Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Justice moved the motion that approved the appearance of the two former RCMP scientists. Breitkreuz’s motion was opposed by the Liberal members on the Justice Committee.

Here are a few contentious points raised in the Hepworth and Mcleod report:

• The performance of the RCMP labs do not compare favourably with other labs;
• The evidence does not support the claim that there are no DNA case backlogs;
• DNA case response times are not acceptable;
• Efficiency and effectiveness of the RCMP labs have not improved;
• RCMP laboratories are not adequately funded; and
• Organizational changes were not in accordance with recommendations in the Auditor General’s 2000 report.

 

I’ll be moving another motion before the Committee to have the Auditor General conduct another independent review of the RCMP labs to see which of the conflicting testimony was factual and which was not,” declared Breitkreuz. “I’m concerned that the testimony before the Justice Committee by the two most senior officers of the RCMP may have been misleading.”


Regional

IJC expands plan for an Upper Great Lakes study to include the St. Clair River channel

The International Joint Commission’s plan for an Upper Great Lakes Study will be revised to include an examination of the St. Clair River channel and its impact on water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron, the Commission announced today.

 

The earlier Upper Great Lakes Plan of Study, which was submitted to the governments in 2002, provided a plan to review IJC Orders for Lake Superior outflow regulation and consequently water levels impacts on affected interests in the Upper Great Lakes system from Lake Superior downstream through Lake Erie.

 

In the past year, evidence suggesting that ongoing physical changes in the upper St. Clair River may be causing important water level changes in Lakes Michigan and Huron has come to light, notably in the report by W.F. Baird & Associates, “Regime Change (Man Made Intervention) and Ongoing Erosion in the St. Clair River and Impacts on Lake Michigan-

Huron Lake Levels”, which was commissioned by the Georgian Bay Association. The Commission decided to revise its Upper Great Lakes Plan of Study to investigate this issue after it consulted with its Great Lakes Control Boards and discussed it at a bi-national,  experts meeting hosted by Environment Canada in Burlington in March of this year.

 

The revision will also take account of lessons learned from the IJC’s US$20 million Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence Study of the regulation of Lake Ontario and the International Section of the St. Lawrence River — lessons which, among other things, might translate into opportunities to reduce the cost of the Upper Lakes Study. The LOS wraps up this fall (see www.losl.org for more information).

 

The IJC will appoint a bi-national team of experts that will start work immediately. After holding public consultations, the team will submit the plan of study to the Commission in October, 2005.  The two federal governments will be requested to provide the necessary funding for the study.


 

General

Kids 12 and under get in free to NMMA boat shows

Thirteen to 15 year-olds to receive discounted admission

CHICAGO, May 11, 2005 - - National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the world’s biggest producer of consumer boat shows, has announced that kids 12 and under accompanied by an adult will receive free admission to the 23 boat shows NMMA produces.

 

NMMA executive vice president Ben Wold says the association wants to make boat shows more affordable for families.  “With most of our shows located in large markets, there are escalating costs related to attending a boat show that are out of our control, like parking and the cost for food.  This is one way we can make attending a boat show more affordable for families, and we think this move will help consumers see NMMA shows as family friendly,” says Wold.

 

Thirteen to 15 year-old kids will also receive discounted admission when accompanied by an adult, which will differ for each market.

 

NMMA affiliate, Sail America, has followed NMMA’s lead, announcing that all kids 15 and under will receive free admission to the five Strictly Sail shows, including Strictly Sail Miami and Strictly Sail Chicago, which are co-produced with NMMA.

 

Children 12 and under will receive free admission to the following boat shows produced by NMMA: Atlanta Boat Show, Atlantic City International Power Boat Show, Baltimore Boat Show, Miami International Boat Show, Minneapolis Boat

Show, New Orleans Boat Show, New York National Boat Show, Norwalk International In-Water Boat Show, San Diego Boat Show, Tampa Boat Show, Toronto International Boat Show, Toronto In-Water Boat Show, Vancouver International Boat Show, and the Virginia In-Water Boat Expo.

 

They will also receive free admission to the following sport shows produced by NMMA: Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show, Des Moines Sport show, Kansas City Sport show, Louisville Sport, Boat, RV & Vacation Show, Nashville Boat & Sports Show, Northwest Sport show, and the St. Louis Boat & Sports Show.

 

In addition to Strictly Sail Chicago and Strictly Sail Miami, kids 15 and under will receive free admission to Strictly Sail Philadelphia, Strictly Sail Pacific and Strictly Sail St. Petersburg.

