Blue Fish News – August 30, 2021

In the August 30, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on the work of NGO’s like Watersheds Canada to naturalise shorelines and restore fish habitat. As always, we include summaries and links to the latest fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. Our closing guest feature outlines five policy election campaign topics being asked of Canada’s national political parties by the National Fishing and Hunting Collaborative.

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther with a couple Lake Erie Smallmouth
Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther with a couple Lake Erie Smallmouth

This Week’s Feature – Natural Shorelines and Fish Habitat

By Lawrence Gunther

Hard to believe, but as much as 95% of wetlands have been erased in southern Ontario, including most all coastal wetlands. This fate is not limited to Ontario alone, but is an unintentional aspect of the way we have developed our communities and industrial enterprises across Canada. Measuring the loss of this important habitat has become a preoccupation of numerous water quality organizations in recent years, but few have turned their attention to the loss of fish habitat, which is strange since much of this type of destruction can be linked to those same projects that erased coastal wetlands.

Watersheds Canada is taking an ever-expanding role in addressing the loss of natural shorelines and the fish habitat that extends beyond these shores. Their approach has been to engage property owners through customized presentations that show how their shorelines, lakes and rivers can be enhanced in ways that won’t necessarily detract from either the value or appearance of their property. Not only do property owners learn how they can apply their love of their lakes and rivers in ways that benefit nature, Watersheds Canada’s staff and their partners often provide and undertake the changes on their behalf. Word quickly spreads among home and cottage owners, and before long, their collective mind-set of what constitutes appropriate development and stewardship shifts.

The goal of the Watershed Canada Natural Edge program is to achieve 75% naturalized shorelines – a percentage determined to be essential for establishing a sustainable and healthy ecosystem. The organization claims that these buffers provide critical habitat and shade for 90% of aquatic wildlife and 70% of land-based wildlife at some point in their lifetime. More proof why children are drawn to shorelines.

According to Watersheds Canada, vegetated buffers are effective in removing over 90% of runoff when compared to non-vegetated shorelines. This is crucial to limiting excessive nutrients from entering water bodies and causing blue-green algae blooms. The NOAA in the U.S. has also now empirically demonstrated that naturalized shorelines are the most resilient and effective means of minimising storm related coastal damage. All said, you can’t beat nature for mitigating the effects of climate change.

A partner in Watersheds Canada Natural Edge Programs is Quinte Conservation. The partnership has taken on the naturalisation of one mighty long Bay of Quinte shoreline. The 3-year Natural Edge program goal is to naturalize the shores of farms, parks, cottages and homes. Link below to hear my conversation with Chloe Lajoie, Natural Edge Program Manager for Watersheds Canada, and Maya Navrot, Education and Stewardship Coordinator with Quinte Conservation, on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

Watersheds Canada has evolved their Natural Edge program into an app, to make designing shoreline restoration plans more efficient. This user-friendly app allows their employees and partners to create plans on-site with the landowner in less than an hour. They have also integrated their custom Native Plant Database to ensure that suitable plants are chosen on a site-specific basis. All their program communication and education materials are provided.

Watersheds Canada continues the digitisation of their program tools with their new “Fish Habitat Enhancement Toolkit”. The free Toolkit provides grassroots organizations and community groups with project guides, updated protocols, and accompanying videos to identify suitable sites and successfully enhance various types of fish habitat. Project materials include walleye spawning bed enhancement, in-water fish habitat enhancement with woody debris, and cold-water creek enhancement. Link below to hear my conversation with Melissa Dakers, Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager with Watersheds Canada, and learn about their growing list of NGO and private partners across Canada on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

Provinces such as Quebec regulate private shoreline spaces to ensure a naturalised buffer is maintained between any landscaped areas and the shoreline. Removal of trees, shrubs and even water plants and trees that have fallen into the lake is prohibited. This protected zone needs to have a minimum width of 10 metres on shorelines with slopes of less than 30 %. For steeper slopes, this protection should be at least 15 metres. For those property owners that landscaped their properties right down to the shoreline prior to Quebec implementing this “leave it to nature” policy, they too must forgo any further landscaping activity along their shoreline. Ontario and other provinces have yet to take this approach, but based on past experience, once something becomes the norm, it’s usually not long before it’s the law. Let’s hope the approach being taken by Watersheds Canada and their partners will make the implementation of Quebec-style regulations irrelevant.

Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News


Shimano School Charts a Course for Lake Erie / FishingWire
At 8 PM EST on Tuesday, August 31Captain Paul Powis headlines Shimano School to discuss Great Lakes walleye and steelhead fishing.

Angler Personas / InTheBite
Start asking anglers why they fish and you’re bound to receive multiple answers – the enjoyment of being outdoors, the thrill of competition on the water, hanging out with friends and just getting away from it all. Recently, a report from the American Sportfishing Association identified seven unique personas that comprise anglers: traditionalists, occasional angler, friendly fisher, consumptive angler, social dabbler, adventurous angler and zen angler. Which one are you?

2021 Report on Global IUU Fishing and Bycatch of Protected Marine Life / NOAA
NOAA Fisheries identified 31 nations and entities with vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing activities or bycatch of protected species on the high seas. The report also negatively certified Mexico for continued IUU fishing activities.

Smallmouth Bass Catch & Release Program / Save The River
Save The River believes the bass population in the St. Lawrence River will benefit greatly if anglers keep only what they will eat that day and release the rest. Practicing catch and release fishing during bass season will help make certain there will be bass for our children and their children to enjoy. Check out Save The River’s Catch & Release Facebook page to enter a photo of your catch and release bass in our photo contest. Each month lucky winners will receive a special prize and at our 2022 Winter Environmental Conference, we will announce an annual winner to receive a Bass Pro spinning combo. Photos can also be submitted via their online form.

What I Wish My Father Had Taught Me About Fishing / Hakai Magazine
Forty-odd years ago, while aboard a fishing boat with my father on Long Island Sound, I felt a pull on my line like none I’d ever felt before. And then another. And another still. The wild world had hit my line with all its abundance. I reeled hard and with a crazy swing I swept my multi-hooked rig loaded with five big mackerel in a wide arc over the rail until the whole bloody mess landed with a chaotic thud.

Rivernotes 27 Aug. 2021 / ASF
In the best interest of the survival of Atlantic salmon, angling has been temporarily closed in much of New Brunswick and in many Newfoundland rivers with Warm Water Protocols now in place.

Tech Innovations for Anglers Challenge Fishery Managers / FishingWire
Are anglers aided by new electronic technology getting so good at catching fish that new management controls are needed to preserve spawning stocks? In a recent issue of Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, reported that technology developed for or adopted by the recreational fisheries sector (e.g., anglers and the recreational fishing industry) has led to rapid and dramatic changes in how recreational anglers interact with fisheries resources.

Million-Dollar Blue Marlin Tops Mid-Atlantic / FishingWire
Bill Fisher’s 1,135-pound blue marlin took the top prize in the category and netted the crew $1,167,762, as well as likely setting a new state record for the species.

No More Fish-Out-of-Water in T.U. Magazine / FishingWire
Throughout the entire month of July, Trout Unlimited didn’t publish a single photo of a fish that wasn’t at least partially submerged in the water in their increased emphasis on conservation during hot weather and low water.

B.C. drought: Recreational fishing closed in most of South Okanagan due to dry conditions / CTV News
Recreational fishing has been closed until mid-September in most areas of the South Okanagan due to drought.

Recreational fishing open in Babine Lake / My Bulkley Lakes Now
Recreational fishing for salmon has reopened at Babine Lake until Sept. 15, according to the DFO. As of Aug. 18 fishers will have a limit of one sockeye per day.

The end of hot weather is relief for anglers on the Island / Campbell River Mirror
“The hot days hopefully are behind us and we can get out fishing without worry about sunstroke.”

How a nurse uses fishing to help first responders with PTSD / CBC News
Even on the most hot and humid day on Charleston Lake, just northeast of Gananoque, Lapeer is all smiles. On this day, she reels in a smallmouth bass, one of the biggest fish she’s caught on this lake to date. Casting a line has become her lifeline, she says, to provide a break for her mind as she works to recover from the trauma experienced while working with Canadian inmates suffering from the most severe mental illness.


