Blue Fish News – December 6, 2021

In the December 6, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on public opinions about salmon being sold in stores, and why seafood lovers are increasingly choosing to purchase from artisanal fishers direct through community based seafood distributors. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, water quality and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Feature provides several LocalCatch.Org choices for buying seafood direct from Canada’s artisanal fishers.

This Week’s Feature – Aquaculture Versus Community Supported Fisheries – Your Choice

Recently, Dalhousie University, in partnership with Caddle, released a report on salmon consumption in Canada. The online survey was conducted in June 2021 with a sample of 10,008 Canadians. Unfortunately, the survey does not include opinions about the rapid growth of community supported fisheries brought about by the pandemic, nor does it include what people think about consuming wild salmon caught by indigenous fishers or recreational anglers. The survey’s focus on salmon purchasing trends in grocery stores seems to be a deliberate attempt to position pen-raised salmon as a reasonable alternative to commercially caught wild fish. For a growing number of consumers however, knowing what fish to purchase is becoming increasingly obvious – a trend that clearly has the salmon aquaculture sector concerned.

I’m one of those who prefer to eat fish that are safe to eat and that have led a relatively stress-free life up until and including their harvest and euthanization. I also want to know that the fish I’m eating are being harvested sustainably in that the fish stock is healthy, and in the case of salmon supplied through the aquaculture sector, that their production is also sustainable in terms of operations and environmental footprint. These are the concerns of many who follow and care about the future of both wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon along Canada’s west and east coasts, and the impact open pen aquaculture operations are having on the environment around the world.

Not everyone views the consumption of fish through an environmental and sustainable lens. There are those who experience food insecurity issues and make choices based on affordability, and others who believe that aquaculture can provide jobs in communities that have experienced economic down-turns due to closures in commercial, indigenous and recreational fisheries. Politicians, governments and First Nations understand what’s at stake, and are looking for solutions that don’t necessarily default to stopping human activity in the interest of ensuring nature is preserved. The question is how to go from zero to 100 without making mistakes along the way.

Artisanal fishers live and breath many of these issues every day and have so for generations. Indigenous fishers and recreational anglers are also closely connected to their fisheries in their own ways. For those who don’t have the time or opportunity to form these bonds directly, many have turned to community supported fisheries because of shared stewardship values.

Dr. Hannah Harrison from the University of Guelph shares her learnings gained through numerous interviews with commercial fishers through her podcast “Social FISHTancing”. Topics include such as where community supported fisheries are now, and what we the public need to do to ensure these artisanal fishers have the respect and support essential to their continued operations such as working waterfronts. Link below to hear my conversation with Hannah about her podcast and the many other research projects she’s working on such as defining what it takes to resolve resource sharing conflicts, on The Blue fish Radio Show:

Unfortunately, we are learning from experience that long term consequences aren’t always a key consideration when profits are at stake. We have experienced all too often these sorts of “balanced” decision-making outcomes when it comes to making economic decisions that have environmental consequences. Who doesn’t want a job that pays better than welfare or a lot more, and few if any investors / banks would accept substantially less profits if it meant fewer impacts to the environment? Governments and First Nations exist to serve their people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean putting the protection of the environment ahead of all else in every situation. If it were, I wouldn’t be writing this editorial.

Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m simply trying to provide perspective with respect to the results of the public opinion research findings. It’s easy to dismiss results that go against our own opinions as being the views of misguided or ill-informed members of the public, but dismissing their opinions isn’t necessarily the wisest approach – especially since it’s not how key decision makers view the opinions of their constituents. Instead of ignoring or dismissing such views, it’s better that we acknowledge their validity, and open our minds to what it means for people interested in advancing conservation.

The surprising news coming out of the survey is that almost eight in ten (79%) of Canadians eat salmon, and that 10% do so weekly. Obviously, a lot of people believe eating fish is good for them, and that they enjoy the experience. But what about those who don’t eat salmon?

