Electrofishing Draws Crowd in Marietta

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Despite rain, dozens of fishermen, students, watershed activists and local leaders gathered on the banks of the Ohio River in Marietta recently.

They were there for an electrofishing demonstration.

Electrofishing is a technique for catching fish so they can be measured and recorded.  The fish are later released.

It's done by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to help measure water quality.

One of those to attend the Marietta demonstration was Marilyn Ortt.

Ortt is president of Friends of Lower Muskingum River, which is a watershed organization as well as a land trust. Friends of Lower Muskingum River is a partner with the EPA.

"We have asked the Ohio EPA to do an electrofishing demonstration for us," says Ortt.  "This was the third year.  It has just grown in popularity each year."

Friends of Lower Muskingum River and other watershed action groups and soil and water conservation districts around the state promote conservation practices and actions to protect water quality. These include planting buffers that reduce polluted runoff into local waterways. "We really want people to stop and think before they use three handfuls of fertilizer instead of one. So don't over fertilize.  Don't use pesticides…and also be very careful when you disturb soil," says Ortt. "Sediment is one of the major problems with the river," she explained.

The goal is to protect human health, fishing and other recreational activities and aquatic life.      

In the Washington County area during the past decade, the EPA has studied the main stem of the Muskingum River and Duck Creek, which both flow to the Ohio River in Marietta. More recently, the EPA studied other Ohio River tributaries and watersheds in Washington, Monroe, and Belmont counties. Last year, Ohio EPA launched studies of Ohio River tributaries in the Portsmouth and Wheeling, West Virginia, areas.

These studies are part of the agency's continuous effort to monitor and report on the quality of rivers and streams throughout Ohio. An abundance and diversity of species, including those sensitive to pollution, reflect better water quality.