Natural Reproduction of Lake Trout Documented in Lake Erie / FishingWire
For the first time in over 60 years, natural lake trout reproduction has been documented in Lake Erie. In July, Dr. Chris Wilson at Trent University positively identified fry as lake trout through genetic bar-coding. Overfishing, habitat degradation, and sea lamprey predation were the key contributors to the population collapse of lake trout in Lake Erie by 1965, and rehabilitation efforts to restore the species began in the early 1980s. While this finding is just the first step, it validates that these fish are capable of successfully reproducing and surviving to hatch and that restoring a wild lake trout population in Lake Erie is attainable.

Muskie Bites Swimmer at Lake St. Clair / FishingWire
Matt Gervais, who has competed in triathlons for more than 20 years, was bitten by what he believes was a muskie in Lake St. Clair last week, requiring 13 stitches. Looking at the fish through the water, he could see its teeth gripping three of his fingers and part of his hand. Gervais says it was over quickly. He managed to free himself after about five seconds, but his hand was covered in blood and badly injured.

Interior Fraser wild steelhead conservation program nets $98K in funding / Williams Lake Tribune
The program has been tracking and monitoring breeding steelhead populations for more than 40 years.

Moving around rocks dangerous for fish habitat, warns Alouette River Management Society / Maple Ridge News
Rivers, lakes, and trails all over the world have people re-arranging the rocks, stacking them into what’s called cairns, or reshaping the way water flows by moving around the rocks. When people move rocks in the rivers, it disturbs vital habitat essential for sheltering the base of the food web. It can also disrupt spawning or the maturation of fish eggs.

Vancouver Island drought threatens salmon, spotlights B.C.’s water problem / The Narwhal
Watersheds on Vancouver Island are particularly sensitive to prolonged drought as the region’s salmon streams are relatively short and small, says Watershed Watch’s Tanis Gower.

Rebuilding Atlantic Coast Striper Populations / FishingWire
Striped bass along the Atlantic Coast are in trouble once again—here’s a blog on what needs to be done to bring back this great fishery from Charles Witek. What’s not so clear is whether the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) intends to rebuild the striped bass resource, and if it does, how long such rebuilding might take.

“We Believe in this Project” / ASF
The Atlantic Salmon Federation is one of several proponents of a smallmouth bass eradication project in the Miramichi River system. They hope to work with Indigenous groups opposing the project to find a way to proceed. The project was put on hold to allow more in-depth consultations with First Nations Wolastoqiyik communities. Working group representatives Nathan Wilbur and Robyn Mccallum say they still hope to treat the lake, brook, and river sometime this year with a piscicide.

‘Soon, there will be no more fish left’ / Skeena Strong
Dramatic B.C. Interior steelhead declines could be a warning for Skeena salmon. “You’ve got an entire run depending on the spawning success of just a few individuals,” University of B.C. quantitative biologist Eric Taylor told the Vancouver Sun.

Cross-border Salish Sea study finds key puzzle pieces of wild salmon die-off / National Observer
A massive cross-border research and conservation effort has yielded a potential roadmap to save wild salmon in the Salish Sea. The cross-border #SalishSea survival research project found food supply and predation of young salmon are two key contributors to the declines of chinook, coho and steelhead as they enter the marine environment.

In Alaska, the salmon catch hints at the chaos of climate change / New York Times
Historically low runs on the Yukon River have devastating impacts for Alaskans who rely on the fish for sustenance and tradition, but Bristol Bay is seeing more sockeye than ever before.

Extinction of B.C. Interior steelhead runs imminent / Vancouver Sun
The number of Interior steelhead that returned to spawn last spring is lower than ever before. More than 20 other runs, including sockeye, chinook and coho, are headed for endangered status.

B.C.’s vital salmon route is seriously clogged / National Observer
Floundering Pacific salmon stocks are finding little refuge in the lower Fraser River — the lifeblood for the iconic species, and historically, the most significant spawning and rearing grounds on the West Coast of North America. Researchers have found 85 per cent of the historical floodplain habitat for salmon in the lower Fraser has been lost. The wetlands that once provided rich feeding grounds, which fattened up and sheltered juvenile salmon during spring floods before they migrated to sea, are now blocked off by dikes keeping densely populated and intensely farmed lands dry, said Riley Finn, a researcher at the University of British Columbia.


