Blue Fish News – August 14, 2023

What’s new at Blue Fish Canada: The Canadian charity Blue Fish Canada was pleased to learn that on August 7 “Feedspot” ranked The Blue Fish Radio Show podcast as the 2nd-best Fishing podcast in the world, ranked by “traffic, social media followers & freshness.” To be ranked so highly among so many other terrific fishing podcasts is a true honor, but that’s not why we produce this commercial-free biweekly offering. Our mission is to amplify the voice of all those amazing people across Canada who care about the future of fish and fishing!

Above — the 2nd place ranking for The Blue Fish Radio Show Podcast

In the August 14, 2023, issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with the challenge facing all seafood restaurants seeking sustainably harvested offerings. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other media news links you soon won’t be getting from Google or Facebook. Our closing Special Guest Feature chosen to inform and inspire our readers provides facts about shark attacks along North America’s east coast.

This Week’s Feature — Making the right Seafood Restaurant choice

By L. Gunther

Every once-in-a-while the phone at the office of Blue Fish Canada rings with someone looking to make a reservation at an Ottawa-area restaurant called Le Poisson Bleu. Curiosity finally got the better of me, so I took a few minutes to check out their website. Pretty much all seafood options on the menu had a terrific back story. But before making a reservation myself I wanted to make sure they had menu options that were sustainably harvested, so I gave the restaurant a call and left a message. The next day I got a call back assuring me that everything on their menu is not only sustainably harvested but also locally sourced.

So how can I confirm that Le Poisson Bleu is accurate in their claim of offering sustainable seafood choices? There’s no reference to sustainability on their website, and no mention of Ocean Wise or the Marine Stewardship Council, two of the more popular labelling programs meant to assure consumers that their seafood choices have been harvested sustainably.

There are plenty of organizations out there claiming to be certifying seafood restaurants, processors and harvesters as sustainable. The issue comes down to independent verification. I met and interviewed almost all of the big players in North America offering this service, and not one uses independent 3rd-party professional auditors to assess whether the seafood being served or sold is sustainable. They all use their own internal resources and whatever information they can dig up on top of what the harvester or processor claims. The issue with not using a professional 3rd-party auditor is that other competing drivers such as an anti-fishing mandate, or earning revenue from the use of their logo for marketing by the restaurant or retailer, can lead to perceptions of a conflict of interest. You can read my article on the topic and link to interviews with most all North American Seafood sustainability labelling services on The Blue Fish Radio show:

It doesn’t build confidence when every so often claims are made that question the accuracy of seafood watchdog services, the most recent coming from Watershed Watch Salmon Society questioning whether salmon in the north-east Pacific are truly being harvested sustainably. It’s their belief that Alaskan commercial fishing boats are intercepting at risk Canadian salmon as bycatch while pursuing other abundant salmon species in the area.

Most of the time the different sustainable certifying NGOs are in agreement, but not always – who do you believe? The fact is sustainability is often a regional issue making it challenging for organizations allowing their brands to be used for marketing to keep on top of commercial fishing activity across Canada and around the world.

Once seated at a perfect table for two, I spoke with Alex, the founder and chef of Le Poisson Bleu. We talked about the challenges of purchasing not only imported fish caught sustainably, but locally caught fish as well. In fact, he prefers to purchase fish directly from local harvesters that he has come to know and trust.

The chef’s commitment to buy local extends beyond seafood to include the sides as well. It’s a top-down system that works best by making sure people whose professional reputations and businesses are online are the ones making the decisions. By working with his trusted suppliers, Alex can craft his daily menu choices to reflect not only what’s fresh, but what works best for the entire value chain, whether it’s Lake2Plate or farm2fork.

There’s no exact science that entrepreneurs like Alex can rely on 100% of the time. Social and economic issues also come into play. The encouraging news is that buyers are asking for sustainably harvested local food, and restaurants like Le Poisson Bleu are responding. Let’s hope that at some point questions about sustainability will no longer be raised because it will become the norm. Until then, it’s up to all of us to make sure our money is spent on food choices that reflect our commitment to live more sustainably. Even if the economics of doing so put living this sort of life beyond our means, it doesn’t mean we can’t make an effort.