 

For more information, contact NMMA assistant director of Communications Dan Green at (312) 946-6269; dgreen@nmma.org.

 

National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading association representing the recreational boating industry.  NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters and anglers in the United States. The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs in public policy, market research and data, product quality assurance and marketing communications.


Zebco Becomes Presenting Sponsor of Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing

Other top names join in to support national youth program

Tulsa, Okla. May 3, 2005 Hooked On Fishing International (HOFI), organizer of the country's largest youth/family fishing partnership program, announces an elevated level of involvement by one sponsor and the addition of several other top consumer products companies for 2005.

 

Zebco, HOFI's longest-standing partner, is now the presenting sponsor of the organization's newly expanded Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing program. As a result, the Zebco name will appear on all of the program's support materials and Zebco spincast combos will be used exclusively in the program's casting events and as prizes.

 

Like HOFI, Zebco is a Tulsa  Okla. based company. The Zebco name is a shortened version of the original business that introduced the country's first spincast reels more than 50 years ago, the Zero Hour Bomb Company. The easy-to-use reels were a hit right from the start and it wasn't long before the business stopped making time-detonated explosives for oilfield use and focused entirely on fishing tackle. Today, the Zebco 33 is considered to be the most popular fishing reel in the world.

 

Other new names joining Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing presented by Zebco in 2005 are Kellogg's, Oscar Mayer and Stanley, makers of the distinctive green thermal bottle. The additions complement an already-impressive array of consumer products companies with outstanding reputations as leaders in their respective market categories and for being

responsible marketers to kids.

 

Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing presented by Zebco events include fishing derbies and fishing- themed store events at Wal-Mart stores across the country. The kids fishing derbies are typically free, half-day affairs and often include a hot dog cookout, Zebco Kids Casting Carnival and other related activities for all members of the family.

 

Over half of the derbies are scheduled in June, which is appropriate because June has been designated National Kids Fishing Month, and within it is National Fishing and Boating Week, June 4 - 12. Exact dates, locations and times for all Kids All-American Fishing derbies can be found at the HOFI Web site, www.kids-fishing.com, by clicking on the Fisher Boy® Derby Locator and using the search feature.  Wal- Mart activities will be announced and promoted on a store-by-store basis.

 

More than eight million youngsters and their families have participated in the program over its 19-year history at events held throughout all 50 states and at U.S. military bases as far away as England, Germany, South Korea, and Japan.

 

In addition to marquee partners Wal-Mart and Zebco, the derby program from Kids All-American Fishing is sponsored by Berkley, DMF Bait Co., Eagle Claw, Fisher Boy, FishingWorld.com, FLW Outdoors, Fujifilm, Kellogg's, Laker Fishing, Nabisco, Oscar Mayer, Stanley and Nestle Waters North America (marketers of the natural spring water brands of Arrowhead, Deer Park, Ice Mountain, Ozarka, Poland Spring, Zephyrhills and Nestle Pure Life).


Boating Industry Sales are Booming

Solid Sales Reported for New Boats, Aftermarket Accessories

CHICAGO  — New boat retail sales grew more than 7% to $10.7 billion in 2004, according to the 2004 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract released last week by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA.  New boat sales were up four percent in the first quarter of 2005, based on its rolling twelve-month retail sales report.  Boat sales benefited from a strong economy in 2004.

 

Total boating retail expenditures reached $33 billion in 2004, an eight percent increase compared to 2003. Sales of aftermarket accessories increased 14 percent, continuing an upward sales trend that began in 1997.  Jim Petru, director of market research at NMMA, says that accessories are in high demand because consumers want to turn their boats into a home away from home.

 

“For many boaters, their time on the water is a vacation; they’re

able to escape the daily grind on land, yet they still want a boat with all the comforts of home, including state of the art entertainment equipment, like computers, DVD players and satellite radios,” says Petru.

 

Further demonstrating the popularity of boating, more boats were on the water in 2004 than in 2003, continuing a trend that dates back nearly a decade.  There were more than 17.6 million boats in use in 2004, as outboard boats remained the most popular model, accounting for nearly half of all boats on the nation’s waterways.

 

Americans weren’t the only ones enjoying time on the water in 2004. Thanks in large part to more favorable exchange rates, sales of exported boats and engines increased by 43 % in 2004, to $1.55 billion. Western Europe was the largest market, accounting for 38 % of total export value, followed by Canada, with 27 % of total export value.

