Week of October 10, 2005

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World

UN Breaking America's grip on the Internet

After troubled negotiations in Geneva, the US may be forced to relinquish control of the internet to a coalition of foreign governments. For the vast majority of people who use the internet, the only real concern is getting on it. But with the internet now essential to many countries' basic infrastructure, the question of who has control has become critical.

 

A number of countries recently represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused.  In the early days, the Department of Commerce (DoC) pushed and funded expansion of the internet. And when it became global, it created a private company, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) to run it.  But the DoC retained overall control.

 

So the European Union took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.  Much to the distress of the US, the idea proved popular. Its representative hit back, stating that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that went against the

"historic role" of the US in controlling the top level of the

internet.

 

But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree a deal to award themselves ultimate control. It will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month and, faced with international consensus, there is little the US government can do but acquiesce.

 

There is general agreement governments are not concerned with the technical and operational management of the internet. Foreign diplomats insist governments will only be involved where they need to be and only on issues setting the top-level framework. One expert asked if a governmental body running the internet will add unnecessary bureaucracy.  Nobody knows for sure at this stage apart from getting in the way of things that other people do."

 

There are dozens of unanswered questions but all the answers are pointing the same way: international governments deciding the internet's future. The internet will never be the same again.


Frog Skin Chemicals Block HIV in Lab Study

NASHVILLE, (ENS) - Compounds secreted by frog skin are potent blockers of HIV infection, scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville have discovered. The findings could lead to topical treatments for preventing transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and they underline the value of preserving the Earth's biodiversity.

 

"We need to protect these species long enough for us to understand their medicinal cabinet," said Louise Rollins-Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology, who has been studying the antimicrobial defenses of frogs for six years. Frogs, she explained, have specialized granular glands in their skin that produce and

store packets of peptides, small protein-like molecules.

 

In response to skin injury or alarm, the frog secretes large amounts of these antimicrobial peptides onto the surface of the skin to combat pathogens like bacteria, fungi and viruses. But HIV is a survival expert. When it is picked up by a sentinel dendritic cell, it somehow evades destruction. Instead, it hides inside the dendritic cell, waiting to invade the T cell. This mechanism, "may explain why after 20 years we don't have a vaccine for this virus," said Smith.

 

The studies may also reveal new antimicrobial peptides which could be useful blockers of HIV and other human diseases.


National

Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Plan scuttled

Hit with hurricane sticker shock, Administration nixes $20 billion restoration

After a year of promises to make the Great Lakes a greater national priority, the Bush administration is pulling back from an ambitious $20 billion plan to restore and protect the world's largest source of freshwater.

 

The Chicago Tribune reports three months after the plan was released for public comment, administration officials are finalizing a report to President Bush that concludes federal spending on the Great Lakes should remain "within current  budget projections," meaning no new money should be

allocated.

 

Instead, federal, state and local officials should concentrate on "improving the efficiency and effectiveness of existing programs," according to the draft report, a copy of which was obtained by the Tribune.

 

Without the administration's support, Congress likely will not endorse more aggressive--and more expensive--efforts to clean up contaminated ports, fix aging sewer systems, block invasive species and improve the shoreline. Legislation calling for more spending on the Great Lakes already is bottled up in House and Senate committees.

 


Great Lakes States Battle Southern Fish Farms on Asian Carp

WASHINGTON (AP) — A North-South fish fight is erupting in Congress over legislation to ban imports of Asian carp, critters that southern fish farmers depend on to control parasites, but which officials of Great Lakes states fear will wreak havoc on the lakes' ecosystems.

 

Fish farmers in states including Arkansas and Mississippi imported the voracious species from China. They eat snails, and that helps the fish farmers control parasites.

 

Some carp have escaped the farms and made their way north along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and could soon be knocking on the Great Lakes' doors. An electric barrier south of Chicago, which gives the fish a non-lethal bolt, is designed to prevent them from entering Lake Michigan. Asian carp, which often leap out of the water, can grow to more than 80 lbs.

 

Three years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed

banning the importation of black carp, a species that Southern fish farmers use, but the agency has not acted on its proposal. Fish and Wildlife legislative specialists say the agency has to take into account the aquaculture industry in finalizing the rule. "We are taking our time," they said. "We feel we need to look at the environmental and economic impacts."

