Week of January 5 , 2004









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Nat'l - Boating's Best Friend in Congress Set To Retire

Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), the co-author of the landmark Aquatic Resources (Wallop/Breaux) Trust Fund which channels over $500 million per year in federal fuel and fishing tackle taxes back into state boating and fishing programs, has announced he will not run for re-election when his term expires at the end of 2004.


Breaux, 59, was the youngest member of the House of Representatives when he was elected in 1972 and won election to the U.S. Senate in 1986. In addition to the Wallop/Breaux legislation, Sen. Breaux was a major force in the repeal of the infamous "luxury" tax and "user fee" taxes on boats during the 1990s.


Breaux, an avid boater and angler, was instrumental in 1984 in convincing his Congressional colleagues that the federal

taxes boaters and anglers paid on motorboat fuel should be placed in a trust fund and returned to the states for boating safety, education and law enforcement purposes. Since that time, the number of recreational boating fatalities has been reduced from 1,241 in 1983 to a low of 681 in 2001 while the number of recreational boats on the water has increased nearly 50 %.


With Sen. Breaux as its primary sponsor, the Wallop/Breaux Trust Fund has been reauthorized by Congress on a bipartisan basis three times over the past two decades and should have been reauthorized in 2003 as part of a comprehensive federal gas tax measure. However, differences between the White House and Congress on issues having nothing to do with boating or fishing have delayed final action until 2004.

Nat'l - Research Uses Engineered Algae

A Means to Vaccinate Fish against Diseases
New Ohio Sea Grant is investigating how genetically altered algae can be used to vaccinate fish against infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), a disease that kills 30 % of the U.S. trout population.


Richard Sayre of Ohio State University was studying Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a unicellular alga found abundantly all over the world, for its value in recovering harmful heavy metals locked in sediments, when he realized that the algae’s use could be broadened. "If Chlamydomonas could bind to heavy metals so effectively, why couldn’t it be used to deliver needed vitamin supplements or a vaccine to an animal?" Sayre said.


Controlling fish diseases has long been a problem for the

aquaculture industry. Antibiotics are not only useless for viral and many parasitic diseases, but they can only be partially absorbed by fish. Although fish vaccines are a more successful alternative, they can be costly, labor intensive, and stressful for the fish. "Unfortunately, the trouble with producing many vaccines is you need to identify the pathogen and then you need time to culture it," explained Sayre. "Our system doesn’t require either."

Using a library of all the possible amino acid combinations displayed on the surface of a virus, Sayre's team can rapidly screen for antigens using pathogen-specific antibodies. They plan to conduct vaccine trials by feeding fish algae to which antigens have been attached. A patent is currently pending for this microalgal antigen delivery system.


Nat'l - Fishing for a low-mercury dinner

By Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Fish are heart-healthy, and most people should eat more. But fish also can contain mercury, and too much mercury can harm brain cells, especially in the very young.   So what are the best choices for both the heart and the brain?


Salmon and oysters top the list as high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and very low in mercury, and there are numerous other low-mercury choices, too. Yet the government has no consumer-friendly list of its own mercury testing results to help people of different ages choose seafood.


In fact, the good news about low-mercury choices has been far overshadowed by a battle over which fish the Food and Drug Administration should warn people most at risk from mercury, pregnant women and young children, to avoid. That controversy made headlines again recently as the FDA grappled with whether certain types of ever-popular tuna should be on the do-not-eat list for those people.


The potential backlash effect, even mercury critics acknowledge, is that many consumers could be scared away from fish in general — a bad choice.  "It's really unfortunate," especially for middle-aged people who are most in need of fish and least at risk from mercury, says Dr. William S. Harris of the American Heart Association.


His organization recommends that most people eat a variety of fish rich in omega-3s at least twice a week, even more for those diagnosed with heart disease.


"The message should be: 'Eat more fish for your health while minimizing your mercury intake,'" adds Ned Groth, a scientist with Consumers Union, a nonprofit group that is pushing the FDA to publicize low-mercury choices.  Mercury pollution

washes into waterways and builds up in fish. The bigger the fish, the more mercury it contains.


