Blue Fish News – August 18, 2022

In the August 18, 2022, issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on corporate sustainability and responsibility, and how Navico is making the BioBase fisheries research cloud-based tool available to scientists to research fish 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 comes from Outdoorlife magazine and explores the evolution of fishing apps.

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Just back from three weeks in the Prince Edward County area of Ontario where we have been meeting with all manner of fisher-folk to document their socio-economic relationship with the Bay of Quinte and the east basin of Lake Ontario. This part of the Lake represents some of the best fishing in the Great Lakes. We wanted to know what people think about the state of the fisheries in the region, and how they feel about the proposed National Marine Conservation Area. Six interviews so far and more to come – we promise to make sure fish and fishing are not overlooked or undervalued should this NMCA process move forward.

Lawrence Gunther’s guide dog Maestro on the ice with a Lowrance ice fishing sonar system

This Week’s Feature – Brunswick Corporation Sustainability and BioBase

When I founded the charity Blue Fish Canada in 2012 our goal was to inform and engage the angling community to safeguard fish health to ensure the future of fish and fishing. Fishes need both habitat and water that supports life, hence the reference to “Blue” in the charity’s name.

Initially, not all involved in the fishing and marine industries were happy that we raised the topic of fish health. There were those who believed recreational fishing should focus exclusively on having fun. Eventually, our recognition and support of anglers who champion conservation and practice sound stewardship became widespread. Don’t get me wrong, many in the fishing and marine industry have known for decades that sound conservation measures is essential to their long-term success. What’s changed in the past ten years is that promoting this “one-health” philosophy has become popular. Many corporate entities have since announced policies and programs directed towards sustainability.

Angling and marine industries aren’t alone in their adoption of sustainability goals. In fact, critics have begun to question just how committed corporations in general are to follow through. Some are suspicious that “green washing” is being employed to divert attention away from less environmentally friendly aspects of their businesses. It doesn’t help that the definition of sustainability itself is quite wide. But overall, positive changes are in the works, and the message to the angling community as a whole is that we all need to do our part. One outcome of this shift is that you no longer hear people deny climate change.

Brunswick corporation and its many subsidiaries such as Mercury and Lowrance are taking sustainability seriously. In October 2021 Brunswick acquired Navico for $1.5 billion, the world’s largest marine sonar and electronics manufacturer, which itself purchased Lowrance in 2003. Stay with me as I’m going somewhere with this.

In 2014 Navico purchased Contour Innovations BioBase software, proprietary technology designed to aid fish biologists to document fish habitat using the sonar capabilities of Lowrance fish finders. Whereas anglers depend on sonar to locate fish and the structure that fish commonly inhabit, BioBase automatically identifies, measures and records data specific to weed growth, a crucial variable for assessing fish health.

I had the opportunity to speak directly with Navico’s VP of Sustainability Tara Norton, and Ray Valley, founder and program manager of BioBase. BioBase is available to fisheries researchers to record, share and access detailed GIS data specific to fishes and their habitat, and is free for researchers in Environmental agencies and universities along with reduced pricing on compatible Lowrance devices. Navico and it’s parent company Brunswick Corporation also partners with a number of non-profit organizations to support their conservation initiatives. Link below to hear my conversation with these two highly dedicated and committed conservationists on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

There are some who question the degree to which Brunswick and Lowrance are committed to sustainability. After all, gas-fueled Mercury outboards are responsible for propelling millions of fishing boats throughout the world, and Lowrance is making fish capture increasingly efficient. Full disclosure, I use both Lowrance and Mercury products, and the work of Blue Fish Canada has been supported by these companies. I’ve never heard a quieter and a cleaner smelling outboard motor than my Mercury Pro XS. Also, the kids I bring on to my boat to experience fishing are more interested in fishing than ever before thanks to the attractive and intuitive graphics displayed on my Lowrance sonar units. Kids can easily view different fishes below or near my boat, which seems to help keep them focussed on fishing even if the vast majority of the fish we encounter have no interest in biting. At the same time, the kids learn that our rivers and lakes aren’t filled with an infinite supply of fish — underscoring the need to practice conservation.

