Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Aquatic Hitchhikers

I had lunch with a fisheries biologist recently. The main topic of conversation was aquatic hitchhikers. A big portion of the discussion was about felt soles on wading boots. I find myself in a fair number of these discussions now. The reason - there is a problem. Invasive species (Didymo, New Zealand Mudsnails, Whirling Disease and others) are spreading quite fast. How much is by fly fisherman and felt? It's complex. Even if you use rubber soled wading boots you can transport organisms (laces, gravel guards, boot linnings). With that said, it does appear as though felt can add a lot of disease transporting capability.The biologist explained the various gear soaking solutions, timelines and such required for safe disinfection. The practice of disinfection is routine for biologists but I suspect not for a large number of fisher folk. How close is this issue to you? Do you know the disinfection procedures? Do you practice gear disinfection?Let me know your thoughts on the issue of aquatic hitchhikers and felt.

Photo courtesy of Moldy Chum

7 comments:

Pete said...

The closest trout stream to me is a hatchery-sustained spring fed creek in a state park that last year banned felt soles because of and outbreak of Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis. They suspect it came into the river from waders or felt-soled boots. I need a new pair and was probably going with rubber soles, but will that make a big difference? And I've never done anything more to my boots and waders than hose them off in the back yard after a trip.

Anonymous said...

I travel out to Colorado every April to visit some family.

Of course I fish like a mad man while out there.

The South Platte, Arkansas etc.....

A couple years ago New Zealand Mud Snails found their way into the South Platte.

I left my wading boots & waders out there.

No way in hell I was bringing them back to maine.

Anonymous said...

I use various methods for decontaminating my gear. No one method seems to work well all the time due to traveling, time of year, camping. Freezing, Hot water baths, chemical sanitizing. This page should help get you knowledgeable.

http://www.westdenvertu.org/snails.htm

topher browne said...

I fished in Norway a couple of years ago. Disinfection is required on most Norwegian salmon rivers.

All your gear (including flies) is placed in some form of an acid bath for several minutes. You pay a fee, a certificate is issued, you go fishing.

If you do not have a disinfection certificate while fishing, you pay a hefty fine and may lose your fishing privileges.

Iceland has similar requirements. If this is the shape of things to come, I don't mind if it cuts down/eliminates the problem of aquatic invaders.

Anonymous said...

While I can comb the internet or poll fly shop owners for the proper way to clean and maintain equipment to help prevent the spread and impact of aquatic hitchikers, I'd really appreciate it if companies like Patagonia (and Orvis, Simms, etc.) included proper "field care" instructions as part of its online product information, its packaging with each product, and its customer service area of its website(s). The information can fall under some sort of communication entitled "Recommended Daily Care" or something.

I think that would greatly improve communication as well as the comfort level with consumers regarding the proper treatment of their gear.

For example, I just shelled out $400 for waders and boots. I'm not about to "treat" this new gear with anything that the manufacturer doesn't explicitly say is safe for the materials. At the same time, if I do know exactly how I can treat the gear for clean up, I'm much more likely to do so.

That said, such a communication should be done with all fly shops as well -- maybe in collaboration with other manufacturers -- to produce a chart that shows whose products and which products can be safely treated with what methods. I'd have little hesitation if my local fly shop had a sign that said step in this "tub" for 2 minutes before leaving the area and the sign, and process, had endorsement on it from Patagonia and others.

That's my 2 cents worth.

El Pescador said...

Thanks for your 2 cents Anon. For years now, Patagonia has taken a lead roll in education on invasive species and how to take action. Every wader, boot, vest and PFD comes with an invasive species tag that highlights the problems and what you can do to prevent the spread of aquatic hitchhikers. Patagonia has produced POP (point of purchase materials) for the retailer as well. Our website is loaded with essays and educational information too (http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/patagonia.go?assetid=19885). Have you seen any of it?

Know that our company mission statement is to build the best products while doing the least harm and to implement and inspire solutions to the environmental problems we all face. I interpret your 2 cents as a continued call to action. We'll keep trying to do our best. You do the same.

El Pescador said...

Here's a related article on invasive species - http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Freshwater_Fish_Invasions_The_Result_Of_Human_Activity_999.html