Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Feb. 28, 15 ... Loads of ice videos and such ...

 Saturday, February 28, 2015: It was a fine-ish day out there. I did a nice a.m. Holgate run. Ran into Refuge Officer Chris along with refuge volunteer Stu D. Chatted a bit then did what I figured would be quick in/out Holgate tip run. Not so. I first ran into a very down and out long-tail duck. I checked it for injuries then wrapped it in a towel for a short time. I’m rapidly realizing that some of these winter diving birds simply get so cold they have to come out and warm a bit. Without over warming it – in my well-heated truck – I released it and it was a different animal – flying well and even landing smoothly in the nearby ocean, where it began swimming as if nothing had happened. I see why so many foxes are hanging in Holgate. Those over chilled birds are sitting duck in more ways than one. 

Then at the Rip, I came across some Slurpee water. It wasn’t nearly as cool as the frozen phots up Nantucket way but it was surely our own version. Since this is Wawa territory, maybe it’s closer to an Icee. It does make an odd slurp sound when waves break. 



After the Icee watching, I videoed this flock of quite-cool brant. Check out the line formation they get into when swimming thorough ice. 



Then I did some bobbing for seals. Here’s what I offered folks who don’t get to sseal-watch. It’s toward the end.



When I hiked around the back – you can’t drive to the back cut due to ice, I was greeted by this ... iceogater waiting to pounce ... 

Further down the cut I came across a fellow who really wanted some clams ... Check out this video ...


I also took a better look at the downed USCG research platform near the back cut ... Here's the video and a still ...


Finally, I did some extra beached micro-iceberg videos ... 


Below: A vegetarian ice floe. 


Walmart Launches Sustainability Leaders Program to Empower Customers to Reward Seafood Producers

SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton - February 27, 2015

Walmart has been an influential leader in setting how food retailers educate their consumers and manage their supply chains to support sustainable purchasing. Their statements and actions regarding seafood have evolved over time.
The latest program is called ‘Sustainability Leaders’, and is an attempt to mark consumer packages with a Walmart sustainability logo.