Of those who do not eat salmon, over four in ten (42%) do not like the taste, three in ten (30%) do not consume any fish, and just over 1 in 10 (11%) say it is too expensive. These are all legitimate reasons, but what about those who refuse to buy and consume salmon over environmental and sustainability concerns.

Just under half (49%) of Canadians prefer wild salmon to farmed, however over four in ten (42%) do not have a preference. The primary reason provided for the preference for wild salmon was eating a product produced in a natural habitat (62%), followed by lower risk of contaminations (37%), it’s more nutritious (29%), and method of production is more sustainable (23%).

I think we would all prefer to eat wild grown fish if it were possible. The fact that many have accepted the reality that the cost of doing so is prohibitive, and have decided instead to make their choices based on what’s available and affordable is more realistic.

Here’s where the survey seems to run into trouble. It claims Canadians have a stronger preference for ocean-based farmed salmon (39%) to land-based (21%). Why is this – price, availability, taste? Given that there is almost know land-based farmed salmon currently available in the market, and that the price of these rare salmon is 2-3 times higher than other salmon, cost may have more to do with this “preference”. However, the survey then reports that over half (54%) of Canadians believe that aquaculture is a sustainable way to harvest salmon in Canada, but offers no analysis of how this result breaks down in terms of land-based versus open-pen operations. I think the results here are less valid since it could very well be that advocates of land-based aquaculture have had their positive views of the approach merged with those who are appreciative of having access to reasonably affordable fresh fish.

So up until now the survey results seem to be either neutral or positive in how Canadians view aquaculture raised salmon in Canada. Of course, we know that reporting such rosy results would lead most to conclude that the research is bias. To deflect such criticism, researchers report that over half (55%) of Canadians would be more inclined to buy farmed salmon if it were fed a diet that is environmentally sustainable and nutritious. Researchers blame this unmet consumer demand on the fact that only one quarter (26%) of consumers are aware that organic salmon exists.

I think what these last few survey results fail to consider is the issue of affordability. Current aquaculture raised salmon are far less expensive when compared to other more sustainable environmentally friendly safe choices because their cost of production is far less expensive. The industry knows this to be true, but is looking to improve their image since no company wants to be known for offering a cheaper but inferior product.

The takeaway from the results show that more work needs doing if Canadians are to say no to their tax dollars being used to build and support a segment of the aquaculture sector that continues to be unwilling or unable to address serious issues with their methods of production. More than 95% of aquaculture around the world is already taking place using closed recirculating systems. It’s not all perfect, but compared to open pen aquaculture, the issues associated with closed containment aquaculture seem insignificant.

Around the world companies are building closed containment salmon aquaculture facilities – over 70 at this time. The Canadian government is supporting such developments. Those facilities that are operating now are unable to meet demand. But let’s not forget that Canada also has a strong artisanal fishery and increasingly more indigenous moderate livelihood fisheries coming online. These fisheries have fed humans for thousands of years and can continue to do so if carefully managed. Eating sustainably and responsibly harvested wild fish also represents a commitment to ensure that nature is thriving, and we remain part of this amazing circle of life. Ending this relationship for many would mean severing their last direct connection with nature, and then who would care?

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News


Why do we value some fish more than others? It’s time to reconsider “rough” fish / The Counter
New study makes the case for asking anglers to reconsider which fishes have value and are worth conserving for the good of our ecosystems.

How Gamefish Tagging Programs Work / FishingWire
Maybe you’ve heard about game fish tagging programs and wondered, “What is fish tagging and how does tagging work? Fish tagging supplies, including measuring boards, plastic tags (with unique id numbers), and instructions, are issued to tagging volunteers usually during training workshops.

Fishing Guides React to Shark Depredation on Hooked Fish / Science Direct
In a broad-scale study recently published in Fisheries Research, over the course of six months, a detailed survey was distributed to recreational saltwater anglers and guides in North America generating over 541respondents. The survey asked a number of questions, including which species of fish had been depredated, how the experience of depredation affected the angler or guide and whether or not the experience changed the angler or guide’s subsequent fishing behavior.

