Rural System, Inc.
 Sustained rural lands; sustained profits

The Fishery

The Fishery is proposed as a subsystem of Rural System, Inc. devoted to improved natural resource management. It is planned as a for-profit enterprise but other arrangements are being discussed. It seeks to take the latest knowledge about resources out into the world, to resist the sub-optimum. The Fishery includes all of the parts of that concept now included by modern experts, a whole system producing specified human benefits from fish populations.

It includes doing research on as well as actively influencing pollutants, costs of production, habitats, effects of logging and mining, harvests, perceived benefits and an almost-endless array of other factors, all to enhance fish numbers and quality, but especially human benefits. It includes preventing problems, developing water and populations, maintaining programs, monitoring, enforcing the law, planning and administering the enterprise. Much more than "Fishin'," it includes the waters, the landscape effects, fish, watersheds, wildlife, boats, marketing, equipment, sales, outlets, education, economies, research, administration... and more.

The Fishery is based on the observations and a premise that adverse environmental conditions such as high insecticide levels, excessive turbidity levels, and great changes in water quality and depths can prevent native fish reproduction in ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. Increasingly evident, public waters, with limited management, cannot supply the apparent desired amount of angling in sufficient quality. Increasingly people seem to enjoy simply knowing that abundant healthy populations of fish exist.

To sustain fish for angling, hatchery fish are used and this will become increasingly important. Fish, however, must be placed in quality waters and used by quality anglers. There will be new needs for hatchery fish, some three times more than now available, and some hatcheries are now closed. Independent construction has slowed; the time for management of the present ponds with introduced fish seems to be upon the people of the region.

The Fishery is responsive to problems seen in the past in relating environmental studies to fish, fishing, and angler satisfaction. It has been difficult to make these relations, to tie them to other resource interests, and to make analyses of the data collected rapidly and deliver them rapidly before decisions are to be made. Ponds are dynamic so data taken today may not reflect conditions tomorrow. Owners and anglers' values change as surely as the ponds themselves. Pond models used by The Fishery reflect rational robustness and use heuristic approaches, a reasonable confidence level, a reasonable standard of accuracy, conditional standards, and present networks or sets of likely outcomes. The Fishery has been formed to assist in meeting these changing heeds. Creating a modern, sophisticated regional freshwater fishery is its task and opportunity. The first major work of The Fishery is in:

The total system concept is not well known or widely understood and advancing it and its implications is part of the Rural System, Inc. concept. "Stocking fish" or "setting seasons" are such trivial ideas in the context of the above that they hardly need more than a second thought. They may be done, but their emphasis in the past (and regrettably, probably for the near future) will be greatly out of proportion to their significance.

There is much discussion about the meaning of the words fishery, fisheries, and fisheries management. We shall not resolve the problem of definition but we do operate on the philosophy that we are managing an important natural resource system. The freshwater system is managed for perceived human benefits. Sixty million Americans fish. There are many limits or constraints to management but the total benefit system is the topic of that action. Usually fish- or aquatic-organism-oriented, the system is unbounded and includes soil, water, economics, and other topics. It is not a "fish" system. Our fundamental beliefs are that there are many groups of people with at least one interest (actual or potential) in one or more parts of the system.
Fertilization affects available fish food and light penetration into pond waters. An unfertilized pond, Harrisonburg Lee Hatchery, is in the lower image.

There is not just one thing to do and do well. There are many fish species and many situations . . . but probably even more types of people with various interests in The Fishery. The three-way match-up of The Fishery is that among

There is a large set of objectives to be achieved by the managers and these must be for many groups or types of people, the animals themselves, and for their environment.

In the U.S. there are 50 million anglers and they are increasing. They spend about a half billion days fishing. Doing this, they spend $24 billion. Half of these expenditures are trip related, $3.7 billion equipment related, and $5 billion boat related. All of this action generates $20 billion in worker earnings and supports over 900,000 full-time-equivalent jobs.

The Fishery may have many components and activities. For example:

Like a deep coal seam, The Fishery of the region is untouched. It has great potentials for profit as well as secondary benefits to the region and the state wildlife agency. It is of a type and scope that falls outside the normal operating procedures of district fish division personnel of most state departments of wildlife. We estimate 30 ponds can be brought into a single managed system.

