L.L. Bean to Sell Biodegradables Only by August 1 2009
By August 1, L.L.Bean Retail Stores will no longer be offering traditional soft plastic lures. Instead, the retailer “will be proud” to only offer biodegradable alternatives.
According to Mac McKeever, an L.L.Bean Senior Public Relations Representative, biodegradable alternatives cost about the same as traditional soft plastic lures, are just as effective and durable, and breakdown naturally in water within 60-90 days and within 30 days in a fish’s stomach.
The Freeport-based company began considering making a switch last fall, but after reading a IF&W report on how soft plastic lures are harming Maine’s fish, it decided to make the transition sooner.
“I’m hoping that your fantastic study will inspire people to consider alternatives and spawn additional studies in other states,” McKeever said. “In concert, it is my hope that L.L.Bean will set a positive example for others by only offering biodegradable alternatives. We’re doing it because we have had a long history of environmental benevolence. We’re doing it because it’s simply the right thing to do.”
The new assortment of biodegradable alternatives closely mirrors the broad assortment previously represented by the traditional soft plastic lures L.L.Bean was offering, McKeever said.
Five miles west of Mission Beach, scientists hope to build a floating ranch for millions of fish that would eventually land on dinner plates across the country. Aquaculture specialists at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego could pioneer an era of marine food production in the United States, which relies heavily on imports to meet a growing appetite for seafood. Their project would be the first of its kind in federal waters – widely seen as a prime zone for expanding aquaculture. But if the respected Hubbs organization is unable to get through the daunting permit process, the setback is likely to discourage others from launching similar ventures. The $17 million operation could start by early 2011 if all goes well. Hubbs officials have repeatedly emphasized the project's potential benefits, including reducing pressure on depleted ocean fisheries, to regional and state leaders in recent months. They also are touting the idea at the international Seafood Summit in San Diego, where commercial fishing groups, conservationists, policymakers and marine scientists are discussing sustainable fishing. The conference will run through Wednesday. “Somebody has to lead the way. Somebody has to take the technologies and apply them,” Hubbs President Donald Kent said. “We think it's a great opportunity for San Diego to lead the nation.” The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce recently endorsed Hubbs'proposal, and one of California's top marine regulators gave it a positive initial review. Hubbs' leaders “see the time as being right, and I think they are probably right,” said Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission. The commission would have to approve the project along with agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency. Douglas met with Hubbs officials in December and came away impressed. “They really did their homework. They have addressed virtually every issue that we have raised,” he said. Hubbs' operation would cover about 30 football fields' worth of the ocean's surface in water that's approximately 300 feet deep. At first, the institute would deploy eight circular nets – each large enough to hold about 125,000 fish. The nets would be anchored to the sea floor and stocked with striped bass, a fish that was introduced to California more than 100 years ago. The captive bass would grow for about two years until they top 2 pounds each, at which point they would be collected in batches and sold to seafood wholesalers. The species was chosen for several reasons, including the availability of juveniles for rearing and what Hubbs researchers said were slim chances that any escaped fish would disrupt the native food chain. Over five years, Hubbs would install 24 pens and produce 3,000 metric tons of fish annually – about three times the current commercial fish harvest brought ashore in San Diego County. That would provide a dramatic boost to the state's aquaculture industry, which generates about $100 million in revenue each year for seafood producers. At full capacity, Hubbs officials said, they could raise about 3 million fish per year worth $21 million. To succeed, fish-farm owners have to minimize navigation hazards for passing vessels, calm fishermen's fears about competition, allay concerns about pollution from fish waste and limit the number of fish that escape or spread disease. Environmentalists have sought stronger controls on fish farms in California and elsewhere to limit their effect on the marine environment. But some of them said a top-rate operation would provide a good example for future aquaculture projects. “We are going in with the awareness that a lot of the existing aquaculture can