Blue Fish News – April 25, 2022

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Talk about lines in the water, Blue Fish Canada is busy reeling in partnerships to support youth new to fishing. Not that winter puts a freeze to our outdoor youth activities, but summer truly is when the bite is the best. We have also been busy rounding up advocates to take a minute to tell us about their successes – lots to take inspiration from in deed! So, when you’re finished getting your boats, canoes and kayaks out of storage and readied for fishing, take a minute, put your feet up, and read the latest Blue Fish News….

Photo of 3rd generation muskie guide Jeff Garnsey and Editor Lawrence Gunther holding an Upper St. Lawrence River 44” Spotted Muskie

In the April 25, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a terrific story about diverse advocates pooling resources to save vital Upper St. Lawrence Muskie spawning habitat. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, Habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Guest Feature chosen to inform our readers comes from the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (GLFC) and their work to control Sea Lamprey in the Great Lakes.

This Week’s Feature – A Win for St. Lawrence River Muskie Spawning Habitat

By Lawrence Gunther

Here’s a truly amazing story about diverse stakeholders coming together to protect vital Muskie spawning habitat. It starts with The Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper John Peach, who also serves as the Executive Director of Save The River, when he discovered plans by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to build a new facility in Blind Bay on the south shore of the Upper St. Lawrence River. The chosen site is one of the few remaining prime spawning sites used by muskie in the 1000 Islands. It’s also adjacent to a Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT) preserve that is home to numerous species of fish and birds. John knew he had to act and quickly if he was to protect this vital habitat from serious degradation. What happened next is remarkable.

The Blind Bay Wetlands is connected to Sand Bay at the northern tip of Chippewa Bay. It’s part of the largest shoreline shallow water ecosystem in St. Lawrence County. It’s also designated by New York State as significant habitat. One might wonder why the site was even under consideration.

Jeff Garnsey is a 3rd generation Muskie guide on the St. Lawrence and Chair of Save The River’s board of directors. In a Blue Fish Radio podcast, we recorded in 2018 while trolling for Muskie aboard his 1953 ChrisCraft, Jeff expressed concern about the steady decrease of St. Lawrence River Muskie over recent decades. He stressed that taking action to protect shoreline wetlands through measures such as Plan 2014 are vital to restoring muskie numbers along with 53 other fish species that can be found in the Upper St. Lawrence River. Link below to hear my conversation with Jeff Garnsey and John Peach on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

According to Dr. John Farrell, professor of Environmental Science and Director of the Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS), the decline of Muskie worsened following the emergence of a highly transmissible virus that first showed up early in 2000. Research conducted by TIBS identified invasive Roundhead Goby, now common forage for many of the river’s predators, are serving as vectors for the virus. Link below to hear Dr. John Farrell and Dr. Anna Conklyn discuss how the virus is impacting Upper St. Lawrence River Muskie on the Blue Fish Radio Show:

In addition to Upper St. Lawrence muskie experiencing an on-going virus outbreak, and the loss of habitat due to shoreline wetlands being left high-and-dry, many of the river’s remaining wetlands are being taken over by an invasive hybrid cattail infamous for obstructing natural water flow, crowding out native plant species, and degrading conditions for native fish and wildlife. In an effort to push back on this invasive wetland plant, the Thousand Island Land Trust, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, implemented a series of interconnected potholes and channels in 12 hectares of dense cattail mat located in the bay next to Blind Bay. Several culverts were also replaced to enhance water flow. The restoration work saw noticeable wetland improvements of benefit to both fish and birds.

Those familiar with the wetland and river understood that blocking development of the proposed USCBP facility in Blind Bay was critical. According to the Thousand Island Land Trust’s Executive director Jake Tibbles, “the cumulative environmental consequences of habitat fragmentation, edge encroachment, migration barriers such as perimeter fencing, noise and light pollution, and wetland degradation would have lasting impacts that reach far beyond Blind Bay.” Jake understood all to well what such a development would mean for their recent restoration work in the adjacent conserved and enhanced wetlands.

The advocacy efforts objecting to the commercial development of Blind Bay quickly grew over the first few months of 2022. Before long, thousands of letters had been written, news coverage was prolific, and numerous organizations got behind the movement to save Blind Bay. All this despite what construction and operation of such a facility would mean to the local economy. Advocates aren’t against such a facility being built in the area, just not in the middle of sensitive and vital wetlands.

