STEWARDSHIP — PROTECT OUR FRIENDS



Debris And Pollution — Education, Stewardship, And Community

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🐟  FTC Will Make Changes In South West Florida Catch-And-Release Area 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will make changes to snook, redfish and spotted seatrout management in the area of southwest Florida where they are currently catch-and-release only.   As a reminder, snook, redfish and spotted sea trout were temporarily made catch-and-release only in this area after these fisheries were impacted by a 2017-2019 severe red tide.  You are responsible for knowing these changes, guaranteed the FTC officers know the current rules.   https://myfwc.com/research/


HOW TO HANDLE THE BIG ONE 

Keep large fish in the water to reduce stress or injury to the fish.

  •  Use tackle that is large enough to bring the species you are targeting in quickly, reducing the chance of exhaustion.
  •  Always revive fish showing signs of exhaustion by allowing a consistent flow of water through the mouth and over the gills. Use a “figure eight motion” if you are fishing from a stationary location.
  •  Do not gaff a fish unless you intend to harvest it. 
  •  Keep fingers out of the eyes and gills.
  •  Use a descending device or venting tool on fish with signs of barotrauma (bloated belly, stomach projecting from the mouth, protruding intestines, bulging eyes). 

If you must remove fish from the water:  

  • Get them back in the water as soon as possible.
  •  Always hold them horizontally and support their weight with two hands.
  •  Use wet hands when handling, never a towel or other cloth that can remove their protective slime.
  •  Do not drag them over rocks, the gunnel of a boat, the side of a dock or pier, or any other rough surface.

Fishing from bridges or piers: 

  •   Only bring fish onto the pier or bridge if you intend to harvest.
  •  Only target large fish from bridges or piers if you have specialized gear (pier nets or slings) to support their full body, bringing up large fish without proper gear or allowing them to freefall large distances can cause injury and increase mortality.
  •  If you cannot properly lift the fish, cut the line as close to the fish as possible before releasing it back into the water. And this may mean walking this fish to the shore if fishing from a pier.)

Other tips:

  •  Correctly using a de-hooking tool can help you quickly and easily remove hooks.
  •  Use single circle hooks that are non-stainless steel, non-offset and barbless.
  •  Do not fish when large predatory fish or sharks are in the area. If they show up, move to another fishing location.
  • Encourage other anglers to adopt these practices too. Learn more at MyFWC.com/FishHandling.
  • So next time you’re out on the water and catch a bull red or any other big fish for your next great fish tale, remember that landing is only half the battle and a successful release ensures more monsters for generations to come.


FWC Released Shoal Bass Into Chipolariver  
Reaches Milestone With Release Of Genetically Pure Hatchery-Raised Shoal Bass 

Freshwater fisheries researchers and managers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) successfully released 3,300 hatchery-raised shoal bass fingerlings (young fish) into the Chipola River in May. 

In 2018, Hurricane Michael depleted more than 90% of the shoal bass population in the Chipola River.  Currently, harvest and possession of shoal bass in the Chipola River and its tributaries remains prohibited. 

“This project embodies the necessity for strategic long-term thinking in conservation and the vital role it plays, not only in word, but also in being able to implement these actions,” said Chris Paxton, Regional Fisheries Administrator for Florida’s northwest region. “Thankfully we had already been working on how to spawn these fish in case ‘something happens one day’ to this isolated population. Well, it happened in the form of a Category 5 hurricane.” 

Shoal bass are one of four of Florida’s native black bass species, and this effort marks the first time genetically pure shoal bass have been successfully raised in an FWC fish hatchery. Shoal bass are also a Florida Species of Greatest Conservation Need, which refers to native animals whose populations are of concern and are at risk or declining.  

“Shoal bass have very specific habitat needs and it is a major milestone to successfully spawn and grow these fish to a size suitable for stocking,” said Bob DeMauro, Hatchery Manager at FWC’s Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center. “It is an incredible success to raise these riverine fish in a still-water hatchery pond when they are used to flowing water and limestone shoals in their natural habitat.” 


JAPAN — 30 GREEN SEA TURTLES FOUND WITH 'BLEEDING' NECK WOUNDS  — 

Tokyo (CNN) — At least 30 endangered green sea turtles were found on Thursday with wounds around their neck, near the remote Japanese Island of Kumejima in southern Okinawa prefecture.  Police began investigating the case last Friday after the sea turtles were found during low tide, according to a police official from the Naha Police Station in Okinawa.

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Some of the turtles were bleeding and barely breathing, said the official. They had wounds around their necks caused by what appeared to be a blade.  
He added that the whereabouts of the turtles are currently unknown, and it's possible they were swept away by the tide.  Police are continuing to investigate and are questioning witnesses, the official said.

The area where the sea turtles were found is their natural habitat and is covered with seagrass, which the sea turtles eat, said Yoshi Tsukakoshi, a spokesman at the Kumejima sea turtle museum.  He added that the sea turtles get entangled in the nets laid by local fishers, and that they can be considered a "nuisance" because they rip the nets. 

