Week of June 9, 2008

National

Regional

General
Lake Michigan
Lake Superior

Illinois
Michigan
Minnesota
New York
Ohio
Wisconsin
Ontario

 

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National

Summer Fun on Your National Wildlife Refuge

Emerging research shows that children who feel connected to nature have better physical, mental and emotional health.  And sharing the outdoors together can build strong family bonds and create lifelong memories.  Whether you go outside solo or with your family, national wildlife refuges are great places to have an active summer.  Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge, and there is a refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities. 

 

Here is a sampling of summer activities:

June 14 –   Visit Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge (Indiana) for its Take a Kid Fishing day. Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge (Maine) hosts its 11th Annual Children's Fishing Derby. For a complete guide to fishing on about 270 national wildlife refuges, go to www.fws.gov/refuges/FishingGuide/index.html

 

June 2-June 21 – Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge (North Dakota) holds its Birding Festival from 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., including guided tours and a Prairie Wildflowers Walk.  Learn about piping plover recovery and enjoy activities specifically geared toward youngsters.
   
July 13 – Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (New Jersey) invites outdoor enthusiasts of all ages to learn to identify some of the 70 butterfly species on the refuge. 

“Discovery Den” activities focus on the amazing world of dragonflies and butterflies.   

 

August 10 – Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (New Jersey) holds its “Second Sunday . . with Friends, Dragonflies.”  The program will be followed by a guided walk into the normally closed Management Area.  The Friends Bookstore and Gift Shop will be open, starting at 11 a.m.

 

August 22-24 – Nulhegan Basin Division of Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge will be part of the 17th Annual North Country Moose Festival in Bennington, Vermont.  The festival has become wildly popular.  After all, who doesn’t love moose?

 

August 31 Audubon National Wildlife Refuge (North Dakota) has planned a family afternoon with its “Greenwings Day,” when people can learn about hunting, fishing, wildlife conservation and new outdoor skills.  Kids will receive door prizes.

 

To find a refuge in your area, visit www.fws.gov/refuges/refugeLocatorMaps/index.html

 

For a long list of events at refuges: www.fws.gov/refuges/SpecialEvents/FWS_SpecialEvents_Search.cfm


Be Vigilant on the Water

The U.S. government is asking boaters to keep their eyes peeled for suspicious activity on area waterways. America's Waterways Watch program is in its fourth year. The U.S. Department of State, U.S. Coast guard, Coast Guard auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons work together to distribute information on the campaign. The program's goal is to include civilians in an effort to keep waterways safe.

 

The program was launched in local areas after September 11 by the U.S. Coast Guard and then expanded to a national basis in 2005. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard.

 

The program asks recreational boaters and other local

residents to report suspicious people who misuse boats and seem strangely unfamiliar  with them; any person or watercraft that appears to be loitering or has no specific reason to be in the area; anyone trying to access a boat by  force; unattended vessels in odd locations; unusual night operations; light-flashing between boats; and anyone recovering or tossing items  into waterways or onto shorelines.

► Residents should not approach or challenge anyone who is acting suspiciously.

► Concerns should be directed to the national Response Center, (877) 24-WATCH.

►Emergencies and threats to property should be reported to 911 or called into the Coast Guard on Channel 16.

 


Regional

New fish marking program

A new program that better monitors fish stocking results is the Great Lakes Mass Marking Initiative; on track to receive $1.75 million for the purchase of a mass marking trailer. This mass marking equipment being purchased by USFWS is something that has long been sorely needed to better manage and track Great Lakes stocking programs. The equipment, an AutoFish system trailer and marking process is made by Northwest Marine Technology, Inc. a long-time friend of aquatic resources agencies. The process, a huge success in the Pacific Northwest, has been on regional DNR wish lists for years.

 

The FWS report says a total of nine AutoFish and four manual trailers will be required to tag and clip all 32 million trout and salmon planted annually in the Great Lakes. The report recommends the establishment of a Great Lakes Regional Marking Committee that would be responsible for developing and prioritizing basin-wide, lake-wide and jurisdiction specific studies that will develop specific recommendations for transferring and archiving data.  The report also recommends the establishment of a Great lakes Mass Marking Laboratory

that will provide marking and recovery services to all hatcheries in US waters and provide technical and administrative support to the basin-wide program.

 

This mass marking or AutoFish System includes the following benefits: It will gather Data that includes: number, size, clip quality and tag retention, it sorts fish into user-defined size classes, each fish is measured to the nearest 1 mm total length, it provides count and measurement of every fish, and it can clip an adipose fin and/or insert a coded-wire tag in the snout of each fish at the rate of 4,000-6,000 fish per hour.

 

And it can do all this without any human handling of any fish, thus greatly reducing stress and mortality. With backup from two manual workers, automated trailers can process up to 90,000 fish a day, removing the top fin nearest each fish's tail. Unlike hand clipping, the automated system keeps the fish in water at all times and requires no anesthesia. That keeps mortality rates remarkably low, at about one-tenth of 1 percent. With less mortality there’s more fish; more fish – who benefits?

