Week of October 16, 2006

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National

New Law Requires Greater Public Notice on Coast Guard Live Fire Exercises 

Homeland Security Bill approved by Congress, signed by Bush Oct 4

WASHINGTON – This year’s funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security includes a provision requiring the Coast Guard to provide enhanced public notice beyond just marine band radio when preparing for live fire weapons training on the Great Lakes. 

 

Congressman Dave Obey (D-WI) and Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) announced the passage of the provision, saying it would help to keep the public safe.

 

“Great Lakes mariners deserve to know, before they set out, if the Coast Guard is going to be conducting training exercises

that could affect their plans,” said Obey.  "No matter how the Coast Guard finally decides to handle its training areas, this provision will ensure that boaters get fair warning of areas to avoid."   "This legislation will ensure that, at minimum, the Coast Guard employs other methods of communication to put out the word that they will be conducting a live fire exercise.”

 

The Homeland Security appropriations measure specifically “directs the Coast Guard to notify the public beyond just using marine band radio.”  The legislation was signed into law by the President on October 4th. 

 

The safety zones are expected to occupy a total area of 2.5% of the surface area of the Great Lakes or 2,376 square miles. 

www.house.gov/apps/list/press/mi01_stupak/

101206CGLiveFire.html


Coast Guard adds meetings dates on firing zones in Great Lakes

CLEVELAND - The Ninth Coast Guard District has submitted a notice of public meetings to the Federal Register,  which contains the schedule, locations and agenda of nine public meetings, to discuss proposed permanent safety zones on the Great Lakes, and to conduct live gunnery training exercises. 

 

Three more meetings were added after the initial announcement, and two more were added on October 10.  

 

The purpose of the meetings are to gather information from the public concerning the Ninth Coast Guard District's proposal to establish permanent safety zones located in the Great Lakes. 

 

Original Meeting schedule:

(1)  Oct. 16, DULUTH, MN: Duluth Convention Center, 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN; (218) 722-5573

(2)  Oct. 18, GRAND HAVEN/SPRING LAKE, MI: Grand Haven Holiday Inn, 940 W Savidge, Spring Lake (616) 846-1000

(3)  Oct. 19, PORT HURON/MARYSVILLE, MI: Crystal Gardens, 1200 Gratiot Boulevard, Marysville (810) 364-6650

(4) Oct. 23, CLEVELAND: Celebrezze Federal Bldg, 31st fl, 1240 E 9th St, Cleveland; (216) 902-6020.  Need Photo ID.

 

Meeting dates added –

Oct 30 - Rochester Fast Ferry Terminal, 1000 N. River Street, Rochester, NY

Nov 1 - Lake County Conference and Banquet Center, 248 Ambrogio Drive, Gurnee, IL

Nov 3 - Charlevoix Public Library, 220 W. Clinton Street, Charlevoix, MI

Nov 6 - Erie, PA - Cruise Ship Terminal

Nov 8 - Sturgeon Bay, WI - exact location to be determined

 

Schedule of events for all meetings:

4 -5:30 PM - Open house.  The public can receive information on the proposed zones and ask questions of  Coast Guard officials.

5:30-8 PM - Public meetings.  After a brief statement by Coast Guard officials, the public can comment.  Comments will be recorded and entered into the docket for this rulemaking.

 

Topics to be covered during the public meetings are: (1) introduction of the proposed zones and the need to train on the U.S. Great Lakes; (2) how the Coast Guard determined the locations of the safety zones; (3) scheduling and frequency of training in the safety zones; (4) notification procedures; (5) safety procedures; (6) weapons and munitions; and (7) environmental risk assessment overview.  

 

Additional information can be found at the Ninth Coast Guard District's proposed permanent safety zones web sit at www.uscgd9safetyzones.com .  This site is solely dedicated to the pubic distribution of information concerning the Ninth Coast Guard District's proposed permanent safety zones. 

 

For more info call: Ninth Coast Guard District Public Affairs Office, Cleveland, at (216) 902-6020

 


Coast Guard defends plan for live fire exercises

DETROIT (AP)--The U.S. Coast Guard's proposal to periodically close 2,500 square miles (6,400 square kilometers) of the Great Lakes for live machine-gun firing exercises is vital to maintaining its ability to protect America, commanders said on October 10.