Contrary to what some might suggest, knowledge of fish habitat and the real-time location of fish doesn’t necessarily equate to excessive harvesting. Suggesting we return to more traditional forms of fishing and forgo the use of tools designed to make fishing more immersive and efficient could lead to people returning to harvesting their limit as defined by government fish biologists. The introduction of such limits in the mid 20th century was the first iteration of conservation anglers were expected to adopt. We now know that it’s often the case that returning fish alive is the preferred conservation measure, and according to the most recent data collected by Statistics Canada, anglers in Canada released roughly 2-3 of the over 160-million fish caught each year.

Not all anglers are created equally. There’s a difference in how people fish for food, how they fish during competitions, and fishing recreationally. It’s my opinion that anglers looking to fill their freezers have food insecurity issues and aren’t the ones investing in expensive technologies to catch their legal possession limits more efficiently.

People who fish competitively create technical advantage over their competition by utilizing proprietary technologies. Like any competitive sport, spectators prefer that sport fishing professionals are judged on their fishing prowess and not on their exclusive access to the latest technical innovations. Thus, tournament organizers often include rules to limit a competitor’s access to 3rd-party knowledge or electronic data. It’s a topic that is increasingly being discussed as sonar technologies become increasingly effective at finding fish.

Most recreational anglers are simply looking to spend a day on the water catching and releasing fish and keeping the occasional fish to celebrate their success with family and friends. Their investments in electronic fish-finding aids are generally more low-cost in nature. While such anglers enjoy a good bite, they aren’t under pressure to acquire and use the latest electronics to catch as many big fish as possible the same way anglers fishing competitions do. They are just as likely to leave a spot where they have been catching fish in search of another. It’s like a buffet – you don’t fill up on the first dish you come across, and you don’t need to consume everything on the buffet table – you practice self control by knowing when enough is enough.

Sustainable recreational fishing has more to do with managing fishing pressure than it does limiting access to fishing and marine innovations. Knowing the state of fish habitat and water quality are two vital variables when assessing and setting harvest regulations. Knowing how many of each fish species exist within a specific body of water is probably the most important variable but by far the hardest to determine. Creel surveys provide a glimpse of what this might look like, but the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission are the first to admit that knowing the economic value of the number and species of fishes either harvested or released by recreational anglers is the great unknown.

Just like commercial fishing, recreational fishing will only ever be truly and dependably sustainable when scientists can track numbers of fishes in a body of water and can track the number of fishes being harvested from that body of water in real time. For this to happen, biologists first need tools to assess fish habitat, fish health and fish abundance, and the BioBase tool is perfect for providing much of this data.

Tracking fishing pressure more effectively is not an impossible challenge, one need only look to the province of Quebec where it tracks fishing pressure in their 84 ZECs (designated fishing / hunting domains).

Without knowledge of fishing pressure, the tendency of fisheries regulators is to rely on conservative estimates. Based on what I learned during my recent three weeks spent interviewing all manner of people involved with fish and fishing in the eastern basin of Lake Ontario, this amazing fishery could easily support a lot more fishing than what currently takes place now – more on this to come.

Link below for more about how fisheries biologists are using Navico’s BioBase:

Link below to learn how BioBase facilitates social map and data sharing/cloud computing:

Link below to read Navico’s Sustainability Mission statement:

And finally, link below for Brunswick’s Sustainability Report describing their latest environmental, social and governance accomplishments:

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Fish trap demonstration in Chilliwack geared to better salmon spawning success / Chilliwack Progress
Elected officials, DFO reps, fishing reps gather at Island 22 Regional Park to see selective fishing in action. Peter Krahn set out three years ago to design a fish trap platform that would permit the release of non-targeted fish, helping them to reach their spawning grounds at the “highest level of fitness.” The technology provides “an alternate technique” to gillnetting and beach-seining, which are used in First Nations economic opportunity fisheries.

