Some Sad News & Some Good News

A COUPLE OF FISHING NOTES

Ransom Myers is dead of a brain tumor at age 54. This blunt, brilliant, and insightful biologist invented much of the vocabulary and many of the concepts that we currently use so glibly in discussing marine biology. Much of what he told us over his brilliant career is being played out today – sadly enough.

From the Toronto Star comes the following:

A GREAT LOSS

“Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice.”dalhousie.jpg

That’s the inscription above the resting place in St. Paul’s of Sir Christopher Wren, the London cathedral’s architect.

Translated as “Reader, if you seek his memorial, look about you,” it could equally apply to Dalhousie University professor Ransom Myers, 54, who died last week from a brain tumour.

Myers was an internationally recognized fish-population biologist, who spearheaded research into the deadly over fishing of the biggest predator fish. Only four days after this death, yet another of his seminal studies was published, in the current issue of Science.

Working with colleagues at Dalhousie and two U.S. universities, Myers gathered convincing evidence of the oft-predicted “cascade of consequences” that comes from eliminating animals at the top of the food chain, in this case 11 species of large sharks in the northwest Atlantic.

The escalating demand for shark meat from Asia, as well as “bycatch” deaths, are linked to drops of more than 60 per cent since 1985 in the populations of hammerhead, bull and sandbar sharks.

That’s good news for their prey, including rays, skates, and smaller sharks. By compiling data from many studies, the researchers found that the population of a dozen of those species has exploded. The cownose ray has fared especially well, with a population estimated at 40 million, at least 10 times the level in the mid-1970s.

The ray loves to chow down on the bivalves of east coast estuaries as it migrates south to wintering grounds in Florida. Three years ago the once-profitable bay scallop fishery of North Carolina was closed because too few had survived into fall. It remains closed.

The Myers paper concludes: “We propose that top-down effects may be widely expected whenever entire functional groups of predators are depressed, as can occur in industrial fisheries.”

“Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice.”

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From deep in the tradition-laden Hudson Valley, and the Catskills, comes some truly non-traditional fly fishing news.

“There are more women fishing than ever before.”

“At the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, young girls now account for half of the audience at the center’s educational programs. junction-pool.jpgAnd, when more than 400 anglers walk into the water at Junction Pool for the first cast of trout and fly-fishing season today, about 25 percent will be women. Anglers say their sport is losing its old boys’ club reputation, attracting more women who are highly skilled and who enjoy the sport’s relaxing qualities.”

This comes to us from the venerable Times Herald Record. We’re pleased to note it here and suggest that the full article is worth a read.

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From the Left Coast comes a bit of inspirational news about fishing and “at-risk kids.” It seems that a corrections officer in Everett, WA has developed a program with heart and a hand from a local tackle shop. The story is insightful, and uplifting. I must also note that “A Woman Runs Through It.”

If you’re at all interested in the future of fishing and our kids, this is a must read. Thank you to Jim O’Day, James Malcolm, Mike Herman, Al Herman, Henry Wilson, and the Blanche Miller Trust Fund.

“Mike Herman was nervous when he first saw his young pupils, an edgy looking bunch compared with his regular clientele. “When they found out it would actually be hands-on, they were really smiling,” he said. “There was a girl, I thought she would give me the most trouble.” She surprised him by working meticulously for hours on a fly rod.”

Take the time to read this one from HeraldNet.

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