Tired of hearing about climate change and how it’s going to destroy the world as we know it? Well, try doing some of the following and let’s put a halt to climate change and all that bad news. These New Year’s resolutions have nothing to do with losing weight, and everything to do with the health and wellbeing of us all. The following are 12 actions experts recommend each of us can do to prevent further climate change:
- Measure Up: There’s some truth to the saying “What gets measured gets managed,” and quantification has become something of a cultural obsession. Oroeco, an app available on both Android and iOS, takes that zeal and applies it to tracking personal carbon emissions. Oroeco helps quantify the carbon emissions associated with purchases, investments, dietary choices and preferred modes of transport. It allows users to set goals, track performance and even compare their performance with friends.
- Reduce Consumption: Reuse everything possible, fix and repair items, recycle those items that can’t be used again.
- Conduct an Energy Efficiency Audit and develop an improvement plan: Weatherizing, using energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, and unplugging devices top the list for reducing your energy usage.
- Consider Solar: Take advantage of government programs or join a Solar Power Club to add the power of solar energy to your home or business. Whether it’s a solar heater to complement your regular water tank, or a solar panel to generate electricity, or simply using passive solar energy to heat your home, it will all help to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.
- Switch Diets: By switching to a diet full of nuts, beans, fish and less meat, global warming could be reduced by up to 15 percent by 2050. By eating fish instead of steak, you’ll produce an eight-fold reduction in emissions, and switching to beans or lentils drops your footprint to almost zero.
- Waste Not: Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. We can help slash emissions by simply wasting less food. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about a third of the food produced worldwide never gets eaten. North American consumers and restaurants are some of the worst — throwing away almost 40 percent of the food they purchase.
- Compost: Whether you have a backyard bin, vermiculture (worm) bin, or utilize curbside pickup, composting benefits the environment. Food scraps and yard waste are typically about 30% of the waste going to landfills and incinerators. There is a two-fold climate benefit to composting by reducing the amount of methane gas released into the atmosphere.
- Install a Rain Garden: Climate change means more dramatic weather events, including flooding. Rain gardens are beautiful additions to any size yard and will relieve burdens on municipal water treatment systems, filter runoff pollutants, and protect local waterways.
- Plant a Tree: All residential communities should adopt the goal of 60% tree cover. Trees will clean the air, capture carbon and provide habitat and food for native wildlife.
- Use Transit: The transportation sector contributes over 1/3 of our carbon emissions. Use alternative transportation, such as biking, walking, taking the bus, and carpooling. Or, go electric. By committing to walk or bicycle distances under 1 km, about roughly 20% of car trips, you will eliminate 611 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. That’s the equivalent of the weight of a football or a can of soup.
- Step it up: Talk to people about the unraveling Arctic, extreme weather, rising temperatures and oceans, and all the rest that adds up to climate change. Challenge people who still think it’s nothing more than another of nature’s phases, but be respectful when presenting the facts.
- Get Civically Involved: Find and join a local climate change or conservation group. Phone and email your government representatives. Ask questions of store managers when making purchases.
Without doubt, 2018 has been a building year for Blue Fish Canada. Thanks to your donations and a series of grants, we pushed well past the $10,000 mark for the first-time revenues since incorporating as a non-profit and registering as a national charity. A 100% reliance on volunteers means all fund projects including Urban Fishing Nodes, Fishing Tackle Recyclers, Fish Stewardship and Citizen Science, Shoreline Clean-Up, and Fish health. Blue Fish Canada 2018 highlights follow:
Outreach: With support from the Canadian National Sportsman Show Services, Master Promotions Ltd. and Cabela’s, BFC volunteers were able to stage strong exhibits over 13 days at five events, including a 20’X40’ Kids Casting Zone featured on CTV morning news:
Partners in Conservation: Blue Fish Canada established partnerships with a number of fishing tournament organizations, such as the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation and B1 Fishing, to promote conservation and fish stewardship. Partner members are provided with science-based guidelines on sustainable tournament fishing and a Shoreline Clean-Up Kit. A Fishing Tackle Recycler is provided to each organization to collect expired fishing gear.
