While we’re enjoying the good news of Brunswick’s direct support for increasing Hispanic boating and fishing participation, the threat that Asian carp could decimate native fisheries in the Great Lakes is again drawing attention.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Brunswick Corp. made a major contribution to the George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar Education Fund. The support will be used to continue promoting boating and fishing to Hispanic families, the nation’s fastest growing demographic.
Since the Vamos A Pescar fund’s inception in 2014, Hispanic participation in fishing has risen 37 percent to a record 4.8 million anglers, according to studies on participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. Indeed, that’s great news, though Hispanic participation still lags behind the national rate, according to the 2021 Special Report on Fishing.
Frank Peterson, CEO of RBFF, noted that 16 programs in eight states have received grants from the Vamos A Pescar Foundation this year. These grants total more than $106,000 and were doubled to more than $212,000 with the required matching of recipient states. The funds are used to bring fishing and boating experiences and conservation education to Hispanic families in Ohio, Texas, Kansas, California, Florida, Maryland, Oklahoma and Virginia.
“We are proud to continue our partnership with RBFF and the George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar Education Fund as we honor the Hispanic communities by providing opportunities for increased participation,” said Lee Gordon, Brunswick vice president of global communications and public relations. “We remain dedicated to elevating the boating experience for all and applaud RBFF for its continued commitment to bringing more people on the water.”
The George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar Education Fund was created by RBFF in 2014 when Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris donated $125,000 in honor of his friend, the late President George H.W. Bush, to bring conservation education and fishing experiences to Hispanic families in key metro markets. Click here to learn more about how you or your organization can donate.
The Carp Threat
A second finding of Asian carp DNA has raised new concerns that the invasive fish could be in the Milwaukee River, according to reports by Paul A. Smith in the Milwaukee Journal.
State and federal officials confirmed the second such finding of carp DNA, and while it does not prove the existence of fish, fisheries experts warn that should the destructive bighead or silver carp gain access to the Great Lakes, they would likely destroy the native species that account for a $7 billion-plus annual recreational and commercial fishery.
The search for environmental DNA is part of routine surveillance for invasive carp conducted around Lake Michigan. The testing is designed to detect traces of skin cells, feces, reproductive secretions and other genetic material shed into the environment. So far, no invasive carp have been detected in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan or its tributaries. But the most recent environmental DNA finding has triggered a special search in the Milwaukee River. The work includes staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Asian carp are voracious eaters, consuming up to 100 pounds per day. Most attention in stopping them from getting into the Great Lakes has been laser-focused in Illinois, where carp are plentiful but are held back by electric shock barrier systems, underwater speakers, netting and other means to prevent access to Lake Michigan at Chicago.
The effort is specifically focused on bighead, grass and silver carp. These non-native species were brought into the United States in the late 1960s to maintain fish-rearing ponds by eating grasses. But they proliferated, and flooding allowed them to escape the ponds, eventually making it into the Mississippi River system and now well beyond. They have reportedly caused damage to ecosystems in the Illinois, Missouri and Ohio river systems, and continue marching north via the Mississippi.
Carp also are known to lay thousands of eggs at a time, quickly increasing their numbers.
These invasive fish are a threat to the aquatic ecosystems because they will out-compete native fish for food and space. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars is being spent annually to keep the carp from reaching any of the Great Lakes and the critical fisheries that directly account for a major portion of boating industry annual sales in the region.