Fishing Industry News: Trout Unlimited Sues EPA; Florida Moves to Protect Shoal Bass

In the latest fishing industry news, Trout Unlimited has sued the EPA over removal of protections for Bristol Bay and Florida adds protections for Shoal bass.

Fishing Industry News: Trout Unlimited Sues EPA; Florida Moves to Protect Shoal Bass

In the latest fishing industry news:

Trout Unlimited is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its recent decision to withdraw protections for the Bristol Bay region of Alaska.

Called the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination, the protections would have limited the scope and scale of impacts from the proposed Pebble mine to the world-class salmon, trout and water resources of the region.

“The practical effect of the EPA’s decision was to help out a mine that would devastate a fishing and hunting paradise,” said John Holman, who grew up in the area and is a second-generation owner of No See Um Lodge, a Trout Unlimited member business. “I cannot in good faith pass a business down to my family that will become a financial burden if the Pebble mine is built. Who does our government work for? This decision made it seem like the EPA and our elected officials are writing off thousands of American jobs, and businesses like mine so a foreign mining company can obliterate the land I depend on, then walk away.”

Trout Unlimited’s lawsuit alleges the EPA ignored science and the potential impacts of developing the mine when it withdrew the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination, and in doing so violated the Administrative Procedures Act and Clean Water Act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot issue a permit to Pebble if the EPA’s decision on the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination is overturned. Trout Unlimited is being represented pro bono by Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.

“Billions of dollars have been spent in attempt to restore salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, Bristol Bay sets records for its salmon returns year after year. All we need to do is have the humility and common-sense to leave this landscape alone,” said Chris Wood, CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Sacrificing a place as such as Bristol Bay for some gold is a short-sighted fools-errand. We are not a litigious organization, but we and millions of other sportsmen and women will not allow greed to compromise the most important salmon fishery on the planet.”

The Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska supports the world’s most abundant sockeye salmon run, Alaska’s best Chinook salmon run, and a world-famous trophy rainbow trout fishery. These fisheries are the foundation for a robust sportfishing industry, a rich cultural history and subsistence way of life supporting more than 30 Alaska Native Tribes, and a valuable commercial fishing industry. Bristol Bay fishing — including sport, commercial and subsistence — accounts for thousands of sustainable local jobs and more than $1.5 billion in annual economic activity.

Citing this unique and wild character, and the economic and cultural importance of the region, the EPA prepared the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination after years of scientific research and multiple peer reviews, with many thousands of Alaskans and millions of Americans voicing support for protecting the region.

“Any action that jeopardizes this fishery and extremely unique place is unacceptable,” said Nelli Williams, Alaska director for Trout Unlimited. “The proposed Pebble mine is widely opposed by anglers and hunters across Alaska and the country. This lawsuit is a step to hold the EPA accountable to their own science and American sportsmen and women, not a foreign-owned mining company.”

Florida's Shoal Bass Get Protections

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has approved moving forward on a draft rule to suspend harvest and possession of shoal bass in the Chipola River and its tributaries.

This draft rule would replace an executive order issued in June, when initial population sampling indicated the shoal bass population there had been negatively affected due to the impacts of Hurricane Michael.

Shoal bass are one of five black bass species occurring in Florida and have a more limited range than the other four species. The Chipola River in the Panhandle contains the only known reproducing population of shoal bass in the state.

“This rule will allow catch-and-release only, protecting a unique and sensitive species that contributes to the diversity of Florida fishing,” said FWC Commissioner Gary Lester, who helped approve the draft rule. “This and other conservation measures will help safeguard the shoal bass population for current and future generations of anglers.”

FWC staff will be working to improve habitat conditions on the Chipola River, and have also collected shoal bass and transported them to the Blackwater Hatchery for potential restocking purposes.

The Chipola River, where shoal bass are found, flows south from Marianna for 90 miles through Jackson, Calhoun and Gulf counties. It offers outdoor recreational opportunities for fishing, wildlife viewing, kayaking and tubing, and is a designated Florida Paddling Trail. A video featuring the uniqueness of the Chipola River and FWC’s role in its conservation can be found on YouTube by searching “FWC Chipola River.”

FWC biologists will continue monitoring the shoal bass and Chipola River habitat conditions. As the shoal bass population recovers, staff will reevaluate the rule change to determine if catch-and-release is necessary. Staff propose to return in two years to update the Commission and review the rule.

Baby Sturgeon Released in Tennessee River

About 500 baby Lake Sturgeon raised at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute were released Oct. 12 in the Tennessee River, continuing a 19-year program to help restore the species.

Since 2000, the Aquarium and its conservation partners have collaboratively raised and reintroduced more than 220,000 of these “living fossils” into the waters from which they had all but disappeared by the 1970s due to human activity. Counting this event, aquarium staff will have released about 1,700 Lake Sturgeon in 2019.

The fish can reach lengths of eight feet and boast lifespans of more than 150 years.

“I am excited to get the public involved and raise awareness about Lake Sturgeon recovery,” said Meredith Harris, Tennessee Aquarium Reintroduction Biologist. “Hopefully, this hands-on experience with such a cool and important fish will foster an interest in native fish conservation in our youth a well.”

Each of the fish has been marked with a tiny coded wire tag that will assist researchers in monitoring the movement and robustness of the species as it navigates the river system.

Lakewood Congratulates Walleye Team Winners

Lakewood Products ambassadors Max Wilson and Isaac Lakich recently won the Bass Pro Shops / Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit 2019 “Team of the Year” title.

Despite serious competition through the season and three significant lead changes to the Team of the Year status, Wilson and Lakich claimed the title in the season finale on Minnesota’s Leech Lake.

“We knew the final day’s limit was critical and we had to bring everything we could to the water to capture the win,” Lakich said.

Wilson and Lakich brought in five walleye weighing 19 pounds on the final day of the tournament for a weekend total of 40 pounds, 4 ounces.

“One of our big secrets is being able to be nimble on the water and we rely heavily on Lakewood cases to keep our baits, tools and terminal tackle organized and within reach,” Wilson said. “We continue to trust Lakewood as a critical part of our success. They’ve been integral in our efficiency as fishermen this year and were definitely key in helping us secure this title."

“This is Max and Isaac’s first season as Lakewood Products ambassadors and they’ve been a fantastic addition to our program, said Lakewood Product president Steve Wagnitz. “They’ve been critical to helping us develop new products and the recent exposure from their win is an exceptional opportunity for us in the walleye market. We feel so grateful to have them as a part of our team and are overjoyed to share this accomplishment with them and look forward to many more in the years to come.”

Murphy New Director of Fly Fishing at Pure Fishing

Pure Fishing has named Jim Murphy as Director of Fly Fishing, with an emphasis on Global Product Development, Global Marketing and North American Sales.

Murphy previously led the Hardy North America team, is a former Vice President of Sales for R.L. Winston Rod Company, and is the founder of Redington. This newly created role with Pure Fishing covers its Hardy, Greys,Fenwick and Pflueger fly fishing brands.

“I’m taking this role as a tremendous opportunity for not only myself, but for all of the brands within the new Pure Fishing,” Murphy said. “I call it the new Pure Fishing because of the positive changes they’ve been making as of late in reconfiguring the company and I’m thrilled to be a part of the team they’ve worked hard to create.”


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