Week of November 24, 2008

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Fishing beyond the Great Lakes

Four Klamath River Dams may be removed to benefit Salmon

NEVADA CITY, CA (ENS) - Four dams on the Klamath River that have blocked salmon runs upstream to their spawning areas may be removed in the year 2020 under an historic agreement among federal, state and corporate parties. Dam removal will re-open over 300 miles of habitat for the Klamath's salmon and steelhead populations and eliminate water quality problems such as toxic algae blooms caused by the reservoirs.

 

The federal government, California, Oregon and the PacifiCorp electric utility on November 18 announced an Agreement in principle to remove the four dams as part of a broader effort to restore the river and revive its ailing salmon and steelhead runs and aid fishing, tribal and farming communities. The agreement is intended to guide the development of a final settlement agreement scheduled to be signed in June 2009.

 

"This is a historic announcement and the culmination of years of hard work from the numerous negotiators from the federal government and the states of California and Oregon, and PacifiCorp representatives who have worked toward a common goal of how best to protect the uniqueness of this region," said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. "We have agreed to a path forward that will protect fish, PacifiCorp customers and the local cultures and communities in the two-state Klamath River basin," Kempthorne said.

 

The U.S. will make a final determination by March 31, 2012, whether the benefits of dam removal will justify the costs, informed by scientific and engineering studies conducted in the interim, and in consultation with state, local, and tribal governments and other stakeholders.  At that point, the U.S. will designate a non-federal dam removal entity to remove the dams or decline to remove the dams.

The Klamath River was once the third most productive salmon river system in the United States. Today, due to the dams, poor water quality and too little water left in the river, the Klamath salmon runs have are less than 10 percent of their historic size. Some species, such as Coho salmon, are now in such low numbers in the Klamath River that they are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

 

Assuming a final agreement is reached next year and pending congressional approval, PacifiCorp will set aside millions of dollars for immediate environmental improvements. The funds would be used to implement numerous measures that will enhance habitat, improve water quality, increase fish populations, and benefit fisheries management in the basin. "This careful effort to balance the complex needs of numerous interests within the community is exactly the type of approach PacifiCorp takes every time we sit down to the settlement table," said Greg Abel, PacifiCorp chairman and chief executive.

 

A study by the California Energy Commission and the Department of the Interior found that removing the dams and replacing their power would save PacifiCorp customers up to $285 million over 30 years.

 

PacifiCorp agrees to contribute as much as $200 million to cover the cost of removing its four dams and restoring the river. Dam removal funds would be obtained from ratepayers in Oregon and California before removal begins. The impact to customer bills will be less than one percent.

 

If the costs of dam removal exceed PacifiCorp's contribution, California and Oregon together would contribute up to $250 million. Current estimates of dam removal costs range between $75 million and $200 million.


National

Court upholds Michigan's ballast water statute

The 6th Circuit Federal Court on November 21 affirmed the decision of the district court upholding Michigan's ballast water statute.

 

A coalition of shipping companies, non-profit shipping associations, a port terminal and dock operator, and a port association had appealed the district court’s dismissal of their constitutional challenges to the Michigan Ballast Water Statute. They used as part of their argument the 2004 Coast Guard announcement that it “is in the process of establishing ballast-water-discharge standards and evaluating shipboard treatment technologies.” The Coast Guard also stated that “ballast water discharge standards will be the subject of future rulemaking.” The court found that "in the four years since, however, the Coast Guard has not done any further rulemaking regarding ballast-water discharge standards."

 

The court opinion went on to say "What the Coast Guard has done in the meantime—on August 31, 2005—is to issue “best management practices” for NOBOBs. These practices encourage NOBOBs to conduct either a mid-ocean ballast-water exchange or a “saltwater flushing of their empty ballast water tanks” prior to entering the Great Lakes. Whether NOBOBs adopt these practices, however, is entirely up to them.

 

Thus, to summarize, the Coast Guard’s ballast-water regulations applicable to the Great Lakes have remained essentially unchanged since 1993. Vessels entering the Great Lakes carrying ballast water from outside the EEZ must either conduct a mid-ocean  ballast-water exchange before discharging ballast water into the Great Lakes, or retain their ballast water. NOBOB vessels are essentially unregulated with respect to their ballast-water practices. They are thus free to take on ballast water in the Great Lakes, mix it with any

sediment or residual water in their tanks, and then discharge the mixture into the Great Lakes."

 

Essentially, the court was saying the Coast Guard was complacent with the status quo and in fact showed no sense of urgency with ballast exchange, NOBOBS or the introduction of invasives; it was in fact inept in dealing with invasive issues.