Over time, the metal can accumulate in fish-eaters' bodies, too. High enough levels can damage the growing brains of fetuses and young children. About 8 percent of women of childbearing age have enough mercury in their blood to put a fetus at risk. Far less is known about the potential dangers of mercury-containing seafood in other people. Consumer advocates say about 3 million people are extreme seafood lovers, eating so much of it per week that, depending on what varieties they choose, they might be at risk, too.


Still, exposure by fetuses and young children are clearly the biggest concern. The FDA's scientific advisers recently urged the government to stress low-mercury choices for women of childbearing age and youngsters, so the FDA is rewriting its seafood recommendations. The new list is due out next spring. For now, a review of FDA's mercury measurements in 39 seafood varieties shows:


Salmon, oysters, whitefish, sea bass, freshwater trout, and sardines contain both high levels of heart-healthy omega-3s and low mercury levels - below 0.13 parts per million. Other low-mercury choices include perch, king crab, flounder, sole, pollock, catfish, croaker, scallops, crawfish, shrimp, clams, and tilapia. They contain less omega-3s, but servings can add up.


Tuna is controversial, because different varieties contain different amounts of both mercury and heart-healthy fats. Canned light tuna contains a small amount of omega-3, about as much as shrimp, and fairly low 0.13 ppm mercury. But fresh tuna steaks and the more expensive canned white or albacore tuna contain three times as much mercury, and almost as much omega-3 as salmon.

Nat'l - Groups Sue EPA Over Perils from Ballast Water

San Francisco - Three environmental groups have sued the USEPA to curtail the introduction of invasive species carried in the ballast tanks of ships. Portland-based Northwest Environmental Advocates, along with The Ocean Conservancy and WaterKeepers Northern California, filed the lawsuit in federal district court in San Francisco last week.


The groups acted after the EPA rejected an administrative petition in September to regulate ballast water as it does sewer pipes. The groups allege the EPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, saying the decision not to require permits for ships discharging ballast water is arbitrary and capricious.


More than 1,000 ships that visit the Columbia River each year would be affected by any changes that come about from a successful lawsuit.


"EPA has compounded the high environmental and economic costs associated with existing invasive species along the nation's coasts and in the Great Lakes by avoiding Clean Water Act requirements that would prevent new invasions,"

said Nina Bell, executive director of Northwest Environmental Advocates.


An EPA spokesman in Seattle said the agency had not yet reviewed the lawsuit and had no comment.


Earlier this year, the agency announced it would defer to the U.S. Coast Guard in monitoring the discharge of ballast water from ships. Since the passage of the National Invasive Species Act of 1996, the Coast Guard has suggested vessels exchange ballast water in the harsher ocean environment rather than waiting until they arrive at American ports. But ballast-water exchange can be dangerous in rough seas, and researchers are continuing to experiment with various methods of eradicating the stowaways aboard ships -- including the use of ozone, chemicals and even ultraviolet light.


Environmental groups want the EPA to require ships to carry National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits. Violations carry penalties of as much as $10,000 per day for each violation.

NOAA, Industry Develop Technology That Saves Sea Turtles

U.S.  Calls On Other Fishing Nations to Join Effort

Turtle-friendly Gear and Techniques Reduce Interactions up to 90 % for Some Species


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it has developed new technology to help fishermen reduce accidental capture and harm to endangered sea turtles.  NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, in cooperation with fishermen and private industry, has completed three years of fishing-equipment research in the high seas of the Atlantic Ocean to develop turtle-friendly gear and fishing methods for commercial longline vessels.  NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

"The results of this study have global implications for all nations with longline fishing fleets," said Dr. William Hogarth, director of NOAA Fisheries.  "Our cooperative research with industry has shown that these turtle bycatch-reduction techniques have been successfully tested in the Grand Banks and are a viable solution for meeting everyone's objectives.  I'm asking all nations to match our efforts and evaluate these techniques in their fisheries so we can meet our shared responsibility to protect sea turtles and allow commercial fishing to prosper."


The agency and partners have concluded that encounters with leatherback and loggerhead turtles can be reduced by as

much as 90 % by switching the type of hook and bait from the traditional "J"- style hook with squid to a large circle style hook with mackerel.