Fishing Tackle Recyclers: BFC volunteers installed 18 “Fishing Tackle Recyclers” at boat launches and popular shore fishing locations throughout eastern Ontario. The collection stations were welcomed by Local municipal officials. The Recyclers collect lead jigs and weights, old fishing line and soft plastic baits, hooks and even plastic straws.
Urban Fishing Nodes: With support from the Ottawa Community Foundation, BFC is working with Ottawa’s city and National Capital planning officials and stakeholders to establish urban fishing nodes. The nodes will provide urban youth with safe and accessible naturalized spaces to fish along the Rideau and Ottawa rivers. Natural features will also extend into the water to provide fish habitat. Drawing on lessons learned from this project, a guide will be produced to inform and inspire other Canadian cities to create their own fishing nodes.
Fish Stewardship and Citizen Science: Thanks to a grant from Scotia Trust, the look-and-feel of our educational materials are inspiring and informing even more youth and those new to fishing. Modules include catch & release, selective harvesting, citizen science, invasive species prevention, fishing tournament best practices, fish identification, and training and certification.
Shoreline Clean-Up: Blue Fish Canada distributes over 3,000 free shoreline clean-up kits each year to youth and anglers of all ages. Each kit comes in a biodegradable wrapper and includes protective gloves and a waste collection bag.
Fish Health: BFC’s partnerships with fish health researchers facilitate the engagement of anglers interested in supporting fish health research, conducting citizen science and sharing local knowledge. BFC continues to be on the look-out for a suitable smartphone app.
What Lies Below: 79-minute feature documentary showcasing fish conservation now airing on CBC and AMI television;
Blue Fish Radio: 25-minute podcasts broadcast and downloaded weekly to over 100,000 listeners;
Lawrence’s Insights: bi-weekly 15-minute TV broadcast across Canada over basic cable and the internet.
Social Media: @BlueFishnews Tweets and the Blue Fish Canada Facebook page are up-dated weekly;
Outdoor Canada: promotes/ publishes Blue Fish Radio episodes and articles; and,
Lake2Plate: videos that generate ever-stronger interest in sustainable fish harvesting
Leadership: As the Founder and president of BFC, and Canada’s only blind outdoor writer, podcaster, TV host and film maker, I’m continuously monitoring science and local news, and engaging with relevant stakeholders, to track and promote Canada’s water quality, fish health and recreational fishing. This includes attending and presenting at scientific conferences, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration certification through their Marine Recreation Education Program – the first Canadian to be certified.
Conclusion: Blue Fish Canada is strengthening and expanding programs to ensure youth and anglers of all ages have the skills and motivation to advocate for sustainable fishing and watershed conservation. It’s essential given the rapid change marine and aquatic ecosystems are experiencing and underscores the need to work hand-in-hand with research and angling communities to develop and implement sound fish stock and watershed management programs and policies. Action now is crucial to ensure the future of Canada’s water quality, fish health and the future of recreational fishing.
Support: Please support Blue Fish Canada to inspire and inform the next generation of conservation-minded outdoor enthusiasts by making a tax-deductible donation by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/
Blue Fish Canada has partnered with leading Bass tournament organizations to promote conservation.
- Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation
- B1 Fishing
- Orleans Boat World Fishing Invitational
Support from Blue Fish Canada includes providing each competitor with a shoreline clean-up kit and a handy reference guide detailing “Ten Bass Tournament Conservation tips”.
Blue Fish Canada also sets up a Fishing Tackle Recycler on site to collect and recycle used fishing tackle such as line, lead weights and jigs, soft plastic baits, and other terminal tackle.
Many of Canada’s top bass anglers compete in these tournaments, and Blue Fish Canada is there to lend a hand to ensure bass experience minimum stress and are returned healthy.
Blue Fish Canada is pleased to announce its support for the 2018 Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation Hank Gibson Provincial Qualifier. Support for the annual BASS tournament includes providing each competitor with a shoreline clean-up kit and a handy reference guide detailing “Ten Bass Tournament Conservation tips”. “It’s an honour to support such an important “catch & release tournament” says Lawrence Gunther, President of Blue Fish Canada and former OBN competitor himself.