 

So the State of Michigan took action to address the problem of ANS in 2005. Specifically, Michigan amended its Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, to require all vessels “engaging in port operations in” Michigan to obtain a permit from the state. Shippers viewed this new regulation as objectionable and found solace the Coast Guard's complacency by suing the state in federal court challenging the state's two distinct provisions of the Michigan Ballast Water Statute.

 

First, they challenged the statute’s requirement that all “oceangoing vessels engaging in port operations in” Michigan obtain a permit. Second, they challenged the requirement—applicable only to oceangoing vessels that discharge ballast water in Michigan—that they employ a treatment system approved by the MDEQ as a safe and effective means of preventing the discharge of ANS . They were alleging the state didn't have a right to protect its natural resources against the shipping industry, and claimed the permit requirement is preempted by federal law.  The court said the state was within its rights.

 

Interestingly, the Coast Guard says "it agrees that a federal approach is more amenable than a patch-work of state NOBOB management programs. . . . However, NISA does allow for states to develop their own [ANS] prevention measures" and the court concurred.


Sportsmen Dismayed by Overthrow of Congressman John Dingell

Anti-Hunting Representative Assumes Pivotal Committee Chairmanship

(Columbus, Ohio) – The United States Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) expresses its dismay today over the news that U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D- CA) toppled Representative John Dingell (D- MI) as Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Dingell has been a tireless champion of sportsmen issues for decades, while Rep. Waxman has a long history of supporting the causes of extremist animal rights and anti-firearm groups. Given the recent call by President-elect Barack Obama for a broad and bipartisan approach to governing, this action raises serious doubts in the eyes of sportsmen.

 

“Rep. Dingell understood and cared about sportsmen and their devotion to conservation,” said USSA Vice President of Government Affairs, Rob Sexton. “On the other hand, Rep. Waxman, an environmental activist, has consistently earned a 100 percent rating from the leading anti-hunting group in the country, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which has sought to use the Endangered Species Act to stop hunting.”

 

Among Waxman’s anti-hunting votes are:

►against allowing hunting, fishing, and trapping in the East Mojave Scenic Area;

►against the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1996 that enshrined hunting, fishing, and trapping as a priority use of wildlife refuges;

►for banning the importation of polar bear trophies and resulting in a loss of conservation funding;

►Beyond his strong support of anti-hunting legislation, Rep. Waxman has also been a consistent opponent of Second Amendment rights. According to Sexton, “He has voted for nearly all anti-firearm bills in Congress going back to the so-called ‘Assault Weapon Ban’ and the ‘Brady Bill.’ Both of those bills were punitive and designed to prohibit law abiding citizens from engaging in their constitutional rights.”

 

Sportsmen play a major role in the U.S. economy through their purchases of hunting, fishing, and trapping equipment. They also play the decisive role in maintaining ongoing conservation efforts through federal and state taxes on that equipment. “With the economy facing its greatest challenge in over a generation, now is not the time to embrace the radical agenda of groups like HSUS and choke off one of its most vibrant sectors. The USSA hopes that Rep. Waxman will show a greater appreciation for this fact as he assumes his new position than he has in the past,” concluded Sexton.


Monitoring and surveys show no new populations of Ruffe

During October, the Alpena USFWS office conducted an annual survey to detect new populations and to monitor existing populations of invasive fish species. Bottom trawling gear is used during the survey to detect new populations of Eurasian Ruffe and round goby, and to monitor existing populations of round goby at twelve shipping ports and rivers in US waters of Lake Huron and the St. Marys River. No new populations of the invasive species were discovered; however,

round goby continue to persist at seven of the twelve sampling locations.

 

This survey provides early detection and monitoring for aquatic invasive species at twelve locations in Lake Huron and the St. Marys River. This effort is consistent with the Service’s “Aquatic Invasive Species” and “Aquatic Species Conservation and Management” priorities of the Fisheries Program Vision for the Future.


Regional

Carp Abundance grows in Illinois waterway

But larger schools abound Locations of larger schools still in same

Surveillance activities this year have not detected Asian carps any farther upstream than the Des Plaines River location (river mile 281.5) where a bighead carp was collected in the Dresden Island Pool last year. That's about 15 river miles from the Electronic Barrier project site. Barrier I is located at River Mile 296.5 in the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal. Barrier II is located 800 to 1,500’ downstream of Barrier I. Two bighead carp were captured here this year and one was surgically implanted with an ultrasonic transmitter to closely monitor its movements.