As far as the menu we chose from during our amazing time at Le Poisson Bleu, I’m not even going to try to dissect the ingredients on offer by tracing back each item’s origin and path taken to reach the restaurant. It’s not that the menu is long, there were plenty of items I knew to be sustainable, and others that captured my imagination, but isn’t that what a dining experience should include? Fresh sustainable choices will keep me going back. It was by far one of the best seafood dining experiences I’ve had in years.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Salmon group blames climate change for fishing closures on parts of Cape Breton River / CBC
People can still fish in parts of the Margaree River in Cape Breton famous for its Atlantic salmon, but other sections are temporarily closed due to warm waters and a local non-profit group says climate change is to blame.

Re-writing regulations: in-season changes for fishing in West Kootenay / Nelson Daily
The province has upped the ante for fishing on Kootenay Lake.

Vuntut Gwitchin gov’t eases some fishing restrictions, but ban on Chinook salmon remains / CBC
With just over 500 chinook salmon now past Old Crow, Yukon, on the Porcupine River, this summer marked the first time the Indigenous government implemented a comprehensive gill net prohibition. The net ban extended from the end of June until the first of August.

Skeena River fishers in Terrace see daily sockeye salmon catch limits increase / Terrace Standard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada announces a significant rise in daily catch limits for sockeye salmon. Regulations now permit anglers to catch and keep up to four Sockeye salmon per day, a substantial change from the previous one per day limit.

Salmon fishing on Nechako River suspended until further notice / Vanderhoof Omineca Express
DFO prohibits fishing for all species of salmon due to conservation concerns.

To protect stressed salmon, a First Nation closes a popular fishing spot / Tyee
The Lake Babine Nation said it will close a popular recreational fishing site on the Babine River to ensure more salmon are able to return to their spawning grounds, a move meant to secure future stocks in an area that produces the vast majority of Skeena River sockeye. The Nation says it acted unilaterally after years of trying to bring the DFO to the table.

Local lodges and businesses call on DFO to close commercial steelhead fisheries in the Skeena to preserve populations / CFNR Network
Recent steelhead returns have been low, and despite being in a critical migration period, commercial net fisheries remain unrestricted.

It’s more important than ever for anglers to limit their catch, not catch their limit / Outdoor Canada
Over the years, my views on fishing have evolved, and I know I’m not alone. According to the most recent Survey of Recreational Fishing conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the average number of fish kept per angler in Canada dropped from 45 in 1990 to 20 in 2015. Even though the average number of fishing days stayed consistent over that time, the percentage of kept fish dropped from 56 per cent to 34 per cent. With more than three million anglers in Canada, however, that still represents a lot of retained fish nationwide.

Canada Leads First High Seas Mission to Fight Illegal Fishing in the North Pacific / GOC
The Government of Canada is a world leader in the fight against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing. This illegal activity is a major contributor to declining fish stocks and marine ecosystem destruction around the globe, and it undermines the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters everywhere, including here in Canada. IUU fishing poses a significant risk to salmon populations in the North Pacific Ocean and is considered to be a potential driver of Pacific salmon declines. Officers will conduct patrols, under international law, to enforce the United Nations Ban on High Seas Driftnets and to ensure compliance with regulations that protect against IUU. Canadian Fishery officers have taken part in the annual Operation North Pacific Guard on United States Coast Guard vessels since 2019, an annual international law enforcement operation on the high seas of the North Pacific. Canada works with several partner countries and non-government organizations to address illegal fishing issues at a global level and to support lawful, sustainable fisheries.

Is that fish pic legal? Ontario revisits its live-release regs / Outdoor Canada
When you can’t eyeball a walleye’s slot size from the net, you have no choice but to keep temporary possession to quickly take a measurement. The same goes for quickly taking a photo before releasing a fish. As brief as those delays may be, however, they are technically offside according to Ontario’s fishing regulations. If there were any fears about those delays being photo-bombed by an approaching conservation officer, however, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has—to its full credit—come up with sensible new wording that will hopefully spawn an official new fishing regulation as of January 1, 2025. During a survey period now closed, the MNRF went fishing earlier this year for anglers’ thoughts on a potential regulation change that would “allow anglers to delay the release of a fish caught during the open season for that species only long enough to photograph, measure and weigh, if the fish is of a restricted size or over daily catch and possession limits.”

On the Yukon, Alaska and Canada are bound together by salmon – and their collapse / Alaska Public Media
A 20-year-old treaty keeps Alaska and Canada working together, even through the devastating king and chum salmon collapse.

Ontario Protecting Walleye Population / Ontario Newsroom
To help safeguard Ontario’s walleye population from overfishing, be sure to report a natural resource problem or provide information about an unsolved case. Members of the public can call the ministry TIPS line toll free at 1-877-847-7667. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.