 


Michigan

Cormorants take a legal hit

Aerial surveys at the Les Cheneaux Islands in northern Lake Huron last summer found less foraging pressure by cormorants, the black, goose-sized diving birds that each eat

a pound of fish a day. The decrease followed an experiment by the USDA and Michigan DNR to reduce cormorant numbers in selected areas. Some adult birds were killed, and thousands of eggs in nests were oiled to prevent them from hatching.


Project GO-Get Outdoors to Celebrate State Park and Recreation Facilities July 23

Parks and recreation organizations across the state are invited to join the Department of Natural Resources' Parks and Recreation Division on Saturday, July 23, to celebrate outdoor recreation and the role it plays in improving the quality of life in Michigan.

 

Project GO-Get Outdoors encourages people all across the state to engage in an outdoor recreational event at the same time. State parks, recreation areas and water access sites are hosting a variety of events, all beginning at 10 a.m. on July 23. A list of events and locations can be found on the DNR web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr .

 

"We hope to have the biggest outdoor recreation event in North America on July 23rd," DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson said. "This series of events promotes outdoor recreation to improve health and fitness and celebrates the partnerships with our user groups who support our mission."

As a self-sustaining system, the DNR parks and recreation division is wholly funded by user fees from camping, entrance permits, boat registrations and marine fuel sales. Additional support is provided from user groups and non-profit friends organizations.

 

"The best way to support Michigan's parks and recreation facilities is to use and enjoy these beautiful and scenic locations, and Project GO provides a perfect opportunity to get reacquainted with your favorite park or discover a new one," Olson said. "In these tight budget times, every visit makes an important contribution to ensure these resources are protected for future generations."

 

All visitors at state parks will receive a free GO-Get Outdoors sticker and the first 50 participants at each location will receive "GO-BUCKS!" coupons which may be redeemed for a free pass to a state park before December 31, 2005.  To register your event, contact Colleen Steinman at 517-373-0399 or by e-mail at steinmac@michigan.gov .


Campers Reminded to Not Move Firewood

Effort to Control Spread of Emerald Ash Borer

State recreation officials today reminded campers to help protect Michigan's forest by not bringing firewood from home when visiting a state park.

 

A DNR Land Use Order of the Director (LUOD) prohibits any movement of ash firewood onto DNR-managed lands and gives DNR staff the authority to confiscate ash and any deciduous wood from a quarantined area in an effort to help control the spread of the emerald ash borer, an invasive pest that has already impacted approximately 10 million ash trees in Michigan.

 

"We encourage state park visitors to obtain their firewood locally, either from concession sales within the park or from

private firewood vendors located around the entrance to the park," said Ron Olson, Parks and Recreation Division chief. "It's very important for campers to do their part to help protect and preserve forests in state parks."

 

The Michigan Department of Agriculture has quarantined 20 counties and 16 outlier areas due to emerald ash borer infestation. The invasive pest has been discovered in several areas across the state,  including Mears State Park in Ottawa County and Young State Park in Charlevoix County.

 

Firewood entering all state parks will be inspected and ash wood will be confiscated and immediately burned by park staff. Firewood from any deciduous tree may not be moved from the quarantined areas.


Gwinn and Norway Field Offices Add License Sales Service

To better serve the public, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently added license sales services to both the Gwinn and Norway field offices in the Upper Peninsula. Residents and visitors can now obtain all necessary hunting and fishing licenses, as well as related information at these locations.

 

"We are pleased to be able to add these two offices to our list of those that offer licenses and other services to the public," said Timothy A. Melko, Western Upper Peninsula administration area manager for the DNR.

Staff will be available in the Gwinn Field Office from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. EST Monday through Friday. The Gwinn Field Office is located at 410 West M-35 in Gwinn. The Norway Field Office is open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CST and it is located on US-2, just west of the downtown area of Norway.

 

Across the state, there are approximately 1,800 locations where licenses can be purchased, including several DNR facilities and numerous retail locations. For more information and a complete list of locations open to serve the public, log on to the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr .

 


Minnesota

Final environmental assessment on cormorant management released;

Leech Lake Band to initiate local control efforts
Federal, state and tribal agencies released a final Environmental Assessment on double-crested cormorant management in Minnesota, after considering comments submitted by more than 100 individuals and groups during a public review process. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program was the lead agency on the Environmental Assessment; the USFWS, Minnesota DNR and the Leech Lake Reservation Division of Resources Management (DRM) were cooperating agencies. The Environmental Assessment considered five alternatives for cormorant damage management in Minnesota.