Pandemic reels Nova Scotia into sport fishing / CBC
About 79,000 general sport fishing licences were sold in the province in 2021, the most since 1985. Nova Scotia residents bought 97 per cent of licences — the highest percentage of in-province sales Canada-wide.

The Pandemic Changed How People Buy Fish—and Small Fishers Couldn’t Keep Up / Hakai
The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the global fishing industry. Lockdowns, travel restrictions, and disruptions to supply chains all conspired to depress demand for fresh fish in markets and restaurants, while simultaneously driving an increase in demand for frozen and processed products. Against these changing demands, fishers scrambled to keep up. Fishers’ ability to adapt was unequal, however, and according to a report by Future of Fish, a non-profit organization focused on ending overfishing, that has transformed the fishing industry in important ways. With many small-scale fishing communities unable to compete, they have lost ground to their bigger competitors.

Live-viewing sonar is banned during musky fishing tournaments / Muskie Insider
Eagle River was a perfect example of what happens when you combine sharp-shooting with a prolific numbers fishery. 1. Muskies are particularly vulnerable to live-sonar because they are easier to spot and target compared to other species. You can also follow the fish around making multiple casts at them. 2. The new tech isn’t cheap. Especially if you rig up with multiple screens & transducers, which is basically the deal if you want to maximize your catch-rate. 3. Some folks are using it to target fish in deep water where barotrauma and delayed mortality is a larger concern.

Lake Michigan salmon believed to be heaviest in 30 years / USA Today
It weighed 40.40 pounds, was 44 inches long and had a 28.5-inch girth. Its adipose fin was not clipped, indicating it was likely a wild fish.

Believe the Hype: Anglers Weigh in on Live Sonar / FishingWire
The ability to see fish and structure in real-time, even watching fish on-screen as they move in to bite the lure, has given a decisive edge to tournament anglers and other avids who have mastered this new weapon.

Prince Rupert fisherman frustrated by DFO salmon limits he says, despite millions of fish / Terrace Standard
Long-time marine fisherman Howard Gray is frustrated with the federal government’s management of the commercial sockeye harvest around Prince Rupert.

Resident anglers fed-up with governments’ ‘short-sighted’ fishery management / Yahoo!
A grassroots group of Smithers anglers are frustrated with the federal and provincial governments’ salmon and steelhead management plans, which they see as short-sighted and ineffective.

New ropeless fishing technology, which can help save whales, tested off N.L. / Yahoo!
A test deployment of ropeless fishing gear last month off the coast of Newfoundland brought to life a more than four-decades-old dream of biologist Michael Moore — and in a way, the test brought those dreams home.


Appearance of pink salmon on Central Coast cheers First Nations / Vancouver Sun
Watershed Watch’s fisheries advisor, Greg Taylor, weighs in on the large pink salmon returns in B.C.’s central coast, despite poor returns elsewhere.

The Salmon People / National Observer
Some victims don’t have voices. Off the coast of B.C., wild salmon started dying by the millions. Chris Bennett runs Blackfish Lodge 300 kilometres north of Vancouver. He was leading a group of tourists on a boat tour when he looked into the water and noticed young salmon – called smolt – acting strangely. He’d found a clue.

Salmon Wars: The Dark Underbelly of Our Favorite Fish
Pulitzer Prize winner Douglas Frantz and former journalist and investigator Catherine Collins have garnered plenty of praise for their searing indictment of the open net-pen industry. ASF president Bill Taylor says, “Salmon Wars will change the way people look at the supermarket seafood counter. Frantz and Collins pierce the pastoral facade of Big Salmon and show what’s really happening under the water.”

Atlantic Salmon Runs in Newfoundland & Labrador / ASF
Due to conditions, DFO has issued notices for many rivers, limiting recreational angling to early morning fishing only. Despite low water levels and warm temperatures, we are receiving reports that large numbers of salmon are still returning from the sea and are congregating at the mouth of rivers. In Labrador, angling conditions are much better, particularly as you go further north. Reports of good fishing on many rivers within this region continue to come in.