 


IJC to hold public meetings on Great Lakes water levels

The International Joint Commission will hold public meetings on Great Lakes Water Levels in MN, ON and WI during the week of June 16-20.

 

At these meetings, experts from the International Upper Great Lakes Study (IUGLS) will present the latest scientific findings and provide current information about water levels. They will also briefly outline the structure and purpose of the Study and review a history of water level regulation in the Great Lakes.  All meetings will be held 7-9 PM.

Meeting schedule and location:

Duluth, June 16 - 7-9 p.m., Lake Superior Railroad Museum, aka “The Depot”, 506 West Michigan Street, Duluth, MN

Thunder Bay, June 17 - 7-9 p.m., Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, 1 Paul Shaffer Drive, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Sturgeon Bay, June 19 - 7-9 p.m., Collins Learning Center, Crossroads at Big Creek, 2041 Michigan Street, Sturgeon Bay, WI

Mequon, June 20 - 7-9 p.m., Concordia University Todd Wehr Auditorium 12800 North Lake Shore Drive Mequon, WI

 


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for June 6, 2008

Weather Conditions

Summer-like weather finally arrived in the Great Lakes basin this week as temperatures climbed into the 80s.   Numerous storm systems also brought a good deal of rain to the region, including some severe weather.  Very heavy rain was reported in Wisconsin and Michigan on Thursday and more thunderstorms are expected across the region Friday.  The weekend will see its fair share of sun, but showers and thunderstorms are possible.    

 

Lake Level Conditions

Currently, Lake Superior is 13 inches higher than it was one year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron is an inch lower than last year's level.  Lake St. Clair is at the same level as it was at this time last year, while Lakes Erie and Ontario are 1 and 7 inches higher, respectively.  Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are forecasted to rise 3 and 2 inches, respectively, over the next month.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are predicted to drop 2 to 3 inches.  Lake Superior is forecasted to stay above last year's water level through November.  Lake Michigan-Huron is around its level of a year ago and is projected to be above last year's level over the next 6 months. Lakes St. Clair and Erie will remain at around last year's levels, while Lake Ontario is predicted to remain higher than last year's level over the next several months.  See our Daily Levels web page for more water level information.

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

Outflows from the St. Mary's, St. Clair, and Detroit Rivers were below average for May.  The outflows through the Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers were 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

June 6

601.2

577.7

574.2

572.0

246.8

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

 +1

+2

+23

+33

+41

Diff last month

+3

 +2

+1

-1

-5

Diff from last yr

+13

-1

 0

+1

+7

 


General

Anglers Willing to Take Action to Protect Favorite Fishing Spots

An overwhelming majority of anglers would take positive, preventive action if one of their favorite fishing spots were threatened with government closure, according to a recent survey.

 

In the May 2008 survey of 2,017 anglers, nearly all said they would take action if they learned that a government entity was considering closing one of their favorite fishing spots. A mere 0.02% responded that they would do nothing, either because they do not have enough time or because the threatened closure is not important to them.

 

Of the possible actions listed in the survey, the largest number of anglers (77%) stated they would e-mail their state or federal legislative representatives to protest the threatened closure. A further 49% said they would write a letter to their state or federal representatives, while 44% said they would telephone their representatives.

In other possible actions named in the survey, 33% of anglers said they would be willing to join organized demonstrations and protests. Another 29% stated they would write letters to newspaper editors, and 22% said they would visit fishing clubs to find out how they could be involved in stopping the closure. Slightly more than 21% stated that they would take other actions not listed in the survey.

 

From the survey results, it appears clear that the vast majority of anglers are willing to take action to prevent the loss of favorite fishing spots. However, according to Rob Southwick of AnglerSurvey.com, “In some past fishing closure issues, many anglers, though willing, did not take action. Either they did not know who to contact or felt their voice would not be heard. As with any political issue, people need help and encouragement if they are to invest time and become involved.”

 

 


Lake Superior

New McQuade Public Access to Lake Superior

A grand opening for the McQuade access is planned for Friday, July 18 on Minnesota’s shoreline of Lake Superior. McQuade is about 10.5 miles from the Duluth Harbor entry.  Under construction for two years, finishing work includes a pedestrian walk and tunnel under Highway 61 and along the 

harbor, handicap access, completion of the restroom facilities,

boat ramps and docks, parking lot, fishing pier and landscaping. The McQuade access promises to be an attractive and well-used facility that will provide access to Lake Superior for boaters, safe harbor transients, area residents and visitors alike.


Lake Michigan

Perch Growth in Southern Lake Michigan

Anglers often describe big fish they have caught and ask biologists to speculate on the fish’s age. Giving a straight answer to the question “how old is my fish?” is not easy because many factors influence growth rate, and fish of a given age can vary widely in length and weight. A recent Ball State University study of yellow perch growth in Indiana waters of Lake Michigan shows that, even within a given lake, knowing the length of a fish does not make guessing its age a simple matter. Female perch grow much faster than males, and growth rates of both males and females are depressed when perch are abundant. An eight inch perch from southern Lake Michigan would likely be an age 8 male or age 6 female if caught in 1989, or an age 5 male or age 4 female if caught in 2003.