There are major problems ahead for the urban dweller gaining timely access to angling opportunities, equitable use of the resource and increasing pollution. In October, 1999, a Conservation Biology article said that freshwater species are dying out as fast as those are in the rainforests. Since 1900 at least 123 species have been lost from North American waters, and the study predicted a continuing loss of about 4% of the remaining total every decade, unless the trend is arrested. Almost half of all freshwater mussels, a third of the crayfish, a quarter of the amphibians and a fifth of the fish could die out by 2100. Perhaps worldwide in scope, the above figures nevertheless suggest important work ahead within the region.

The Fishery is operated as a comprehensive enterprise, a for-financial-gains division of Rural System, Inc. Positive net gains are used to improve the total fishery of the land, other ownerships, and the world. Allocating these "profits" internally will be computer-aided.


Few people know the angling potentials from Lake Moomaw near Covington, Virginia or Claytor Lake near Radford, Virginia

The income flow is conceived from the work of an industrious, gains-oriented, service-producing staff and will be from the following activities and products. (These will vary by season and years, especially in the start-up period, and may reflect the personality of the staff employed more than the local markets and current demands.) The potentials include:

1. Fish photos and Photo books
2. Magazine sales
3. Public water and company fishing maps
4. Lectures
5. Honoraria, contributions, and tax-related reductions
6. Pond construction
7. Pond reclamation
8. Fee-fishing program
Mosby photo, 1961
Weed control in ponds can be difficult.
Pond and lake baseline studies for legal protection
10. Regional Landsat pond and lake surveys
11. Pond analyses, computer-aided
12. Computer systems marketing (systems to help optimize pond and stream design and management)
13. Watershed analyses (See the following computer-produced map showing probable site specific monthly precipitation and temperature (October) essential in watershed analyses and ecosystem work.)
14. Water chemistry analyses
15. Groundwater analyses
16. Water budgets for farms
17. Cages for caged fish held in ponds
18. Water for conservation plans
19. Pond, lake, and stream security
20. Riparian restoration
21. Wilderness stream tours
22. Stream volunteers group
23. Stream and river-reach baseline monitoring
24. Special fish projects
25. Insect identification (aquatics and fish food; see The Butterfly Band)
26. Stream and river analyses
27. Stream monitoring
28. Stream restoration
29. Stream analysis education kits
30. Art
Dr. Unity Powell with a nice catch on Lake Moomaw. Photography is very much a part of the angling experience and it can be enhanced.
Photographer opportunities
32. Education units (computer aided instruction)
33. Superior fishing day analyses and reports
34. Guided tours (regional, national and international) 35. Fish watching sport promotion
36. Fishing tournaments
37. Casting tournaments
38. Fishing equipment
39. Boat sales potentially
including a locally built boat
40. Regional "fish-feed" carnival
41. Gourmet fish sale
42. Native pet fish business
43. Bait and lure sales
44. Scientific reports
45. Workshops and conferences
46. Insurance
47. Life-list building groups and activities (for native fish as well as international projects)
48. Grants and contracts for research, studies, and management
49. Algae harvest for domestic animals and garden mulch mats
50. Nature study area advice
51. Bridges and culverts (consulting as well as contractual work)
52. Acid rain monitoring
53. Trout-beaver interaction planning and beaver pest damage reduction
54. Mollusk inventories
55. Planting stock (nursery) sale for riparian areas
56. Analyzing pond and lake site suitability
57. Promoting improved care, processing, and consumption of fish (menus, etc.)

With national reductions in public support for federal fisheries programs, there are excellent opportunities to employ outstanding fisheries experts and to create an internationally recognized center of fisheries systems work. The emphasis is on systems and the definition in the first sentence of this document. Fisheries research centers now exist that are not likely to be surpassed. These have achieved excellence in select areas of fisheries work. In few places is there a powerful, committed, rational group at work, computer-aided, synthesizing the incredibly large and complex literature and making it work on the land and in the waters of Rural System, Inc.

The following are brief comments and ideas on what is planned for The Fishery:

1. Create and operate a rapid-analysis and rapid-prescription writing system. In the computer are the equations and messages. Based on forms filled out by pond owners or by staff, a report (the Owner's Manual) will be sent (for a fee) telling how to solve problems or improve pond management. A staff analyst may then approach potential clients and cooperators for detailed analyses and prescriptions.

Pond and pasture, Craig Co, September 2002
2. Market and sell pond management and stream-management consulting services to all mining, agricultural, and other firms in the area. These services can be in permitting procedures, but many ponds exist for which advice is needed just to improve their overall role. Demonstration streams, lakes, and ponds can be built or identified for people interested in contracting with Rural System, Inc. and for others.