For the turtles that are incidentally captured, government scientists and partners have developed new de-hooking and release techniques to increase survival rates.  Dehookers and dipnets allow fishermen to remove hooks from turtles with minimal additional trauma.  A device used as a turtle elevator, the "leatherback lift," was crafted to allow fishermen to bring larger turtles on board for de-hooking. 


There is an economic incentive for fishermen to use sea turtle bycatch reduction techniques. They are now able to retrieve their hooks and other gear, avoid the extra time spent on entangled turtles, and with the significant bycatch reduction achieved, the pelagic longline industry may have fewer bycatch-related restrictions.  Further, tests showed the use of these techniques can increase directed catch by as much as 30 %.


NOAA Fisheries has begun international outreach efforts to share the results of this experiment with other fishing nations.  In 2003, the agency partnered with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission to conduct training workhops for sea turtle bycatch reduction, attended by over 800 fishermen throughout Ecuador.  The agency will participate in similar workshops in Costa Rica this spring.

Nat'l - Johnson gets $43M military order

Johnson Outdoors Inc. has been awarded a $42.9 million “urgent-need” order that calls for delivery of 6,500 tent systems to the U.S. military over the next 15 months. The company says urgent-need orders are based on a supplier’s "proven capability to ensure quality and quantity at an accelerated



Johnson Outdoors manufactures a range of outdoor equipment, including OldTown canoes and kayaks, Ocean, Necky and Dimension kayaks; and Minn Kota trolling motors, and is headquartered in Sturtevant, WI.

Nat'l  - Pilots Still Unarmed

By John R. Lott Jr.

January 6, 2004 -- They fly by the Capitol, but the bureaucrats won't trust pilots with guns: A plane in final approach to Washington's Reagan National Airport.


MORE than two years since 9/11, news headlines still warn "Al Qaeda May Be Planning More Hijack Attacks."


In less than two weeks, hijacking fears cancelled six Air France flights, four British Airways flights and two Aero Mexico flights. Intelligence reports indicated that at least one would-be hijacker was trained to fly a plane. U.S. fighter jets are accompanying some flights with orders to shoot them down if they're hijacked.

Yet, while much of the attention has focused on international flights, there are still serious problems with our own security arrangements. Consider:


* Screening is hardly perfect. Knives, box-cutters and long scissors too frequently make it through security, but the problem is even worse: No matter how carefully screeners monitor X-ray machines and metal detectors, many weapons are essentially undetectable without a full-body search (e.g., ceramic or plastic knives taped to an inside thigh). Without full-body searches, determined terrorists will get weapons on planes. At New York's JFK airport alone, two dead stowaways have been found in the wheel-wells of airplanes in the last two weeks.


* Few experts have much faith in the effectiveness of the newly reinforced cockpit doors. Engineering constraints are the key: To settle a bet last summer, an overnight cleaning crew at Washington's Dulles Airport rammed a drink cart into one of the new doors on a United Airlines plane. The door reportedly broke off its hinges. The doors on European airlines generally don't provide even that much protection.


* Air marshals can't do it all. Pilots claim that while at least one-third of flights from Washington's Reagan National are covered with air marshals, the rest of the country is being ignored. Only a small fraction of U.S. carrier flights to Europe are covered, and then only one day a week.


Requiring foreign carriers to have marshals on planes when we have significant intelligence of a possible attack only seems to make it likely that the flight will be canceled. Do we really want to rely on advance intelligence to know which planes to guard?


A cost-effective backup layer of security is to let pilots carry guns. Terrorists can only enter the cockpit through one narrow


entrance, and armed pilots have some time to prepare themselves as hijackers penetrate the strengthened cockpit doors.


The boredom and high attrition rates afflicting air marshals (who fly back and forth on long flights just waiting for something to happen) doesn't apply to pilots. No extra pay is required. Indeed, pilots are volunteering to take time off from work and travel to the training at their own expense.