"Some fishers think the turtles eat all the seagrass before it grows and that prevents the fish from spawning in the area," said Tsukakoshi.   
All sea turtle species are considered endangered and are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. They are protected worldwide, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, an international non-governmental organization.  But they are coming under increasing threat from factors such as coastal development, overfishing and bycatch -- when turtles are caught unintentionally during fishing for other species.



Help Sea Turtles Survive: FWC Offers Tips On Helping Hatchlings  —  Sea turtle hatchlings are beginning to appear on beaches throughout the Sunshine State, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking the public to help ensure these tiny turtles reach the ocean by following a few simple guidelines. 

During sea turtle nesting season (March 1 – Oct. 31), it is important to keep your distance from these protected marine reptiles and their nests. You should allow hatchlings to crawl toward the ocean on their own. Any interference or disturbance, including getting too close, can cause hatchlings to become confused and lose their way. 

Bright lights, whether from buildings, phones or cameras, can also cause them to become disoriented, leading the hatchlings to stray away from the waves. If they are unable to reach the ocean quickly, they can become vulnerable to dehydration, exhaustion and predators. 

“Interfering with a sea turtle hatchling’s trek to the ocean can have fatal consequences,” said FWC sea turtle biologist Robbin Trindell. “It’s very important to leave them undisturbed. By keeping beaches dark and giving sea turtles space, we can make sure that our children and grandchildren can also enjoy watching them make this amazing journey.”

There are many ways you can make a difference for Florida’s sea turtles:

  • Keep beaches dark for sea turtles – After sundown, turn off any lights not necessary for human safety. Use long wavelength amber LED lamps for lights that must stay lit and shield lights, so they are not visible from the beach.  Remember to close shades or curtains.
  • No flash photos – On the beach at night, don’t take flash photos or use bright cellphones or flashlights. This can cause turtles to become disoriented and crawl away from the ocean, putting them at risk.
  • Remember, sea turtles are protected by law – Stay back and give sea turtles space if you see one on the beach at night. Don’t touch a nesting turtle because it may leave the beach without nesting if disturbed. Remember, it is illegal to harm or disturb nesting sea turtles, their nests, eggs or hatchlings.
  • Clear the way at the end of the day – Beach furniture, canopies, boats and toys left behind on the sand can become obstacles that block nesting and hatchling turtles. Fill in any holes dug in the sand. Holes can trap turtles, and can also pose a safety risk for other beachgoers. 
  • Before taking any action, report sea turtles that are sick, injured, dead, entangled or otherwise in danger to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 1-888-404-3922 or text Tip@MyFWC.com.


FWC Announces New Way To Report Gopher Tortoise Sightings —  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is launching a new interactive web application designed to provide biologists with thorough and reliable data, and promote science-based gopher tortoise conservation efforts. The new system will replace the Florida Gopher Tortoise smartphone app, which will be decommissioned Sept. 8. 

The new web application is user-friendly and is designed to function on any device. To report a tortoise sighting or notify the FWC of a sick, injured or dead tortoise, simply visit MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise and click on the button that reads “Report Gopher Tortoise Sightings.” 

There, you can also view an interactive map, which features user-submitted photos and locations of tortoise sightings throughout the state. 

“We appreciate the thousands of citizen scientists who have reported gopher tortoise sightings using our original Florida Gopher Tortoise app over the years,” said Michelina Dziadzio, monitoring coordinator for the Wildlife Diversity Conservation Section of the FWC. “These citizen scientists have helped the FWC enhance gopher tortoise conservation and we’re excited for their continued participation using the new web app.”

The gopher tortoise is a protected species that occurs in all 67 Florida counties. The tortoise is known as a keystone species, and its burrows serve as important refuges for 350 native species including threatened species such as the Eastern indigo snake, the burrowing owl and the gopher frog.   For more information about gopher tortoises, visit MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise.


☣️  The Southwest's Unchecked Thirst For Colorado River

 Water Could Prove Devastating Upstream

By Bill Weir, CNN Chief Climate Correspondent  Updated 2:00 Am Et, Sat June 18, 2022

ED- TRULY THE VALHALLA FOR FLY FISHERMEN


The West's Megadrought —  

  • Among those who love to chase trout with flies made of feathers, just the mention of a certain seven-mile stretch of Utah's Green River can turn a hardened man rhapsodic.   "I've guided in New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Alaska," said Gordon Tharrett, describing his 30-year career guiding elite fly fishers around the world. "I've never seen anything like it.”

  • The West just experienced an aspect of the climate crisis that scientists have warned of for years   A massive rockfall crashed into Lake Powell. Record-low water levels could be to blame, Lake Mead's water level is running well below predictions.  This state's two largest reservoirs are already at 'critically low levels' and the dry season is just starting .

  • The Colorado River irrigates farms, powers electric grids and provides drinking water for 40 million people. As its supply dwindles, a crisis looms.  "It's phenomenal," said Stephen Lytle, the son of the local game warden who's been floating and fishing this stretch since boyhood. "You get people from all over the world. Eric Clapton has been up here.  Tiger Woods.  If you're a fly fisherman, this is one of the places to hit.