Blue Fish Radio is pleased to introduce you to four of the advocates behind the push to end the development of Blind Bay. Each tells their portion of the story, and then together explore what needs to come next. Their collaboration represents an amazing model of what can be accomplished when diverse advocates unite.

Guests include:
John Peach, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Executive Director of Save the River
Jeff Garnsey 3rd generation Muskie guide and Chair of Save The River
Dr. John Farrell, Professor of Aquatic and Fisheries Science & Director, Thousand Islands Biological Station
Jake Tibbles Executive Director Thousand Island Land Trust

Link below to watch this engaging and informative tale of strength, determination and grass-roots advocacy on the Blue Fish Canada YouTube channel:

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Childhood Memories of Bullhead Fishing / Thousand Islands
A bullhead is a primitive looking fish, armed with fins that are capped with very sharp horns, one on each side on top of the head. Fishing for bullheads is a ritual, an almost sacred ceremony.

Fishing participation in US dips after 2020 boom / Angling International
It’s common knowledge that in 2020 the COVID pandemic sparked the single largest increase in fishing participation. Newcomers and returnees took advantage of the perfect opportunity to isolate – and the tackle industry boomed. According to license sales data from state agencies numbers grew approximately 14% in 2020, the largest single year increase in 30 years of tracking. License sales in 2021 did however decline by 6%. For tackle sales, the outcome was increased sales by nearly 50% in 2020. Figures for 2021 are not yet available.

Stratford pond to be restored with help from 3 levels of government / CBC News
Three levels of government are pitching in to restore Kelly’s Pond, once a popular fishing spot in Stratford, P.E.I.

British fishermen feared pro-Brexit campaigners would betray them—and they did / Hakai Magazine
Fishermen overwhelmingly supported Brexit, and it came back to bite them.

“Climate Change at the Water’s Edge”: Understanding the Impacts of Black Mangroves on Juvenile Shrimp / NOAA
The COVID-19 pandemic has had global impacts to human health, safety, and livelihoods, including to Pacific Islands fisheries. Pacific Islands fishermen share how the pandemic affected their livelihoods and how they adapted.

An homage to the fish kiss—a playful way of showing affection to our fishy friends / Outdoor Canada
Some anglers say it’s a sign of respect, a thank you of sorts to the fish for putting up a good fight. Others suggest it’s to bring themselves good luck the next time they head out on the water. Then there’s the camp that maintains it’s just a way of saying goodbye to the fish and wishing it well. Still others contend it helps take away the sting of getting hooked. Whatever the case, kissing a fish before letting it go signifies the angler, in one way or another, is showing admiration for the finned creature.

Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation to resume popular Youth Conservation Camp / Outdoor Canada
There will be one camp for girls from July 15 to 21, and another for boys running July 22 to 29. Open to youths aged 12 to 15, the program was created to provide hands-on education about a wide range of outdoor skills. Some of them have a good idea of hunting, fishing, conservation, but basically, we’re opening up the door to turn them into leaders.

Ottawa Fish School is OPEN! / Ottawa River Musky Factory
The Ottawa River Musky Factory in conjunction with Dovercourt Community Centre and Blue Fish Canada will again be offering a FISH SCHOOL! Monday to Thursday kids will get four hours of fishing instruction and fishing at Dows Lake or another downtown location. On Fridays the school moves to Petrie Island for some boat fishing. The objective is to teach kids to be self sufficient with fishing equipment and to be great stewards of our waters and the outdoors. Every student will receive a quality Shimano rod, reel, line, and tackle kit as well as information and shoreline clean up kits from Blue Fish Canada.

Let Us Help Support and Promote Your Youth Fishing Initiative! / Blue Fish Canada
Are you running or thinking about offering a youth fishing initiative this summer? We can help. Blue Fish Canada can provide stewardship training material and help promote your initiative. Check out our resources and contact us for more details.


Canada ignored warnings of virus infecting farmed and wild salmon / Guardian
Canada was warned in 2012 by its own scientists that a virus was infecting both farmed and wild salmon, but successive governments ignored the expert advice.

Why a federal salmon study that found viruses at B.C. fish farms took 10 years to be released / Globe and Mail
The federal Fisheries Department in the government of Stephen Harper would not release the 2012 report into open-net fish farms, a position that continued with the Trudeau government.