 

Following the publication of the final Environmental Assessment, the Leech Lake DRM announced its decision to cull up to 80 % of the cormorants from a colony nesting on the tribally owned and managed Little Pelican Island on Leech Lake. This specific control action was examined extensively in the draft Environmental Assessment, and likely will take one to three years to complete. 

 

The final Environmental Assessment proposes to implement the Integrated Wildlife Damage Management alternative to reduce damage associated with double-crested cormorants to property, aquaculture and natural resources, and cormorant-related risks to public health and safety in Minnesota where a need exists, a request is received, and landowners grant permission. Under the proposed alternative, when appropriate, physical exclusion, habitat modification or harassment would be used to reduce double-crested cormorant damage. In other situations, cormorant numbers could be reduced by shooting, egg oiling or destruction, nest destruction, or euthanasia following live capture. The other alternatives considered were a non-lethal control approach, an alternative that would continue current cormorant damage management activities, and two alternatives that limit federal government involvement in cormorant damage management in Minnesota.

                                                           

Leech Lake DRM has contracted with Wildlife Services to do the culling work. While the DNR is funding a significant proportion of the culling operation this year, the Leech Lake Band plans to seek federal funding for future cormorant management activities, according to John Ringle, Fish and Wildlife Program Director for the Leech Lake DRM.

 

The number of cormorants that nest on Leech Lake increased from 73 pairs in 1998 to 2,524 pairs in 2004. There is mounting biological evidence that the increasing cormorant numbers have negatively effected walleye and yellow perch populations. DNR fisheries managers on Leech Lake have documented a marked decrease in yellow perch and several missing walleye year classes that coincide with the cormorant population increase. Tribal biologists are also concerned that the cormorants may be displacing the common tern colony

that also nests on Little Pelican Island. Common terns are a state- and tribal-listed threatened species and a species of special concern for the USFWS.

 

Sharpshooters in elevated blinds will cull adult birds using air rifles to minimize disturbance from gunfire. These rifles have limited range, so legislation has been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature that would authorize the use of silencer-equipped .22 caliber rifles for this purpose. Without this legislation, it may not be possible to attain the desired management outcome as quickly as possible. The goal is to reduce cormorant numbers on Leech Lake to 500 nesting pairs. Egg oiling, which prevents eggs from developing, may also be used on any nests above the 500 pair level.

 

In the interest of public safety, management activities will be suspended during the walleye fishing opener, May 14-15, according to Ringle.

 

In conjunction with the cormorant population reduction, the Leech Lake DRM, DNR, Wildlife Services and researchers from the University of Minnesota have initiated stepped-up research programs to better establish how cormorants might be impacting the lake’s walleye and perch fisheries. Researchers are cooperating on a diet study to get a better handle on the types and numbers of fish cormorants are consuming. This research is being funded through a Tribal Wildlife Research Grant from the USFWS. DNR biologists are also conducting a mark-recapture study on marked walleye fry to establish the level of natural reproduction in the lake.
                                                                       

Results from these studies will be used to refine cormorant population goals for Leech Lake.

 

“Collecting detailed resource information on the Leech Lake fisheries and the factors that influence its health and sustainability is critical,” according to Lee Pfannmuller, director of the Division of Ecological Services with the DNR. “This information, coupled with more accurate information on the role and impact of the cormorant population, will help guide the important resource management decisions that need to be made.”

 

The DNR claims the double-crested cormorant is a native species that was historically common and widely distributed across Minnesota. The purpose of the culling operation is not to eliminate the colony of birds from Leech Lake, but to reduce their numbers to the point that they are not having a major impact on game fish populations or other colonial waterbirds.

 

Copies of the Environmental Assessment are available from the MN Wildlife Services, 34912 US Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744, the USFWS Regional Office Web site at www.fws.gov/midwest/NEPA , or from the USFWS, Div. of Migratory Birds, 1 Federal Dr, Fort Snelling, MN 55111.

 


Watch for Nets! brochure                    

If you ply the waters of Lake Superior, Minnesota Sea Grant has a handy brochure. Watch for Nets! lets anglers and boaters know how to avoid getting tangled in commercial fishing nets.  It describes how nets in Minnesota waters of Lake Superior are marked  and offers information about the

latest commercial fishing regulations along with tips and diagrams that will help boaters avoid nets.

 

Print your own copy at http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/fish  or order a free copy by calling Sea Grant at (218) 726-6191


Kids life jacket law went into effect May 6

A new requirement, for children under age 10 to wear a life jacket while boating on Minnesota waters, was signed into law by Gov. Tim Pawlenty Thursday and went into effect Friday, May 6. Called the "Grant Allen Law," the measure was named in memory of the child who drowned after falling out of his father's boat in 2003.