3. There are many ponds in the county. These are often unmanaged and do not achieve their potentials as esthetic resources, as a component of a fishery, or in the other purposes
Dr. Unity Powell and M. Leon Powell prepare for angling on Lake Moomaw near Covington, Virginia
for which they were intended. Rarely do they approach their potentials. We propose to operate a pond management program; manage ponds for land owners; charge for fee fishing; supply a percentage of profits to lake owners; diversify fishing opportunities (pricing quality of the experience); and provide employment of several varieties (including inspections and monitoring). Research may be supported from profits.

4. There are thousands of unpublished fisheries reports. These can be secured from government sources and published or republished, especially if grouped in unique ways or if provided the "cement" of a computer program showing the practical results of putting 2 to 5 ideas together. These programs can be used on site, used with clients, and sold with reports to those interested. The programs will open doors to fees since few owners will want (or have competence) to use the programs delivered. In some cases, noted writers can be brought to the area, commissioned to write specific fisheries papers, and these sold. A staff writer may be employed to produce a steady stream of camera-ready, low-cost publications.

5. By contacting the state judiciary, it may be possible to secure funds paid by industries in fines resulting from stream pollution. These fines (as Allied Chemical was instructed in the kepone pollution incident in Virginia's James River) could be used in the enterprise for research on inventory systems, pollutant and coal effects, land use practices, fish and groundwater interactions, development of a regional fishery, and many related topics. (A list will be supplied on request.)

6. The staff can seek contracts and grants from many sources. They may locate and suggest waters for research by university faculty.

7. The staff may create a system by which contributions are actively solicited, typically for Rural System, Inc. Without much detail, and with fear of sounding trite, the system should include "capturing" school children's interests by them buying a square meter of lake (allowing them to relate personally and, hopefully, for a lifetime), supplying information to contributors, conducting tours and having areas sufficiently pleasant and rewarding that people desire to contribute to its upkeep. Efforts will be to relate people to fish groups, to lakes or streams, to problem areas and to cater to sub- group interests. Aquaria, glass-bottomed walkways over lakes, etc. are ways to inform as well as to seek personal attachment to the land and The Fishery and the work it does. Contributions from sporting clubs and others and the positive feedback from naming a stream rock-face or a stream reach for a contribution seem feasible.

8. A highly efficient work crew, a "stream attack force" - perhaps summer-employed youths in a low-cost work camp environment-can be made available for costs for stream reclamation in the region.

9. A source of fish-related art objects might be maintained and sales sponsored. Painters and sculptors might be commissioned to work on the area themselves, become part of tours conducted, and their objects sold. These objects can be used to build nature appreciation and that for interactions (e.g., fish-insect-plant).

Prize fish like this trout from Lake Moomaw are a challenge and can unite people in care and concern for the waters of a fishery.
An organization called the Anglers may be created with each member seeking progress along 10 steps or stages of angling competence. The organization would collect membership fees, give deductions in fees on all related fishing areas, and all would be pushing toward high knowledge of fisheries, fishing efficiency, care of the land, fishing ethics, ecology, camping, woodcraft, fish life history, fish identification etc. This is not a meeting-oriented group (though an annual convention might be considered, especially for fees from displays by manufacturers, etc.) or politically oriented group. It helps provide a mailing list, outreach, memberships, fee promotion, consciousness (hats, badges, car stickers, T-shirts, boat stickers etc.). Most importantly it seeks to put a significant number of well- informed, resource users out on the land, getting far more than the average person gets from every unit of fish-protein produced. A special program is planned for attracting and supporting female anglers.

11. Tours can be conducted for anglers but there is a need for a specialized staff to advertise and get corporate decision makers and natural resource managers in on highly efficient, clearly-cost--effective, 2- and 3-day intensive sessions on the full meaning of a fishery. At respectable fees, groups can be brought to and housed in or near tract facilities, taught actively in-doors, then taken on bus tours of ponds and streams to maximize learning, i.e., significantly changed behavior per dollar of their investment. Contacts for later service are an evident secondary result.

12. Angler conferences (off-site) can be sponsored. Once expertise is gained, these conferences can be managed for other groups for a fee or they may be sponsored with fees.