Blue Fish Canada and the North Bay Bassmasters will also be joining forces to collect and recycle used fishing tackle such as line, lead weights and jigs, soft plastic baits, and other terminal tackle. As well, Blue Fish Canada is pleased to provide each angler with a $20 Cabela’s coupon to put towards their next purchase – thank you once again Cabela’s for supporting another Blue fish Canada conservation initiative!
Hosted by the North Bay Bassmasters, this year’s Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier will include over 90 teams competing for the right to represent Ontario at the regional level. “Many of Ontario’s best bass anglers will be competing in the Qualifier for the chance to go on to compete for what many consider to be the world’s most coveted bass tournament prize – the “Bassmaster Classic”, Says Jason Barnucz, Conservation Director for the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation.
The provincial qualifier event will be held over the weekend of August 25 on Lake Nipissing. It’s a lake known for both its tremendous fishery and volatile nature” says Mathew Koprash, tournament organizer and Conservation Director for the North Bay Bassmasters.
Blue Fish Canada is a registered Canadian charity dedicated to the future of fish and fishing. Programs inspire and equip outdoor enthusiasts to promote conservation through citizen science. Link here to learn more about Blue Fish Canada: www.BlueFishCanada.ca
The Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation was founded in 1995 and is made up of 24 clubs from across the Province of Ontario. The Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation is a grass-roots organization designed for everyone from beginners to seasoned tournament anglers. Link here to learn more about the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation and the Hank Gibson Provincial Qualifier: www.ontariobass.com
Lawrence Gunther, Blue Fish Canada, 613-882-3028
Mathew Koprash, North Bay Bassmasters, 1-249-358-0402
Blue Fish Canada was pleased to be asked to take part once again in the 25th Anniversary of the annual science symposium organized by the St. Lawrence River Institute on Environmental Research. Our presentation focused on the citizen science work Blue Fish Canada inspires and informs through our Fish Stewardship and Citizen Science program. It was a packed room, and the presentation received strong positive feedback. More about the symposium follows:
For Immediate Release
May 28, 2018
Sharing Knowledge and Linking Science on the St. Lawrence River
by Karen Douglass Cooper, St. Lawrence Institute of Environmental Sciences
The St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental SciencesSt. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences will pay homage to its history while looking ahead towards the future when it hosts the 25th Anniversary Great Lakes / St. Lawrence River Ecosystem Symposium this May 30 and 31 at OPG St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre. The conference began in 1993 in Cornwall, Ontario (one year before the River Institute was founded) as a means of bringing scientists and communities together to discuss fresh water issues. IAGLR has been held conjointly with the River Symposium twice, in 2000 and again in 2012. Twenty five years on, River scientists and community members from Ontario, Quebec, Akwesasne, and New York State will come together to re-visit the original conference theme, ‘Sharing Knowledge – Linking Sciences’.
The theme celebrates the River Institute’s founding partners and neighbours, the Mohawks of Akwesasne, and highlights projects and programs that link ecosystem science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). River Institute Executive Director, Dr. Jeff Ridal says, “Our collective responsibility to protect the environment is from an indigenous perspective and is laid out at the beginning of each conference with the “The Words that Come Before All Else” which is the traditional Mohawk Thanksgiving Address.”
Over the past two and a half decades the Institute has evolved into a unique nucleus for fresh water research, education, and community engagement throughout the Great Lakes – St Lawrence River ecosystem. That uniqueness comes in part from its connection to community and a desire to develop an enhanced awareness of the value of TEK by integrating it into scientific research. This integration is playing a vital role on the upper St. Lawrence River where public involvement plays such a vital role.
River Institute Board Chair Walter Oeggerli says, “Our experience at the River institute has been that the stories that define our history are important pathways to engage people in environmental issues and also serve to inspire scientific inquiry and research.”
Over the course of two information packed days, the 2018 Symposium will also feature three keynote speakers that exemplify scientific inquiry and community engagement.
