FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mark Kaelke, Trout Unlimited, 907-321-4464,
Paula Dobbyn, Trout Unlimited, 907-230-1513
Trout Unlimited Urges Alaska Board of Fisheries to Phase Out Felt Sole Wading Products to Curb Invasive Species
(JUNEAU, Alaska, March 15, 2010) - Trout Unlimited's Alaska Program today urged the Board of Fisheries to phase out the use of felt soled wading products in Alaska as a way to guard against the spread of aquatic invasive species. The Board will take up the proposal at its March 16-21 meeting in Anchorage.
The Board of Fisheries passed a similar proposal for the Southeast Region at its 2009 meeting in Sitka. Trout Unlimited (TU) supported that proposal, which takes effect in Southeast in January 2011, and would like the felt sole phase out to cover all regions of Alaska.
Aquatic invasive species have devastated fisheries in many parts of the world and enormous amounts of money and time have been spent working to eradicate them from the waterways. However, eradication is not always possible. The State of Oregon spends $25 million annually simply to control Zebra mussels which have fouled equipment at 13 hydropower sites there.
"Fisheries in Alaska are simply too valuable to too many people not to take every reasonable action possible to stop the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in the future," said Mark Kaelke, TU Southeast Alaska Project Director.
Studies on the sediment transported by anglers conducted in Montana indicate the average angler wearing felt wading products transports some 16 grams of sediment in these products.
"We recognize that sediment transferred on felt products is only one of many vectors for the transmission of invasive species but it is a significant vector, and one that can and should be addressed," said Dave Kumlien, executive director of the Montana-based Whirling Disease Foundation.
Retail manufacturers have embraced a transition away from the production of felt soled wading products. At present, most major manufacturers offer non-absorbent soled wading boots and several have committed to producing only non felt products in the future.
TU encourages the Board to recognize the merits of the felt sole regulation and implement it on a statewide basis. TU and its partners have also launched an angler education campaign this year encouraging anglers to use clean angling techniques as another way to combat the spread of invasive species in Alaska's waters.
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