Average length-at-age of Lake Michigan perch (shown here in inches) varies by year due to fluctuations in perch abundance. When perch are relatively scarce (as in 2003), growth is faster than it is in times of perch abundance (as in 1989).


Tournament Economic Impact Surveys Launched

The first-ever comprehensive economic impact analysis of salmon tournaments in Lake Michigan was recently developed through collaboration of Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University’s Center for Economic Analysis, and GL2S. This study will quantify the economic benefits for communities that host tournaments. In addition to demonstrating the value of tournaments to local governments and sponsors, this year’s data will provide a baseline for future comparisons. As factors such as the quality of the salmon fishery, invasive species, gas prices, and tournament promotion change over time, the economic effects of these changes can be determined.

 

Two separate surveys were designed for this study www.gl2s.com. The first is a Captain’s Survey. All angling - related expenditures are reported on the Captain’s Survey.  Since these costs are generally shared among all members of the team, each captain is asked to report for the entire team.

The second survey is a Non-Angling Expenditure Survey (see copy on Page 5-6). We ask that at least one angler from each team fill out this survey. This survey is designed to address the importance of non-angling expenditures that would not occur if the tournaments did not take place. For example, if a spouse and children travel with you to the port hosting a tournament and spend money on movies, shopping, or amusement parks while you are out fishing this represents an added economic impact of the tournament. Even if you traveled alone or with teammates, your input on this survey is valuable.

 

In coming years, local governments and tourism industry representatives will be encouraged to lend support to tournaments around the lake. This study will help to justify their efforts and transform tournament fishing on Lake Michigan. Thanks for your help in making this study a success!


Coast Guard investigates sinking of Charter Fishing Vessel May 30

WAUKEGAN, Ill. - The Coast Guard is continuing its investigation to determine why the charter fishing vessel "Fin Seeker", owned by Captain Jason Lee sank in severe weather two miles off the coast of Waukegan, Ill. in Lake Michigan on May 30. 

 

According to Cmdr. Richard Reinemann, deputy commander of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan for Kenosha, the marine casualty investigation "will look closely at all possible contributing factors and communicate lessons learned to help prevent future incidents, as well as determine whether any violations of law or regulations have occurred and whether remedial actions need to be taken." 

 

Reinemann as well stated that "information gathered in these investigations can play a role in changing or creating new laws or regulations, and in implementing new technologies to help prevent future casualties."

 

Shortly before the 36-foot vessel was swamped by 6-10' seas and sank in 70' of water, Captain Lee and six passengers

were able to don life jackets and make a mayday call to the Coast Guard.  When a Coast Guard HH-65 helicopter from Air Facility Waukegan arrived on scene, it found two clusters of three survivors and a single seventh survivor, the vessel's Captain, struggling in the heavy seas.  A rescue swimmer deployed from the helicopter into the seas, and finding the survivors becoming rapidly hypothermic, assisted in their rescue by the helicopter and by a Coast Guard rescue boat from Station Kenosha.

 

Coast Guard Capt. Bruce Jones, Captain of the Port for Lake Michigan, stated that "these seven survivors are alive today because they wore life jackets.  In the majority of the roughly 700 fatalities which occur annually in U.S. small recreational and commercial vessel accidents, the failure to wear a life jacket is a significant factor."

 

Jones also said that "this was very nearly a tragedy with seven fatalities.  We consider near-misses like this precursor events and will investigate thoroughly so all our maritime partners can benefit from what we learn.  We are thankful for the expert response by our boat and air crews, which ensured the survival of these seven individuals."


DNR finds VHS infected gobies in Lake Michigan

MADISON – Thousands of round gobies washed onshore on a Milwaukee beach last month were killed by the fish disease VHS, according to laboratory results returned Thursday, June 5 to Wisconsin fisheries officials.

           

The DNR received confirmation from the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory that VHS virus, was isolated in three of four round gobies collected May 28 by DNR fish biologists. The four fish were among thousands of decomposing gobies piled up on the beach at Grant Park in Milwaukee along Lake Michigan, and were in good enough condition for testing, according to Sue Marcquenski, DNR’s fish health expert.

           

VHS, which is not a human health threat but can infect a broad range of native fish, was documented for the first time in Wisconsin in May 2007, including from fish in northern Lake Michigan near Algoma and Kewaunee. The diagnosis of the round gobies with VHS represents the first time the virus has been found in the southern basin of Lake Michigan and the first time the disease has been found in gobies from this lake. 