Early Ice Can Be Dangerous Ice / FishingWire
Where there is ice, its thickness this time of year is highly variable and subject to the whims of Mother Nature. And where ice hasn’t formed – or where it freezes at night and opens during the day – the water temperature is so low that an unexpected fall in can be deadly.

College Kids Take Home $1 Million in Bass Pro Shops US Open National Bass Fishing Championship / FishingWire
Logan Parks, 23, and Tucker Smith, 20, fishing buddies and Auburn University students from Shoal Creek, Ala., saw their life-changing dreams come true on Sunday on the waters of Missouri’s Table Rock Lake, claiming the $1 million first-place prize at the Johnny Morris Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships. Logan and Tucker bested a field of 350 teams that qualified for the three-day National Championship, hauling in five fish for a Sunday-best 16.41 pounds.

Canada’s fishing has never been better. Or has it? / Outdoor Canada
As I’ve mentioned in the past, it can be particularly problematic for species such as walleye, smallmouth bass, pike, yellow perch and crappies that spawn in the spring in large lakes, where prime spawning grounds are often limited. Major portions of the breeding population will often over-winter in a limited number of locations. So, the fish that might have been scattered along miles of shoreline during the open-water season, are now concentrated in a handful of winter spots.

Archaeology breakthrough after discovery of ancient human fishing rod / Express
ARCHAEOLOGISTS encountered a breakthrough find after discovering ancient humans used sophisticated fishing tools akin to those today some 12,000 years ago. 19 bone fish hooks and six grooved stones were found in the Jordan River Dureijay in the Hula Valley, northern Israel. Researchers believe that the grooved stones were used as weights for the rods.

Meet the families working to keep fisheries alive on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie / The Narwhal
Kendall Dewey has been a commercial fisherman for over four decades, and served on the board of directors for the Ontario Commercial Fisheries’ Association for years. He used to sell his fish to local restaurants. “It was remarkable how many eyes we opened up in this area [from people] who said ‘wow, there’s actually a viable commercial fishery and you’re catching this here and it actually tastes really good’,” he says. “If we didn’t accomplish anything else, I’m happy we were able to do that.” Now, at 69, Dewey feels uneasy about the future of commercial fishing due to the lack of interest from young people and the general public.


Will Reviving B.C.’s Declining Salmon Stocks Require a Rethink of Hatcheries? / The Narwhal
It’s been well-established for more than a decade that BC’s wild salmon populations are in trouble, but the province first addressed the issue in 2018 when it announced its wild salmon strategy, a plan for implementing policies to reverse the decline. The original strategy included a call for more investment in salmon hatcheries, Finn Donnelly, BC MLA and parliamentary secretary for fisheries and aquaculture explains. Donnelly is among a growing number of scientists, fishermen, and politicians who have changed their minds about hatcheries. After 150 years of experimenting with hatcheries, it’s becoming clear that just pumping more baby fish into the ocean may actually be making the problem worse.

Fallout from Newfoundland Labrador Gold Rush on Atlantic Salmon / ASF
Mine effluent endangers salmon rivers. This week, ASF’s Don Ivany on why he fears it will have negative impact on vulnerable fish populations.

B.C. researchers, advocates consider impacts of catastrophic flooding on Fraser River / Hope Standard
Biologist Marvin Rosenau, a fisheries lecturer at B.C. Institute of Technology, said stranded Fraser salmon could end up trapped in flooded areas, coming from the flooded Nooksack River, along Sumas Prairie, or the Chilliwack-Vedder River system. But it’s the pink salmon, he said, that were likely the hardest hit of all Fraser salmon populations, along with the millions of juveniles and salmon eggs flushed out of the gravel with raging flood waters.

Flood-stranded sturgeon pushed, pulled and carried back to the Fraser River / CBC News
Professional angling guides Tyler Buck and Jay Gibson volunteered to move the giant fish two kilometres, returning it to the deep water of the main stem of the Fraser River.

Calls for Enhanced Monitoring of Aquaculture Impacts / ASF
ASF notes the deficient Nova Scotia government oversight of an aquaculture cage site led to the company having far too many cages and more caged salmon than the site was ever meant to have.

