Tag: fisheries

Lake Yellowstone: Promising News for Native Trout Recovery

Great news on the invasive species front: lake trout in Yellowstone National Park are on the decline, offering a more hopeful future for native fish. A two-year control effort based on the latest fisheries science is paying dividends, researchers say.

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Go with the Flow: Using Flow Experiments to Guide River Management

The recent news of a “pulse flow” in the Lower Colorado River has highlighted a steadily growing trend in freshwater conservation along “working” rivers – restoring elements of natural flow regimes. A new paper reviews such flow experiments and their effects on ecological restoration.

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Sea of Cortez: Conserving the World’s Aquarium

Jacques Cousteau called it the “world’s aquarium”: a place of flying mobula rays, frolicking sea lions and colorful reef fish. Marine scientist Alison Green travels to the Sea of Cortez to see the biological wonders for herself, and ponders the future of this special place.

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Sustainable Hydropower: Are Small Dams Really Better for the Environment?

When it comes to dams, small is often considered beautiful. But should small hydropower projects get a free pass? Can such dams actually be tiny but terrible? Freshwater scientist Jeff Opperman takes a look at the realities of sustainable hydropower.

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Beyond the Power Struggle: The Science and Values of Sustainable Hydropower

Fighting dams is in the environmental movement’s DNA. But is it time to change? Freshwater scientist Jeff Opperman argues that science-based collaboration offers a better future for rivers and fish — and the people who depend on them.

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The Mahi-Mahi & The Map: Digital Storytelling for Science

How can a scientist convey a complex and even contentious topic like marine spatial planning to non-specialist audiences? Shawn Margles looks to digital storytelling to convey the emotion behind the science.

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Conserving Lake Trout Among the Philosophers

Can well-managed lakes in the Adirondacks provide important refuges for lake trout in the face of climate change? That’s the focus of a new intensive research effort being conducted at Follensby Pond, where philosophers once pondered life’s mysteries.

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10 Fish Conservation Success Stories to Celebrate

Looking for a good fish story? We look back at some of the year’s best conservation results for fisheries, from alligator gar reintroduction to salmon recovery, with a side dish of fish and chimps.

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Lose the Memory, Lose the Fish

A dead river runs through it? We’ve come to accept our current, degraded rivers as normal, even though they once held almost-incomprehensible numbers of migratory fish. Can ecological history be a first step in reclaiming our memory and our fish?

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A Breakthrough for Data-Poor Fisheries Starts in Palau

Find out how a new technique piloted in Palau by The Nature Conservancy could help solve one of the world’s greatest challenges in fisheries management — a simple, low-cost method for assessing fish stocks.

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Restoring Coastal Wetlands: Complex Problems Need Multiple Solutions

Dredging or diversions: which is best for restoring Louisiana’s coastal wetlands? The debate is passionate, but Bryan Piazza says it overlooks the reality of restoration: we need both.

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Results: Great News for Shad

Standing on the bow of the boat, Steve Herrington exuded the excited energy of a kid reeling in his first fish. Or perhaps a more scientific version of the Crocodile Hunter, bubbling with intensity. Net in hand, he scooped up shad — a migratory fish species — quickly examining them before passing them off to fellow researchers.

As covered in yesterday’s blog, last year I spent a day with Steve on Florida’s Apalachicola River looking at Alabama shad, a fish that researchers hoped would benefit by a practice known as conservation locking—basically allowing fish to pass through dams by using the same lock system that enables ships to pass.

Herrington was then director of freshwater programs for The Nature Conservancy’s Florida program (he now holds the same position with Missouri). At the time, conservation locking on the Apalachicola seemed to hold great promise for shad, a migratory species. He estimated that conservation locking could result in a returning population of 60,000 to 75,000 shad, indicating a steady increase.

Fast forward a year later. Herrington is on the phone, and that same infectious enthusiasm is literally bubbling over. “Great news!” he exclaims.

And indeed, his research has yielded surprising results. Those initial estimates of 60,000 shad? Way low. Estimates now showed a 122,000 fish increase, with as many as 280,000 total shad now in the system.

“We can now confidently say that conservation locking works, and we’re seeing a substantial bump in the population,” Herrington says. “I don’t know that there are any other data out there that so convincingly demonstrates such effectiveness.”

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A Lock Holds the Key to Restoring Migratory Fish

Author’s Note: This blog originally ran a year ago, following time afield with shad researchers on Florida’s Apalachicola River. Recently, the researchers released new information with some exciting new results on Alabama shad restoration. This blog provides the background information on the project. Check back tomorrow for a look at the results of this project, which is making a big difference in migratory fish conservation.

Take PVC pipe. Attach to a home water pump. Add water.

It’s a simple recipe, but one that might be enough to help move millions of the migratory fish species known as Alabama shad over dams, so they can spawn in rivers throughout the southeastern United States. For millions of dollars less than conventional methods. With potentially big gains for sport fisheries in those rivers.

“It’s low cost, low risk and low tech,” says Steve Herrington, director of freshwater conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Florida. “You can buy any of the basic equipment at Home Depot. And we have the science to back it up.”

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Fishing, Conservation and Marine Protected Areas: Let’s Work Together

I have a confession to make: I’m a marine scientist who thinks marine protected areas (MPAs) aren’t going to be nearly enough to save our oceans, and that fishing needs to be part of the solution too.

Here’s why: As a conservationist, I’ve seen how MPAs can protect habitat and allow fish populations to flourish, but I’ve also seen how effective fisheries management can balance economic needs with those of a healthy ocean. Within the next generation the global population will reach 9 billion, and it’s our shared challenge to implement the next generation of ocean management techniques to allow us to restore and maintain our oceans against this ever-rising wall of pressure.

That means working together.

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Big Fish: Roadside Pike

Northern pike have always conjured images of wilderness: big, wild lakes, the scent of pine trees, a loon calling in the background.

Large, predatory fish, pike do indeed hunt lake shallows. They’re found in big places—from remote Alaskan and Canadian waters to the Great Lakes.

Come spring, they actually are on the move—traveling up rather small streams in order to spawn.

Researchers in Green Bay, Wisconsin have been tracking pike movements by doing chemical analyses of pike otoliths, also known as ear stones. Otoliths have annual growth rings, like trees, and accumulate trace chemicals from the surrounding water column as they form.

Many streams have a specific—and unique—combination of chemicals, and this chemical profile shows up in the otolith when fish move from one chemically distinct water body to another.

As such, researchers can determine where pike spent different years of their lives – and if they return to the streams where they were born, or if they use different streams.

This knowledge, in turn, helps conservationists focus on restoring streams that will actually be used by pike.

When I headed out with researchers, I imagined we’d search for pike in wild, lonely places. Instead, we immediately drove to an area across from a small, rural housing development, cars whizzing by as we checked pike traps.

Where could the pike possibly be?

It turns out: In a roadside ditch.

These little ditches— the kinds designed to keep water off the road—have been used for a very long time by pike as spawning sites.

With hundreds of lakes, streams and wetlands within miles of Green Bay, it may seem odd to focus on ditches. But those little channels may be vital in restoring pike populations.

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This Week on Cool Green Science: Change & The Eastern U.S. Forest

Too many deer. Logging one tree to save another. Beavers versus old growth. Welcome to forest conservation in the Anthropocene. Beginning Monday, July 21, join us for a provocative 5-part series exploring the full complexity facing forest conservation in the eastern United States.

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Cool Green Science is managed by Matt Miller, the Conservancy's deputy director for science communications, and edited by Bob Lalasz, its director of science communications. Email us your feedback.

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