           

Fisheries Director Mike Staggs said that the news was not a surprise, given that the virus was previously found in Lake Michigan and because round gobies are among the species most susceptible to it, based on fish kills caused by VHS in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

             

“The good news is that despite all the testing we’ve done this year and last year for VHS, we haven’t found the virus in waters beyond the Lake Michigan and Lake Winnebago systems,” he says. “And that the steps we’ve been requiring boaters, anglers and wild bait harvesters to take are working to contain the disease.

           

However, Staggs says, the discovery of VHS in Lake Michigan gobies highlights that “VHS continues to be a potentially serious threat to Wisconsin fish and that we need everyone to continue following the rules to prevent the spread of this

disease.”

 

While gobies are an invasive fish, they are important prey for Lake Michigan yellow perch, walleye, lake trout and bass. Gobies also eat large numbers of quagga mussels and zebra mussels, helping control populations of these other invasive species that also can affect the amount and quality of food available to young fish, Marcquenski says.

           

VHS can spread among fish when healthy fish eat sick fish or absorb VHS-contaminated water contaminated through their gills. Fisheries officials have said the main way VHS can spread to new waters is by anglers moving infected bait fish to a new lake or river, with moving large quantities of contaminated water a distant second.    

 

This spring, DNR is testing fish from about 30 waters in the Wisconsin River basin for VHS as part of its monitoring program, and none have tested positive so far. Nor have any fish from other fish kills this spring tested positive for the virus so far.  

 

In 2007, DNR tested more than 180 lots of wild fish from more than 50 waters and didn’t find the disease anywhere beyond Lake Michigan and Lake Winnebago. The state’s hatchery system also tested clean.

           

The gobies’ diagnosis with VHS brings to seven the total number of sites from which the virus has been confirmed, representing five different fish species.  Drum from three different sites on the Lake Winnebago system, brown trout from Lake Michigan near Algoma, smallmouth bass from Sturgeon Bay, lake white fish from northern Green Bay and now the gobies from Lake Michigan near Milwaukee have all tested positive for the virus. 

           

For more information on the VHS fish disease and the rules boaters, anglers and others must follow to prevent the spread of VHS, go to www.dnr.wi.gov/fish/vhs.


Illinois

Wingshooting Clinics

The IDNR and partnering organizations are hosting a series of wingshooting clinics for beginning shooters and for more experienced hunters this summer.  Youth/Women’s clinics are free.  Saturday sessions generally provide instruction for girls and boys ages 10 - 15, while Sunday sessions are generally used to provide instruction for girls and women ages 10 and older. (Youth participants must be at least 4 feet 6 inches tall and weigh at least 75 pounds). Instructors are certified by the National Sporting Clays Association.

 

Hunter clinics are designed to enhance the wingshooting skills of those ages 16 and older. Hunters with wingshooting skill levels from beginner to advanced are encouraged to attend. A small fee is assessed each hunter clinic participant to cover the cost of clay targets and refreshments.

Upcoming Youth/Women’s clinics (and contact phone numbers) include:

June 14 - Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area (Cass Co.); phone 217/452-7741

June 28-29 - St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club, Elburn (Kane Co.); phone 630/363-6180

Aug. 16-17 - Shabonna Lake State Park, Shabonna (DeKalb Co.); phone 815/758-2773

Aug. 30-31 - Cender Conservation Camp, Fisher (Champaign Co.); 217/935-6860

Sept. 6-7 - Stephen A. Forbes State Park (Marion Co.); phone 618/547-3381

Sept. 13-14 - Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park (Henry Co.); phone 309/853-5589

 


Becoming an Outdoors Woman July 11-13

Reservations are still available for the next Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop, July 11-13 at the Lorado Taft Campus in Oregon, IL.  The popular Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshops introduce participants to a wide variety of

outdoor recreation skills and activities.  The cost of $185 includes all meals, lodging, use of equipment, and course materials.  For more information and registration materials, click on the IDNR website at the following link:  http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/Bow/index.htm.


Coast Guard investigates sinking of Charter Fishing Vessel May 30

WAUKEGAN, Ill. - The Coast Guard is continuing its investigation to determine why the charter fishing vessel "Fin Seeker", owned by Captain Jason Lee sank in severe weather two miles off the coast of Waukegan, Ill. in Lake Michigan on May 30. 

 

According to Cmdr. Richard Reinemann, deputy commander of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan for Kenosha, the marine casualty investigation "will look closely at all possible contributing factors and communicate lessons learned to help prevent future incidents, as well as determine whether any violations of law or regulations have occurred and whether remedial actions need to be taken." 

 

Reinemann as well stated that "information gathered in these investigations can play a role in changing or creating new laws or regulations, and in implementing new technologies to help prevent future casualties."

 

Shortly before the 36-foot vessel was swamped by 6-10' seas and sank in 70' of water, Captain Lee and six passengers

were able to don life jackets and make a mayday call to the Coast Guard.  When a Coast Guard HH-65 helicopter from Air Facility Waukegan arrived on scene, it found two clusters of three survivors and a single seventh survivor, the vessel's Captain, struggling in the heavy seas.  A rescue swimmer deployed from the helicopter into the seas, and finding the survivors becoming rapidly hypothermic, assisted in their rescue by the helicopter and by a Coast Guard rescue boat from Station Kenosha.

