Fishing Pros Join the AIS Fight

 Aug 2nd, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Aug 2nd, 2011 at 12:00 AM

Professional anglers love to fish. When they fish, they do so for the camaraderie, to hone their skills, and in hopes of becoming the next Fishing Champion. Fishing professionals recognize that protecting the waters where they fish is just as important as earning the respect of their peers and recreational anglers. Ask any of them; they are the last folks who want to mess up fishing by spreading aquatic hitchhikers.

Fishing professionals are joining the aquatic invasive species (AIS) fight. Led by Wisconsin Sea Grant, the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, including Minnesota, is teaming up with four professional fishing groups to spread the word about how to help Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!TM Throughout the 2011 fishing season, Sea Grant aquatic invasive species (AIS) experts and angler group members will speak to professional anglers from tournament stages, at thousands of seminars, in guide boats, and wherever they travel about the threats that AIS pose to our lakes and rivers.

“AIS messages will also be incorporated into youth fishing clinics,” said Phil Moy, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s AIS outreach specialist. “Solidifying those messages at an early age will pay off in future fishing years. We really value the cooperation from the national angler groups and are pleased that aquatic invasive species prevention is endorsed by these groups.”

Pat Neu, Executive Director for the National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) agreed. “We will make educational materials available to our members to help them understand and explain the severity of the invasive species problem,” he said. One way the NPAA, an organization with over 800 members, has already done that is through a special all-member training session last January in Bloomington.

Over the next two years, Sea Grant AIS experts will help tournament operators put together Tournament Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Plans (or Tourney HACCP, pronounced has-sip), which will help eliminate the potential risk for spreading AIS via tournament operations and by tournament professional anglers.

Tournament anglers frequently move between waterbodies over short periods of time, a behavior known to facilitate the movement of such invasive species as Eurasian watermilfoil, curlyleaf pondweed, zebra and quagga mussels, spiny waterfleas, or possibly viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus. Like recreational boaters and anglers, tournament anglers can spread AIS if they do not take precautions at water accesses. Sea Grant is providing expertise to help them combat the spread of AIS. Knowing the threats and what to look for are good starts. Knowing where to look and what to do is critical. Besides NPAA, other partners on this initiative are the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit, The Bass Federation, and Wildlife Forever. North American Media Group will broadcast tournaments providing more exposure and will run articles in their popular North American Fisherman magazine, which will reach over a half-million readers encouraging them all to “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!”
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