Called Sustainability Leaders shop, the portal on Walmart.com builds on the company’s ambition to provide customers more information about products that are affordable and produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Walmart Global eCommerce, said, “Our customers can trust us to work with suppliers who have an ongoing commitment to both sustainability and affordability.”
The aim is to give customers who want to use sustainability criteria in their purchasing a vehicle to do so.
“We created Sustainability Leaders to help customers live better. The price for a Sustainability Leaders’ product doesn’t go up when a supplier is badged. It’s the same price today as it was yesterday, ” said Walmart’s statement.
“Since 2007, we have aspired to three broad sustainability goals, one of which is selling products that sustain people and the environment. Empowering our customers to work with us to reward best-in-class companies by purchasing their products is a key next step in achieving this goal. ”
“We’ve heard from our customers that the main barriers in acting on sustainability are: 1) knowing what sustainability actually means; and 2) understanding which companies are doing better than others. ”
To address this issue, Walmart says they will now turn to the sustainability index, created by TSC (The Sustainability Consortium), which grades products across categories. Those products and suppliers which score 80% or higher on the TSC indexes - which are specific to the food and type of product - will be able to display the badge.
This marks a further evolution in Walmart’s taking ownership of how they communicate and purchase sustainable seafood.
In 2006, the company had a huge impact on the US retail sector, when they announced plans to purchase “all of its wild-caught fresh and frozen fish for the United States market from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) -certified fisheries within the next three to five years. “
In 2009, Walmart first established the sustainability index, and began to organize the Sustainability Consortium. The business issue was that they did not want to confuse customers with a plethora of sustainability marks and standards across a range of products. Why should the customer who cares about sustainability have to navigate one system at the seafood counter, a second system in cosmetics, and a third system in paper products.
In 2011, they updated their seafood purchasing policy to say “In our ongoing effort to promote worldwide seafood sustainability, Walmart U. S. and Sam’s Club U. S. require all fresh and frozen, farmed and wild seafood products we sell to become third-party certified as sustainable using Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), or equivalent standards."
"As our overall goal is to increase the availability of sustainable seafood, we will require currently uncertified fisheries and aquaculture suppliers to develop work plans to achieve certification and report progress biannually. ”
The key change here was first, to accept equivalent standards of seafood sustainability to the Marine Stewardship Council and GAA’s Best Aquaculture Practices, and secondly to recognize improvement programs as acceptable interim strategies for fisheries that were not presently certified.
Today, a new seafood sustainability policy is on their website. It reads (emphasis in the original) :
Walmart U. S. and Sam’s Club require all fresh and frozen, farmed and wild seafood suppliers to source from fisheries who are:
Third-party certified as sustainable using Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)
Managing a program in accordance with the Principles of Credible Sustainability Programs developed by The Sustainability Consortium. (Third party review must be commissioned and provided upon request)
Actively working toward certification or involved in a Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) or an Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP).
The new Sustainability Leaders Program will badge products that meet these guidelines.
This puts to rest any remaining issues Walmart had with Alaska salmon, which flared up two years ago when most of the Alaskan producers withdrew from the MSC program. The salmon fishery is certified by the RFM program to FAO responsible fishing and ecolabeling guidelines, and the RFM program is in the process of revising its governance and structure to meet current international certification standards of the TSC.  Last year Walmart accepted Alaska's RFM salmon certification as meeting the TSC sustainability principles.
As a result, all Alaskan salmon is now qualified to be badged as sustainable under Walmart’s sustainability leaders program.
Although the program has started as an online effort, Rob Kaplan, Director of Sustainability at Walmart, said that if it were successful the company would consider rolling it out in the brick and mortar stores. “We have a history of rolling out new campaigns online first,” he explained, citing the retailers Made in USA indicator in an interview with Triple Pundit.
This evolution in sustainability communication is likely to be followed by other retailers - who all face the same issue of how to communicate sustainability to their customers across a wide range of products.


Maryland Rockfish Poacher May face Federal Prison Sentence

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Baltimore Sun] By Catherine Rentz - February 27, 2015 - 

On Friday, two men with a fondness for Maryland's Tilghman Island will gather for a hearing in a wood-paneled federal courtroom in downtown Baltimore.

Seated at the bench will be Judge Richard D. Bennett, who has a painting of the Knapps Narrows channel in his conference room and speaks of his visits to the Eastern Shore community. Seated in front of him will be Michael D. Hayden Jr., a fourth-generation islander who has been convicted in a rockfish poaching conspiracy.

At the hearing, Bennett will consider whether allegations that Hayden engaged in obstruction of justice, threatening others involved in the probe, should factor into his sentence. According to court documents, one man told investigators that Hayden called and said, "You rolled on me, [expletive], a man told me, so that's OK, I will take care of your ass."

Bennett will also determine whether Hayden should be sent to federal prison, like another conspirator, or receive a lesser punishment for a scheme that involved nearly $500,000 worth of rockfish.

Whatever Bennett decides, the hearing will cap an investigation that began when state Natural Resources Police hauled up illegal nets near Tilghman Island on the opening day of the February 2011 rockfish season. The nets were packed with 10 tons of rockfish, a Chesapeake Bay delicacy also known as striped bass.

The huge illegal haul reverberated in Annapolis. Maryland regulators temporarily shut down the rockfish season and reduced quotas for all watermen. And the General Assembly enacted tougher penalties for poachers.

Hayden, 43, and his fishing partner, William J. "Billy" Lednum, 42, have pleaded guilty to violating federal fishery laws. Earlier this month, Lednum started serving a sentence of a year and a day at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Bennett has also has ordered the two men to pay a total of nearly $500,000 in restitution.