 

The proposal has drawn criticism from U.S. and Canadian mayors, business leaders and environmentalists from across the region.  The agency says the exercises incorporate years of experience of safely conducting live-fire tests in the nation's coastal waters and are designed to have minimal effect on the environment and Great Lakes traffic.

 

The Coast Guard is holding seven public hearings from Monday through Nov. 3 on the plan, and a public comment

period extends through Nov. 13.  The training zone proposal follows the Coast Guard's decision to mount automatic weapons on about 150 Great Lakes vessels as it did earlier with vessels on the East, West and Gulf coasts, said Capt. Patrick W. Brennan, commander of the Coast Guard's Detroit sector.

 

Live fire practice is an important part of weapons training, Brennan said at a media briefing at the agency's headquarters on the Detroit River.  "We need to train in the environment in which we are going to fire the weapons," he said.

 

Each of the 34 zones on lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario would be closed to private vessels for four-hour spans about four to eight times a year, he said.


Boating fatalities rose in 2005

The latest report from the Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety shows an increase in boating accidents in 2005, but industry leaders say that coincides with an increase in the amount of boating activity.

 

The Coast Guard reported 4,969 accidents, 697 fatalities, 3,451 injuries and about $38.7 million in property damage in 2005. This compares to 4,904 accidents, 676 fatalities, 3,363 injuries and $35 million in property damage in 2004. The number of registered boats also increased in 2005, to 12,942,414 from 12,781,476 the year before.

 

Admittedly, the weather was better in 2005 than the prior year, so there probably were more people boating, Coast Guard statistics don’t provide information on the number of people boating and how often they went boating in a given year.

 

The Coast Guard did report that about 70 % of all fatal boating

accident victims drowned (491 out of 697). Of those who drowned, 87 % were not wearing a personal flotation device. The data shows that at least 416 lives could have been saved last year if boaters had worn their life jackets.

 

The most-reported type of accident was a collision with another vessel. However, capsizing and falls overboard are the most-reported types of fatal accidents and accounted for 59 percent of all boating fatalities. The Coast Guard says boat operators need to pay attention to the capacity label on their boat and be careful not to overload small boats (less than 16 feet).

 

Overall, carelessness/reckless operation, operator inattention, excessive speed and operator inexperience are the leading contributing factors of all reported accidents, according to the report. About 70 % of all reported fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.


Regional

Coast Guard adds meetings dates on firing zones in Great Lakes

CLEVELAND - The Ninth Coast Guard District has submitted a notice of public meetings to the Federal Register,  which contains the schedule, locations and agenda of nine public meetings, to discuss proposed permanent safety zones on the Great Lakes, and to conduct live gunnery training exercises. 

 

Three more meetings were added after the initial announcement, and two more were added on October 10.  

 

The purpose of the meetings are to gather information from the public concerning the Ninth Coast Guard District's proposal to establish permanent safety zones located in the Great Lakes. 

 

Original Meeting schedule:

(1)  Oct. 16, DULUTH, MN: Duluth Convention Center, 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN; (218) 722-5573

(2)  Oct. 18, GRAND HAVEN/SPRING LAKE, MI: Grand Haven Holiday Inn, 940 W Savidge, Spring Lake (616) 846-1000

(3)  Oct. 19, PORT HURON/MARYSVILLE, MI: Crystal Gardens, 1200 Gratiot Boulevard, Marysville (810) 364-6650

(4) Oct. 23, CLEVELAND: Celebrezze Federal Bldg, 31st fl, 1240 E 9th St, Cleveland; (216) 902-6020.  Need Photo ID.

 

Meeting dates added –

Oct 30 - Rochester Fast Ferry Terminal, 1000 N. River Street, Rochester, NY

Nov 1 - Lake County Conference and Banquet Center, 248 Ambrogio Drive, Gurnee, IL

Nov 3 - Charlevoix Public Library, 220 W. Clinton Street, Charlevoix, MI

Nov 6 - Erie, PA - Cruise Ship Terminal

Nov 8 - Sturgeon Bay, WI - exact location to be determined

 

Schedule of events for all meetings:

4 -5:30 PM - Open house.  The public can receive information on the proposed zones and ask questions of  Coast Guard officials.

5:30-8 PM - Public meetings.  After a brief statement by Coast Guard officials, the public can comment.  Comments will be recorded and entered into the docket for this rulemaking.

