September 12, 2008
Erin Mooney, National Press Secretary 703-284-9408
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Trout Unlimited Asks Manufacturers to Eliminate Production of Felt-Soled Waders and Equipment by 2011
Effort will help prevent spread of aquatic nuisance species in America’s rivers and streams.
SALT LAKE CITY –At its annual meeting today, Trout Unlimited (TU) asked fishing equipment manufacturers to stop producing felt-soled waders and wading shoes by 2011 to help stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) by anglers in America’s rivers and streams.
Many waders, wading boots and shoes used by anglers have felt-soled bottoms that are used to provide traction while walking in water. Felt is a material that transmits aquatic nuisance species such as New Zealand mud snails, the invasive algae called didymo and the parasite that causes whirling disease, a disease fatal to trout. Felt soles can very easily become impregnated with mud and other organic matter, and become difficult or impossible to clean and disinfect.
“While the elimination of felt soles on waders and boots will not entirely prevent the spread of ANS, this action will help reduce the risk and help protect our precious aquatic resources,” said David Kumlien, executive director of the Whirling Disease Foundation. This action will also help make the public more aware of the threat of ANS and hopefully will motivate them to change their behavior and practices related to other aquatic recreational activities that may also contribute to the spread ANS.”
New technology and materials provide viable alternatives to felt. Some manufacturers are already using these newer materials on wading shoes and angling products.
Preventing the proliferation of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) is central to TU’s mission to conserve and protect North America’s trout and salmon fisheries. The impact of ANS to native species is substantial, second only to loss of habitat, and is responsible for causing losses in biodiversity, changes in ecosystems, and impacts on economic enterprises such as agriculture, fisheries, and international trade. The costs of preventing and controlling invasive species are not well understood or documented, but estimates indicate that the costs are quite high.
“It’s like a war on our streams, rivers and lakes, with a new enemy rearing its ugly head each week. First, whirling disease, then mud snails, then some invasive aquatic plant,” said Jack Williams, Trout Unlimited’s senior scientist. “We have to be more aggressive in our battle against the spread of invasive species.”
ANS are present in many rivers, streams and lakes around the country. For example, zebra mussels were first found in Lake St. Clair near Detroit, Michigan in 1986 and now infest waters from Vermont to Oklahoma. Each year $30 million is spent in the Great Lakes to monitor and control zebra mussels, which are responsible for massive changes in the Great Lakes ecosystem including elimination of native mussels and creating toxic algae blooms. Additionally, zebra mussels are creating significant impacts on Great Lakes fishery resources and fishery restoration efforts. The invasive algae didymo, often called “rock snot”, is present in rivers throughout the country, from the Upper Connecticut River in New Hampshire, to South Dakota’s Rapid Creek.
Didymo was first seen in New Zealand, in 2004. The country has placed a ban on felt boots for the upcoming 2008 season. A number of U.S. states where aquatic nuisance species are found have reportedly discussed the possibility of outlawing felt-soled wading equipment.
For more information about invasive species and what anglers can do to prevent the spread of ANS, go to www.tu.org.