On May 30, the Symposium’s Community Science Day, Canadian explorer and Order of Canada recipient, Dr. Geoff Green of Students on Ice and Canada C3 fame will join local high school students. He will speak on the epic 25,000 km. Coast to Coast to Coast research and reconciliation expedition that he led along Canada’s coastline in 2017.
The next day will highlight fresh water research and remediation. Tony David, Water Resources Manager with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe of Akwesasne and winner of the 2017 Environmental Champion Award from the U.S. EPA, will discuss his work in the decommissioning and removal of the Hogansburg Dam. The first project of its kind for a Native American Tribe, the removal has opened up over 500 miles of river and streams as spawning habitat for migratory fish.
Dr. John Smol, professor in the Biology Department at Queen’s University and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, as a guest speaker, will round out the day River Ecosystem discussion. A Co-director of Queen’s Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL), Dr. Smol’s talk is entitled appropriately enough, “Looking Back to Predict the Future”.
For more details or to RSVP please contact:
Karen Douglass Cooper
Community Outreach Officer / Remedial Action Plan Coordinator
St. Lawrence River (Cornwall)
St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences
situated on the traditional lands of the Kanien’keha:ka
2 St. Lawrence Dr.
Cornwall, ON. K6H 4Z1
(613) 936-6620 (ext. 229)
I’m proud to have the honor of being the first Canadian to take part in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 3-day Fisheries Science and Management for Recreational Anglers Workshop. The fact the NOAA offers such a Workshop demonstrates that the National Marine Fisheries Program understands the social and economic value of recreational fishing.
The 3-day workshop took place in Hanover Maryland and included guides, outfitters, headboat captains, outdoor writers, conservationists, and even someone from the American Sportfishing Association. I learned a ton about recreational fishing through the course materials and presenters, and conversations with NOAS’s scientists and Workshop participants. I walked away with a wealth of information and new connections that will support Blue Fish Canada to contribute even more to improving the science -based management of Canada’s recreational fisheries that coexist alongside our commercial fishing industry.
Without doubt, the NOAA is working hard to develop resource management and stock sharing policies, and data collection and analysis programs that provide a framework to ensure their science-based stock management decisions balance the interests of both commercial fishers and recreational anglers. National Marine Fisheries Program regional advisory Commissions now include representatives for both sectors, along with other stakeholders interested in contributing to short and long-term planning decisions on how stocks are managed. Wouldn’t that be great if Canada opened up the decision making process to include recreational fishers as well?
Follow the links below to access a few of the NOAA recreational fishing resources provided:
Marine Resources Educational Program website: https://www.gmri.org/our-work/fisheries-convening/mrep-northeast
Link Link to workshop materials: https://www.gmri.org/our-work/fisheries-convening/mrep-northeast/workshop-materials
I want to thank the folks at NOAA for making it possible for me to attend this Workshop. By including a representative from Canada, they have planted the seeds of change that will hopefully see Fisheries and Oceans Canada do more to recognize recreational fishing as a significant socio-economic contributor equal to if not greater than commercial fishing.
As part of the Blue Fish Canada exhibit at the 2018 Ottawa Boat Show, BFC volunteers set up and ran the Kid’s Casting Zone – a 20’x40’ area complete with life-like fish silhouettes and actual fish-holding structure. Kids learned fish species identification and the different types of structure each species prefers, as well as precision casting.
CTV Morning News was there to feature the Blue fish Canada exhibit and the Casting Zone: http://ctv.news/oS7C4gd
While the late and stormy spring may have delayed the start of the open water season, it meant more time for Blue Fish Canada volunteers to promote sustainable outdoor traditions. The following are 2017 Blue Fish Canada activity highlights.
Talking computers are just one of many innovations for the blind that allow Blue Fish Canada’s blind President Lawrence Gunther to lead and represent the charity. Articles published in 2017 include:
- “Review of the Algonquin land claim” (spring “Fish Hunt and Ride”);
- An op-ed piece co-authored with the Suzuki Foundation on fish health in the Rideau Canal; and,
- “6 Ways that Canadian Anglers and Hunters are Helping Wildlife Populations” (March “Outdoor Canada”).
