Conservation Update: NOAA Finds a Better Way to Count What You Catch

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration moved a step closer to satisfying anglers management complaints with the announcement of a new method for estimating recreational catches of marine fish.

Catch data is a primary tool in establishing the overall health of a species, as well as setting catch limits for various fishing groups. Yet the method long-used by NOAA (called the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey, MRESS) had huge holes in accuracy and promptness, causing a lack of confidence in management decisions -- especially the closing of recreational fishing seasons as well as establishing the economic impact of that industry.

The system was declared "fatally flawed" by the National Research Council in 2006. And the problem reached critical mass when the latest edition of the Magnuson Acts set deadlines for NOAA to establish annual catch limits for 500 species -- a giant chore for any agency, but impossible for one with suspect data collection and funding issues.

This new model, called the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) is up for review at www.countmyfish.noaa.gov.

Wetlands Draw Ducks and Dollars to Mississippi Delta

Stopping Louisiana's coastal crisis isn't just about protecting the nation's largest and most critical wintering waterfowl habitat. It's also about plugging a hole in the nation's economy, as this report from the Environmental Defense Fund shows.

Louisiana has lost nearly 2000 square miles of coastal wetlands in the last 70 years due to levees, canals dredging for oil and gas development, and transmission and sea-level rise. It is still losing that habitat at the rate of 16 square miles per year. If nothing is done, most of the Mississippi River delta outside hurricane levees today will be under water by the end of the century.

Since those wetlands are used by 70 percent of the continent's migratory waterfowl, and 85 percent of all fish in the Gulf, stopping that decline is critical to sportsmen's interests.

"Conservation Hawks" Group Takes Wing

The threat of climate change to hunters and anglers has spawned the birth of "Conservation Hawks", a new sportsmen's conservation group. The hunters and anglers who founded the group say it is "dedicated to educating hunters and anglers on the most important threats to our natural resources and outdoors traditions" -- which they consider to be climate change. "It's time to stand up and show we give a damn about our kids and our grandkids -- and about our hunting and fishing," said CH Founder and Chair Todd Tanner. "If we don't get a handle on climate change, we're putting everything we care about at risk."