 

In August, Fish and Wildlife asked for comments on an alternative rule that would ban only fertile black carp, which would allow fish farmers to import and transport sterile versions. Fish farmers in Arkansas and Mississippi say the industry is adamant that any ban be limited to fertile carp.

 

"The time for talking and reviewing and studying is over," said Rep. Mark Green, a Wisconsin Republican who sponsored legislation to ban importation and interstate transfer of Asian carp. "I don't want us to wait until it's too late."   Green, who is running for governor of Wisconsin, said the fish will cause huge problems for his region if no action is taken.

 

 


House OKs Endangered Species Act Overhaul

WASHINGTON — The House on September 29 passed legislation that could greatly expand private property rights under the environmental law that is credited with helping keep the bald eagle from extinction but also has provoked bitter fighting.

 

By a vote of 229-193, lawmakers approved a top-to-bottom overhaul of the 1973 Endangered Species Act (search), perhaps the nation's most powerful environmental law. The law has led to contentious battles over species such as the spotted owl, the snail darter and the red-legged frog.  The rewrite faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

The bill would require the government to compensate property owners if steps to protect species thwarted development plans. It also would make political appointees responsible for some scientific determinations and would stop the government from designating "critical habitat," which limits development.

 

A White House statement supported the bill, but it noted that payments to private property owners could have a "significant" impact on the budget.  The Congressional Budget Office estimated that those payments would run less than $20 million a year. The bill's opponents predicted a much higher total.


4  

Take Me Fishing’ is paying off for RBFF

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s recent brand change to “Take Me Fishing” is proving as popular and effective with consumers as it is within the fishing and boating communities, according to a national study.  The research shows campaign awareness levels to the be the highest ever in the program’s five-year history, and suggests that 40 percent of the 17 million anglers targeted for the messaging are more likely to go fishing in the next six months because of the advertising.

 

The campaign’s television and print advertising awareness nearly doubled in 2005, from 15% to 29%, among “target anglers,” identified as occasional or lapsed fishing participants, according to the study.  Among all anglers surveyed, 36% of the avid/semi-avid segment and 20% of the occasional/lapsed segment recalled the “Take Me Fishing” phrase, compared to 8% and 6%, respectively, for the “Water Works Wonders” phrase in 2004.

 

The RBFF board changed the brand from Water Works

Wonders to Take Me Fishing late last year, and also expanded the campaign’s target audience to include females, ages 25–54, known to be occasional or lapsed anglers. Other research has shown that women drive 58% of family leisure activity plans.

 

RBFF says the study shows that the brand change and target market expansion were the right things to do. Significant increases were realized in campaign awareness among all four audience segments — lapsed, occasional, semi-avid and avid — and suggest each group intends to increase their participation levels in fishing because of the Take Me Fishing message.

 

“It’s a great report for the campaign and reflects the tremendous momentum in the industry right now,” said Marla Hetzel, RBFF

The RBFF is also seeing increased Web site traffic on www.takemefishing.org . Visitation jumped from about a quarter-million during the April–July advertising period in 2004 to nearly a half-million for the same four months this year.


933.1 Million Earmarked for Coast Guard Modernization

The Coast Guard's Deepwater modernization program will receive $933.1 million in funding for fiscal 2006, pending the president's signing of the Homeland Security Appropriations bill.

Members of the Senate and House agreed last week to fund Deepwater for more than originally planned in their own versions of the bill. The increase in funding for the project comes after the Coast Guard earned high praise from elected officials and the general public for its performance on the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina.


Mass. Bills would place anti-hunters on wildlife management committees

Two Massachusetts bills would guarantee anti-hunters seats on prominent wildlife management committees, giving them the power to ban hunting, fishing and trapping.

 

Senate Bill 496, sponsored by Sen. Susan Pargo, D-Lincoln, compromises the integrity of the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board by reserving four of the seven seats for anti-hunters and environmental groups.  At the same time, only one seat would be guaranteed to represent sportsmen’s interests.

 

“Anti-hunters have made repeated attempts to have their kind appointed to the state Fisheries and Wildlife Board,” said Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president for government affairs.  “They want to replace the highly-qualified board members who understand the value of hunting, fishing and trapping with representatives who preach non-lethal population controls.”

 

In 2000, when three board members were up for reelection,

anti-hunters put pressure on former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Celluci and secured support from legislators to have a handful of their candidates appointed to the board.  The effort failed, but the following year, the Humane Society of the United States led a charge to pass legislation requiring that anti-hunters fill two of the seats on the board.  Fortunately, sportsmen responded at USSA alerts and defeated the bill.