  • But bring up the American West's worst droughtin 1,200 years and their reverie turns to head-shaking anxiety and disgust. They may have more water than most -- hundreds of miles from fallowing farms in Arizona or browning lawns in Los Angeles -- but they know that on the Colorado River system, the massive, unchecked demand for water downstream is threat to everything upstream.

  • "It takes millions of gallons of water for a golf course," Tharrett said. "It's going to reach a point when people have to decide, 'Do I survive or do I play golf? Should I have a lawn in the desert or pay a $100 for a basket of berries?’"
    "The gorge is aflame," journaled John Wesley Powell after the first time he saw the golden hour light up the red rocks in what would come to be known as Flaming Gorge.
    It was 1871 and after launching his boat, the Emma Dean, in the Green River in Wyoming, the one-armed Civil War veteran was on his way to becoming the first known man to float and paddle this major tributary into the Colorado and through the Grand Canyon. 
    His trip followed passage of the Homestead Act, which promised that any citizen willing to settle and improve America's Wild West could claim 160 acres of federal land for free. 

  • The Green River is one of the best locations in the country for fly fishing because of the temperature-controlled water released by the Flaming Gorge Dam.
    But after studying the geology and hydrology of the Colorado basin, Powell warned that this policy was "piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply these lands.”

  • Congress and the newly-formed state governments ignored the warning, and by the middle of the 20th century they were convinced that by damming various spots along the Colorado system they could engineer enough oases to keep farms, ranches and megacities alive.  "In this section of the United States, the key is water," John F. Kennedy said during the 1963 dedication ceremony of Flaming Gorge Dam. "No longer will the Colorado basin be the home of an erratic flow of water, causing drought and poverty in dry years and waste in wet years. Now water will be available wherever needed…"
    If only.  Less than three months later, the President met tragedy in Dallas, and in the years after his dedication the dam was having devastating effects on fish downstream. 

  • The local economy around Flaming Gorge depends on tourists who come to splash in the reservoir or to fish and float the Green River.  The reservoir's temperature-controlled output greats a Goldilocks zone for hatching insects and trout.  But in the late 1970s, after a graduate student convinced the fly-fishing governor of Utah to consider a dam retrofit called a penstock, engineers were able to release from specific depths of Flaming Gorge Reservoir, controlling the temperature of the tailwater below and creating a Goldilocks zone for hatching insects and the rainbow and brown trout that feast upon them.

  • Today, most of the local economy depends on tourists who come to splash in the reservoir, which extends deep into Wyoming, or to fish and float the Green. And when the federal Bureau of Reclamation and four Upper Colorado River Basin states agreed to release 500,000 acre-feet -- 1/6 of the reservoir's capacity -- to help desiccated communities to the south, it created a local uproar.
    "There's a lot of people who just get angry," Lytle said, while paddling the gin-clear eddies. "It's their water. It's their geographic possession. So, they don't like it going down to desert cities that also need it. And any effect on the fishery, especially up here? I mean, that's people's livelihoods.""We're concerned," said Woody Bair, co-owner of the Flaming Gorge Resort, while leaning on shelves brimming with hand-tied flies. "As Lake Powell has gone down over all the years, we worry, 'Is Flaming Gorge going to get to the point where it doesn't generate electricity or goes way, way down?'"

  • Fly fisherman come from all over the world to fish the Green River's rainbow and brown trout.  Lake Powell, which straddles the Utah-Arizona border, is named for the man who first sounded the drought alarm over 150 years ago. And climate change is accelerating his grim prediction.

  • The reservoir has dropped frighteningly close to "dead pool," when "we draw a vortex similar to what you'd see in a bathtub as the water drains," said Nicholas Williams, the Bureau of Reclamation's power manager for the Upper Colorado River Basin. "If you don't have a deep enough pool of water above, then that causes issues and can damage the power plant equipment and is too low to generate electricity.

  • Reclamation officials told a Senate committee this week that Western states should brace for even more dramatic cuts in Colorado River water allocation in 2023 -- up to four million acre-feet or over 1.3 trillion gallons, almost as much as California is allocated in a year.

  • CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir holds a rainbow trout caught on the Green River.
  • "How long can we do this?" Williams said of the Flaming Gorge releases. "It's limited to a few years. The rest of it is going to depend on how long do we persist in the drought, and where does our water use go? We're going to have to learn to live with the water we have, and the use we've sustained for the last several decades is going to change.

  • Tharrett believes officials have a misguided notion that they are going to be able to salvage something by draining the upper basin reservoirs.   "It's like a teenager when they get their first paycheck," Tharrett told CNN, "and that next day they go and they spend it all and they don't get paid for two weeks and then they go into a panic. If they drain all these upper reservoirs, which are the lifeblood to everything down below, they're going to have nothing.
*-07/16/2022