Of course, rain snow or sun never prevents a new episode of Blue Fish Radio from being produced – 162 episodes to date with an average weekly audience of 100,000.
Episodes focus on what people are doing across Canada to protect water quality, ensure fish health, and to make sure there are fish around for future generations to catch.
To further promote sustainable fishing, bi-weekly “Sustainable Fish Friday” 1-minute tips are heard and shared by thousands over social media. Additionally, over-20 “Blue Fish Canada Stewardship Tips” continue to be aired as public service announcements over streaming web broadcasts. We continue to distribute at no charge print and on-line stewardship guides and shoreline clean-up kits.
Six years of hard work on creating the documentary What Lies Below came to fruition. Over 18 festivals around the world have now featured the 79-minute film. Numerous published reviews and interviews can be found on line. Both CBC and AMI TV are now licensed to broadcast the doc, which premiered on CBC’s Documentary Channel Sept 6. All revenues generated by this documentary are going to Blue Fish Canada. Our 2018 plans include distributing an educational program to high schools and post-secondary institutions developed using the 11 stories told in the documentary.
Behind the scenes Blue fish Canada is working closely with numerous research facilities and water activist organizations to promote water quality and fish health. Last May, in partnership with the University of Ottawa and the St. Lawrence River Institute, we organized and chaired a half-day River Symposium including six presentations to over-90 researchers and policy makers in attendance. Ensuring fish have access to suitable habitat also includes leading discussions on fish health in venues such as the Great Lake Network and the People’s Great Lakes Summit series.
Canada is far from being a land of doom-and-gloom. We have much to take pride in and celebrate. It’s therefore with considerable excitement that we celebrate the launch of a new video series Lake2Plate.
The video features Lawrence, his guide dog Moby, and a celebrity chef fishing and preparing shore-side feasts featuring sustainably and selectively harvested fish and wild forage. It’s a true celebration of the traditional shore lunch intended to inspire others to reconnect with nature.
In the spirit of carrying forward the tradition of blind people serving as story tellers, Lawrence always makes time to speak to fish and game clubs, conservation groups and at outdoor shows. Exhibiting at outdoor shows remains a priority for Blue Fish Canada, and 2018 will witness a fresh new look to our exhibit space and offerings, including a new skill-testing stewardship quiz and prizes.
The following quote from Lawrence Gunther published in a recent Huffington Post article sums-up the mission of Blue Fish Canada nicely:
“I started Blue Fish Canada to encourage people to find themselves a pond, river, lake or bay where they can catch a fish for dinner once in a while, and to then take responsibility for ensuring nothing bad happens to their fishing whole that could stop their great grandchildren from doing the same.”
Getting others interested in fishing sustainably is a focus of Blue Fish Canada, including organizing annual events such as: Girl Guides Go Fishing.
A shore fishing experience for 50-70 Girl Guides ranging in age from 5-16.
Yes, it’s important to make sure our water and fish are properly managed. At the same time, Blue Fish Canada is working hard to pass on the knowledge and inspiration to encourage others to carry forward the tradition of fishing. It’s up to all of us to re-engage others in this century-old practice. One we can undertake with pride knowing the resource is being managed using science and the best traditional and indigenous knowledge available.
Most especially, Blue Fish Canada is creating opportunities for children to connect with shorelines. It’s here where kids experience the abundance and diversity of life that inhabits these narrow transition strips between land and water. Life that represents more than the sum of the two parts, but a true synergy of these two vastly different terrestrial and aquatic worlds.
Please donate to Blue Fish Canada today so we can continue to provide people of all age’s access to resources so they can fish confidently knowing the tradition is sustainable for future generations.
We look forward to your on-going support, and thank all of you for helping to make 2017 a year we can be proud of.
The following multi-part news coverage includes three components intended to inform the public about the impacts on fish health of toxins in Canada’s water, and includes:
Link here to hear Lawrence Gunther’s segment on Live in Studio 5 across Canada;
Listen to episode 133 of Blue Fish Radio to hear Lawrence Gunther’s interview with Alaya BOISVERT from the David Suzuki Foundation;
Read the following op-ed Alaya BOISVERT and Lawrence Gunther penned which was published throughout Canada.