 

Another alarming bill currently before the legislature, HB 1367, introduced by Rep. Frank Hynes, D-Plymouth, would place an anti-trapper on a commission responsible for investigating coyote populations and determining coyote management.

 

“Massachusetts wildlife will be in serious trouble if sportsmen don’t act now and stop the anti’s from slipping into these positions of authority,” said Sexton.  “It is important to contact your legislators today and ask that these bills be defeated.”

 

Senate Bill 496 and House Bill 1367 are in the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture in their respective houses.


CWD in Moose

For the first time, Chronic Wasting Disease has been

recorded in a moose shot in Colorado.  Until now CWD has been found only in elk and deer.


Regional

Sound and bubble barrier deters Asian carp

Research experts with the Illinois Natural History Survey have found that an underwater acoustic barrier is effective in deterring Asian carp.  These researchers tested sound-bubble technology in fish raceways where it proved 95% effective in causing bighead and silver carp to turn around.  Continued work should get the effectiveness closer to 100%.  If funding becomes available and the technology continues to prove effective, an acoustic barrier may augment the electric barrier at its site, or downstream where it can protect the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal as well as the Des Plaines River.

 

Update on electric barrier

The electrical barrier that currently is in place in the Sanitary and Ship Canal was installed with the understanding that it

was temporary.  Therefore, a second electrical barrier is being constructed.  This barrier will have 2 sections, each creating its own electrical field with a total length of 430 ft.  Having 2  separate fields would allow the barrier to continue operating in case one of the fields malfunctions.  The first phase of the second barrier (Barrier IIA) should be completed by September.  Barrier IIB should be on-line early in 2006.  Meanwhile, Barrier I (the temporary barrier) is operating well and will continue to operate until Barrier II A & B are fully operational. 

 

The Barrier Advisory Committee, of which the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council is an active member, is actively researching for funds to have Barrier I elevated to a permanent status.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for October 7, 2005

Lake Level Conditions:

All of the Great Lakes are 2 to 6 inches below the levels of a year ago.  Dry conditions this spring and summer are the main reason that water levels on the Great Lakes are below last year’s levels.   Looking ahead, Lake Superior is expected to fall 2 inches over the next month.  Lake Michigan-Huron should fall 3 inches while the remaining lakes are expected to fall 4 inches over the next month as all of the lakes will continue their seasonal declines.  Levels over the next few months on all the Great Lakes are expected to remain lower than 2004/2005.  Evaporation rates during the fall may be higher than average due to warmer surface water temperatures.

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is projected to be below average during the month of October.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are anticipated to be below average during October.  Flows in the Niagara River and St. Lawrence River are expected to be near average in October.

 

Alerts:

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.

 

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels Data Summary

 

 

Superior

Mich-Huron

St. Clair

Erie

Ontario

Expected water level for Oct 7 in ft

601.8

577.6

573.7

571.0

244.8

Chart datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff from chart datum, in inches

+7

+1

+16

+22

+18

Diff from last month, in inches

+2

-2

-3

-2

-4

Diff from last year in inches

-2

-5

-3

-2

-6

 


General

Clever Whale Uses Fish to Catch Seagulls

A killer whale at Marineland has learned to "fish" for seagulls, and appears to have taught his technique to five other whales. The strategy involves spitting regurgitated fish onto the water's

surface and then sinking down to wait for seagulls to take the bait. As gulls land, the whales surge up, mouths wide open for the catch.


 

 

Lake Michigan

Anglers vote to cut Lake Michigan chinook plants 25%

Fish Managers to meet to finalize stocking plans

Fisheries managers from the four Lake Michigan states will have a relatively easy time after anglers attending the September 24 Kenosha stocking conference voted overwhelmingly to cut Lake Michigan Chinook Salmon plants by 25 %. Coincidently, that was also the preferred option offered by the Lake Michigan Management Agencies of the four offered at the conference.  

 

Jim Dexter, Michigan DNR's Lake Michigan basin coordinator, said there was "pretty strong agreement" among the anglers at the conference that chinook salmon plants should be cut. A few anglers did not support the cuts, preferring instead to raise the daily creel limit on chinook salmon.