 

Coast Guard Capt. Bruce Jones, Captain of the Port for Lake Michigan, stated that "these seven survivors are alive today because they wore life jackets.  In the majority of the roughly 700 fatalities which occur annually in U.S. small recreational and commercial vessel accidents, the failure to wear a life jacket is a significant factor."

 

Jones also said that "this was very nearly a tragedy with seven fatalities.  We consider near-misses like this precursor events and will investigate thoroughly so all our maritime partners can benefit from what we learn.  We are thankful for the expert response by our boat and air crews, which ensured the survival of these seven individuals."


Michigan

DNR Announces New Chief of Law Enforcement

The Michigan DNR last week announced that Gary Hagler of Flint has been named the chief of the department’s Law Enforcement Division. Hagler most recently served as the chief of police of the Flint Police Department, where he was a 22-year veteran of the force. Hagler took office immediately.

 

Hagler was named police chief in Flint in 2004 and was responsible for running a department with more than 400 employees and a $32 million budget. As chief, he worked to create and promote 12 police youth programs to mentor at-risk youth providing them with positive role models, work experience and law enforcement education. He is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy and 

the Eastern Michigan University School of Police Staff and Command. Hagler also holds a bachelor’s degree of business administration from Baker College.

 

Hagler has extensive national experience as a criminal justice and law enforcement expert. In 2007, he helped the Flint Police Department become one of just eight departments in the nation to be selected by the International Association of Chiefs of Police to become a validation site for the Enhancing Law Enforcement Response Victim model policy program. He has participated on several national panels and has testified before the U.S. Senate on crime trends and the correlation to the reduction in federal funding to local law enforcement agencies nationally.


Minnesota

New McQuade Public Access to Lake Superior

A grand opening for the McQuade access is planned for Friday, July 18 on Minnesota’s shoreline of Lake Superior. McQuade is about 10.5 miles from the Duluth Harbor entry.  Under construction for two years, finishing work includes a pedestrian walk and tunnel under Highway 61 and along the

harbor, handicap access, completion of the restroom facilities, boat ramps and docks, parking lot, fishing pier and landscaping. The McQuade access promises to be an attractive and well-used facility that will provide access to Lake Superior for boaters, safe harbor transients, area residents and visitors alike.


DNR and MDH encouraging more fish consumption

A Minnesota DNR web site now includes newly revised fish consumption data that encourages people to eat more fish.  The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) revised its fish consumption advisory to include a large new body of data on contaminants in fish from Minnesota lakes and rivers. The advisory also is in a new format designed to make it easier to understand.

 

Previous guides indicated that consumers should eat fish that had a once-per-week recommendation or a meal of fish from the once-per-month category but not both. Now, MDH is advising consumers that they may eat fish from the once-per-week category and the once-per-month category.

 

"The health benefits of eating more fish are clear," said Ron Payer, DNR fisheries section chief. "Those health aspects combined with the many opportunities Minnesota offers to get outdoors, have fun and discover the joys of fishing create ideal opportunities to catch quality time with family and friends."

 

Health experts, including MDH, recommend eating one to two meals of fish per week. Fish are a good low-fat source of protein and eating fish may help protect adults against cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women and women who may become pregnant should also eat fish because it promotes eye and brain development in fetuses.

 

For more than 20 years, the fish consumption advisory has helped Minnesotans choose which species of fish to eat and how often in order to minimize their risks from contaminants in fish while gaining the many health benefits from eating fish. 

This year's edition of the advisory includes a substantial amount of new data collected from numerous species of fish from more than 250 lakes and rivers. The advice for specific lakes and rivers in the advisory has been redesigned to include information on three contaminants instead of the previous two. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) joins mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as one of the contaminants that can affect how much fish people should eat. The tables also include changes in how meal advice is displayed.

 

The changes to this year's guide represent the biggest change in the advisory format since it was first published in 1985.

 

For this advisory, MDH staff analyzed and interpreted laboratory results from approximately 4,500 samples of fish tissue, more than twice the usual amount. The data came from field collections in 2006 and 2007 by the DNR and the subsequent analysis of PCBs and mercury in fish tissue by the MDA. The increased collections and analysis were made possible in part by funding from the Clean Water Legacy Act of 2006.

 

The fish advisory is available online from the DNR web site at www.mndnr.gov/lakefind  and from MDH at www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/fish/eating/sitespecific.html;  Additional information about the MDH fish consumption advisory is available at www.health.state.mn.us/news/pressrel/fish060308.html.

 


Announces Lead-Free Tackle Exchange Events

Saint Paul, MN. -- The fishing season is upon us and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources are once again partnering with retailers and others to offer 20 lead tackle exchanges across the state this summer. The annual exchange events offer anglers a chance to try the growing variety of lead-free fishing tackle.