be a dirty practice and it's not done sustainably,” said Scott Harrison, chairman of the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, a coastal watchdog group. Last week, Harrison was among a handful of environmental leaders who listened to Kent's pitch. “We have a measure of skepticism,” Harrison said, “(but) we are remaining open” to the proposal. Kent also has invited anglers to weigh in. Although a new aquaculture operation would probably hire fishermen to tend nets and do other tasks, some worry about downsides such as the facility's potential to attract sea lions, endanger boaters and prevent fishermen from harvesting in the area. “I am critical of the location, and I want to ensure that no legitimate fisherman is pushed out,” said John Law, a longtime commercial fisherman who plies the area being eyed for the project. Aquaculture operations stretch from Hawaii to Maine in freshwater and near-shore areas, including bays. Some marine experts see open-ocean fish farming – the kind planned by Hubbs – as the future of the industry. Compared with near-shore aquaculture projects, those in federal waters – three to 200 miles from the coastline – would face less competition for space from residents, recreationalists and other interest groups. Hubbs chose the spot off Mission Beach for factors such as consistently mild water temperature, water purity and the appropriate ocean depth. Its leaders hope to prevent run-ins with boaters by setting their pens five miles from the shoreline, where leisure traffic is limited. Currents at the site are expected to disperse fish feces so they won't collect on the ocean floor below the farm. Kent is convinced the aquaculture project would succeed partly because of Hubbs' experience in raising white seabass at a hatchery in Carlsbad since 1995. Those fish are released at several locations along Southern California's coast to augment populations in the wild. Hubbs also has experimented with aquaculture nets on a small scale in the waters off Baja California, where the Mexican government grants permits in a matter of weeks instead of years. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which helps regulate marine fisheries, funded that project. Fred Conte, an aquaculture specialist at the University of California Davis, said Hubbs-SeaWorld is the right group to advance the industry. “They are a research institution which would be closely monitored by the state and feds,” Conte said. “They aren't looking to make a profit right off the bat.” Kent said he wants to refine the fish-farming process and set industry standards for environmental protection. Then, the nonprofit Hubbs would transfer day-to-day operations to a for-profit corporation. The two sides would share revenue through a licensing agreement. Hubbs plans to keep control of the fish farm's permits so it can ensure the scientific integrity of the project. Kent envisions that some local fishermen would work at the facility while others would eventually strike out on their own with similar operations. The institute's blueprint hinges on government approval. Several fishery experts said the federal regulatory process, which involves multiple agencies, poses a major barrier to offshore aquaculture. But they also said the Hubbs proposal could blaze a trail through the bureaucracy. Michael Rubino, aquaculture chief for the U.S. oceanic administration, said his agency will help with the federal review of Hubbs'permits in the coming months. “We really have a choice as a country,” Rubino said. “If we are going to eat more seafood, we are either going to import more of it – and most of that is from aquaculture – or we can choose to grow more of it at home.”
State, federal investigators uncover extensive poaching ring in Md., Va Poacher ring
Most Irresponsible Journalism
By Warren Turner A letter to the Sentinal record from the President of The
National striped Bass association
Alabama Coosa River stripers
study analyzed the food habits of striped bass. More than 2,600
prey items were retrieved from striped bass stomachs. Almost 2500 of the
prey items were shad, the primary forage of striped bass.
Only twelve prey items, six bluegill and six crappie, were
game fish. This is important information because many anglers
assume that striped bass often prey on game fish.
The Rest of article by Steven Smith
Biologist with the State of Alabams DNR is here
from the Rutgers University Marine Field Station are trying
to better understand the coastal migration of striped bass. The
study area includes the Mullica River/Great Bay estuary, the
southern end of Barneget Bay, and the coastal ocean outside
of Little Egg Inlet off Tuckerton, New Jersey. You can tag your
own virtual bass at
was early. The sun was still below the tree line. He
wished he'd gotten out of bed soon enough to add another
biscuit as fuel against the February cold. He'd seen
the birds sitting in the back of this cove now for several
days and he was comforted by their presence this morning.