 

Source: US Fish Wildlife Service

 

Thus far, the documented upstream range of bighead carp remains about 15 miles below an electrical fish barrier in Romeoville and 45 miles from Lake Michigan in Chicago.

 

The abundance of Asian carps has increased markedly during the past year in adjoining navigation pools located downstream. A crew that surveyed the same portion of the Marseilles Pool with similar gears and levels of effort captured an annual total of five bighead carp while sampling here during June in both 2006 and 2007. Under similar circumstances this year they caught a total of 41 bighead carp in this reach, as well as nine silver carp. Likewise, a single 150-ft trammel net set further downstream for just one night captured a surveillance record total of 57 Asian carps (32

Silver, 17 Grass and 8 Bighead) in the Starved Rock area of the Peoria pool.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for Nov. 21, 2008

Weather Conditions

Large amounts of lake effect snow fell in the major snow belts of the Great Lakes this week as very cold air interacted with the still relatively warm water temperatures of the lakes.  Some locations in Ohio, New York, Michigan and Indiana received well over a foot of snow throughout the week.  More snow showers and cold temperatures are on tap for the weekend and into Thanksgiving Week.

Lake Level Conditions

Just as last week, Lake Superior is 3" higher than it was a year ago, while Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 6 to 9" higher than they were at this time last year.  All of the Great Lakes are in their periods of seasonal decline and are projected to drop 1 to 3" over the next thirty days.  Through April, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are expected to remain above their levels of a year ago.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are forecasted to remain above last year's levels into December and then fall below last year's levels at the beginning of the new year.

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

In October, the outflows through the St. Mary's and St. Clair Rivers were below average.  The outflows through the Detroit, Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers were near their respective

October averages.

Alerts

Lake Michigan-Huron's water level is currently below chart datum and is expected to remain below datum through April. 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 Nov 21

601.2

577.4

 

573.4

570.7

244.5

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

 +1

 -1

+14

+18

+14

Diff last month

-2

 -4

-3

 -2

 -2

Diff from last yr

+3

+9

+8

 +6

+9

 


General

Daiwa Donates $10,000 To FishAmerica Foundation

Funds will be used to enhance family fishing waters

CERRITOS, Calif., Nov. 20, 2008 –  Leading tackle manufacturer Daiwa Corporation presented FishAmerica Foundation with a $10,000 donation at the recent 2008 Sportfishing Summit in Denver, Colorado.   Fish America Foundation will use Daiwa’s contribution to enhance family fishing waters and ensure that future generations of anglers will have access to fishing areas.

 

Daiwa Vice President of Sales Terry Pederson presented the check to FishAmerica Foundation Executive Director Johanna Laderman and American Sportfishing Association (ASA) President and CEO Mike Nussman during the ASA’s annual business meeting, held during the Summit.

 

“As part of Daiwa’s celebration of 50 years in the fishing tackle industry, we wish to make this donation in support of FishAmerica’s invaluable work in habitat and sport fish

restoration,” said Pederson.  “As we and others who have been in this industry for so long realize, our hobby and livelihood could not exist without strong stewardship of our sport fishery,” he added.

 

In accepting the contribution on behalf of FishAmerica Foundation, Laderman was quick to point out how vital such donations are to the organization accomplishing its goals.  “FishAmerica is proud to be the recipient of Daiwa’s generous gift,” said Laderman.  “It is gifts from companies such as Daiwa that have contributed to our many successes over the past 25 years and our ability to restore and improve fisheries across the United States.”

 

Like Daiwa, FishAmerica is also marking an important anniversary this year – its 25th year of operation.  Since 1983, the foundation has invested more than $10 million in 1,000 projects throughout the United States and Canada.


Ohio

ODNR Awards $1.7 Million to Improve Outdoor Recreation in Ohio

COLUMBUS, OH - The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Real Estate and Land Management will provide grant funding to develop and improve outdoor recreation opportunities in 58 Ohio counties.

 

ODNR has awarded a total of $1,719,575 to 90 local parks through the 2008 NatureWorks Grant Program. The program 

provides up to 75 percent reimbursement assistance to local government subdivisions (i.e., townships, villages, cities, counties, park districts, joint recreation districts, and conservancy districts) for the acquisition, development and rehabilitation of recreational areas.

 

Funded projects include new skate parks, ball fields, basketball courts, pedestrian park bridges, spray and splash parks and the acquisition of new parkland.


Wisconsin

Economy not affecting hunting license sales

With two days to go before Wisconsin's deer hunt begins, license sales were on track to equal those sold a year ago,

despite the sour economy, the state Department of Natural Resources said.


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