Whatever we flush affects marine life / Times Colonist
“Many B.C. salmon are exposed at a young age to whatever we flush, whether it’s what we throw out, throw up or dump into our toilets.”

Understanding Harmful Algal Blooms / Ohio Sea Grant
On September 8, 2021 , attend “Understanding Harmful Algal Blooms: State of the Science Virtual Conference”. Research and outreach leaders will highlight current scientific knowledge related to algal blooms, present findings from recent studies and identify important areas of uncertainty.

New Online tool for Reporting Spills & Pollution in Ontario / Government of Ontario
In addition to the existing Spills Action Centre call line, the public now has an online option to quickly report spills or pollution like illegal waste dumping, improper pesticide use, and pollution on land, in the water or air.

What mining, oil and gas industries can learn from Sudbury, the city that went from major polluter to thriving environment / The Conversation
“40 years ago, scientists, citizens, governments and mining companies in Sudbury set out with the goal that, no matter how damaged the environment was, it was worth trying to repair it.”


More than 200 illegal fishing nets seized on Fraser River by fishery officers / Maple Ridge News
Between 200 and 250 illegal fishing nets have been seized on the Fraser River so far this year, according to DFO. The problem is that illegal fishing, as well as buying illegal fish, is posing a direct threat to dwindling Fraser salmon stocks. The unlicensed fishing is mostly by individuals and the criminal element, which has prompted DFO fishery officers to increase enforcement efforts. Despite what they described as “high compliance,” from area First Nations, DFO said it has received “an increase in public reports” of illegal fishing in a few areas, as well as illegal fish sales.

B.C.’s salmon emergency highlights cultural divide between DFO and First Nations / Fraser Valley News
Representatives of Fraser River First say a fundamental disconnect between Indigenous values and DFO priorities is delaying a collaborative response to the salmon crisis. The dry rack fishery, one of the most important local FSC fisheries, involves the same sockeye that must now be thrown back into the water, dead or alive. Murray Ned, Executive Director at the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, says Nations often struggle to understand the reasons behind management actions made by the department and though an official Reconciliation Strategy and Action Plan was implemented in 2019, DFO’s relationship with First Nations remains fraught.

Ahousaht fishermen prepare to fight over right to salmon following confrontation with DFO / CHEK
Frustrations are rising off Tofino after a confrontation between the DFO and Ahousaht fisherman who say they were denied their rights to sell salmon caught in their own territory.

Coastal First Nations take steps to protect wild waters of Great Bear Rainforest / National Observer
The Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv nations signed an agreement with Ottawa and the province of B.C. to do a feasibility study for a national marine conservation area reserve.

Letter from Haida Gwaii, As History Is Made / The Tyee
On Aug. 13, 2021, the governments of British Columbia, Canada and the Haida Nation announced a new framework agreement that recognizes the nation’s inherent title and rights across the archipelago of Haida Gwaii, which translates to “islands of the people” or “islands coming out of concealment.” Haida Gwaii is a collection of more than 200 islands forming an area about a third of the size of Vancouver Island and tucked under the Alaska panhandle. The Haida possess a mountain of oral, written and archaeological evidence that shows occupation and use as far back as 12,800 years ago. Instead of having to prove title, negotiations will now begin from a place of inherent Haida title and rights, which includes the right to self-government.

The Americas’ First Ecosystem Managers / Hakai Magazine
When it comes to sea otters, modern conservation goals are overlooking the firm hand Indigenous people wielded through time. “There is a parallel between the coexistence of otters and people on the one hand, and [the] coexistence of Indigenous managers and conservation managers on the other,” says Iain McKechnie of the University of Victoria, “There needs to be some reconciliation of coexistence in management outlooks, because Indigenous communities are fighting for their livelihoods on this point.”

Illegal fishing rampant on Fraser in year of scarcity / Business in Vancouver
Fraser River sockeye returns are expected to be too low to allow for a commercial harvest this year, so if anyone sees boats on the water setting nets, or anyone selling salmon from the backs of trucks by the roadside, they are likely illegal. Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it has removed more than 200 illegally set fishing nets and other gear from the Fraser River to date, and are calling on the public not to buy salmon that is illegally caught. Asked if any charges have been laid yet, Mike Fraser, detachment commander for DFO’s Fraser Valley East, said 12 active investigations are ongoing. If last year is anything to go by, Greg Taylor, a fisheries adviser for Watershed Watch, suspects few charges will be laid.  And even if charges are laid, the Crown may be reluctant to pursue them, if First Nations are involved, since that can be a legal minefield.