 

Lake Michigan is producing salmon in near-record numbers, and biologists say that if those numbers aren't reduced significantly, the salmon population will collapse like it did last year in Lake Huron. Salmon in Lake Michigan are 40% smaller than 10 years ago, and biologists say the catch rate isn't sustainable.

 

A key question is "If Chinook stocking is cut, where does the

money go?" Will they switch dollars/ capacity to other species?Will it be possible to get the hatchery capacity back when & if biology justifies increases?

 

Currently, the four states stock 4.3 million chinook fingerlings in Lake Michigan, with Michigan stocking over 2 million of them. There was no agreement on how to get to the 25% reduction, as the biggest concern was which ports would take the biggest hits.  Many anglers from Michigan expressed concerns that they would face the biggest cuts, but many present stated the greatest amount of natural reproduction of kings takes place in Michigan rivers. Most realistic and practical comments were that since most all natural reproduction was occurring in Michigan streams that's where the cuts should occur.

 

Still, it's likely that Michigan will wind up taking the biggest hit. Indiana only stocks 250,000 kings and Illinois stocks another 300,000. Michigan and Wisconsin stock the most and will probably absorb more cuts than the other states.  We'll see.

 

With the meeting now history and the written comment period closed, fish Managers will now meet later this month to finalize Lake Michigan stocking plans.


Illinois

Fall Trout Fishing Season opens Oct 15

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - The 2005 Illinois fall trout fishing season opens on Saturday, October 15th at 5 a.m. at 36 ponds and lakes throughout the state, Illinois DNR Director Joel Brunsvold announced.

 

The IDNR will stock more than 70,000 trout at the locations prior to the opening of the fall trout season.  Anglers are reminded that no trout may be taken from any of the stocked sites until the fall trout season opens on October 15th at 5 a.m.

 

To take trout legally beginning October 15th, anglers must have a fishing license and an inland trout stamp, unless they are under 16 years of age, blind or disabled, or are an Illinois

resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces. The daily catch limit per angler is five trout.

 

While regulations allow trout season to open at 5 a.m. on October 15th, anglers are encouraged to check in advance for the opening time of their favorite trout fishing location.

 

For more information on fall trout season and other Illinois fishing opportunities, contact the IDNR Division of Fisheries at 217/782-6424, or check the web site at www.ifishillinois.org .  Illinois fishing licenses and inland trout stamps are available at bait shops, sporting goods stores and other vendors, at IDNR offices, or with a credit card through the IDNR web site at http://dnr.state.il.us .


Fishing Tips lecture Oct 19, "Fishing Right at Your Feet"

By DuPage Forest Preserve at Mayslake Peabody Estate

Gain insight into the many way to reel in a lunker throughout the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County during the "Fishing Right at Your Feet" lecture, at Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook on Oct. 19, 7 to 9 p.m.

 

Presented by Don LaBrose, District fisheries biologist for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, the program will give an in-depth look at the District's fisheries management program, including stocking, aquatic weed management, river and lake improvements, and the trout program. Ongoing education opportunities such as fishing clinics and special events will also be discussed. An avid outdoor enthusiast and

a 25-year Forest Preserve District employee, LaBrose will also tell some true "fish stories" of great catches that have been reeled in from District waters.

 

"DuPage Forest Preserves: Right at Your Feet" Lecture Series, will include a question-and-answer session as well as light refreshments. Cost $3 per person. For more info or reservations, call (630) 850-2363, ext. 3. 

 

With 60 forest preserves and six education facilities, there are many programs and activities that explore the wild places that are right at your feet in the DuPage County forest preserves. For more information, call (630) 933-7200, or visit www.dupageforest.com .


Michigan

2006 Natural Resources Commission meeting dates

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission unanimously approved the following dates for the 2006 NRC meetings.  All of the following dates are Thursdays:

 

January 12

February 9

March 9

April 6

May 4

June 1

July 6

August 10

September 7

October 5

November 2

December 7


DNR Partners with Nature Conservancy in the Purchase of Cheboygan Area Shoreline

Michigan DNR Director Rebecca Humphries last week approved the purchase of 11.2 acres and 712 ft of Lake Huron shoreline in Cheboygan County in partnership with the Michigan chapter of The Nature Conservancy. This land is located directly west of The Nature Conservancy's existing Grass Bay Preserve and near Cheboygan State Park.