 

Lead, one of the top 25 toxic chemical pollutants in Minnesota, is found in most fishing jigs and sinkers. This metal toxin has adverse effect on the nervous and reproductive systems of mammals and birds, and is poisoning wildlife such as loons and eagles.

 

Anglers can help keep toxic lead out of our environment by bringing lead-containing sinkers, jigs and other weights to a tackle exchange event.  Depending on what anglers turn in, lead tackle is swapped for non-lead jigs, split shot, walking

sinkers, bullet/worm slip sinkers and bell swivel weights in various sizes and colors. In exchange, anglers receive a variety of new, lead-free fishing tackle made of tin, bismuth, tungsten and steel.

 

Since 2001, the MPCA has sponsored tackle exchanges across Minnesota. The goal of these events is to educate anglers and give them the opportunity to experiment with lead-free fishing tackle. Recent research shows that if anglers try lead-free tackle they are likely to change their purchasing habits in an environmentally friendly way. There is no charge to exchange tackle.

 

Visit www.pca.state.mn.us/sinkers  for more information about lead-free tackle and complete details on the exchange events.

http://www.pca.state.mn.us/news/data/newsRelease.cfm?NR=279081&type=2


DNR to study Lake Kabetogama walleye reproduction

In an effort to better understand walleye natural reproduction and recruitment in Lake Kabetogama, Voyageurs National Park, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is releasing marked walleye fry this spring. This will be the first of a three-year study to help DNR biologists gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that affect walleye natural reproduction and recruitment in the lake. Similar studies will be undertaken on several other Minnesota lakes.

 

A pre-determined number of walleye fry from Pike River Hatchery on Lake Vermilion will be marked with oxytetracyclene (OTC) prior to release. The OTC will leave a mark on bony structures within the fish that can be used to differentiate marked fish from those produced naturally, when they are later collected through DNR sampling.

 

Sampling will be done throughout the summer to collect young-of-year walleye, which will be examined for marks. The ratio of marked and unmarked fish in the sample will provide a population estimate, which biologists will use to estimate wild fry production.

The DNR has an extensive sampling program on Lake Kabetogama, which includes annual fall gill netting, spring

and fall electrofishing, shoreline seining, and trawling. The information gained from this study, when combined with other sampling results, will provide additional insight on walleye production and survival on the lake.

 

Lake Kabetogama has long been one of Minnesota’s premier walleye lakes, a fishery that has been sustained through natural reproduction. However, a documented increase in juvenile walleye mortality in recent years has biologists concerned about walleye production in Kabetogama. Many different factors in the lake could be affecting walleye natural reproduction and recruitment.

Conducting this research at the earliest life stages will help biologists better understand the relationship between spawning stock and wild fry production on Lake Kabetogama. It will provide baseline information for future studies and help guide future management decisions.  

 

The long-term goal of the DNR and Voyageurs National Park is to manage Lake Kabetogama for a healthy, native fish community sustained by natural reproduction, as documented for almost two decades prior to recent declines in young walleye survival.


Minnesota to have rules in place to manage ballast discharge by September 30

St. Paul - Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is developing a discharge permit for commercial vessels that discharge ballast water into Lake Superior and its harbors. The MPCA plans to have a general permit available for ships by September 30, 2008, and intends to remove the current state rule exemption from NPDES permitting for vessels.

 

In April Minnesota's Ramsey County District Court affirmed the MPCA's schedule for issuing a vessel discharge permit by September 30.  A District Court judge has ruled the MPCA must, by October , 2008, begin to regulate ballast water releases.  The ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy against the MPCA.

 

On March 30, 2005, the Federal District Court in Northern California issued a ruling that USEPA had exceeded its statutory authority when, more than 30 years ago, the USEPA

issued a regulation excluding “discharges incidental to normal operation of a vessel at 40 CFR 122.3(a)” from Clean Water Act NPDES permit requirements. On September 18, 2006 the Court issued an order vacating the regulation as of September 30, 2008. The Court delayed implementation by two years to allow USEPA time to address the ramifications of the court order. USEPA has challenged the decision and oral arguments were heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2007. However, USEPA has also begun development of a national permit with a goal to complete by September 30, 2008 should the court’s decision be upheld.

 

If the court ruling is upheld and USEPA is unsuccessful in developing a permit program by September 30, 2008 or USEPA’s permit program is not felt to be adequately protective of Lake Superior waters, the MPCA intends to have a NPDES/SDS (State Disposal System) vessel discharge permit available for priority vessel discharges.

www.pca.state.mn.us/programs/ballastwater.html


New York

NY settlement money funds fishing projects

Funds to mark salmon, renovate hatchery, launches, marinas, more

Using funds from the settlement of the state's lawsuit against Occidental Chemical Corp. dealing with pollution that devastated sportfishing in Lake Ontario and the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers NY DEC has developed a restoration plan that is funding some 40 or more projects along Lake Ontario and its tributaries.

