Conservation Report: Fish Disease More Common in Gulf Oil Spill Area

Everyone knows water and oil don't mix, but post-Deepwater Horizon research is proving oil and fish is an even worse combo that is looking increasingly toxic.

The latest report comes from the University of South Florida, which revealed a federal government survey of the entire Gulf of Mexico showed "the area that has the highest frequency of fish diseases is the area where the oil spill was."

This map, that accompanied the report, is a graphic illustration of the dangers oil development poses to the valuable Gulf of Mexico fisheries resource.

It's important to note that studies of most Gulf species show them to be healthy, abundant and perfectly safe for consumption. But fisheries researchers have warned since the spill began that their greatest concerns were for long-term impacts that might not begin to show for several years.

We've already reported on the troubling findings of the impact to the reproductive systems of Gulf killifish. While the sick fish found in this survey might not indicate trouble ahead, it's important Congress passes the Restore Act so researchers may have the funding to continue to monitor developments in the years to come.

Lesson Plan: Conservation Means Jobs

Will the fact that conservation programs add jobs and income to the nation's economy help change Congressional attacks on those programs? That's what sportsmen's conservation groups are hoping will happen in 2012.

Facing what has been termed "the most anti-environment House in the history of Congress," the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership--the largest coalition of sportsmen's conservation groups in the nation--unveiled a 2012 action agenda that focuses on convincing Congress that a vote for fish and wildlife is a vote for the nation's bottom line.

The argument is based on research previously showing that more than 9.4 million jobs and $1 trillion are annually generated by outdoor recreation and historic preservation.

The TRCP is taking this approach because many in the House claim conservation funding is a waste and environmental regulations are a major cause of unemployment--even though government records show that's not the case.

The group's major goals in 2012 include:

  • Leveraging the combined weight of the outdoor community--especially hunters and anglers--to ensure continued federal funding for conservation, in 2012 and beyond

  • Implementing federal policies to better conserve fish and wildlife during all phases of energy project planning and development, both traditional and renewable

  • Sustaining a robust and economically competitive Conservation Reserve Program, along with other components of the Farm Bill Conservation Title

  • Securing reauthorization and full funding of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program ("Open Fields") in the 2012 Farm Bill and funding in upcoming appropriations bills

  • Upholding and defending the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, including preventing the advancement of any federal legislation that would weaken it

  • Sustaining fisheries populations and recreational use opportunities with a strong and effective Magnuson-Stevens Act, comprehensive and timely data collection and restoration activities in the Gulf of Mexico

  • Preventing development of the Pebble Mine Complex in Bristol Bay, Alaska

  • Restoring Clean Water Act protections to the nation's wetlands, rivers, lakes and streams

  • Ensuring strong funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and State Wildlife Action Plans to address the challenge of climate change and its effects on fish and wildlife