Congress has twice overwhelmingly passed legislation to ensure pilots can carry guns. Yet only 500 to 800 out of more than 100,000 commercial-passenger pilots are certified to carry a gun, and the Bush administration has done what it can to discourage pilots from even applying for the armed-pilot program.

The training facility was closed down and relocated immediately after the first class. Rep. Peter DeFazio, the ranking Democrat on the House Aviation Subcommittee, said that seemed "just another attempt to disrupt the program." The new facilities in New Mexico are four hours-plus from the nearest airport.


And pilots who want to apply face many barriers. The psychological testing and screening are much more extensive and intrusive than what was required for the vast majority of air marshals now on duty. Some questions even seem designed to disqualify pilot applicants. One pilot told me, "The Transportation Security Administration is viewed as hostile to pilots, and pilots are afraid that if they are not viewed as competent for the [armed-pilots] program, they may be viewed as not competent to continue being pilots."


Despite all the concern about hypothetical risks, arming pilots is nothing new. Until the early '60s, American commercial-passenger pilots on any flight carrying U.S. mail were required to carry handguns. The rule, which dates to the start of commercial aviation, was meant to ensure that pilots could defend the mail if their plane ever crashed. Indeed, U.S. pilots were still allowed to carry guns until as recently as 1987.


About 70% of the pilots at major American airlines have military backgrounds, and military pilots flying outside the United States are required to carry handguns with them whenever they fly military airplanes. There are no records that any of these pilots carrying guns has ever caused any significant problems. Protecting people should be as important as protecting the mail once was.


There are no records that any of these pilots carrying guns has ever caused any significant problems. Protecting people should be as important as protecting the mail once was.


Canada - Police union blasts gun registry

Koenig urges government to scrap program

The union head of Calgary's front-line police officers is calling for the federal government to scrap the billion-dollar gun registry because it has been a colossal failure in reducing violent crime in the country.


Al Koenig, president of the Calgary Police Association, said the vast amount of money spent on the firearms program could have been much better put to use for front-line police officers in Canada. He said the program has had no effect on crime or acted in any way as a deterrent. "Our position on this is very firm," said Koenig.  "We do not support it, and we will be fighting against it."The police and the public are still at risk. . . . Despite the money spent, it should be scrapped."


Last week, new federal Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan 

said the goal of the program is to protect Canadians from violence without unnecessary spending. She has launched a cabinet-level review of the gun registry to try to make it more effective and cost-efficient.


In November, federal government figures showed that the firearms registry could top the $1-billion mark a year earlier than originally forecast. The most recent government estimates showed the total program cost will rise to $814 million by March. Last year, federal officials estimated the total cost of the registry, which was originally budgeted at $2 million, would hit $1 billion sometime in 2005.


Don Stewart, spokesman for the Calgary Police Service, said that to the best of the force's knowledge, there have been no charges laid this past year by police specifically related to the new gun legislation.


Regional - Great Lakes Water Level Update for January 2, 2004

Current Lake Levels: 

Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair and Erie are 7, 18, 6 and 2 inches, respectively, below their long-term average.  Lake Ontario is 8 inches above its long-term average.  Each lake is within 3 inches of its level of one year ago, except for Lake Ontario, which is 17 inches above its level of last year.


Current Outflows/Channel Conditions: 

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be below average during the month of January.  Flows in the St. Clair, Detroit, and Niagara Rivers are also expected to be below average, while flow in the St. Lawrence River

is expected to be near average in January.


Forecasted Water Levels: 

The Great Lakes are expected to continue their pattern of seasonal decline over the next four weeks.  Each lake is expected to drop 1 to 2 inches.  Lake Ontario is expected to remain stable over the next few weeks.



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. 

Regional - ID Invasive Asian Carp With the New Watch Card

URBANA--Bighead and silver carp pose an urgent threat to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, but would you know these Asian carp if you saw one? Armed with a Bighead and Silver Carp Watch Card, you might be able to identify these invasive species, and if you catch one, know what to do about it.

Small in size but chock full of information, the ID card provides general characteristics of bighead and silver carp, including both photographs and drawings. In addition, you can read the history and potential impact of Asian carp in U.S. waters, plus critical information about how to prevent the spread of these and other invasive species.

