Saturday, May 25, 2024

Minnesota Roughfish Protection: In The Works

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature, Wildlife, Science & Society, Global Change, Climate Change, Sustainability

Ed Hessler

When I read the following headline for Greg Stanley's essay, Star Tribune December 23, 2023, "'Rough fish' in line for protection," I thought of one of Aldo Leopold's most famous quotes. I'm going to close this post with it.

Stanley's essay is protected by a paywall so to its main points.

--Stanley writes that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) just presented state "lawmakers recommendations on how to better protect and understand 23 native species that have been considered 'rough fish' by Minnesota fishery managers for more than a century."

--Some populations are struggling (white suckers), others eat zebra mussels (e.g., freshwater drum), two have been found to be the key in "saving one of the most endangered animals in the state" --the fish: goldeye and mooneye; the endangered species: spectaclecase mussels; what the fish that no other fish are known to do: serve as hosts for this mussels juveniles.

--Rough fish have been viewed as competitors with fish considered more desirable by those who fish. In some cases some of these species have been the focus of  elimination campaigns that do not differentiate "native fish from invasive ones."

--Minnesota "prohibits 'wanton waste,' killing animals merely for sport." However, "if the dead fish are used for fertilizer, they can be taken." Stanley reported that the "DNR said it will reconsider whether fertilizer is an appropriate use for native fish."

--The report also asked lawmakers to give the DNR authority "to expedite the rulemaking process to allow the agency to quickly set bag limits and fishing seasons for any of the native species it deems necessary."

--The relevancy of Aldo Leopold's words (below) are found in this sentence in Stanley's reporting. "Each species evolved to fill a niche in Minnesota's waters." And we need to know much more about those niches. The report identified the following for "priority studies...bowfin, gar, redhorse and buffalo fish."

--“The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” -- Aldo Leopold, Round River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold (edited by Luna Leopold, Illustrations by Charles W. Schwartz, Oxford University Press 1993)

What lovely common names many of these "ruffians" have.


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