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More fish, less fish and no algae

From the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, issues including red snapper, Asian carp and dangerous algae blooms are getting major attention. And they very well should because they directly impact boating.

More red snapper: Recreational fishermen continue to battle for a proper share of the prized red snapper fishery by opposing a proposal for “sector separation” in the Gulf of Mexico.

NOAA Fisheries wants comments from the public regarding Amendment 40 of the Fishery Management Plan that calls for taking away a portion of the recreational angler’s share of the red snapper fishery and gives it to charter boat owners (sector separation). In essence, Amendment 40 will further diminish red snapper fishing in federal waters for America’s saltwater fishing families.

Dealers, as well as anglers, who have a vested interest in saltwater fishing, whether in the Gulf or elsewhere, need to be engaged in this red snapper issue now because sector separation could be playing at a theater near you soon.

To act today, go to www.keepamericafishing.org and use the simple “Take Action” buttons that let you send your objection to red snapper sector separation. It’s that easy. And, while you’re there, look over and respond to the other issues like ethanol and the Sportsmen’s Act of 2015.

Less Asian carp: This voracious-feeding invasive species is in the Illinois Waterway and threatens to enter the Great Lakes at Chicago. If it ever does, it’s believed it could end the multi-billion dollar fishery of native species.

That’s why last week most members of Michigan's congressional delegation proposed legislation to create a new barrier to these carp and call for a long-term plan for keeping them out of the Great Lakes.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Candice Miller are sponsoring legislation in their respective chambers with most of the state's 14 other members of Congress signing on, too.

Among other requirements, the bill would push federal officials to step up efforts to block the Asian carp at a key choke-point in Joliet, Ill. Rep. Miller said: "This destructive species is quickly migrating north, destroying nearly every ecosystem along the way."

President Obama’s budget includes $28 million to finish a third electric barrier near Chicago. Two electric “fences” are already in place and credited with keeping the carp in check for now. However, environmental groups are unhappy that only $500,000 has been requested by Obama to study digging a new channel at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet featuring "technologies and measures necessary" to control the carp's spread.

No more algae blooms: The U.S. House passed and sent to the Senate a bill requiring the EPA to develop a plan to deal with algal bloom toxins in public drinking water systems, including Lake Erie. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill were authored by Ohio lawmakers in response to last summer’s algal bloom crisis that shut down water supplies in Toledo from Lake Erie for about three days.

Algae blooms in western Lake Erie have been appearing in mid-summer for the last few years. They’ve negatively impacted boating and fishing activities in the prime season. H.R. 212, the “Drinking Water Protection Act,” was sponsored by Rep. Bob Latta and Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

It requires the EPA to develop a plan for handling algae bloom toxins within 90 days after the measure becomes law. The EPA also would be required to develop national standards for monitoring and treating toxins from harmful algal blooms.

Ten of the Great Lakes region’s largest environmental groups have also called on governors and Canadian premiers “to commit to at least a 40 percent reduction in phosphorus, with an emphasis on reducing agricultural sources.” Farming fertilizer use is believed to be the number one cause of algae blooms.

The bill passed the House 375-37. Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown are sponsors of the equivalent Senate bill, which is expected to see favorable action, too.

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