Suddenly, the surface calm was shattered. Striped bass
were pushing shad up out of the deep. Some of the shad
were frantically leaping clear of the water to escape
the swirling bodies of feeding stripers. The gulls quickly
took flight and announced the school's presence by wheeling
and diving to share in the feast. He positioned his boat
and hit the break line of the school with a 3/8-ounce
bucktail. The fish hit his offering savagely and often.
The stripers eventually dove, only to resurface nearby.
Then, two hours after it began, calm returned to the
cove. The gulls were vigilant for a while, but eventually
returned to rest on the water's surface. The sun was
climbing in the sky and he knew it was over for the morning.
Time to return to warmth, a cup of hot coffee, and that
second biscuit. It had been a good trip. He had caught
a dozen fish under exciting fishing conditions. They
were a little heavier than the thin Lake Norman stripers
of previous years but none was over five pounds. That
was unfortunate in a sport where really large fish get
the headlines in other places, but he knew he'd be back
again the next morning.
A Unique Striped Bass Fishery
Lake Norman's striper fishery is something special.
Seasonally, catch rates can be very good. The sheer number
of striped bass anglers on the lake argues the popularity
of the fishery. Yet, most of the fish are small and often
thin. Not only are the trophy fish of 20 pounds or more
a rarity, but there are few fish above five pounds. That
fact is a bitter disappointment to anglers who value
large fish. The two faces of this striper fishery color
the debate over the success of striper management in
the lake. Is the Lake Norman striped bass fishery a success
story supporting hours of fishing pleasure or a disaster
devoid of big fish?
Lake Norman demands to be judged on its own merits,
and defies comparison with other lakes. The lake supports
the fewest pounds of fish per acre in central North Carolina,
including shad. Like poor soil producing few crops, Lake
Norman has the lowest potential to feed and support striped
bass. Adding nutrients would increase Lake Norman's production
potential, but enriching 355 billion gallons of water
would be cost prohibitive and most of our society would
call it pollution!
In the last decade, blue and flathead catfish numbers
have exploded at Lake Norman. White perch, recently introduced
by anglers, are also rapidly increasing their presence
in the lake. White bass populations fluctuate and at
times are large. All of these fish eat the same shad
the striped bass depend upon to support their numbers.
Fewer shad to go around means thinner, slower growing
Expectations Versus Reality
Truly large striped bass—the kind making headlines in
Tennessee reservoirs—require abundant food and plenty
of cool, oxygenated water. Many of North Carolina's piedmont
reservoirs have plenty of shad, but none have dissolved
oxygen at the cooler water temperatures preferred by
large striped bass in hot dry summers. Consequently,
fish larger than 20 pounds will never be abundant in
these lakes. Lake Norman has neither the optimal water
conditions nor the abundant food resources necessary
to support a trophy striped bass fishery.
The environment of Lake Norman's striped bass is also
influenced by electric power production. Duke Power Company
built Marshall Steam Station in the early 1970s and McGuire
nuclear plant in the early 1980s. Striped bass congregating
in warm water discharges in winter is an obvious result
of power production commonly exploited by anglers. Power
production can also interact with weather to affect striper
forage in the lake. Threadfin shad in Lake Norman die
in cold winters. The warm water discharges associated
with power production provide thermal refugia, assuring
some threadfin are available to repopulate the lake in
spring. Fluctuating threadfin numbers may change the
gizzard shad population. The size, number and types of
shad present in the lake each year determines the quality
of striped bass forage.