DFO enacts new regulations aimed at depleted fish stocks / CBC News
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has enacted new regulations that bind its minister to rebuilding Canada’s depleted fish stocks and ensuring healthy ones stay that way, a move that comes weeks after it closed down two East Coast fisheries in the name of sustainability.

Study Reveals That Great White Sharks Occasionally Hunt in Pairs / FishingWire
When people think of social predators, most probably picture a pack of wolves hunting in an organized, cooperative group. But social behavior can be much simpler than that. An animal may simply decide to stay in close proximity to another individual because it has learned that if its “colleague” locates some prey, its own chances of getting a meal increase.

B.C. conservation group moves thousands of salmon that will produce millions of eggs / CTV
Members of the Mill Bay Conservation Society, 50 kilometres north of Victoria, have taken the fish into their own hands — literally.

Scientists are predicting another year of low chum and Chinook returns on the Yukon River / KYUK
Last week, Alaskan and Canadian biologists and salmon managers met to share their forecasts and management recommendations for Yukon River chum and Chinook salmon. It’s looking like another year of low returns.

Hums, growls and farts: fish sound the alert / Cortes Currents
Fish have plenty to say and we need to make more of an effort to listen to them and understand what they’re talking about, researchers say.

Epic forecast for Bristol Bay salmon has fishing industry worried it will be too much to handle / Seattle Times
Experts predict that a record 75 million fish will return to Bristol Bay rivers this summer, with 60 million available for harvest.

Fish behavior is affected by microplastics in water / Sciworthy
Microplastics and nanoplastics affect gut bacteria and neurotransmitter levels in discus fish, potentially explaining changes in fish behavior.

A two-year project to benefit the Pugnose Shiner in the Quinte watershed is winding down  Watersheds Canada
The Pugnose Shiner is a small fish in the minnow family that is found in Southern Ontario including near the Quinte watershed. It is assessed as “threatened” by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) and listed as such under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1. It is very vulnerable to declining habitat quality.


The Great Lakes Before the 1972 Water Quality Agreement / IJC
Over the past two centuries, western settlement and the Industrial Revolution dramatically changed the water quality of the Great Lakes. New economic activities and cultural centers were spawned, while the lakes saw new (and often unwanted) species and pollution from industry, agriculture and cities. The 1972 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement provided a path forward for Canada and the United States to jointly address these issues. The two nations have made much progress in the years since. April 15 marked the 50th anniversary of the Agreement’s signing.

Phase 2 Begins for Expedited Review of Lake Ontario’s Plan 2014 / IJC
Plan 2014 is a set of rules that regulate the rate of outflow from Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River through a dam on the upper St. Lawrence, with the goal of moderating extreme water levels while allowing more natural variation in those levels. The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board can override Plan 2014’s set rules and adjust the outflow when water levels reach extremes. The Expedited Review of Plan 2014, the outflow management plan for Lake Ontario, has moved to a second and more expansive phase. The focus is now on the workings of the plan and possible changes.

Decommissioning of Nuclear Power Facilities in the Great Lakes Basin / IJC
There are 38 nuclear reactors at 18 generating stations at 15 sites on the shores of the Great Lakes in Canada and the United States. Nuclear power plants have a finite, 20- to 60-year lifespan. The board’s report highlights four areas where decommissioning rules can be improved to better protect the Great Lakes, including: public engagement and transparency, radioactive waste storage, transporting spent nuclear fuel, and the cleanup and monitoring of residual contamination.

Sea lions trapped in fish farm near Tofino expected to move on after pens emptied / Victoria News
Industry watchdog Clayoquot Action criticizes pinniped raid as another reason to eliminate open pens.

Work to protect juvenile salmon in Fraser River’s north arm a success: conservationists / Global News
A 30-metre breach cut into the Fraser River’s North Arm Jetty is already helping young fish avoid being pushed out into the Strait of Georgia too early, conservationists say.

Logging proposed next to the last habitat for the endangered Atlantic whitefish / National Observer
The Petite Rivière watershed in southwestern Nova Scotia is home to the world’s only remaining population of Atlantic whitefish. It’s also where a new forestry cutblock on Crown land is proposed.