Rideau Canal toxins raise questions about our environmental wellbeing
May 19, 2017 | Last Updated: May 20, 2017 10:53 AM EDT
By ALAYA BOISVERT And LAWRENCE GUNTHER
It’s easy to understand why outdoor enthusiasts around the world regard Canada as a premier eco-tourism destination. What Canadian hasn’t enjoyed angling, skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, canoeing, mountain biking or taking a dip in one of hundreds of thousands of lakes that spot the country?
So much of the love for this nation, shared by locals and tourists alike, revolves around getting out on the land or water to connect with nature.
Despite its natural beauty, Canada is not the pristine environment we often imagine. When compared with other industrialized countries, Canada consistently ranks poorly. We place 15th out of 17 member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on a range of environmental indicators, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s 2016 assessment.
The recent discovery of toxins in the Rideau Canal is a stark reminder of a systemic and pervasive problem facing Canada.
The Rideau Canal is a signature of historic nautical ingenuity and contemporary urban recreation. It’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, widely cherished by those lucky enough to live nearby and millions of tourists who visit the capital year-round. However, at one time manufacturing facilities peppered the canal’s banks. Although these industries have closed, their toxic legacy remains.
After repairs to the canal churned up harmful industrial chemicals in November 2016, Parks Canada finally decided to take the first step to address this known, yet unreported, issue. It ordered tests along several kilometres of the canal to assess contaminant levels in the sediment. The Ontario government is also taking action to test toxicity levels of the various sport fish that inhabit the canal to determine whether they are safe to eat.
Local skaters and anglers are concerned by this news and the black eye it represents for their scenic tourist attraction. They are not alone in their worries about the impacts of pollution.
Environmental degradation and toxic contaminants can be found throughout the country. High concentrations of nitrogen dioxide pollution stretch from southeast to northern Alberta. Forty-three Great Lakes polluted sites were identified by the U.S. and Canada as Areas of Concern. Canada’s own Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory lists 23,078 toxic hotspots across Canada, and that doesn’t include those caused by Crown corporations, private individuals or that fall under the jurisdiction of other levels of government.
The Rideau Canal’s story raises a number of questions: Shouldn’t we leave our children a country better off than we inherited? Shouldn’t future generations be assured they won’t get sick from the food they eat, the water they drink or the air they breathe? Shouldn’t we all be able to count on the places we live, work and play being safe from harmful toxins?
The toxic contaminants found in the Rideau Canal, at the foot of Canada’s Parliament, represent a test case citizens across Canada will be watching closely.
The City of Ottawa has already demonstrated leadership by recognizing the environmental rights of its residents, as have 150 other municipalities in Canada.
It’s time for the federal government to acknowledge that a healthy environment is not a luxury. It’s a necessity for the long-term prosperity and preservation of our country and, more importantly, a human right. It’s time for the federal government to pass an environmental bill of rights to respect, protect and fulfill everyone in Canada’s right to a healthy environment.
Alaya Boisvert is manager of government relations with the David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot project. Blue Dot is a national movement calling for legal protections of the right to a healthy environment.
Ottawa resident Lawrence Gunther is the host of Blue Fish Radio, a weekly podcast exploring the future of fish and fishing, and the president of Blue Fish Canada, a charity dedicated to water quality and sustainable recreational fishing.
Hi everyone, you never know who you are going to meet, and the six degrees of separation that connect us all to each other. I wanted to share the following extraordinary sequence of events as I think it demonstrates just how small the world really is.
The other day I interviewed an older gentleman for an episode of Blue fish Radio. I met him at a double-screening of my documentary What Lies Below at a theater in Windsor for UN World Water Day. The screening was organized by the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup and included 200 high school students and another full house later that evening. The person I met attended with his son and grandson, and wrote me several days later with his story of growing up in northern Saskatchewan in Uranium City with his 11 brothers and sisters and father who worked as a miner in one of the uranium mines. His father died at age 48 from cancer.