One of the watermen's helpers, Kent Sadler, 31, of Tilghman Island, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate federal fishing law and is serving a 30-day sentence on weekends at a local jail. Another helper, Lawrence "Danny" Murphy, 38, of neighboring St. Michaels, pleaded guilty to lesser charges and is on probation. Both have hefty fines and restitution to pay.

The case has resonated on the island, a community with fewer than 800 residents where many believe Hayden and the others are being unfairly targeted. They say that state regulators have turned a deaf ear toward the watermen and that others have used illegal nets in the bay to catch Maryland's prized rockfish.

But Tilghman native David McQuay said in an interview that it's more complicated. "They went beyond what other watermen do," he said. "There are people who are upset, but don't want to speak out because it's such a small community. They've hurt watermen's reputations up and down the bay."

Just a few weeks ago, Hayden was driving over the Knapps Narrows drawbridge onto the island's main road when he saw Lednum's truck parked outside the local firehouse.

Lednum, who remains the chief of the volunteer fire company, was doing a final check of the trucks and paperwork as he prepared for prison. Both men agreed to talk about the case.

Hayden acknowledged that he broke fisheries laws but adamantly denied obstructing justice by threatening witnesses.

The pressure of the case and the pursuit by federal and state agents have triggered so much stress, Hayden said, that he now fishes primarily in the Atlantic Ocean.

"I've been harassed till no end," he said of Natural Resources Police, adding that the agency has issued alerts to local authorities about him. The agency confirmed that it sent such bulletins but would not discuss details given the ongoing court case.

Hayden denies that he was ever a danger to anyone.

U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson Wyn Hornbuckle declined to comment on the claim that many other watermen were also using illegal nets. "Hayden and Lednum are the only ones so far to have pleaded guilty to doing so," he said.

According to court documents, Hayden and Lednum's activity went far beyond the illegal nets.

Prosecutors said Hayden and Lednum obtained the rockfish through various illegal methods, falsified records to the state and trafficked the fish to markets in New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware over a period that lasted at least from 2007 to 2011.

To do this, Hayden and Lednum enlisted the help of many in the industry, according to court records. They recruited personnel at "check-in stations" to falsify the numbers and weight of the rockfish they harvested. They paid other watermen to check in fish that exceeded their daily quota, and then bought them back, documents say.

One helper, whose name was not listed in court documents, told investigators, "There wasn't a day that went by on [Lednum's fishing] boat when I wasn't asked to do something illegal," according to court documents.

In recent years, Maryland officials have tried various strategies to deter illegal fishing.

Many state district courts began "DNR days," sessions set aside for natural resource violations. Officials were concerned that some judges had played down such violations, because they did not seem as consequential as crimes such as assault or driving under the influence. They hoped that if judges could focus on natural resource violations, they would issue tougher penalties.

Still, a review of fishery enforcement records reveals a long list of repeat offenders — including Lednum and Hayden, who received fines that dip below some traffic tickets. Hayden had 13 offenses since 1995, including several citations for illegally set gill nets; his average fine was $149, the equivalent of the wholesale price of about 10 average-sized rockfish. Lednum had eight offenses since 1995 with an average fine of $80.

In the aftermath of the poaching case, reforms have made it easier for regulators to pull watermen's' licenses. From 2005 to 2010, the state issued 13 license suspensions and revocations. Since then, there have been 70.

Yet Maryland still faces a challenge in staffing the waters with officers.

In 2008, a fisheries management task force reviewed policies at the request of the General Assembly. The group, which included several watermen, recommended increasing the number of enforcement officers and said the force should not fall below 400. Today, it is at 222 filled positions, according to the Natural Resources Police officials.

Hayden, meanwhile, has been preparing for a trip to prison. He doesn't expect to get a lesser sentence than his fishing partner.

In sentencing Lednum, judge Bennett said, "There can be no deterrence in this kind of case without a jail sentence."


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