Welcome to the latest edition of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a roundup of the most pressing conservation issues important to anglers. Working with our friends at Unlimited trout, Backcountry hunters and anglersThe Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Everglades Foundation, Clean water captains, VoteWater.orgAnd Conservation Falcon (among other things) we make sure you have the information you need to understand the issues and form an informed opinion.
1. Hoot-Owl Restrictions on Several Rivers in Southwest Montana
Last week, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks issued the first Hoot Owl restrictions on trout rivers in southwest Montana, and several new rivers have since been added. Water temperatures on the Lower Madison stretch from the Jefferson River to Warm Springs Fishing Access exceeded 73 degrees Fahrenheit for three consecutive days, triggering the new rules. Due to the ban on the screech owl, no fishing is allowed between 2pm and 5pm. and midnight, meaning anglers need to be on the water early.
Rivers currently subject to Hoot-Owl rules also include portions of the Beaverhead, Bitterroot, Jefferson and Sun Rivers. (Yellowstone National Park also has an unrelated closure due to a bridge collapse a couple of weeks ago.) Before you go, check it out MTFWP page with current water restrictions to make sure you stay legal.
2. Toxic Algae Crisis Increasing In South Florida
As algal blooms continue to plague Lake Okeechobee, the US Army Corps of Engineers is working to prevent water from entering the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers. There are fears that summer rains could raise the level of the lake to such an extent that there is no other option but to channel the toxic water to the shores.
But even without discharges, the algae will spread and get through the locks as boats traverse the system.
- “SLIME TIME” AT LAKE O BECOMES NATIONAL HISTORY at votewater.org
- Toxic algae flood Lake Okeechobee at axios.com
3. Salmon stocks in Alaska’s Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers are declining
Over the past 20 years, salmon populations – particularly chinook and chum salmon – have declined sharply in the Yukon-Kuskowim Delta. There doesn’t appear to be a single culprit, and scientists point to a variety of factors, most notably rising temperatures in the Bering Sea, to which salmon are particularly vulnerable.
“In recent years numbers have been so low that all fisheries have been closed, including subsistence fisheries,” said Katie Howard, senior scientist for the department’s Salmon Ocean Ecology Program.
It’s a sure sign the salmon situation is dire, she said, as “commercial fishing, sport fishing and fishing for personal use will all be reduced to zero before we even think about reducing subsistence fishing.”
Because of the distance a salmon travels in its lifetime, the problem is not confined to a single part of the river or one agency’s jurisdiction. “It’s not just a matter of sanctuaries: it’s a matter of upper rivers, it’s a matter of the bay, and it’s a matter of oceans,” said Kevin Whitworth, executive director of the Kuskokwim Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.
Alaskan Native organizations in the region are struggling to have more influence over the state’s salmon management plan while trying to preserve their way of life.
4. Findings from the ICAST Conservation Summit
As part of the American Sportfishing Association’s annual sportfishing show, TRCP hosted two days of science-based panel presentations to educate attendees on the key issues protecting saltwater fisheries.
If you’ve ever attended an ICAST trade show in Orlando, you know there’s a LOT going on. A who’s who of sport fishing companies and conservation organizations offers an incredible range of stands, displays, displays and events. TRCP was therefore flattered to have such a high turnout at our Conservation Summit last week, where experts discussed fisheries management issues including the integration of habitat and water quality improvements into fisheries management, the loss of disused oil platforms converted to reefs, and the Florida Everglades restoration efforts, proper use of descent devices for reef fish release, and Gulf of Mexico fisheries management updates.
We’re not able to fully summarize all of the five-topic panel discussions and scholarly presentations that spanned two days, but here are some top themes that emerged at this year’s Conservation Summit.