Angling, Outdoors, and Conservation News Recap
Welcome to the Weekly Creel, a compilation of regional news and announcements for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts of the Chesapeake Bay region. Please email us directly at email@example.com to have your organization’s news item or event listing considered for next week’s column. Per usual, here are direct links to the lastest, local fishing reports from Reel Chesapeake, On The Water, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Anglers Sports Center, and FishTalk Magazine. This week’s catch also includes…
July is National Park & Recreation Month
Today marks to official start of National Park and Recreation Month. Since 1985, outdoor enthusiasts in the U.S. have “celebrated Park and Recreation Month to promote building strong, vibrant, and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation and to recognize the more than 160,000 full-time park and recreation professionals—along with hundreds of thousands of part-time and seasonal workers and volunteers—that maintain our country’s local, state and community parks,” states the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
This year’s theme “Where Community Grows,” which celebrates the vital role park and recreation professionals play in bringing people together, providing essential services and fostering the growth of our communities. So…visit a park. Appreciate and enjoy the park. Thank those working at the park. Learn more at nrpa.org.
Smoke on the Water
Smoke, haze…hotbox…whatever you call it, the mass of air pollution from the Canadian wildfires returned to the Mid Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay region this week. According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, hundreds of large fires are still burning, about half of which are considered “out of control.” To date, 31,000 square miles of forest have burned this year.
The Air Quality Index at the time of this writing (Friday) was at 157 of 350, indicating code red unhealthy level. Those with medical preconditions, such heart/lung disease, and age groups including seniors, teens, and children are asked to avoid prolonged exposure to outdoor activities, while the rest of us should be mindful as well. Today’s index is predicted to settle into a code yellow moderate level. You can check the Air Quality Index in your zip code by simply visiting AirNow.gov.
With decent weather predicted over this coming week coupled with the Fourth of July holiday, expect boating traffic, fishing, and outdoor recreation to still hit a summer peak. Our advice, bring a buff and wear it over your face/mouth. It doubles as sun protection, so win-win for the outdoor enthusiast or angler enjoying extended time outside. And hydrate with plenty of water.
Climate Pathway Report Released This Week
Ironically—as smoke hovers over the state—the Maryland Climate Pathway Report was introduced by the Maryland Department of the Environment and the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Sustainability this week. The report charts a path to achieve Maryland’s climate goals while benefiting the economy, human health, and the environment.
It’s an extensive report that covers various industrial and energy sectors, waste mangement, agriculture, forestry, and societal impacts on the environment and how best to achieve pollution reductions. “Maryland’s Climate Pathway report demonstrates how Maryland can meet its ambitious climate goals of 60 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2031 relative to 2006 levels, and attain a net-zero economy by 2045, all while realizing health and economic benefits for Marylanders, including improved air quality, new jobs, and household cost savings,” states the report’s executive summary. You can read how, here.
Yet Another Maryland Fallfish State Record
Well that didn’t last long. For the second time in a month, the state record for fallfish has been broken. Bryson Meyers of Oakland is the new state record holder for fallfish, as recognized by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in the state’s nontidal division.
Meyers caught the 3.01-pound fish on June 16th while fishing in the North Branch of the Potomac River, in the Westernport area. He was on a fly fishing float trip drifting the river for trout when he hooked the impressive fallfish, which measured more than 20 inches in length. Meyer’s catch broke the previous record of 2.27 pounds caught on May 29th by youth angler Crosby Abe of Cumberland.
“When I first hooked the fish, we thought it was a large brown trout, and it was doing the typical stubborn bulldog fight near the bottom,” Meyers said. “When the fish came up near the surface and swirled, my fishing partner immediately realized that I may have a new state record fallfish.”
The impressive fish was weighed on a certified scale at Farm 2 Table meat processor in Oakland. The species was confirmed by Department of Natural Resources biologist Matt Sell. Photo submitted to Maryland DNR, used with permission.