13. Bird lovers build life lists. They seek to see as many different species as possible. Serious birders will fly around the world to get one or two additions to their life list. Fish life lists are almost unknown. There is a rich fish fauna in the area. The Fishery can emphasize this new sport, provide publications and aids, help introduce it in the region, sell opportunities to gain, for example, 3 new species in that stream, 2 new ones in this stream, 1 in that pond. An entire new nature sport can be created. Obvious candidates may be Anglers (but they should be separate programs). Rules will be worked out, and there are license problems with seining for a new minnow and seining for fish. These can be resolved through proper efforts, including a special license (i.e., membership in this group of life-list builders). Computer records can be maintained; a newsletter can announce new leaders in the list; notices about where new species can be readily gotten; tours taken to allow a bus load of people to get 5-10 new species with one seining or electro-shocking activity.

14. A special boat (new or one with a distinctive local style) can be constructed using many local materials by workers in a pole-shed environment. The workers will employ computer-aided design, and the boat will be uniquely suited for local fishing. The boats can be marketed nationally and sales supported by the many visitors to the area. Built by trained craftsmen or women, these unique boats will be used in research and other activities of The Fishery. Intensive use of such boats in mapping ponds and lakes with GPS and making GIS maps of waterways will help market them.

15. An extensive bait enterprise can be created.

Rin Irvin's 55 gallon freshwater aquarium, 2005, photo by Rin Irvin
16. Opportunities seem abundant for aquarium sales, equipment sales, and standard custom service (like that of a lawn care or business-office plant-care group). It's been estimated that as many as 26 million Americans keep aquarium fish. Many people are interested in fish but do not have the time or have not developed the enthusiasm to devote to the aparatus, fish, ecosystem, or the fish themselves. A native fish society has grown and opportunities exist for (with permits) to house native pet fish...the almost unknown "minnow". Many areas of the US have great diversity of fish species and many are very colorful and have fascinating life habits.
photo of Rin Irvin's 20 gallon reef aquarium, 2005 photo by Rin
Many are endangered and for some, advanced aquarium work can be essential for survival.

photo of Rin Irvin's Blue Ram, Microgeophagus ramirezi,
There are needs to teach people about the dangers of releasing (or flushing) pet fish into the wild.

Rin Irvin's aquarium and Picasso Trigger, Rhinecanthus aculatus, , 2005 photo by Rin
Conservation of native fish is of growing interest. (see Northwest group)

There are many Internet sites, suggesting related equipment, apparel, and food sales. Options exist for water garden fish and fish care. For example, the tropical catfish, Plecostomus, can spend summers in a US pond but must be brought inside before the fall chills water to below 50 degrees. Predaceous fish, e.g., bass, require both water depth and small fish to feed, thereby ruling them out as pet fish. Some native species such as minnows or blue gills can be adapted to water garden life.

Rin Irvin, Porcupine Puffer, Diodon holocantus, photo by Rin, 2005

17. Fisheries research is badly needed, worldwide. Fisheries research, using the full range of activities of the area and the net monetary gains from The Fishery can be significant. The research effort from such funds can build staff and facilities. It can encourage visitors and conferences that will use or feed into other Rural System, Inc. system activities and interests. Visitors can bring new ideas, techniques, and computer programs that can be rapidly sent to the field by the activities and contacts outlined above.

In Science (November, 2003) in State of the Planet Martin Jenkins wrote:

"Available information suggests that freshwater biodiversity has declined as a whole faster than either terrestrial or marine biodiversity over the past 30 years. The increasing demands that will be placed on freshwater resources in most parts of the world mean that this uneven loss of biodiversity will continue. Pollution, siltation, canalization, water abstraction, dam construction, overfishing, and introduced species will all play a part, although their individual impacts will vary regionally. The greatest effects will be on biodiversity in fresh waters in densely populated parts of the tropics, particularly South and Southeast Asia, and in dryland areas, although large-scale hydroengineering projects proposed elsewhere could also have catastrophic impacts. Although water quality may stabilize or improve in many inland water systems in developed countries, other factors, such as introduced species, will continue to have an adverse impact on biodiversity in most areas. " "Prospects for Biodiversity" Martin Jenkins, Science Nov 14 2003: 1175-1177.

See and and The Trevey developments.

Later, contact Charlotte Burnett Lucas, former New River watershed manager, State Dept. Conservation and Natural Resources. (retired August, 2003)

Contact Ronnie Powers, president of Friends of Claytor Lake

See; book:Monitoring Stream and Watershed Restoration Philip Roni, editor (2005)

Development costs are $80,000

Perhaps you will share ideas with me
about some of the topic(s) above at

Maybe we can work together
... for the good of us all
... for a long time.

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