August 23, 2007
Invasive Algae Found In Northeastern Rivers-- The Federation of Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited Join Together and Call for Action in Fighting Invasive Species
WASHINGTON, D.C. ----The Federation of Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited challenge every angler to join the fight to help prevent the spread of invasive species in our country’s waterways by committing to cleaning their fishing equipment after every use.
Recently, didymo, an invasive algae that is sometimes called “rock snot” has been discovered in several eastern rivers—the Upper Connecticut River in New Hampshire and in Vermont’s White River and the Batten Kill River. The algae, which thrives in clean, cold waters, attaches itself to gravel and rocks at the bottom of the river bed. When the algae blooms, it forms massive mats which create a barrier for native organisms and may result in their decline.
Although not a health hazard to humans, the effect of this invasive algae on native insect and fish populations has been documented in rivers and streams in Quebec, New Zealand and South Dakota. Studies suggest that wild trout populations could be severely affected. The cost to control these invasions can be staggering –the United States spends millions of dollars each year to control invasive species.
“What we need right now is for every angler to understand that they are part of the issue of invasive species, but more importantly, we need them to be involved,” challenged Leah Elwell, of the Federation of Fly Fishers.
These leading conservation groups ask anglers to show they care about the health of our fisheries by leading the charge to prevent the spread of these species. Didymo is just one invasive species, but unfortunately, the list of problem creatures goes on and on, with no end to new discoveries.
"From New Zealand mudsnails to exotic mats of algae, invasive species are blanketing our nation's riverbeds at unprecedented rates," said Dr. Jack Williams, Trout Unlimited's senior scientist. "These invasives are causing wholesale damage to local stream ecology and fish populations."
Although it may seem like a hopeless battle in protecting our lakes, streams and rivers, it’s not.
“To get involved in this fight against invasives means cleaning your gear after a day of fishing is part of the routine. The good thing is, it’s actually easy,” said Elwell.
Learning about invasive species and committing to inspect, clean and dry, are basic things every angler can do. When leaving a river or lake, anglers should check boots, waders, float tubes, boats and other equipment for any plants or dirt. Because the algae cells are very small, they absorb easily into clothing, wading boots, and sandals as well as stick to hard surfaces like tubes, kayaks, and fishing gear. If these items are not cleaned and dried completely, the algae can live and be spread the next time the item is used. These simple measures are part of a new campaign called the Clean Angling Pledge (www.cleanangling.org ). This consistent message of “inspect, clean and dry” can become the daily bread for every angler.
Ron Urban, the New York State Council Chair of Trout Unlimited says the responsibility of controlling invasive species rests on individuals.
"I think all recreationists should realize that there is no treatment or technology for controlling "rock snot". The most we can hope for is that through education and personal responsibility we can reduce further spread while research is carried out,” Urban said.
Recognizing that there is not a magic bullet that will kill all invasive species in one shot, anglers and river users are advised to always assume that recreational equipment is contaminated. People should inspect, clean and dry all equipment after every outing. For more information on the Clean Angling Pledge and aquatic invasive species: www.cleanangling.org  and www.fedflyfishers.org/conInvasives.php  . Trout Unlimited has additional information on invasive species: http://www.tu.org/science/exotics  .
The Federation of Fly Fishers is a 43-year-old international organization dedicated to conserving, restoring and educating through fly fishing.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation group with 150,000 members in 450 chapters around the country.