Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Water pollution and mutant fish

Would you drink the water that you're catching fish in?
Beyond all kind of natural things like rotting poop and ecoli bacteria, there are all kind of things flowing into (an falling in from the sky!) into our fishing holes besides water that shouldn't.  We're talking water pollution and this is a very big deal.  Dead fish, mutant fish, even transgender fish and we're seeing more and more of them each day.   
Just look at how many rivers, streams and lakes are listed by EPA as impaired on the web site:
Pollution in the forms chemicals, oils, hormones, etc can come from runoff from our homes, gardens, farms, industrial areas, sewage and (sadly) people just dumping all kinds of crap directly into the water.  Sewage can also introduce pathogens and other disease causing agents of yuck for humans, fish, and most any form of life that touches the water.
It is interesting how we tend to think of our fisheries as somehow being able to withstand supernormal amounts of invasive species, low flows, warm waters, low oxygen and huge bombardents of nasty toxic chemicals.  It is actually quite impressive of how much of these a fish can actually withstand, at least for a little while, that is before they die a slow and painful death...but anyways...

Pollution affects fish in many different and compounding ways...and combine that increased stress from a changing climate.  First off, fish get stressed...very very stressed and this makes everything worse.  Fish skin loses protecive slime and atibacterial function and rots and wounds form. Liver and gill damage start to form and that's gotta hurt.  Pants that make oxygen start to die and rot consuming even more oxygen, fish growth gets stunted, ability to smell diminishes, insects and other foods bases die off from the pesticides and toxic sediment fills every nook and cranny in your spawning gravels and rearing areas.  

In addition, all the phamacueticals that humans are pooping and peeing also affect fish and turning them into and start behaving as transgender.  Sad joke here is that all those antidepressants that we are taking have also been documented to be affecting fish...sigh
So what is it that we can do to help this very critical and out of control issue?
The way I see it, we can:
- Choose to be aware of the pathways and mechanisms of pollution and recognize the need for forefront communtiy awareness...and carry this into our local government and political leanings and advocacy.  
- I also choose to not spray any toxic chemicals unless absolutely neeccesary (eg yellowjacket nest in the kitchen) and not chemically fertilize my lawn even if it means I have some rough and yellow patches.
- Also, storm water and street drainage is a big contributor to the problem and I always love seeing a parking lot bioswale and settling ponds in urban planning.  By settling out the water and sediments the toxics and such are significantly reduced from entering water bodies. 
- And finally, I am a fan of full and extended prosecution for all knowing violators who choose to illegally dump/discharge chemicals into my fishing waters. 
I have to admit that the future of water pollution and quality for current and future generations is not at all looking bright...sigh...


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