Coastal First Nations in B.C. demand DFO respect their right to fish / APTN National News
Fishers with five nations on the British Columbia coast will harvest with allocations from their own fisheries plans, says Ha’wiih, the hereditary leadership of five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations. “Our Ha’wiih, in their authority over the lands and waters, issued licenses to the fishermen,” says Kekinusuqs, Judith Sayers, president of ;Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. On Aug. 4, they adopted the fisheries plan that they had in place and authorized the fishermen to go out and fish.

Local First Nation leaders affirm right to Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) harvest in Tyee Pool / Campbell River Mirror
DFO fisheries notice about possible FSC harvest in and around Tyee Pool stirs controversy. However, the release — and the commotion in response to it — was unnecessary because We Wai Kum members are not planning FSC harvesting in the Tyee Pool, despite having the right to do so, said Chief Councillor Chris Roberts, in a press release.

Ahousaht boats return from protest salmon fishing, braced for confrontation with DFO / CHEK
Ahousaht fishermen are braced for confrontations with DFO officers as they return with catches of salmon caught under the authority of their hereditary chiefs. The ongoing fight is happening during a sharp decline in salmon stocks so some accuse these First Nations of adding to the crisis, however, hereditary chiefs insist their fishers are only taking enough to support their families.

Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack arrested, traps seized as treaty fishery begins its season in N.S. / CBC News
Chief Mike Sack of the Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia was arrested by federal fisheries officers this week on the same day his Nation’s fishery launched its new season.


Northern Ontario Tourism Fall Training Week! / Destination Northern Ontario
Destination Northern Ontario and Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario are pleased to bring you a free virtual Northern Ontario Fall Training Week, this November. COVID-19 has created challenges for tourism businesses and operators around the province. Our four-day training week is set to provide resources, tools, action plans, strategies, and connections for both today and the future. We will be welcoming tourism professionals from around the province to gather, share, and collaborate as we rebuild northern Ontario’s tourism industry.


RBFF Releases 2021 Stakeholder Report / FishingWire
Dive into the 2021 Stakeholder Annual Report to learn how RBFF helped the fishing and boating industry overcome the challenges of the past year to reach historic participation levels.

Solar Boat Completes Emission-Free Voyage to Alaska / FishingWire
This summer, David and Alex Borton completed what they believe to be the first-ever solar-electric boat voyage from Bellingham, Washington, to Juneau, Alaska. The team was underway for 38 days And averaged 32 nautical miles per day at an average speed of 3.7 knots.

Special Guest Feature — ELECTION 2021: A vote for conservation

With the federal election set for September 20th, the National Fishing and Hunting Collaborative (NFHC) is asking each major political party to commit to the re-establishment of the Hunting and Angling Advisory Panel (HAAP) and for meaningful responses on how they will address five national priorities of concern should they form the next government. For whichever party claims the election, the re-establishment of HAAP represents a low-cost-high-impact opportunity to meaningfully capture the interests of the millions of Canadians who hunt and fish.

The NFHC election document outlines the benefits of bringing HAAP back, and presents what a new HAAP mandate, scope and membership, would look like. The NFHC has also outlined a list of five national priorities, many of which are of concern to all Canadians, whether rural or urban, new, or multi-generational.

Priorities include:

  • Promotion of Fishing, Hunting and Trapping
  • Firearms Policy
  • Chronic Wasting Disease
  • Conservation Funding
  • Aquatic Invasive Species

The National Fishing and Hunting Collaborative (NFHC) is a group of non-partisan, non-profit, fishing and hunting organizations that work collaboratively to provide national leadership on important conservation issues and a voice for more than 375,000 Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

NFHC members include: Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Manitoba Wildlife Federation, Yukon Fish & Game Association, Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Alberta Fish & Game Association, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Newfoundland & Labrador Wildlife Federation, Prince Edward Island Wildlife Federation, Fédération Québécoise des chasseurs et Pêcheurs, New Brunswick Wildlife Federation, BC Wildlife Federation, Northwest Territories Wildlife Federation.

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