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EPA, Corps of Engineers Agree to Comply with Supreme Court Ruling on Clean Water

Plus AFFTA award winners, boat raffle, Belize conservation, flows in Oregon, and more in Fly Fisherman's News Briefs for October 25, 2023.

EPA, Corps of Engineers Agree to Comply with Supreme Court Ruling on Clean Water

Both the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have agreed to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court decision to limit the scope of what's protected under the Waters of the United States rule. (Liz Juers photo)

The end of October is rapidly approaching and that means that Halloween is almost here. 

Looking at my fly-tying desk, that leads to one very important question for this year’s Oct. 31 celebration as trick-or-treating Marvel superheroes, ghosts and goblins, and maybe even someone dressed up like a young fly rod-toting Norman Maclean get ready to ring the doorbell—can I give away extra flies this year instead of candy?

With that, here’s another edition of the Fly Fisherman News and Notes package:

EPA, Corps of Engineers Comply with Supreme Court Ruling

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in Sackett v. EPA back on May 25, 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency has amended its 2023 definition of "waters of the United States" to conform with the high court’s decision. Trying to provide clarity, the action aims to help the EPA advance its goals of "...following the law and implementing the Clean Water Act to deliver the essential protections that safeguard the nation’s waters from pollution and degradation."

Looking to clear up uncertainty after the ruling earlier this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also resuming the issuing of all jurisdictional determinations. Both the EPA and the Corps will also work with state, Tribal and local partners to safeguard waters in need of protection following the decision back in May.

“While I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Sackett case, EPA and Army have an obligation to apply this decision alongside our state co-regulators, Tribes, and partners," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, in a news release. “We’ve moved quickly to finalize amendments to the definition of ‘waters of the United States’ to provide a clear path forward that adheres to the Supreme Court’s ruling. EPA will never waver from our responsibility to ensure clean water for all. Moving forward, we will do everything we can with our existing authorities and resources to help communities, states, and Tribes protect the clean water upon which we all depend.”

The May decision stated that waters that lack year-round connectivity to continuously flowing streams and permanent lakes are no longer covered by certain federal protections. It will now be up to individual states to protect such waters. 

Deadline for Hell's Bay Skiff Fundraiser Nears

With the holiday season quickly approaching, who doesn't need Santa to deliver a Hell's Bay Boatworks skiff and put it under the Christmas tree?

The jolly old elf in the red suit will have a chance to deliver such a flat's skiff—and a fully rigged one at that—for the lucky winner of the "World's Finest Skiff Raffle" currently being conducted by Captains for Clean Water (CCW). 

A studio photo a royal blue Hell's Bay skiff on a trailer.
The non-profit Captains for Clean Water is giving away a fully rigged Hell's Bay Boatworks flats skiff.

Saltwater fly anglers who enjoy visiting the Sunshine State for tarpon, permit, bonefish, redfish, snook, and more, might remember that the CCW organization began when a couple of fishing guides said enough is enough and began to fight for clean water in Florida through the birth of the 501(c)3 non-profit organization back in 2016.

As a part of the organization's fundraising efforts to push for clean water in Florida, the ultimate skiff dream raffle package will offer a 17.8 Hell's Bay Professional Skiff complete with a Mercury Racing 60 R outboard engine, a Raymarine Axiom 9, a custom SeaDek floor kit, a Ram-Lin aluminum trailer, a Power-Pole 6-ft. Pro Series, a 22' Stiffy Guide Series graphite push pole, a huge YETI Cooler prize package, and an Orvis Helios 3D fly rod/fly reel/accessory package.

Raffle tickets are $50 for one, $250 for five, $500 for 10, and $1,000 for 20. The “Enter to Win By” date is next month on Black Friday, November 24—just in time for Santa's initial post-Thanksgiving Day holiday shopping spree—and the drawing date for the boat is one week later on Friday, Dec. 1 at CFCW's Fort Meyer's headquarters.

Recommended


If you want to see St. Nick deliver a dreamy flats skiff to your driveway in early December, to plan future trips over the holidays as you anticipate long drifts next spring with a 12-weight tarpon rod in your hand, and to sip your holiday eggnog knowing that you have helped in the fight for treasured aquatic resources in the  Sunshine State, then enter to win and help support the fight for clean water!

To enter the skiff raffle drawing, visit the CCW website.

B&TT Partners With Belize’s CZMAI Group

In an effort aiming at better managing the world-renowned inshore saltwater flats fishery found in Belize, the Miami-based Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) has announced a unique partnership obtained through the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between BTT and the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute.

With the CZMAI created by 1998 legislation and charged with a mission to lead sustainable use, planned development of the nation's coastal zone, and to oversee the licensing of sport fishing activities within Belize's terrestrial waters, the memorandum of understanding between CZMAI and B&TT has several aims. Those include better public engagement and educational awareness, research and monitoring efforts, studies related to water quality, mapping the Belizean flat's fisheries habitat, and conducting scientific studies and assessments of both habitat and fish stocks.

An aerial photo of aquamarine water around some islands and a couple of boats zooming by.
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has announced a unique partnership with the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute to better public engagement and educational awareness, research and monitoring efforts, studies related to water quality, mapping the Belizean flat's fisheries habitat, and conducting scientific studies and assessments of both habitat and fish stocks. (Photo courtesy of Under Armour Fish)

“Belize is world renowned for its natural treasures, including its vibrant flats fishery,” said BTT President and CEO Jim McDuffie, in a news release. “BTT is pleased to collaborate with CZMAI on its important mission to ensure the sustainable use of marine resources and ensure wise development in the coastal zone.”  