His daughter later heard our interview and contacted me. She had never heard half the stories her father told during our interview. She also wanted to help get the word out about the film and what we are doing with Blue fish Canada. Turns out she’s a columnist with the Huffington Post.
A Blue Fish Radio Exploration of Actions and Responsibilities
Who’s Doing What?
It is possible to selectively harvest wild fish from our oceans in a way that’s sustainable. Relevant science, programs and regulations are already being implemented. However, we all have a role to play. Our individual cooperation is essential, doable and relatively effortless. Learn how you too can be part of the solution.
You can ask a dozen people about what they think of the present state of our seafood fisheries and receive just as many different answers. Confusion stems mainly from the steady wave of reports head-lined by media predicting the end of wild fish stocks throughout the world due to excessive commercial fishing. At the same time, there are plenty of examples of currently sustainable harvesting practices and still more industry players who are working hard to turn things around. You seldom hear of these successes though, as they just don’t seem to warrant the same level of media hype as the doom-and-gloom stories.
Canada and the U.S. have begun applying precautionary science-based fish management principals in forming and implementing fishery management regulations with steadily increasing success. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but research used to determine which harvesting strategies are sustainable and those that are not, and more accurate fish population assessments, are helping the two countries to reverse their downward slides.
Global positioning technology is allowing for identified areas of high importance to marine life development to be subject to tighter management controls. Non-profits that have an interest in ocean sustainability are partnering with those in the seafood industry assessed as doing it right to have their products labelled as sustainable. Lots of stakeholders are buying into the principal of sustainability. It’s now up to the rest of us to get on board.
The Marine Stewardship Council is one of many non-profits busy identifying and working with commercial fisheries around the world to recognize those doing it right. Certified Sustainable means a commercial fisher’s wild fish stock harvesting practices will not threaten the long term viability of the fish stock itself. The MSC is also working with those more marginal fisheries by providing knowledge needed to earn the Marine Stewardship Council’s endorsement.
In this Blue Fish Radio episode Jay Lugar from the MSC explains how they have already applied their MSC label to 2/3 of Canada’s commercial fisheries.
Oceana Canada has a slightly less optimistic perspective on how far Canada has progressed. Their most recent 2016 report states only 24% of Canada’s wild marine fish stocks are at healthy levels. Oceana focusses its energies on scientifically documenting pointing out those fisheries that are performing badly. Hey, someone has to keep everyone on their toes and in this episode of Blue Fish Radio Oceana Canada’s Executive Director, Josh Laughren points out the heavy lifting that still needs doing.
SeaChoice, run out of the Suzuki foundation, is another organization dedicated to working with fisheries to improve sustainability. They differ from the Marine Stewardship Council in that their funding comes from an independent and unrelated source, so they don’t mind spending their time focussing on those fisheries that are causing the lion’s share of the problems.
In this Blue Fish Radio episode with Kurtis Hayne, SeaChoice is first to admit massive re-thinks on how we harvest certain wild stocks are crucial to getting it right.
The Safina Centre has made it their mandate to scientifically assess which seafood harvesting practices and technologies need to go, which can be improved, and which are working just fine.
In this Blue Fish episode with Elizabeth Brown from the Safina Centre, we learn more about their work and how it underpins much of the rest of the sustainability certification efforts undertaken by organizations applying sustainable labels to seafood products.
Aquaculture is increasingly held up as an alternative to our continuing to harvest wild fish stocks. Maybe someday it will, but there are still many hurdles to overcome. One solution non-industry experts are pointing to is closed containment fish farming.
In this episode of Blue fish Radio  we speak with Jo Mrozewski to learn more about one such example, the Kuterra Salmon Farm on Vancouver Island.
Others are counting on the proliferation of marine protection areas or MPAs. What such designations actually mean varies widely. Yes, it’s a defined area of ocean, but what human activity can continue to take place within the zone ranges widely from a no-go zone for everyone, to a complete or partial boycott on commercial, and in some cases, sport fishing, to allowing tourism related activities only. What we are learning is that the nature of each prohibition needs to makes sense and be supported for each area, as without such support the MPA serves in name only.