 

Topics to be covered during the public meetings are: (1) introduction of the proposed zones and the need to train on the U.S. Great Lakes; (2) how the Coast Guard determined the locations of the safety zones; (3) scheduling and frequency of training in the safety zones; (4) notification procedures; (5) safety procedures; (6) weapons and munitions; and (7) environmental risk assessment overview.  

 

Additional information can be found at the Ninth Coast Guard District's proposed permanent safety zones web sit at www.uscgd9safetyzones.com .  This site is solely dedicated to the pubic distribution of information concerning the Ninth Coast Guard District's proposed permanent safety zones. 

 

For more info call: Ninth Coast Guard District Public Affairs Office, Cleveland, at (216) 902-6020

 


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for Oct. 13, 2006 

Lake Level Conditions:

Lake Superior ’s water level is currently 11 inches lower than it was a year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 1 inch below last year.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario all have higher water levels than the previous year by 2, 3, and 4 inches respectively.  At this time, all of the lakes are in their period of seasonal decline.  Over the next month, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are expected to fall 2 and 3 inches, respectively.  During this same period, the water levels in Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are all projected to decrease by 5 inches.  Over the next few months, Lake Superior is expected to remain below last year’s levels, while Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are predicted to remain near or slightly above the water levels of a year ago. 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron was below average in September.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers also were below average during September.  Flow in the Niagara River was near average in September, while flow in the St. Lawrence River was above average.

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.

 

 

Superior

Mich-Huron

St. Clair

Erie

Ontario

Level for Oct 13

600.8

577.4

573.8

571.2

245.2

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

-4

-1

+17

+24

+23

Diff last month

-4

-2

-2

-2

-3

Diff from last yr

-11

-1

+2

+3

+4


Indiana

Autumn wireless wiper update

DNR wiper-tracking data from a lake-wide Sept. 27 radio sweep of Monroe Lake shows that most radio-tagged wipers are gathering along southern and eastern bay openings and points opposite the Fourwinds Marina.

 

Indiana DNR is studying the movements of white bass/striped bass hybrids (wipers) at Monroe Lake using radio telemetry. In

April, DNR fisheries biologists implanted electronic transmitters in 30 wipers.  About every two weeks, the wiper team races around the entire 11,000-acre lake near Bloomington tracking the free-roaming crossbred fish.

 

Maps showing radio-tagged wiper locations throughout spring, summer and fall 2006 are posted at:

www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/fish/wiper.htm


Wisconsin

Public hearings set on draft fishing tournament rules

MADISON – Proposed changes to rules governing fishing tournaments are the topic of public hearings set for late October and early November, with Wisconsin’s fisheries director urging anglers, boaters, and other interested citizens to attend the hearings or submit written comments on the proposals.

 

“Changes to fishing tournaments rules, and fishing tournaments in general, can be controversial,” says Mike Staggs, Wisconsin’s fisheries director. “There’s no one set of rules that will make everyone happy, but we’re committed to finding middle ground. It’s important for people to read the proposals and raise their concerns during the public hearings or in written comments.”

 

Fisheries staff will review public comments and finalize the proposals before returning to the state Natural Resources Board (NRB) to seek approval of the rules, likely in 2007, he says.

 

A 2004 law responded to public concerns raised about tournaments and instructed the DNR to update tournament fishing rules where there were significant, documented problems. Larger tournaments have been governed by a permit system since the mid-1990s, and the number of permitted events has increased from about 300 events a year to 400 since then. See the June 2006 Issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources for an article on fishing tournaments.

 

DNR staff developed proposed rule changes by working with an advisory group that included fishing clubs, lake associations, fishing tournament organizers and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. The group focused on addressing documented problems with crowding at boat ramps and on some lakes during certain times of the year like holidays, and concerns over fish dying after being caught and released in tournaments. Studies have indicated that such “incidental mortality” doesn’t affect the fish population over all, but “no one likes to see the resource wasted,” Staggs says.

 

The original proposal was modified to address Natural Resources Board concerns about invasive species, incidental mortality, and recovering costs associated with managing the tournament permit program, he says.