Rockfish can live for 10 to 200 years / Scientific American
Different species of rockfish can live for 10 to 200 years, making them an ideal model organism for studying the genetics behind longevity. In a new study, scientists sifted through the genomes of 88 rockfish species and found 137 specific genes associated with prolonging life spans.

Humans Have Broken a Fundamental Law of the Ocean / WIRED
One phenomenon that has long applied to marine life is the “Sheldon spectrum,” the observation that the size of an organism is inversely correlated with its abundance. Basically, the smaller the organism, the more abundant it will be. But a new study shows that the Sheldon spectrum no longer holds, and industrial fishing is to blame.

The History, Myths and Realities of BC’s Commercial Salmon Fisheries Closures / The Osprey
Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s Fisheries Advisor, Greg Taylor, reflects on the recently announced fishing closures, drawing on his more than 40 years experience working in the commercial fishing industry.

Ranchers say reclamation of fish habitat near McLean Creek does more harm than good / CBC News
The province has removed the only road to access grazing lease land in hopes a native trout species will flourish near McLean Creek, about 50 kilometres west of Calgary.

Scientists Are Running Out of Salmon to Study / Hacai Magazine
With west coast salmon populations withering, these researchers are heading for the Great Lakes.

Canada is failing our marine fisheries / Yahoo! News
Oceana Canada says that rebuilding plans for some fish stocks, including the iconic northern cod, have “significant flaws.”

Using the Sound of the Sea to Help Rebuild Ocean Habitats / Hacai Magazine
Playing recordings of a healthy ocean attracts animals to degraded habitats, suggesting that sound could be used to help restore marine ecosystems.


Concerns over contaminated floodwater, decaying animals from Sumas Prairie | CTV News
Deceased livestock, manure pits, oil spills and more are making B.C. flood waters toxic.

In a First, Alaska’s Arctic Waters Appear Poised for Dangerous Algal Blooms / Hacai Magazine
Climate change is bringing potentially deadly dinoflagellate blooms to the Far North, posing a new risk to food security.

2021 ACARE Annual Meeting Registration now open!
On December 7, 8 and 9, follow the Annual Meeting of over a hundred freshwater and large-lakes experts from African and globally. Learn all the latest from ACAR’s advisory groups spanning the seven African Great Lakes including recently created priorities and accomplishments.


Biological ‘treasure troves’ need mapping in marine protection plan / National Observer
A number of sites of exceptional biodiversity — well-known to the region’s First Nations but previously undocumented by science — have been identified along B.C.’s central coast and should be protected, a joint study suggests.

Swimming upstream: For B.C.’s Cowichan Tribes, life by the river fraught by climate change and a fight for return of their Chinook salmon tradition / The Star
Even though Chinook stocks have returned to historical levels, tribes are still being limited to catching a total of 200 fish for ceremonial purposes.

Mamalilikulla First Nation declares Lull Bay/Hoeya Sound an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area / Chek News
The declaration reflects the Mamalilikulla First Nation’s intent to take a primary role in planning, use, management and restoration of their traditional lands and waters and their desire to work with the provincial and federal governments in protecting and conserving the IPCA. “We’re not saying we cannot fish there. We’re not saying we cannot log there. What we’re saying is that we need to do it in a responsible way,” said John “Winidi” Powell, the Mamalilikulla’s Chief Councillor.

B.C. Study Shows Sustainable Management of Salmon Fishery Before Colonization / Vancouver Sun
Another research project shows what Indigenous communities have been saying all along. Hopefully this study will give Tsleil-Waututh more of a sy in how fisheries are managed in their territory. In recent years, Tsleil-Waututh members have chosen not to exercise their fishing rights in an effort to help rebuild declining salmon stocks. This is a huge sacrifice they have made for the benefit of salmon and people in the future.