Why are young sturgeon disappearing from the Fraser River? / Fraser Valley Current
The number of juvenile sturgeon in the Lower Fraser has dropped by 71 per cent in two decades. Scientists are trying to figure out why.

New Brunswick Atlantic Salmon Returns / ASF
NB’s Department of Natural Resources shared numbers from the Dungarvon and Northwest Miramichi. Total salmon counts to date are a fair bit below last year. Given the intensely hot summer we have experienced to date, we remain hopeful that the salmon are simply waiting within the estuary and will make their way up river with the arrival of much needed rain and cooler temperatures. As of July 26, according to the warm water protocol in place for the Miramichi River system, 29 salmon pools across the system will be closed to ALL angling due to hot water conditions.

Fisheries official denies coverup allegations over research into endangered B.C. steelhead / CBC
A senior DFO official has denied allegations the federal government covered up scientific findings on a unique kind of rainbow trout in B.C. in an attempt to justify continuing commercial fishing that endangers the species.

Invasive fish species trapped in Courtenay creek threaten salmon / Chek News
A disturbing discovery in a Courtenay marsh has locals worried after an invasive species known as pumpkinseed fish turned up in random salmon monitoring nets there.

Wild pink salmon are back! / VanIsle News
“It’s a summer of abundance after years of decline. But this underdog story didn’t just come out of thin air. It came from years of hard work.”

The secret to better fisheries management is hidden in their DNA / Forbes
DNA sequencing has gotten to be a lot less expensive and that has opened the door for many different uses. One has to do with the optimal management of fisheries.

Here’s what we’re doing to save Yukon River salmon / Anchorage Daily News
“As Alaskans all know, salmon have a complicated life history, spending time in both freshwater and saltwater. This is magnified in the Yukon River, where salmon swim as far as 1,800 miles to spawn in Canada and the same distance downstream as outmigrant juveniles before entering the Bering Sea to begin their life in the ocean. “

Greenland Tracking Project Produces Crucial Data / ASF
The Atlantic Salmon Federation’s effort last fall marked a banner year in our satellite tracking in West Greenland. Seventy adult salmon were tagged with pop-up satellite tags. All of this is being done to discover not only where the fish are going, but what conditions they encounter along the way as well as behavioural information.

Climate Change and Overfishing Threaten Once ‘Endless’ Antarctic Krill / FishingWire
Antarctic krill — tiny, filter-feeding crustaceans that live in the Southern Ocean — have long existed in mind-boggling numbers. A 2009 study estimated that the species has a biomass of between 300 million and 500 million metric tons, which is more than any other multicellular wild animal in the world.

Judge bars pesticide spraying in Miramichi Lake until hearing / CBC
Chemical spraying of Miramichi Lake was stopped once again. The spray is intended to eradicate invasive smallmouth bass.


Fish passage improvement over last year at Big Bar landslide site / My Cariboo Now
Gwill Roberts, the Director of the Big Bar Landslide Response with Fisheries and Ocean Canada, said, “We have all parts of the canyon from both the West side and the East side of the river covered with sensors. As they approach the slide we can tell where they’re having trouble. The recent data is showing that we have sockeye and chinook getting through that area in about two and a half hours which is very quick relatively speaking. It’s a tough area, there’s a torrent of water that comes through that canyon but they can get through right now.”

The eighth anniversary of Canada’s worst and largest tailings dam failure / Narwhal
The Mount Polley mine disaster occurred when a design flaw led to the breach of the dam, which sent 25 million cubic meters of toxic liquid waste cascading into B.C.’s Fraser River watershed. Now, Imperial Metals, the company that owns the Mount Polley mine, wants to re-open it and continue to pump waste into Quesnel Lake for another three years — the floor of which is still covered by toxic sludge from the spill.

Biology prof on how longer summers can spell doom for lakes / CTV
When you head down to a lake in Canada this summer, you might spot more algae covering the surface than usual. This is just one of the scary impacts that our warming planet is having on lakes globally right now, according to John Smol, a professor at Queen’s University.