 

The new law requires that a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket be worn by children younger than age 10 in boats that are underway or otherwise not tied up to a dock or permanent mooring.

 

There are a few exceptions to the law. Children are not required to wear a life jacket if they are in a boat's enclosed cabin or below decks, or on an anchored boat that is being

used as a platform for swimming or diving. Also, children on board commercial or charter vessels with a licensed captain are exempt from the life jacket wearing requirement.

 

Boat operators who violate the law are subject to a written warning for the first offense and a petty misdemeanor for a second offense until May 1, 2006, and a petty misdemeanor for any offense on or after May 1, 2006.

     -  Exemptions from wearing:

     - when in an enclosed cabin or below the top deck on a watercraft

     - when on an anchored boat that is a platform for swimming or diving

     - when aboard a charter (passenger) craft with a licensed captain.


Pennsylvania

Commission Seeks Musky Angler Opinions

The 2005 season for muskellunge, walleye, pike and pickerel opened on May 7, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is casting a line of its own.  The Commission is looking for anglers willing to share their opinions on the muskellunge fishing experiences they’ve had at various waterways across Pennsylvania.

       

The muskellunge is one of Pennsylvania’s largest and fastest-growing fish, with the state record standing at over 54 pounds.  The Commission estimates that 94% of musky angling trips in the state can be attributed to the Commission’s fingerling muskellunge and tiger muskellunge stocking programs.  (The tiger muskellunge is a sterile hybrid between the muskellunge and northern pike.)

       

The musky angler opinion poll is a first step toward potential modifications in the agency’s musky management plan, particularly in regards to stocking.  The angler survey will help the Commission identify waters that anglers feel yield good musky fishing presently or have potential to yield good musky fishing.  The opinion information will be considered along with the agency’s database of fisheries sampling records to guide future management.

“Very simply we’re asking survey participants to rank waters they are familiar with respect to musky fishing and identify waters they feel have potential to be improved.  For now we want to develop a core list of musky waters.  As the agency assembles a list from musky anglers across the state, we will share with them what we have learned and then examine how we might enhance fishing on a water by water or water class basis,” said PFBC biologist Bob Lorantas.

 

Lorantas, the Warm/Coolwater Unit Leader for the Commission’s Bureau of Fisheries, said that ultimately this information may lead to stocking some waters more intensely and eliminating other less popular waters from the program.  Changes in the life stage of juvenile musky stocked, changes in size limits, and changes in creel limits will also be considered.   The usual age of a musky that is caught is three to six years, but some have reached nearly 20 years old.

       

To participate in the survey, download the form from the Commission’s web site at www.fish.state.pa.us  or request a survey by writing to Musky Survey, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, 450 Robinson Lane, Bellefonte, PA  16823.

 


Ontario

Removal Of Size Limit Regulation for Quinte Walleye

TORONTO - As the walleye season opened on May 7, the Ontario government has eliminated the lower size limit for walleye in the Bay of Quinte and eastern Lake Ontario, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced.

 

"We have determined that the existing size limits haven't had a significant beneficial impact on the walleye population in the Bay of Quinte, but have had a negative impact on the economies of local communities," said Ramsay. "Removing the slot size regulation will increase angling opportunities without adversely affecting the numbers of larger fish."

 

Under the regulation change, anglers will now be able to keep walleye that are up to 63 centimetres long ( 25") in parts of Lake Ontario, including the Bay of Quinte and Prince Edward County. For all of Lake Ontario, the walleye catch and possession limit is four fish under a sport fishing licence, and two fish under a conservation licence. For both types of licence, anglers are also allowed to keep one walleye greater than 63 centimetres long.

"I certainly support this decision," said Ernie Parsons, MPP for Prince Edward-Hastings. "This is a top notch walleye area in Ontario and removing the lower size limit is good news for anglers and our local economy."

 

The ministry implemented a size limit for walleye in eastern Lake Ontario in 2002 following public consultation over concerns about the health of the walleye population in the Bay of Quinte. A review of the slot limit found

that it only resulted in a 10 per cent drop in overall angling harvest and didn't have a beneficial effect on the breeding walleye population.

 

The regulation change is in effect pending the results of the regulation review currently under way. The ministry is developing a fisheries management plan for the Bay of Quinte in partnership with stakeholders. This plan will guide future fisheries management decisions.

 

 


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