Finally, stripers are affected by fishing. It is an
old axiom among fisheries managers that as fishing becomes
more intense the bigger, older fish are often the first
to disappear. Striped bass do not reproduce naturally
in Lake Norman and must be stocked by the North Carolina
Wildlife Resources Commission. They were first stocked
into the lake in 1969. It took anglers a decade to learn
how to fish successfully for striped bass. The intervening
time gave the lake's striped bass time to grow old and
large. As the 1980s unfolded, anglers developed effective
techniques for catching striped bass, including drifting
live shad. Depth finders proved useful in locating the
fish and anglers discovered stripers could be caught
year around, day and night. As striper angling evolved
and more people joined the sport, the numbers of larger,
older fish grew smaller. Catch and release did not provide
a solution, as it had for largemouth bass, because striped
bass proved less hardy. The large, more desirable striped
bass are least likely to survive being caught and released.
As the striped bass fishery changed, some striped bass
anglers began to demand more and then larger fish. The
N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission increased the stocking
rate as hatchery expansion permitted and agreed to raise
the minimum size limit in 1992 to 20 inches. Biologists
worried that a big increase in stocking rates would tax
the existing food supply for striped bass. The higher
minimum size limit would keep some striped bass in the
lake even longer, adding to the number of mouths feeding
on a shad population that was limited by the lake's low
fertility. Too many striped bass for the existing food
supply could slow growth and work against the objective
of greater numbers of larger fish.
The Dangers Of Bait Bucket Stocking
Striped bass growth did indeed slow in the years following
the combined increase in stocking rates and higher size
limits. Some anglers wanted to attack the striped bass/shad
imbalance by increasing the number of shad. Many saw
the introduction of blueback herring as the solution.
Biologists acknowledged that bluebacks, if successful,
would benefit striped bass by replacing less desirable
sizes of gizzard or threadfin shad. However, bluebacks
prefer to feed on large zooplankton, which are scarce
in Lake Norman. In the absence of their preferred food,
bluebacks can switch to eating larval fish. In fertile
lakes, where fish are abundant, that hasn't been a problem.
In an infertile lake like Norman, could bluebacks reduce
crappie or white bass numbers? Biologists didn't know
for sure. But they did know that blueback herring eventually
would escape Lake Norman and move downstream, potentially
turning a Lake Norman "solution" into a Lake Wylie problem.
Consequently, biologists took a conservative approach
and chose not to stock herring.
In the last few years, both blueback and alewives, another
herring, have become established in Lake Norman and increasingly
abundant as a result of bait bucket stocking by striped
bass anglers. Both fish historically have been used by
striped bass in other waters. How will the new additions
affect the rest of the fish in Lake Norman and downstream?
No one is certain. Biologists hope anglers don't move
the fish upstream to Lake James because walleye populations
in other reservoirs have collapsed following alewife
The Future Of Norman's Striper Fishery
The last 30 years have produced many changes at Lake
Norman. It is not possible to turn the clock back on
the lake's striped bass population. What is possible
in the future? Lake Norman striped bass have been thin
and slow growing because there are too many fish for
the available shad. How much help the alewives will provide
will be revealed by time. Alewives will not double or
triple the lake's shad supply because the water is too
infertile. If the stripers remain thin, fatter fish can
only be created by reducing the numbers of striped bass
in the lake. Striper numbers are controlled by stocking
rates and regulations. If high catch rates are important
to anglers, stocking rates should be maintained. But
if heftier striped bass are desired by anglers, thinning
the striped bass population by imposing less restrictive
harvest limits might add a pound or so to a 25-inch fish.
The future of the striped bass fishery is in the hands
of the anglers and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission,
but our choices are reduced by limitations imposed by
Perhaps we should build on what the lake will allow.
High catch rates of smaller striped bass is the lake's
strength. Anglers crowd Lake Norman's waters in cool
weather looking for a chance to catch numbers of striped
bass. They know a big fish is a bonus. Others have chosen
to fish different waters looking for bigger fish. It
has really always been that way. Like the angler in our
introductory story, we shouldn't allow Lake Norman's
limitations to prevent us from experiencing the satisfaction
of a good fishing trip on this very special lake.
Van Horn is the fishery research coordinator for
the Piedmont Region.