B.C. yet to follow Mount Polley recommendation toward zero failures / The Province
Co-chair of the B.C. Mining Law Reform Network, Nikki Skuce, and Christine McLean of Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake write about the ongoing risks posed by tailings facilities in B.C.

A Year In, Progress Is Slow in Development of the Deep-Sea Mining Code / Hakai
Halfway to the two-year deadline, the International Seabed Authority is struggling to finalize the rules for mining the deep sea.

Here’s How Fish Passes Work / FishingWire
Over one million dams and culverts (tunnels that encircle rivers passing under roads) block the movements of fish and other wildlife in Europe. Scientists estimate that less than 1% of catchments in the UK are free of obstruction. A report released in 2020 showed the effect this trend is having worldwide.

TMX critics question pipeline construction in river with spawning salmon / Vancouver Sun
Hope resident and conservation volunteer Kate Tairyan was surprised to see crews start trenching in a river just as salmon arrived

‘Cool fishy features’ highlight North Saanich waterway’s extreme makeover / Times Colonist
Not only is Chalet Creek being cleaned up after last November’s massive storms washed out the road and debris was dumped in the creek bed, it will be more “fish-friendly” than it was in recent years.

Will a legal right to a healthy environment make a difference for Canadians? / Narwhal
Despite supporting a UN resolution on the right to a healthy environment, critics say the federal government’s proposed environmental rights bill is narrow and lacks teeth.


DFO dragging out marine protection plans on West Coast, First Nations say / National Observer
The sticking point to moving forward with long-planned marine protected areas on B.C.’s Central Coast is the DFO Pacific branch’s objections to proposed fisheries measures, say First Nations. “While some fishing restrictions are proposed for some MPAs, measures would vary according to the conservation objectives of each area.”

First Nations, fishing groups and City Of Chilliwack want jet boats banned from Fraser River tributaries / Abbotsford News
‘We think it’s time, for the sake of the fish, that we need to take some action’ – Sumas Chief Dalton Silver.

Tla’amin Nation director spearheads project to reintroduce salmon at Unwin Lake / Powell River Peak
It’s been a century since sockeye and chum have spawned in Unwin Lake. That’s because the creek between Desolation Sound and Unwin was dammed for logging.


Are Pro Anglers Snagging Bass With Forward Facing Sonar? / NPAA
Bassmaster Elite Series pro John Crews takes on a very controversial subject in his latest YouTube video — are pros snagging bass with Livescope?

Progress update on the Big Bar landslide response / DFO
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, along with First Nations leadership and the Government of British Columbia, provided an update on the actions taken to date at the Big Bar landslide site. The landslide has now impacted four years of salmon migration up the Fraser River


Alberta Anglers asked to take quick survey / ACA
The Alberta Conservation Association is asking anglers to share their perspectives and potential interest in recreational fishing for lower profile fish! In Alberta, over 80% of the total reported catch of fish falls on four species: northern pike, yellow perch, walleye, and rainbow trout. Significant angling pressure on these sport fish species may result in population declines and has the potential to reduce future angling opportunities. Lower profile sport fish species may help take the pressure off and add some new harvest opportunities—and bragging rights.

Special Guest Feature – Are Fishing Apps Doing More Harm than Good / Outdoor Life

The question anglers should be asking is: How do we forge ahead in the information age without compromising fisheries? To answer it, you must first identify the biggest culprits—in other words, which platforms burn fishing spots the hardest. Facebook and Instagram? Sure, grip-and-grins of trophy fish that show obvious landmarks in the background don’t help. Forums? In my experience, you give away too many goods and your post will get shut down. I’d posit that fishing apps produce more burn victims than any other platform.

The good news is that some developers are coming up with ways to incorporate ethics into their apps, but to understand the significance of that, we must first look at Fishbrain —the app anglers love to hate and hate to love.

Link here to read the rest of the article…

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