"Asian carp are the cause of much concern because they feed on plankton, which means they can compete directly with native organisms including mussels, all larval fishes and some adult fish," said Pat Charlebois, Sea Grant biological resources specialist.

Bighead and silver carp have been moving up the Illinois River towards the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal where an electric barrier stands between them and Lake Michigan. These invasive fishes may also move from the Illinois River to the Fox or Kankakee Rivers.

To test the effectiveness of the barrier, researchers have been tagging and monitoring common carp in the area to see whether the fish pass through the electric field. "In terms of keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, a single barrier, unfortunately, is not likely to be foolproof," said Charlebois. "Plans for a second barrier are underway and long-term solutions are being discussed."

"Barriers, however, will not prevent the spread of Asian carp caused by human activities," said Charlebois. Here are some actions and precautions anglers and boater can do to help keep invasive species in check: dispose of unwanted live bait in the trash; never release live fish from one body of water to another; drain lake or river water from the livewell and bilge before leaving access; and inspect and remove aquatic plants and animals from any boat, motor and trailer.

If you think you've caught an Asian carp, it's important to report this to the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program in Zion, IL (847-872-8677), the IL DNR in Topeka, IL (309-968-7531) or the Indiana DNR, in Indianapolis, IN (317-232-4093). Note the exact location and if possible, freeze the specimen in a sealed plastic bag.

If you catch a common carp that has been tagged, please notify John Dettmers at 847-872-8679. His address is Lake Michigan Biological Station, Illinois Natural History Survey, 400 17th Street, Zion, IL 60099. It's important to include the time, day and location where any tagged common carp were caught.

The Asian Carp Watch Card has been developed by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network. To order a free watch card, contact Susan White at 217-333-9441. To order a pack of 100, which costs $7.00, call Cyndi Moore at the University of Illinois Publications at 1-800-345-6087 or email [email protected]uiuc.edu. You can also find the Asian carp watch card on the Sea Grant Web site at www.iisgcp.org/pubs/br/index.html.



Gen - When in doubt, don't go out -- beware of thin ice

Every winter, thousands of outdoor enthusiasts enjoy fishing, skating, hiking or just sliding around on frozen ponds and lakes. And every year, people drown after falling through ice.


Like driving on snow, we need to re-learn how to have safe fun on ice. Warn your kids about playing on frozen lakes and streams without supervision. If you're fishing, drill your own test hole near shore. Your test hole should show at least a 4" thickness of clear ice like you get from your freezer. Wear a life jacket for extra warmth and safety.


Be aware of various ice strengths and qualities. One area of a pond may be a foot thick while another spot of ice may only be an inch thick. Ice strength can also change. Thick ice is rotten after

rain. Old honey-combed ice, slush ice or ice with current under it is also dangerous. New ice is almost always stronger than old ice. Wind, waterfowl and beavers can also keep areas of ice thin.


Use these guidelines to judge the safety of fresh solid ice:

► One inch of ice -- stay off

► Two to three inches of clear, blue ice will support one adult walking.

► Four inches of ice is needed for safe ice fishing.

► Five inches of ice is needed for snowmobiling.

► Eight inches of ice is needed to support the weight of a car or light truck.

► Ten inches of ice is needed to support a medium weight truck.


When in doubt, don't go out.


IL - New Laws for Illinois

With the ushering in of a new year Illinois also is implementing 200 new laws for the state. One of them allows for penalties for boating and snowmobiling under the influence in line with the same offenses committed when driving an automobile. The law also increases to a class 4 felony the charge for operating a boat or snowmobile while under the influence during the period when an individual's operating privileges already are suspended for previous such violations.


A class 4 felony is punishable by one to three years in prison

and/or fines of up to $25,000. Previously the penalty was a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines. Additional penalties of at least $500 and five days of community service would be assessed to individuals for endangering children while operating a boat or snowmobile while intoxicated.

Also newly illegal in Illinois is kudzu and six varieties of buckthorn (common, glossy, saw-toothed, dahurian, Japanese and Chinese) that are exotic species that can take over the landscape and choke out native plants.