Solar Grown Oysters Planted in Ptap
Say what? Solar power grown oysters? This week, Solar Oysters, LLC, in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and with funding from the Abell Foundation, placed a second batch of oysters grown using solar energy on the expanding restoration reef off the shores of Fort Carroll, located in the Patapsco River, just south of Baltimore.
These tiny oysters, also known as spat, were first placed on the Solar Oyster Production System (SOPS), a solar-powered platform located in Baltimore Harbor eight months ago, where they thrived extraordinarily well. While survival rates on oyster farms can vary drastically, survival rates of over 90 percent have been observed consistently on SOPS.
The SOPS is an innovative technology that uses clean energy via roof-mounted solar panels to power rotation of oyster cages. By rotating vertically through the water column, oysters have access to more abundant food sources and exposure to sunlight when out of the water for periods of time to reduce fouling.
The current compact design can produce up to 250,000 oysters in a 0.02-acre space compared to multiple acres used in traditional oyster farming on the Chesapeake Bay. “This technology has the potential to shift the oyster aquaculture industry by reducing labor while producing healthy oysters for both restoration and consumption. The Solar Oyster Production System’s automatic oyster cage rotation system dramatically increased oyster survival versus oysters sitting stationary,” said SOPS Platform Manager Emily Caffrey. “The more oysters that can be grown, the faster we can improve the bay’s water quality, and oyster farmers will have more product to sell at market,” continued Caffrey. Learn more about this technology at solaroysters.com. Photo courtesy Solar Oyster, LLC.
Endangered Species’ Protections Get Fed Boost
Yesterday, the Department of the Interior announced significant action to better facilitate species recovery by providing more flexibility for the introduction of threatened and endangered species to suitable habitats outside their historical ranges. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized revisions to section 10(j) regulations under the Endangered Species Act that will help improve the conservation and recovery of imperiled ESA-listed species in the coming decades, as growing impacts from climate change and invasive species cause habitats within species’ historical ranges to shift or become unsuitable. The prior regulations restricted the reintroduction of experimental populations to only the species’ historical range except under extreme conditions.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz discussed the new action and the significance of the Endangered Species Act yesterday.
“The impacts of climate change on species habitat are forcing some wildlife to new areas to survive, while squeezing other species closer to extinction. The Interior Department is committed to using all of the tools available to help halt declines and stabilize populations of the species most at-risk,” Secretary Haaland said. “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, these new revisions will help strengthen our efforts to conserve and recover imperiled species now and for generations to come.”
Potomac Riverkeeper Network Sues Navy
Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) and NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council) filed a lawsuit last week against the U.S. Navy in federal court in Maryland over violations of the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Navy uses a long stretch of the Potomac River, 53 miles south of Washington, D.C, and a facility alongside it, in Dahlgren, Virginia, to conduct a wide range of weapons testing. The testing takes place on land, in laboratories and in the Potomac River itself. This is the nation’s largest over-the-water gun-firing range.
“We were shocked to discover the federal government is openly polluting this waterway without any kind of permit,” said Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper. “And it is staggering to consider the volume of munitions that have already gone into the river. It’s cause for concern for anyone who uses the river for boating or fishing—for business or recreation. We’re not asking the court to shut down weapons testing. We just want the Navy to get a permit under the Clean Water Act to ensure that their activities protect water quality, like everyone else has to do.”
After providing the Navy with notice and seeking its voluntary compliance with the Clean Water Act, PRKN and NRDC are now asking a court to declare that the Navy is violating the law through unpermitted discharges of pollution into the Potomac River, and to direct the Navy to secure a Clean Water Act permit. Upon request by PKRN and NRDC, the Navy previously agreed to voluntarily initiate consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) over potential harms to the habitat for the endangered Atlantic sturgeon, which spawns and migrates in these waters. A copy of the complaint available here.
And that’s a wrap for this week’s Creel. If you have news to share, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.