 

Perhaps the most notable feature of the proposal is that tournament participants would have to immediately release fish in tournaments held in July and August instead of bringing them back to a weigh station, Staggs says. Water temperatures are the highest in those months, and there’s the greatest risk of increased mortality of fish caught in those events. In recent years, several highly publicized incidents occurred when fish died after being caught in live-release bass tournaments on the Mississippi River and walleye tournaments in Green Bay.

 

According to Patrick Schmalz, the DNR fish biologist who led the rule development, key provisions are:

  • Tournaments would be required to get a permit if they had 20 or more boats or 100 or more individuals; if they awarded prizes totaling $10,000 or more; if they targeted trout on classified trout streams; or if they were live-release events with an off-site weigh-in.

  • The fee for tournament permits must cover costs associated with administering the permit program, with the exception of tournaments in which all participants are youngsters or disabled people.

  • Permit fees would vary depending on event size. People attending public hearings or submitting written comments on the rule changes will be asked which payment option they prefer: having event organizers pay the permit fee or having event organizers and participants pay. The Natural Resources Board struck from consideration a third option to use fishing license revenues to pay some of the cost.

  • A permit application process would begin August 1 for tournaments the following year and extend through Sept. 30. Tournament applications for water bodies and time periods that exceed proposed limits would be subject to a drawing. Under current rules, permit applications are accepted up to one year prior to and no later than 30 days prior to a fishing tournament.

  • DNR would have the authority to limit the number, size and frequency of tournaments held on a particular waterbody based on waterbody size to lessen the pressure on fish and reduce conflicts with other anglers and boaters. Current rules have no such limits.

  • Anglers would be required to meet standards for handling fish to reduce stress on the fish, and more conditions could be added if warm water and other conditions warrant. These standards are intended to avoid wasting fish. Wisconsin studies thus far have shown tournaments don’t have a lasting impact on fish populations.

  • Organizers could hold tournaments on the opening day of seasons, but not on major summer holidays. Under current rules tournaments are prohibited on the opening day of fishing seasons only.

  • Organizers would need to take steps to prevent tournament organizers and participants from inadvertently spreading invasive aquatic species.

The hearings will be begin at 7 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

  • October 30, Fond du Lac – Holiday Inn, 624 W. Rolling Meadows Dr. (US 151 & 41).

  • November 1, La Crosse – Strzelczyk Great Hall, Cleary Center, UW-La Crosse, 615 East Ave., South.

  • November 2, Fitchburg – Fitchburg Community Center, 5510 Lacy Road.

  • November 8, Green Bay – Auditorium, Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Center, 1660 East Shore Dr.

  • November 9, Sturtevant – Suite IV, DNR Service Center, 9531 Rayne Road.

  • November 14, Spooner – Spooner Agricultural Research Station, W6646 Highway 70.

  • November 15, Rhinelander – Nicolet Technical College Theater, County Highway G.

A copy of the draft rules, hearing dates, and other materials concerning fishing tournaments can be found on the DNR Web site.

The proposed rule and fiscal estimate may be reviewed and comments electronically submitted at through the State of Wisconsin Administrative Rules Web site (exit DNR). Written comments on the proposed rule may be submitted until Nov. 17 via U.S. mail to Patrick J. Schmalz, Bureau of Fisheries Management and Habitat Protection, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707. Written comments whether submitted electronically or by U.S. mail will have the same weight and effect as oral statements presented at the public hearings.

For more info: Mike Staggs - (608) 267-0796; Patrick Schmalz - (608) 266-8170

 


Ontario

Cormorants in Canada

The Lake Huron Fishing Club, along with many other groups, is continuing to insist that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources take actions to control the overpopulation of Double Crested Cormorants in Ontario.  The first step would be to delist them as a protected species - making them the same as a common crow.  This would be coupled with a government organized egg oiling and adult cull where required. 

 

The Ministry of Natural Resources upper management is dragging its feet in acting on the overwhelming data from its own studies which proves cormorants are devastating the fish

populations of Lake Huron.  The problems are even worse now that the alewife and smelt populations have collapsed in the lake.  Flocks of cormorants can be seen heading inland every morning from their Chantry Island colony.  These birds will be looking for whatever fish they can find in every river, stream, pond and lake within flying distance. 

 

We would like to try and document the places these birds are removing fish from.  If you come across double crested cormorants fishing in an inland water body please drop me an e-mail wilkins@bmts.com  or give me a call (519-396-0764)

Al Wilkins.


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