River Notes August 10 / ASF
DFO recently published their Gulf Region Atlantic salmon and striped bass science reports showing returns from 2022. Of note, the striped bass spawners had increased from approximately 300,000 over the past few years to 471,800 last year. Collectively, Atlantic Salmon Federation and partners including the New Brunswick Salmon Council, the Miramichi Salmon Association, the Miramichi Watershed Management Committee, and Indigenous organizations have been raising the alarm bells with DFO for some time based on the dismal smolt tracking results and striped bass predation. ASF is asking DFO to urgently reduce the striped bass population in such a way that is remains a sustainable population but improves balance in the ecosystem, not only with salmon but other important species like smelt and alewives. ASF has proposed a number of practical measures that DFO Fisheries Management could implement immediately, such as allowing anglers to keep any sized striped bass in freshwater, removing the upper size slot limit, and helping Eel Ground First Nation achieve their commercial quota of striped bass.

Salmon populations at risk of mass kills from drought / Kamloops This Week
Jason Hwang, vice-president of salmon programs for the Pacific Salmon Foundation, said the current drought conditions have never been seen before in B.C.

Ontario amends baitfish regs / OODMAG
Transporting preserved baitfish and leeches out of, into, and across baitfish management zone (BMZ) boundaries would be allowed under amended regulations introduced by Ontario’s MNRF late last month. The two-part proposal posted to the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) for public feedback on July 26 until Sept. 11 would also allow temporary movement of live and dead bait out of and back into the bait management zone (BMZ) where it was acquired. Bait must still be used in the BMZ where it was obtained.

Ancient salmon fisheries could help restore declining modern fish populations / My Campbell River Now
Genome BC is working with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation along with archaeologists from SFU and UBC to study DNA from salmon bones in ancient middens, refuse piles that were left behind by ancient seafood harvesters. They found a significant number of male Chum salmon in all the sites they studied, suggesting they were selectively harvested, preserving the females to maintain future stocks. It’s the first archaeological evidence of selective fisheries in the Pacific northwest.

How Climate Change is Threatening Our Fisheries / The Independent
As part of its broader membership consultation to inform the federal government’s Blue Economy Strategy, fisher’s union FFAW-Unifor issued its Blue Economy survey to members in 2020. The unpublished results, shared exclusively with The Independent, show a majority of fishers surveyed reported feeling the brunt of climate change on the water. 60 per cent of the 120 respondents replied “yes,” with 40 of them offering specific responses. “Worsening weather systems” was the most common response, followed by “deteriorating harbour infrastructure” (e.g., fishing wharves), and “changes in spawning patterns for some species” (with specific reference to the forage fish, capelin).

Guide To Lake Ontario Fish / Pond Informer
Lake Ontario’s name is of Iroquoian origin and means beautiful or shining lake. For most of the year (November to May) the lake holds a uniform temperature, but from June through October the lake is stratified with a cool lower layer and a 10 – 20 meter-thick warm upper layer. Because of this stratification, the lower layer of water can become oxygen-deprived, which has a dramatic effect on aquatic life. 122 fish species make Lake Ontario their home.

Scientists Level New Critiques of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Scientific Rigor / Hakai
Today, a new crop of researchers is once again imploring Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to change its ways. At the core of their concerns is a number of systemic and structural ways in which DFO gathers, parses, and handles scientific information, and how that advice is passed on to decision-makers.


Why sockeye flourish and Chinook fail in Alaska’s changing climate / Alaska Public Media
Scientists say they have clues to help explain this tale of two salmon. Sockeye use lakes as their nurseries. Since the 1980s the water in those lakes has warmed significantly. The warmth stimulates plankton to reproduce more, and young sockeye eat plankton. …now they grow so fast that nearly all of them leave after a single year in freshwater.

Climate Change Is Making Lake Erie’s Algae Blooms Worse / CTV News
Scientists from York University in Toronto studied insect larvae to understand the history of low oxygen levels in Lake Erie’s deep waters. They discovered that the levels of oxygen started decreasing when the population living around the lake increased and when farming became more intense, especially from the 1950s onwards. Even though oxygen levels improved in the 1980s due to initial phosphorus abatement programs, they were never fully restored. The harmful algal blooms (HABs) that seriously affect Lake Erie every summer are exacerbated because the lack of oxygen in the deep waters causes phosphorus to be released from the sediment. This study shows that Lake Erie is already at risk of low oxygen levels, and climate change will make it even worse.