In this Blue Fish Radio episode Dr. Chris Harvey Clarke discusses the strengths, weaknesses and the role MPA’s play in promoting healthy and sustainable fish stocks.
Another solution borrows from the ground-swell interest by the public in purchasing their vegetables from local growers fresh and direct. Emerging community supported fisheries reward those commercial seafood harvesters who are willing to take the time to do it right. Fishers who have a vested interest in seeing the resource continue, and who are small enough that when they return to port they can sell most if not all of their catch to pre-determined local buyers and members of the public who have committed to buy equal shares with the knowledge that it was caught the right way.
Blue Fish speaks with Dr. Joshua Stoll who has made it his mission to document and share what it takes to establish community supported fishery initiatives.
If you don’t live nearby a bustling fishing port, than rest assured that the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program is on the job educating restaurants and their seafood chefs on how to select seafood that was harvested in a sustainable way. The goal is that by putting pressure on suppliers, they in turn will start demanding that their producers, the fishers, will begin harvesting seafood in ways that can be certified as sustainable.
It’s a supply-and-demand economics 101 approach to fixing the problem that Claire Li from the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program explains in this episode of Blue Fish Radio as producing solid results.
One of the first organizations in North America to empower citizens to make sustainable choices is the Monterey Aquarium in northern California. The sea-side town of Monterey was once dominated by fishing boats and processing plants, but with the collapse of many of their area wild fish stocks, the town turned to tourism for its survival. One couldn’t ask for a more suitable and idyllic location for a public aquarium that now sees well over a million visitors come through its doors every year. One of the Aquarium’s programs is the distribution of small wallet-sized reference cards that list the sorts of wild fish commonly found and harvested in the Pacific, and then indicating with a series of three coloured lights which fish stocks are in danger, red, which stocks are of concern, yellow, and which stocks can be consumed guilt free, green.
While the Monterey’s SeaFood Watch program may be centred on Pacific fisheries, in this episode of Blue Fish Radio Ken Peterson explains how it’s applicable to all of North American consumers given that fish taken from the Pacific are transported to buyers throughout the continent.
Others, like the Aquarium Du Quebec explain in this Blue Fish Radio episode how they have modified the Seafood Watch approach to better suit their own region’s unique fisheries. They aren’t the only one who has adopted a “watch” program to better reflect their regionally harvested unique sea life.
On the enforcement side, Alan Risenhoover of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports in this episode of Blue Fish Radio on the fruits of their hard work to develop and implement the scientific measuring sticks used in determining what stocks are still in decline and which are recovering. Applying as scientific approach to fish stock management, and putting an end to political interference on how stocks are managed, is proving effective as one species after another is taken off the list of distressed wild fish stocks.
In order to accurately track who is catching what and where, new tools for monitoring and tracing needed to be established. Systems that start with the vessel doing the harvesting, and then tracks each step along the way until the seafood is consumed. Such ship-to-plate traceability means accountability and bringing to an end the illegal harvesting of seafood.
It’s what Michele Kuruc, VP of ocean policy for the World Wildlife Fund, reports to be working hard to accomplish in this Blue Fish Radio episode, and it’s got the support of the U.S. government.
Not allowing ships to dock at our ports that won’t or can’t prove where their seafood was captured is just one new stick in the government’s tool chest. On-board remote cameras are another. Laurie Bryant from the NOAA reports on their “Fish Watch” program and its beneficial results in this episode of Blue Fish Radio.
Bringing to an end the outdated and unsustainable commercial harvesting practices and greed that still plague large portions of the commercial fishing industry that is taking place outside the territorial waters of Canada and the U.S. is imperative if we are to sustain the earth’s growing population. Achieving sustainable commercial fishing throughout the world hinges on all of us having greater awareness of the efforts being taken by the many different stakeholders. More importantly, if the oceans’ wild fish stocks and the ways they are being harvested are to return to sustainable levels, all of us need to begin to exercise responsible choices. The tools needed to make such choices are now available. It’s now up to each of us to incorporate these tools into our decision making processes when purchasing or consuming seafood.