“CZMAI welcomes the collaboration with BTT on this initiative of mutual interest," added CZMAI's CEO Chantalle Samuels. "It is critically important for Belize to strengthen and modernize its legal framework to promote sustainable sport fishing fisheries management."

AFFTA Confluence Award Winners

The 2023 American Fly Fishing Trade Association recently completed its Confluence trade show event in Salt Lake City. A number of award winners were announced at the late September gathering, including a lengthy selection of New Product Showcase award winners.

In the New Product Showcase, award winners included:

In addition to its half-dozen New Product Showcase Awards, Patagonia also took home the 2023 Confluence gathering’s New Product Showcase "Best of Show" award with the River Steward Wader.

Also announced at Confluence were the winners in the Far Bank Casting Games Competition, with Nick Treynor posting a winning score of 498 along with Heidi Lewis posting a winning score of 331. Fly fishing guide and fly designer Brita Fordice also captured the event’s Iron Fly title. 

Steve Moyer was the Jim Range Conservation Award winner in 2023 thanks to his conservation and advocacy work to protect our nation's waters, fisheries and ecosystems. And Orvis' Tom Rosenbauer added to his own legendary resume at the Confluence show by taking home the 2023 Lefty Kreh Industry Award thanks to his tireless efforts and impact on the sport that have educated fly anglers, enriched the sport, and fostered another generation of fly fishing enthusiasts.

With the show’s new name and purpose, AFFTA Executive Director Lucas Bissett indicated that the organization will continue to reimagine such gatherings in the future and will look to help nurture the future of the fly fishing industry: "We will build off the successes of this show and forge an event in 2024 that represents the needs of our membership and achieves the goal of giving our industry the competitive advantage it needs to expand to new heights."

Potential Legislative Gains for Aquatic Resources in Oregon

Like many other places in the West, Oregon is a state dealing with urban population growth, pressing social issues, economic challenges and environmental problems including climate change and chronic drought, the latter two which are stressing streams, rivers and fisheries with low water flow and over-allocation woes. Despite all of that, and the usual political differences and partisan divide that seems common in much of the country these days, the Conservation Angler (TCA) reports that it appears that there were some positive results coming from the recent 2023 Oregon legislative session

Those include legislative success for the state's water resources, including legal gains according to TCA that will help improve instream flows and help water users better steward their use of public H2O resources. 

The Commission also acted on TCA's proposal for "...a broad-based and independent Oregon hatchery evaluation study investigating several aspects of the system" that would provide an economic cost-benefit analysis, an assessment of the state's hatchery system backlog of deferred maintenance needs, an ecologic cost-benefit analysis of the state's hatchery system and its work, and assessing the vulnerability and resilience of the hatchery system due to the impact of climate change. The initiation of this study is now required as part of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s budget approval for operations between July 2023 and June 2025 and has a legislature appropriated $1 million dollars to conduct this study by an independent third party.

Another positive in the minds of some was a status change for beavers in the state from a predator species—and subject to immediate lethal removal if their activities threatened man-made infrastructure—to being placed under management by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

TCA notes that since the heavy trapping of beavers began in the state during the early 19th century, salmon and steelhead streams in Oregon have suffered with the reduction in beaver numbers. The hope and belief is that thanks to HB 3464, there might be better numbers of these big critters in the future, and that could result in some positive gains thanks to the work of the Beaver State's natural engineers wearing a fur coat and having a big flat tail.

One of the session's more contentious battles came as a result of Oregon's expanding population and the state's gaining of an additional congressional district. In light of that, the recent session resulted in a statutory change for Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission, one that seeks to preserve proportional representation and broaden the Commission's mission. 

TCA noted that "Notably, section 6 was preserved, noting that all Commission members must represent the public interest, and section 7(a) replaced the former requirement that Commission members be knowledgeable about “hunting, fishing, agriculture and forestry” with a section requiring Commissioners be “knowledgeable about implementing wildlife policy.”

Research Into Effects of Hatchery Salmonids on Wild Stock

Over the years, fish hatcheries have been used to subsidize fisheries, to mitigate habitat loss and over-exploitation of fish species, and to help rebuild and recover wild salmonid stocks.

But the practice has been debated for many years, often leading biologists and management officials to wonder what effects that hatchery salmonids are having on wild salmonids? To help answer that question, a study published in Fisheries Management and Ecology (an aquatic biology journal) earlier this year took a look at available global literature from peer-reviewed publications between 1971 to 2021, evaluating existing research and synthesizing the collective results.

Four hatchery workers herding fish in a raceway.
To help understand the impacts of hatchery fish on wild stocks, a study published in Fisheries Management and Ecology took a look at available global literature from peer-reviewed publications between 1971 to 2021, evaluating existing research and synthesizing the collective results. (Photo courtesy Cheri Anderson, USFWS)

What are those results? According to the study authors (John R. McMillan, Brian Morrison, Nick Chambers, Greg Ruggerone, Louis Bernatchez, Jack Stanford, and Helen Neville), the findings were definitely leaning in one notable direction.

"Two hundred six publications met our search criteria, with 83% reporting adverse/minimally adverse effects on wild salmonids," the study's abstract noted. "Adverse genetic effects on diversity were most common, followed by effects on productivity and abundance via ecological and genetic processes. Few publications (3%) reported beneficial hatchery effects on wild salmonids, nearly all from intensive recovery programs used to bolster highly depleted wild populations. Our review suggests hatcheries commonly have adverse impacts on wild salmonids in freshwater and marine environments. Future research on less studied effects—such as epigenetics—could improve knowledge and management of the full extent of hatchery impacts."


Lynn Burkhead is a senior digital editor with Outdoor Sportsman Group.




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