Where Does the Tackle Industry Go From Here? / FishingWire
As 2021 draws to a close, now is a good time to reflect on the radical changes that the sportfishing industry is experiencing. Fishing equipment sales grew by nearly 55% overall in 2020. We know that fishing attracted millions of new participants during the pandemic, and that experienced anglers spent more time on the water than ever before. There’s also a lot of evidence that these trends have carried on well into 2021.

Nissan Trucks Responds to Trout Unlimited Criticism / Trout Unlimited
Over the past few years, you have likely heard me, TROUT magazine editor Kirk Deeter, and others rant against the absolutely boneheaded TV ads showing trucks and SUVs barreling up the middle of streams. During the baseball playoffs last month, there was one running from Nissan. So I sent them a letter asking Nissan to do the right thing and pull the ad. The company has since pulled the add, and provided Trout Unlimited with a much-appreciated contribution to support their work.


General Motors Buys Stake in Electric Boat Company / TechCrunch
General Motors said it has acquired a 25-percent stake in Pure Watercraft, the Seattle-based e-propulsion outfit for approximately $150 million.

Primer on Batteries for Boaters / FishingWire
For many boaters, batteries and electrical matters, in general, are not their strong suit. They feel more comfortable talking about horsepower, gallons per hour and top speed. But batteries aren’t going away and the more you know about them, the better your boat will be equipped to conduct its mission.

Boat Sales Slip Due to Supply Chain Problems / BoatLife
Boatbuilders and dealers are seemingly in the catbird seat. Demand continues to bludgeon supply, and customers are flocking to boat shows and dealerships, ready to buy whatever vessels are still in stock — or to preorder and wait until next season for a boat. But with supply-chain constraints continuing to dominate headlines and Covid-19 variants slowing the international flow of goods, there is no discernable path to a return to normalcy.

The Future of Boating Is in Sustainable Energy BoatTest
Last week BoatTEST sent a crew to Amsterdam to visit the annual METSTRADE Marine Equipment Show. This year’s show unmistakably pointed to a “sustainable” future. That means electric outboard motors, hybrid diesel and electric inboard drive systems, a move to high energy-density Lithium-ion batteries and a move away from oil-based products wherever possible.

Podcast: “Social FISHtancing”
COVID-19 is having a significant impact on North America’s seafood economy, which is more globalized than it has ever been. Fishers, however, are scrambling to respond, adapt and share lessons with each other. Community-supported fisheries may be the ones most ready to weather this difficult time.

Video: Newfoundland / Labrador Government Releases Results of Hook & Release Study / ASF
An excellent study on hook & release Atlantic salmon angling was made public this week. Check out the short video of the results and download the report.

Documentary Short: Resilient Waters
This short film explores the thousands of kilometres of salmon habitat in the lower Fraser currently blocked to fish passage by obsolete flood controls. Join us on December 15 at 7pm Pacific for the premiere screening of Resilient Waters.


Webinar: Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas: What Does That Mean and What Could That Look Like?
This is the fourth event in the Latornell #ConservationMatters Webinar Series. To watch the webinar visit the Latornell Webinar webpage.

Special Feature – Buy your Seafood from Canada’s Artisnal Fishers Direct

The Local Catch Network (LCN) is a community-of-practice made up of seafood harvesters, technical assistance providers, organizers, and researchers from across North America who are committed to strengthening local and regional seafood systems through community supported fisheries and direct seafood marketing. The following are two Canadian community supported fisheries listed on

Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery
Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery has been accomplishing powerful social, economic, and environmental change for over 13 years now. They are building a new kind of seafood system – one that works for fishing families, seafood lovers, and our marine ecosystems. New members can purchase their share of the 2022 catch during the holiday season, and enjoy seafood for all of next year! Gift memberships and cards are also available. In-person pick up Canada-wide.

Organic Ocean Seafood Inc.
Located in British Columbia, Organic Ocean has designed a Holiday Entertainment Pack focused on premium, locally caught seafood items to make entertaining a breeze. Organic Ocean also offers gift cards and a special promotion (gift card and cook book from their Chief Culinary Officer) this holiday season. Shipping within Canada or local delivery/in-person pick up in Vancouver, BC.

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