Wind is the fastest growing energy source in the U.S., providing 42 percent of the country’s new energy in 2020. So far, most of that has come from land-based wind turbines. But, faster and steadier offshore wind speeds offer more potential. And as the cost of efficiently harnessing offshore wind has plummeted, that potential has soared.

This Canadian river is now legally a person. It’s not the only one / National
From the Amazon to the Klamath, granting rivers legal rights is part of Indigenous-led efforts to protect them.

Dead rivers, polluted oceans: industry adds to world’s mounting water crisis, report warns / Phys
A new report paints a picture of a planet with deep problems, ranging from dwindling supplies of groundwater to oceans overloaded with microplastics, lakes choked with algae and waterways contaminated by mineral mining booms.

Fifth vessel joins 2022 Pan-Pacific winter high seas expedition / Cordova Times
A fifth vessel has joined the fleet for the 2022 Pan-Pacific Winter High Seas Expedition to learn more about the lives of salmon during the marine phase of their life history during winter in the North Pacific Ocean.

Find out more about the impacts of invasive species / Invasive Species Centre
An invasive species is an organism that causes, or is likely to cause, ecological, economic, or social harm in a new environment. Invasive species reduce the diversity of plant and animal species and can put native species at risk. They do this by crowding-out native species or competing for resources like light, water, and nutrients, preying on native species, or acting as carriers for diseases or parasites that could spread to native species.

Feds to establish Canada water agency; just one of many investments in water resources / Welland Tribune
The federal government will spend $43.5 million over five years to establish a Canada water agency that will co-ordinate the more than 20 federal groups, departments and agencies that currently help to regulate freshwater in the country.

Canada in deepwater: behind the Bay du Nord approval / Narwhal
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault greenlit Newfoundland’s first deepwater oil and gas development project. Questions remain about how that decision was made.

An ocean of noise: how sonic pollution is hurting marine life / Guardian
Today’s oceans are a tumult of engine roar, artificial sonar and seismic blasts that make it impossible for marine creatures to hunt or communicate. We could make it stop, so why don’t we?

Engineered log jams restore natural river flow, fish spawning in Pacific Northwest / Medill Reports Chicago
The log jams allow sediment and wood to accumulate and create new areas on the floodplain, which over time will become established with vegetation and trees. The deadwood and debris also slow the water flow.

Damming research: study finds beavers might not be all bad for trout streams / Duluth News Tribune
University of Minnesota Duluth researchers found cooler water and higher stream flows with beaver dams in place.

New Global Forecasts of Marine Heatwaves Foretell Ecological and Economic Impacts / NOAA
Researchers have developed global forecasts that can provide up to a year’s advance notice of marine heatwaves—sudden and pronounced increases in ocean temperatures that can dramatically affect ocean ecosystems.


First Nations-led initiative seeks to protect Okanagan Lake / Kelowna Capital News
A coalition of First Nations, government, and academics have been working to address the cumulative impacts threatening the long-term viability of Okanagan Lake.

Rebuilding fisheries and wild fish stocks for coastal First Nations would be reconciliation in action / Globe and Mail
Canada’s coastal fisheries and ecosystems have been pushed to the brink, just as climate change and other stressors continue to strain ecosystems, write Christine Smith-Martin and Marilyn Slett.

Report offers First Nations a blueprint for reclaiming mining sovereignty / Tyee
B.C.’s mining laws are ‘outdated’ and ‘colonial’ and violate DRIPA, says the First Nations Energy and Mining Council.


Learn how to properly clean, drain, and dry your boat / Ontario.Ca
In Ontario, new watercraft regulations came into effect under the Ontario Invasive Species Act on January 1, 2022. These updates mean it is now mandatory to take reasonable measures to ensure the removal of any aquatic plants, animals or, algae from the watercraft when transporting it over land. Learn the law on what you need to do before moving your boat between water bodies. Read the guidelines outlined by the Government of Ontario.

Ready for the Worst: Boating Accidents and Beyond / InTheBite
Most people are not aware of what to do when something “bad” happens on the water, whether that is a collision, missing diver, prop strike, hard grounding, the list goes on.


The fight to save Interior Fraser steelhead / The Adipose
Aaron Hill of Watershed Watch Salmon Society and Jesse Zeman of the BC Wildlife Federation speak to The Adipose about the dire state of Interior Fraser steelhead and next steps.