IN - Slough-gill rebirth

Two-year lake renovation will bring rebirth of "The Murph"

When ice forms across northern Indiana lakes, thousands of anglers pull their ice fishing sleds to Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area in northwest Indiana.  The property's J.C. Murphey Lake is regionally famous for its 8- to 10" bluegills, known as "Slough-gills."


This winter, the usual sharp sound of augers biting through the ice is absent.  The lake was drained last spring to repair the dam and renovate the fish population. While anglers mourn the loss of the lake this winter, they look forward to the rebirth that the renovation of Murphey Lake will bring in coming years.


"For those old enough to remember other renovations of 'The Murph' in mid-60s, late 70s and late 80s, this is an exciting time," said Mike Schoonveld, Willow Slough's assistant property manager.  "Each time the lake was reborn, the fishing quickly escalated from an average fishery to a panfish, bass and catfish paradise."


The most successful renovation of the lake occurred in the late 1970s when the lake remained dry for two growing seasons.  Hoping to repeat this success, DNR plans to keep the lake dry

through next fall to encourage plant growth.


"Soon after the muddy lake bottom was exposed this past spring, vegetation started growing.  Sedges, bulrushes, cattails, smartweed, willows and other vegetation turned the exposed flats into a head-high jungle by the end of the summer.  All that growth is unlocking nutrients that have been buried in the lake sediments.  Another growing season will continue the process and allow the first year growth to become even stronger," said Schoonveld.


When the lake is reflooded, this vegetation will become the foundation of a vibrant ecosystem that will ensure plenty of food for the fish stocked into the lake. Dredging of old channels and drainage ditches began last summer. These will provide structure and deeper water in the otherwise shallow lake.  Plans are also being made to shore up islands and shoreline areas.


DNR fish hatcheries are gearing up to produce fingerlings to restock the lake next fall.  Boat docks, constructed in the 1970s, have been removed and plans made to replace them with new docks and boat slips. "If history repeats itself, the lake will be full by the spring of 2005.  By the end of the summer, good catch-and-release bass fishing should be available.  By the winter of 2006, the keeper-sized bluegills will start coming through the ice again," said Schoonveld.


MI - Muskegon Salmon And Dams

Politicians have rejected a proposal to reduce reliance on fish hatcheries by increasing natural reproduction of salmon and trout. The Dept. of Natural Resources initiative, "Investing in Michigan's Fishery," calls for removal of dams. It points out that removal of only Croton and Hardy dams on the Muskegon River "would result in production of enough natural Chinook salmon to support most of Lake Michigan's Chinook salmon fishery."


DNR hatchery boss Kelley Smith estimates it costs around $300,000 to raise those Chinook. As an added bonus, wild--non-hatchery--salmon have been found to be less vulnerable to diseases.


While the proposal does not call for removal of Croton and Hardy, it asks the legislature for $11 million to remove Otsego, Plainwell and Trowbridge dams on the Kalamazoo River. Costs are so high, Smith points out, due to polluted sediments entrapped by the dams. Rep. Bill Bobier and Gov. Engler's staff reportedly waylaid dam removal funding.


In the long term, Smith says, habitat improvement, such as dam removal, is a better fisheries investment than hatcheries,

which cost fishermen $6.7 million a year to operate. Natural recruitment will never fully replace hatcheries, he adds. But it can sharply reduce reliance on hatchery fish and improve overall water quality and recreation, he explains.

Smith has advocated a watershed restoration program on the Platte River, as one of the solutions to the costly ($2 million) lawsuit over the controversial Platte River hatchery.


"There are over 2,400 dams in Michigan and they negatively impact fish populations and water quality values of nearly every watershed in the state," according to the proposal. "As a consequence of dams, many inland lakes and streams and the Great Lakes have impaired fisheries that require fish stocking or other forms of management to maintain attractive recreational fisheries."


It cites dams for:

Disruption of natural river flows,

Blocking up and down stream movement of fish,

Killing fish in turbines,

Increasing water temperatures,

Reducing dissolved oxygen, and

Accumulating contaminants

MI - Bill Targets Invasive Species

People who release them into state waters to face fines, prison time

The Detroit News               

People who release invasive aquatic species such as bighead carp or snakefish into state waters could go to prison for five years and pay as much as $250,000 in fines, under a bill approved last week by the state House. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Dan Acciavatti, R-Chesterfield Township, will go to the state Senate, which is considering a similar measure.