‘We’re doomed’: New invasive fish species detected in Quebec lake / Cottage Life
A new species of invasive fish has been detected in Montérégie’s Saint-François Lake, an hour west of Montreal. The western tubenose goby (Proterorhinus semilunaris) was first brought to North America in the late 1980s after ships from the Black or Caspian sea basins dumped ballast water into the Great Lakes, according to Ontario’s Invasive Species Awareness Program. It’s a voracious eater, preying on sea snails, fish eggs and larva on the lakebed in great enough quantities that it can single-handedly reduce a waterway’s biodiversity.

‘Thousands’ of fish found dead in Ausable River near Port Franks, Ont. / CBC
Powell, a University of Toronto environmental sciences PhD student, is in Lambton Shores studying endangered fish species near Port Franks. The overwhelming numbers of dead fish that Jennifer Powell encountered as she paddled up the Ausable River this week absolutely shocked her. No cause has been determined yet, and Powell said everything from water temperature to run-off could be to blame. “The Ausable River Watershed has had really poor water quality for a long time. As the effects of climate change keep getting worse, this kind of stuff is going to keep happening unless we take action to improve conditions in the entire watershed. This isn’t just a one time thing,” she said. To follow the Lambton Shores Endangered Fish Adventure, which Powell is a part of, you can visit their Facebook page.

Several U.S. States Move to Block 3M’s $10.3 Billion PFAS Settlement / Freshwater Future
A group of 22 states and U.S. territories opposes a proposed $10.3 billion settlement with 3M over PFAS pollution known as “forever chemicals” in public water systems. The states claim the settlement falls short in addressing the extent of the harm caused by the chemicals. Recent reports from Minnesota estimate the cost of cleaning up PFAS contamination from the state’s drinking water systems alone will range from $14 billion to $28 billion over the next 20 years. Also out of Minnesota, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa recently filed a lawsuit against 3M and 23 other companies over water and fish contaminated with PFAS chemicals.

‘We’re changing the clouds.’ An unintended test of geoengineering is fueling record ocean warmth / Science AAAS
The North Atlantic is hot, hot, hot. Some of this heat spike is attributable to climate change, some of it is just weather, and some of it is the unfortunate side effect of international efforts to clean up shipping pollution. New rules implemented by the International Maritime Organization in 2020 cut ship sulfur emissions drastically. This is great from an air pollution perspective, but aerosolized sulfur seeds cloud formation, which makes the atmosphere more reflective. With less sulfur clouding up the air, it’s causing the oceans—especially the heavily trafficked North Atlantic—to suddenly warm. (Science)

Site C dam builder fined $1.1M for contamination in Peace River / Narwhal
Acid rock drainage poses a threat to fish and other aquatic life through acidification of water and elevated concentrations of metals such as copper, cadmium, iron, zinc and aluminum. An investigation by Environment and Climate Change Canada determined water management infrastructure for the Site C project was insufficient to treat the additional drainage. Holding ponds reached capacity during the heavy rainfall, so Peace River Hydro Partners released wastewater into the Peace River. The river, which flows into Alberta, supports 33 fish species, including at-risk species such as bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout and spottail shiner.


Combining Genomic Insights and Traditional Indigenous Knowledge for the Conservation of Pacific Salmon / Newswire
Pacific salmon populations have been in significant decline for the past four decades. A new research project is investigating whether the solution to the sinking salmon numbers may come from combining modern genomic science with traditional fisheries conservation techniques practiced by the Tsleil-Waututh people for over 2,000 years. The first archaeological evidence of selective fisheries in the Pacific Northwest. Braiding together Traditional Knowledge with genomic information to improve modern fisheries practices. “Recovering and analyzing DNA from small archaeological fish bones can now provide important information about fish species ID and sex ID, thanks to the advancement of ancient DNA techniques,” says Dr. Dongya Yang, the other project co-lead and a Professor at Simon Fraser University’s department of Archaeology. “The new genomic approach based on the next generation of sequencing technology will prove to be even more powerful and insightful and it will also allow us to examine the population changes over time.”


Know the Boating Facts / OODMAG
Complying with provincial and federal rules of the water can seem daunting. There are Transport Canada safety regulations, Industry Canada standards for use of VHF radios, and provincial regulations to ensure you’re not transporting invasive species. The myriad rules are enforced by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Canadian Coast Guard, and conservation officers. Here’s a look at what’s most important for staying safe, and compliant, on the water.