Learn all about Africa’s Great Lakes / ACARE
Ever wondered what makes the African Great Lakes so great? Or how many millions of people depend on them for their welfare and livelihoods? Learn all in under 3 lil’ animated minutes in this video from the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education


On April 29th Report on Decommissioning Nuclear Power Facilities in the Great Lakes Basin / IJC
The Great Lakes Water Quality Board of the International Joint Commission (IJC) invites you to participate in a webinar about the board’s newly-published report on decommissioning nuclear power facilities in the Great Lakes.

50 Year Celebration of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement / Michigan Sea Grant 
View the webinar celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Canada / U.S. water quality agreement.

Invasive Species – Lake Ontario’s Most Un-Wanted / Lake Ontario Partnership
The recording of a one-hour webinar on Invasive Species in Lake Ontario as part of the Let’s Talk Lake Ontario webinar series! Learn more about invasive species in Lake Ontario, why they’re a problem, and how Canada and the U.S. are taking steps to prevent their introduction and spread in the Basin.

Scientists and Local Champions:

It’s Our 25th Anniversary! / Alberta Conservation Association
Our Fisheries Program has created many new opportunities for anglers in Alberta. Aside from the millions of trout that have flowed into Alberta’s lakes through our stocking program over the years, we’ve been involved in restoring old fisheries, battling invasive species, creating trophy trout lakes through our aeration program, monitoring native trout, and much more.

Josie Osborne on leading B.C.’s newest ministry / The Narwhal
Josie Osborne is the new B.C. Minister of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship. In an interview with a Narwhal reporter the Minister says the new Ministry has, “four specific actions that the new ministry is leading on and one that we’re supporting the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation on. It really characterizes the collaboration that we need to do, the work we need to do to gather with First Nations on strategies and programs for things like protecting and revitalizing wild salmon, advancing more sustainable water management and addressing cumulative impacts on the land base.”

Coming Up:

St. Lawrence River Strategy Planning Exercise Invite – May 17 / River Institute
The River Institute has partnered with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne to help develop ‘The St. Lawrence River Strategy for a beautiful and healthy St. Lawrence River. The aim of the River Strategy is to develop a shared vision for change and a common agenda for restoring and preserving the entire Upper St. Lawrence River (spanning from Kingston (CA)/Cape Vincent (U.S.) to Lake St. Francis). We envision the River Strategy will result in a centralized hub where individuals or groups engaged in research, remediation and restoration, community projects or events can find access to information and foster partnerships on initiatives with shared goals. This is an open invitation to those interested in the St. Lawrence River to join our workshop. We hope to bring together participants from all sectors including scientists, community members, and groups from both sides of the river.


Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (GLFC)

Sea lampreys, native to the Atlantic Ocean, are invasive to the Great Lakes. They entered the basin through shipping canals and were first seen in Lake Erie in November 1921. Sea lampreys spawn in streams once and then die. Their offspring live as harmless larvae in river bottoms for several years before the larvae transform into parasitic adults and migrate to open lake. In the lake, sea lampreys spend about 18 months feeding on fishes’ body fluids using a large suction-cup mouth filled with sharp, horn-shaped teeth surrounding a razor sharp rasping tongue. Each sea lamprey is capable of killing up to 40 pounds (18kg) of fish.

Sea lampreys prey upon a wide variety of Lake Erie fishes including lake trout, salmon, steelhead, smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, whitefish, burbot, and even sturgeon. Within a few decades of their arrival in Lake Erie, sea lampreys had colonized all areas of the Great Lakes basin and caused major economic losses. They also contributed to significant ecosystem disruption.

In 1986, a control program for sea lamprey began in Lake Erie. The sea lamprey control program is a highly coordinated effort between the United States and Canada. The program was established by the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries of 1954, a treaty between the two nations. Since 1958, the program has used the lampricide TFM to control sea lamprey in the Great Lakes. TFM does not pose a risk to human health or the environment when applied at concentrations necessary to control larval sea lampreys.

The Lake Erie fishery is incredibly productive and valuable to the people of the United States and Canada. Fishing is the lifeblood of Lake Erie communities, big and small. The Lake Erie fishery and ecosystem is dependent on sea lamprey control, and because of sea lamprey control, fishery agencies have a valuable fishery to manage. Thanks to aggressive sea lamprey control during the past decade, Lake Erie sea lamprey populations are now at the lowest level since the program began in 1986.

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