 

Some 25 years after Hooker Chemical stopped using the Love Canal as an industrial dump in 1953, Love Canal literally and figuratively exploded from the 82 different compounds, some of them suspected carcinogens that had been dumped into the canal. The settlement was acquired from Occidental who was Hooker's successor as owner or operator of Hooker Chemical.

 

Included as part of that settlement, New York has acquired a new automated fish marking trailer that will be used to mark

Chinook salmon, Steelhead, Lake Trout, and possibly other species. The technology, widely used in the Pacific Northwest, will allow DEC to mark and track upwards of 2.5 million fish annually – significantly improving the agency’s ability to monitor and study species in Lake Ontario and its tributaries and improve its Lake Ontario fishery.  Already in use, the equipment is now on loan to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for use in their stocking regimes in Lake Ontario and some of its inland lakes

 

The settlement will also fund stream bank improvements on the Salmon River, upgrade the Salmon River Fish Hatchery, improve fish production at the facility, construct sea lamprey barriers, improve walleye spawning habitat - and subsequently fish production - on several Lake Ontario tributaries, rehabilitate northern pike habitat, renovate and modernize boat launches at several locations, and build angler parking areas adjacent to launch areas and tributaries. The benefits will be realized for years to come.


Ohio

Yellow Perch bag limit reduced for Lake Erie's Western Basin

Twenty-five fish daily limit takes effect July 1 in waters west of Huron

 COLUMBUS, OH - Lake Erie anglers fishing in Ohio waters west of Huron are reminded that the 30-fish daily bag limit for yellow perch is reduced to 25 fish, effective July 1.

 

The reduction, approved by the Ohio Wildlife Council in March, is in response to declining yellow perch stocks in western Lake Erie, generally attributed to poor spawning. The daily bag limit will remain at 30 fish per angler from the Huron pier eastward, where perch stocks are more plentiful.

 

The wildlife council's action followed a March announcement by the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, that the lakewide 2008 total allowable catch (TAC) of yellow perch would be 10.16 million pounds, including 1.4 million pounds in the Western Basin.

 The TAC represents the amount of fish that can be caught without putting stocks at risk. This year's western basin TAC is well below the average of 2.7 million pounds allowed over the past decade and is the lowest since 1996.

Fishery managers from the five states and provinces surrounding Lake Erie agree on the annual TAC, using an area-based sharing formula to determine the allocation of fish among the jurisdictions. Ohio's 2008 allocation or "quota" for yellow perch totals 4.388 million pounds from three perch stocks in Lake Erie, but only 708,000 pounds is available in the Western Basin.

 

"In 2007, Ohio's sport fishermen caught more than 781,000 pounds and the commercial fishery more than 200,000 pounds of perch in the western basin," said Roger Knight, Lake Erie fisheries administrator with ODNR.  "That was more than we anticipated from the sport fishery and it pushed us over our quota in the Western Basin by about 18 percent."

 

To remain within the Ohio Western Basin quota for 2008 and protect the declining perch stock there, ODNR is allocating commercial quota only in the Central Basin, and reducing the sport bag limit in the western basin. Knight noted that ODNR intends to restore the daily bag limit to 30 fish lakewide as soon as stocks recover in the Western Basin.

 


Walleye poachers handed steep fines, jail time

Wisconsin men pay more than $4,600 in fines and restitution for over bagging

 SANDUSKY, OH - Seven Wisconsin men paid more than $4,600 in fines and restitution last week, while two of the men spent three days in jail, for taking more than the legal limit of walleyes from Lake Erie during the recent holiday weekend.

 

Acting on an anonymous tip to the Turn-In-a-Poacher hotline prior to the Memorial Day weekend, investigators with the Ohio DNR conducted surveillance on South Bass Island where the illegal activity was allegedly occurring.  During the four-day holiday weekend, investigators observed a group of anglers "double tripping" - taking multiple daily limits of walleyes during the same 24-hour period.

 

Investigators detained the men when they returned to the mainland and determined that the group possessed 67 walleyes over the legal limit. Investigators also confiscated camera equipment, photos and videotape that allegedly depicted the over bagging activity.

 

"We have been consistent with our message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in Ohio," said Kevin Ramsey, supervisor for the Division of Wildlife's Lake Erie Law Enforcement Unit. "We welcome all to participate in this outstanding fishery on Lake Erie, but in order for everyone to benefit from it, and in order for us to maintain it, the bag limits must be observed at all times."

 

Ottawa County Municipal Court Judge Frederick Haney found the seven men guilty of multiple counts of poaching walleyes. They were ordered to pay $50 in restitution for each walleye

taken over the legal limit in accordance with new legislation that increased the value of wild animals that are unlawfully held, taken, bought, sold, or possessed. The new law reflects the present-day value of Ohio's wildlife, which can range anywhere from $20 to nearly $2,500 per animal.

 

Thad B. Burkette, 32, of Hartford, Wisconsin, Travis J. Sonnentag, 29, of Ripon, Wisconsin and Jeff Steinman, 32, of Slinger, Wisconsin were each convicted of double tripping for two days on walleye and possessing 12 walleyes over the legal limit. Each was fined $350 plus court costs and ordered to pay $600 in restitution for the illegally taken fish ($50 per fish). In addition, their fishing licenses were revoked for 2.5 years.