Invasive species have been a problem in the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair for 20 years, with the introduction of exotic species such as the zebra mussel, round goby and river ruffe.


The most dramatic example of foreign species invading state waters is the zebra mussel. Introduced into the St. Clair River in the mid-1980s, zebra mussels are now in all of the Great Lakes and many of the state’s inland lakes and have spread into the Mississippi River chain, causing billions of dollars in damage and the decline of some native aquatic species. “I do a lot of scuba diving in Lake Huron and the St. Clair River and the number of zebra mussels is unbelievable,” Acciavatti said.


But Acciavatti said a new generation of non-native fish poses a more serious threat in the Great Lakes, such as the bighead carp and Asian carp.


The bighead carp, which can grow to 100 lbs, have caused environmental havoc in rivers and lakes in the South and Midwest because they devour huge volumes of food. Scientists fear they could cause a steep decline in native fish

species and wipe out large volumes of zooplankton, a food source for young fish.


Two bighead carp were caught in fishing nets in 2001 off Pointe Pelee in Lake Erie, about 25 miles from Lake St. Clair. Bighead carp escaped from fish farms in Arkansas in 1994 and ended up in many tributaries of the Mississippi River. Bighead carp are close to entering Lake Michigan through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. One electrical barrier has been installed in attempts to thwart the invasion, and another is on the drawing debt.


Foreign species are such a problem that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will open a national center in Ann Arbor in the spring to research invasive species.

Invasive species

Foreign fish species are targeted in legislation that has passed the state House. Anyone caught with the fish or trying to release them into the Great Lakes and its tributaries faces fines of up to $250,000 and prison terms of up to five years. The targeted fish are:

Bighead carp


Black carp


Japanese weatherfish


Silver carp


     • Any fish in the snakehead fish family

Michigan gets tough on boating hit-and-runs
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on December 22 signed legislation increasing the punishment for boaters involved in hit-and-run accidents that result in death or crippling injuries. Currently, a boater convicted of such an offense would receive a maximum sentence of only 90 days in jail. The new law raises what is now a misdemeanor to felony status, and makes the penalty the same as those imposed in hit-and-run auto accidents.


Under the new law, boaters convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal accident will face up to 15 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. Those convicted of failing to stop at the scene of a marine accident that seriously injures

someone will face up to five years in prison, and up to a $5,000 fine.


The bill was introduced by State Sen. Tony Stamas following a September 2002 accident in which 33-year-old Brent Veitengruber of Linwood, Mich., was killed in a hit-and-run boating accident on Wixom Lake in Gladwin County. The operator of the other boat was convicted of negligent homicide and negligent crippling, and was sentenced this past July to one year in jail.

"This was a tragic accident that had a devastating effect on an entire family," Stamas said. "It only made common sense to make this necessary change in the law."


Ontario - Spring Bear Hunt Will Not Be Reinstated in Ontario

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has refused to reinstate the province’s spring bear hunt.  Instead, a plan will be implemented to help people deal with nuisance bears.  The decision ignores citizens’ pleas and committee recommendations to allow the hunt. 


Citizens from northern Ontario had urged the government to reinstate the hunt to ease financial hardships they suffered as a result of its cancellation in 1999.  The Nuisance Bear Review Committee, established by the Minister of Natural Resources to review the biology, geographic and socio-economic factors relating to nuisance bear problems in

Ontario, recommended that a limited spring bear hunt be reinstated for socio-economic reason.  The requests were denied.


The MNR will instead institute a nuisance bear strategy plan, which includes the establishment of a 1-800 nuisance bear hotline and the expansion of education efforts.  It also promises to support efforts by municipalities to avoid nuisance bear problems and work with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to develop a bylaw to prevent bear incidents.


The MNR has suggested alternative solutions to the nuisance bear problem but offered little to lessen the economic impact of the cancelled hunt.

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