 

The tract, know as the Farley Tract, provides habitat for three federally listed plant species -- Pitcher's thistle, dwarf lake iris and Houghton's goldenrod -- as well as two federally listed bird species, the piping plover and bald eagle. The piping plover is a small shorebird that nests in the summer along

tracts of beach in northern Michigan. The tract also contains state-listed endangered species, including the Lake Huron tansy and Lake Huron locust.

 

The Farley Tract purchase, which will cost approximately $629,000, will be funded through a grant that the DNR received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2003, the DNR received this grant in the amount of $790,000 through funds made available by the Endangered Species Act. The purpose of this grant is to purchase lands that will protect the piping plover.         

           

The acquisition increases the Grass Bay Preserve to a total of 761 acres, with 11,412 ft of protected Lake Huron shoreline.


Minnesota

DNR seeks comments on experimental walleye regs on Rainy Lake

The Minnesota DNR is hosting a public input meeting on October 18 to gather input on walleye regulations on Rainy Lake.  The meeting will be held in International Falls at Rainy River Community College at 7:00 pm.  The forum is intended to provide background information, answer questions, and take public input on walleye regulations on Rainy Lake.

 

Rainy Lake walleye have been protected with a slot limit since 1994, one of the first such regulations in Minnesota.  The  current regulation requires the immediate release of

all walleye from 17 to 28 inches, with one walleye over 28 inches allowed in a possession limit of four.  This regulation expires on March 1, 2006 and may be modified, extended or dropped following review and public input.  DNR’s preferred alternative is to extend the current regulation for 10 years.

 

Comments on extending the walleye regulation will be accepted at the DNR Area Fisheries Office in International Falls, 392 Highway 11 East; (218) 286-5220;  kevin.peterson@dnr.state.mn.us.   All comments must be received by October 28, 2005.


New York

GE Will Dredge PCBs From Hudson River in 2007

ALBANY, NY (ENS) - General Electric (GE) has agreed to begin dredging sediment contaminated with PCB’s from the Hudson River, the U.S. Justice Department and the USEPA announced last week. The dredging is scheduled for the 2007 spring through fall dredging season. The agreement also calls for the company to pay EPA up to $78 million for the agency’s past and future costs. EPA has already collected $37 million from GE through past settlements.

 

For 30 years, ending in the 1970s, GE discharged large quantities of PCBs into the river from two major manufacturing facilities along the Hudson River. The contaminants posed environmental and health threats to river wildlife and people who eat fish from the river.

 

EPA has made substantial progress toward cleaning up the Hudson River since the agency issued its February 2002 Record of Decision for the Hudson River PCB’s Superfund site.  In that document, the agency recorded the decision to dredge an estimated 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediments from a 43 mile stretch of the river from Hudson Falls, New York to the Federal Dam at Troy.

 

The agency has reached two previous agreements with GE under which the company agreed to conduct the extensive sediment sampling needed to identify the areas to be dredged and to design the project.

 

Under the terms of the consent decree lodged in federal district court in Albany, New York, GE will construct the sediment transfer/processing facility needed for the project and perform the first phase of the dredging according to design plans being developed under a prior agreement.

 

The Record of Decision divides the dredging of PCB-

contaminated sediments into two phases. The first phase of the dredging will remove about 10 percent of the total volume of PCB-contaminated sediment slated for dredging during the full cleanup project, and together with the construction of the sediment transfer/processing facility, is expected to cost between $100 million and $150 million.

 

The remaining phase of the dredging is expected to take five years. The ultimate goal is to restore one of the country’s most important cultural and ecological resources, using approaches designed to minimize impacts on local communities throughout the life of the project.

 

During early 2008, following GE’s completion of the Phase 1 dredging, the dredging-to-date will be evaluated by an independent peer review panel, which will consider possible changes to the engineering performance standards. EPA will seek public input during the peer review process. The agreement also contains a provision that provides additional health protections for people who may not be fully aware of state restrictions on consuming Hudson River fish.

 

Although New York State is not a party to the settlement, the agreement requires GE to pay the state $3 million to support its efforts to assist the public in understanding and complying with the state fish consumption advisories. GE will provide an additional $1 million to this effort if it decides to conduct the Phase 2 dredging under the consent decree. The agreement does not address GE’s liability for natural resource damages.

 

The Justice Department and EPA will accept public comments on the consent decree during a 30-day public comment period that will be publicly announced and will begin shortly. Copies of the consent decree are available at: http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html , or on EPA’s website at www.epa.gov/hudson


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