 

Burkette and Sonnentag also received 40-day jail sentences with 37 days suspended.  Steinman was ordered to serve 50 hours of community service.

 

Patrick J. Mann, 50, of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, Carey T. Slater, 33, of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, Thomas A. Slater, 60, of Eden, Wisconsin and Chad Meinberg, 33, of Oakfield, Wisconsin were each convicted of double tripping on walleyes for one day and taking six fish over the limit.  They were each fined $150 plus court costs and ordered to pay $300 in restitution for the illegally taken fish ($50 per fish). Ten-day jail sentences for each man were suspended.  Their fishing licenses were revoked for one year.

 

Meinberg entered not guilty pleas to additional charges of double tripping on a second day and taking seven fish over the legal limit. Judge Haney set his trial date for June 25.


Wisconsin

DNR finds VHS infected gobies in Lake Michigan

MADISON – Thousands of round gobies washed onshore on a Milwaukee beach last month were killed by the fish disease VHS, according to laboratory results returned Thursday, June 5 to Wisconsin fisheries officials.

           

The DNR received confirmation from the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory that VHS virus, was isolated in three of four round gobies collected May 28 by DNR fish biologists. The four fish were among thousands of decomposing gobies piled up on the beach at Grant Park in Milwaukee along Lake Michigan, and were in good enough condition for testing, according to Sue Marcquenski, DNR’s fish health expert.

           

VHS, which is not a human health threat but can infect a broad range of native fish, was documented for the first time in Wisconsin in May 2007, including from fish in northern Lake Michigan near Algoma and Kewaunee. The diagnosis of the round gobies with VHS represents the first time the virus has been found in the southern basin of Lake Michigan and the first time the disease has been found in gobies from this lake. 

           

Fisheries Director Mike Staggs said that the news was not a surprise, given that the virus was previously found in Lake Michigan and because round gobies are among the species most susceptible to it, based on fish kills caused by VHS in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

             

“The good news is that despite all the testing we’ve done this year and last year for VHS, we haven’t found the virus in waters beyond the Lake Michigan and Lake Winnebago systems,” he says. “And that the steps we’ve been requiring boaters, anglers and wild bait harvesters to take are working to contain the disease.

           

However, Staggs says, the discovery of VHS in Lake Michigan gobies highlights that “VHS continues to be a potentially serious threat to Wisconsin fish and that we need everyone to continue following the rules to prevent the spread of this

disease.”

 

While gobies are an invasive fish, they are important prey for Lake Michigan yellow perch, walleye, lake trout and bass. Gobies also eat large numbers of quagga mussels and zebra mussels, helping control populations of these other invasive species that also can affect the amount and quality of food available to young fish, Marcquenski says.

           

VHS can spread among fish when healthy fish eat sick fish or absorb VHS-contaminated water contaminated through their gills. Fisheries officials have said the main way VHS can spread to new waters is by anglers moving infected bait fish to a new lake or river, with moving large quantities of contaminated water a distant second.    

 

This spring, DNR is testing fish from about 30 waters in the Wisconsin River basin for VHS as part of its monitoring program, and none have tested positive so far. Nor have any fish from other fish kills this spring tested positive for the virus so far.  

 

In 2007, DNR tested more than 180 lots of wild fish from more than 50 waters and didn’t find the disease anywhere beyond Lake Michigan and Lake Winnebago. The state’s hatchery system also tested clean.

           

The gobies’ diagnosis with VHS brings to seven the total number of sites from which the virus has been confirmed, representing five different fish species.  Drum from three different sites on the Lake Winnebago system, brown trout from Lake Michigan near Algoma, smallmouth bass from Sturgeon Bay, lake white fish from northern Green Bay and now the gobies from Lake Michigan near Milwaukee have all tested positive for the virus. 

           

For more information on the VHS fish disease and the rules boaters, anglers and others must follow to prevent the spread of VHS, go to www.dnr.wi.gov/fish/vhs.


Ontario

Provincial court rules against commercial fishers

Industry's suit dismissed, court awards costs of $75k

Provincial yellow perch and walleye quotas set for Lake Erie that had been challenged by the Canadian Commercial fishing industry was recently dismissed by an Ontario provincial court. It found the Ministry of Natural Resources may, "in a commercial fishing license, impose terms and conditions respecting the waters from which fish may be taken; the species, size and quantity of that may be taken; and

the species, quantity, size weight, age, sex or stage of

development of fish that may be caught, retained, possessed, held, loaded, landed transported transferred or released."

 

The court also ruled that the Lake Erie committee was justified in establishing a TAC (total allowable catch) for Lake Erie yellow perch and walleye, and the Ministry was within its mandate to establish the guidelines set forth. The Court awarded costs to the Ministry in the amount of $75,000.


 

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