Fishing along the Atlantic Shore
When the water warms up, I’m out fishing. I’ve fished from the Connecticut Lakes of New Hampshire down to the Virginia/North Carolina border of the Atlantic Ocean; from brook trout to fluke. Nothing is as peaceful as heading out onto the water before the sun rises, cutting off the engine, and setting my boat adrift with multiple fishing poles set out to drag live bait along the ocean floor. I do this for days on end during the summer months; oftentimes catching my own bait with the use of a castnet. If things work out right, I toss a few bluefish and croaker into the cooler and head back home to prepare buttery delicious fish on the grill. I’m thankful for these beautiful days out at sea and the fish I catch, and I realize that a great deal of the enjoyment I experience is based on our environment. A clean environment yields clean water that fish need to thrive and reproduce. This clean environment wouldn’t be so without limits on air pollution, which have a direct impact on water quality. Without limits on air pollution, I know acid rain and mercury pollution would be far greater than they are today.
So what do limits on air pollution, and more specifically the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA), have to do with fishing? Well, for one thing, without good visibility, I wouldn’t be able to see diving birds miles away from my boat. I utilize diving birds to indicate where fish are actively feeding. Next point is mercury. One of the many co-benefits of reducing sulfur and nitrogen emissions from coal-fired power plants is the reduction of mercury emissions. Mercury is the primary neurotoxin (i.e., it affects nerve cells) driving fish-consumption advisories in the U.S. Because of numerous fish-consumption advisories in the U.S., mercury pollution still presents a problem, but the problem would be far greater had the CAAA not been passed. So the more fish I can safely eat, the more I can feel content about going out on the water and exploring the Atlantic shore.
About the author: Tim Sharac is an environmental scientist and National Atmospheric Deposition Program – Atmospheric Mercury Network advocate for the Clean Air Markets Division. One of his favorite activities is ocean fishing on the eastern shore of Virginia.
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.
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