Students Receive Financial Assistance from Bass Fishing Hall of Fame / Outdoor Wire
Supporting those whose future career paths will focus on healthy fisheries, essential access, and clean rivers, lakes and reservoirs, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors has announced the 10 recipients of the inaugural Fishery Management Scholarship program stipends. Each of the winners will receive a $2,500 stipend to assist with undergraduate and post-graduate educational needs during the 2023-24 school year. One of the ten recipients to receive the award is Abigale Culberson from Waterville, New Brunswick where she attends the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton where she is studying to receive her M.S. in Environmental Management. Listen to Abigale on The Blue Fish Radio Show where she spoke about her muskie research on New Bruncswick’s St. John’s River.

Sip safely / OODMAG
Safe drinking water is not always top of mind when we are out for a day of fishing or hunting. It’s easy to carry enough water to keep you hydrated for such an outing. Water, however, weighs one kilogram a litre, so carrying enough to support a multi-day wilderness trip is not always a practical option. Luckily Ontario’s wilderness has many resources. Even if you find a clear looking water source, it still harbors bacteria or parasites, so here are some methods with pro’s and con’s to ensure your drinking water is safe: Boiling, Gravity filters, Straw filters, Pump filters, Tablets and UV light.

Calls to make swimming lessons more available in Quebec after deadly year on the water / Toronto Star
A charity that advocates for water safety is calling on the Quebec government to offer swimming lessons more widely — especially to recent immigrants — as drownings in the province are up 30 per cent over the same period last year. It has been a particularly deadly year on the water in Quebec, where more than a third of all drownings reported in Canada in 2023 have occurred. Quebec has reported 54 drownings so far in 2023, but this year’s number has been inflated by a few incidents that resulted in multiple deaths. Raynald Hawkins, general manager of the Lifesaving Society’s Quebec branch, says the Swim to Survive program — delivered by his charity — should be offered to kids in grades 3 and 4 more widely in Quebec. In Ontario, approximately 100,000 kids take part in the program yearly; in Quebec, between 12,000 and 15,000 take part every year.

Citizen Science Call-to-Action:

Enter for your chance to win a $100 gift card / Angler’s Atlas
The University of Alberta is working with Angler’s Atlas to determine if angler survey information can be used to develop models that predict angling pressure and catch rates at water bodies across Canada. As an angler, you are invited to participate in this research study. You can make a substantial contribution to the development of these prediction models by telling us in this survey which factors influence your freshwater fishing activity. The research project aims to help fisheries biologists better manage freshwater fisheries for conservation and fishing enjoyment.

Special Guest Feature – Debunking Common Shark Myths / U.S. NOAA Fisheries

Due to media exposure and the viral nature of reporting shark attacks, there’s a misperception that sharks are bloodthirsty predators that hunt humans. In 2022, there were fewer unprovoked shark bites compared to the 5-year average between 2017–2021. The University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File is a scientifically documented, comprehensive database of all known shark attacks. They recorded a worldwide total of 57 unprovoked shark bites in 2022, 41 of which were in the United States and 1 that was fatal. In comparison, between 2017–2021, there was a global average of 70 unprovoked shark bites annually.

So why does it seem like shark attacks on beach goers are becoming increasingly common?

Cell phones and social media – Technology makes it easier than ever to share shark sightings or encounters worldwide in near real time. Dramatic images or video can quickly go viral and attract the attention of the internet, print, television, and other media outlets. This feeds the perception that shark attacks are happening more frequently.

Dramatic numbers – Because the number of annual shark attacks is small, any increase or decrease in the number of bites can make trends seem dramatic.

Sensational language – Human-shark interactions are often reported as attacks even if the person was not bitten. This language is misleading and can lead to negative perceptions of sharks. Shark scientists have proposed categorizing human-shark interactions to more accurately portray what occurred and prevent spreading misinformation.

More sharks – As a result of fishing regulations, several shark stocks are rebuilt or are rebuilding. These larger populations of Atlantic sharks hunt prey in nearshore waters, sometimes increasing the risk of human-shark encounters. Prey populations have also been rebuilt or are in the process of rebuilding, and water quality is improving, which could contribute to the increase in shark presence nearshore.

Beach attendance has been steadily increasing since 1994. More people near the beach and in the water means increased opportunities for human-shark interactions. While human-shark interactions might increase, it is extremely unlikely that Atlantic beach goers will be bitten by a shark.

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