Blue Fish News – January 31, 2022

In the January 31st, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a report on what anglers can expect from fishing app manufacturers. 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 Guest Feature selected to inform and inspire our readers offers tips on why and how to use VHF radios.

This Week’s Feature – Secret Spots and Angler Apps

Blue Fish Canada recently organized and co-hosted a panel discussion on angler apps that was viewed live by over 280 interested anglers. The one-hour program included short presentations from five panelists from across Canada, and 30-minutes of Q&A with audience members. The panelists included the founder of the My Catch angler app, two of Canada’s top virtual angler tournament organizers, and two leading scientists who are drawing on data collected by the My Catch app. You can watch a recording of the live presentation on Blue Fish Canada’s YouTube channel: Anglers & Scientists: Panel Discussion.

A crucial part of the presentation occurred when panelists discussed what data is being collected and who exactly has access to the data afterwards. What we learned is that it depends. As anglers, are you satisfied with how your closely guarded fishing hotspots are being kept secret? You decide.

I’m not claiming to be an expert about angler apps on the market, but it would seem they all share at least one common attribute – they all collect geo-spatial data specific to your fishing activity. They know where you fish (GPS), and how much time you spent actually fishing. If you are recording your fish catches in real time, it goes without saying that data exists representing when and where you caught each and every fish you record – one fish over here, and ten fish somewhere else. These apps are designed to track and store this data for a number of reasons.

In the case of tournaments, organizers of the event need to know that the fish your submitting during the competition were actually caught during the competition on approved water bodies. In the case of tracking fishing pressure or fish abundance, researchers need to know where and how many fish are being caught on specific bodies of water, and if possible, roughly whereabouts these fish are or are not being caught. For a researcher or conservationist interested in tracking sightings of invasive species, it helps to know exactly where invasive species are caught or sighted. Now, if your someone interested in knowing where a highly revered angler goes to catch their “trophy” fish, it’s highly unlikely that a fishing app operator or any of those involved with organizing fishing tournaments, monitoring fish stocks, or tracking invasive species, are going to hand over this type of data – and that assumes they even have access to this level of granularity. Everyone knows that aiding an angler to “poach” another angler’s spot is absolutely not cool.

What is cool, is making available data that can win you a tournament. Or, contributing to data that will aid researchers and angling organizations to advocate for strong angler access to a specific body of water. And, when it comes to invasive species, we all want to know the current state of our favorite river or lake. All this depends on data that needs recreational anglers and indigenous fishers to collect. For now, researchers and fishery regulators have only sample netting, creel surveys, and eye-witness reports to go by.

I recently asked a representative of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission if they could break down their estimated $8-billion annual value of fishing on the Great Lakes. They have no problem providing exact data when it comes to the $250-million worth of fish caught each year commercially, but when it comes to explaining how the remaining $7,750,000 dollar value assigned to recreational anglers and indigenous fishers breaks down, the only thing they could say is that this amount is what anglers and fishers spend each year to fish on the Great Lakes. They have no clear idea of the number, size and species of fish recreational anglers and indigenous fishers catch, return or harvest each year. They admitted, that knowing the true value of fish being caught by non-commercial fishers would seriously dwarf the value of Great Lakes commercial fisheries. Can you imagine what this knowledge could mean in terms of the importance that would be assigned to recreational and indigenous fisheries – it would be immense.

Anglers now have the tools needed to put fishing on the map once and for all. We finally have a means to demonstrate conclusively what we all already know – fishing is big – really big. Never mind fishing license sales, or that one time each year you let the person conducting a creel survey know how the fishing was that day, angler apps can capture this data each and every time you go fishing. It’s data that would tell us the number, species and size of fish being caught on a body of water – both returned alive and harvested. Data that could be used to assign an actual economic value to the fish we return and harvest.

All this to say, fears over people finding out where you caught an impressively huge fish pale in comparison to what we as citizen scientists can bring to the table using these sorts of automated fish capture tracking devices. Yes, it can be used to manage fishing pressure, but isn’t that vastly better than people making “precautionary” decisions about your ability to fish certain waters based on unsubstantiated assumptions?

If you want to know why a leading software entrepreneur decided to make developing the world’s most popular fishing app his next project, listen to my conversation with Johan Attby, founder and CEO of Fishbrain. Johan has raised $70 million in investment capital, employs over 125 full time staff, and has earned the trust of over 14-million anglers who have subscribed to the Fishbrain angler app. Link below to hear Johan Attby on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News


How a new app warns anglers about dangerous ice conditions / Outdoor Canada
Developed by Winnipeg’s NextGen Environmental Research Inc., the Ice Time app uses radar satellite imagery, unmanned drones and acoustic remote-sensing technology to make detailed maps of ice as it forms, strengthens and subsequently weakens on some of Canada’s most popular winter fisheries. This allows anglers to use their smart phone, tablet or home computer to see whether the ice is white, spongy and weak, or black, solid and strong.

Winter Fish Fest 2022 – RULES & REGISTRATION / CFN
Beginning February 1, 2022, take part in the free Canadian Fishing Network “Winter Fish Fest” organized by the Canadian Fishing Network. Goals include: promoting multi-species fishing in Canada, promote different bodies of water and fishing opportunities within Canada, teach kids how to fish and promote the sport to youth, support children’s charities, show how different types of fishing can be done even if you don’t own or have access to a full-fledge gas motored boat, and build a fishing community through CFN Fish Off online tournaments.

Towns compete for the title of “Ice Fishing Capital of Ontario / Anglers Atlas
An estimated $13,600 in prizes with more still to come! Twenty-two towns already signed up. Sign up today! Begins Feb 1.

Ontario Establishes Bait Management Zones / NDmNRF
The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF) announced that Ontario has established four Bait Management Zones (BMZs) to protect our lakes and rivers from invasive species and fish diseases. Effective January 1, 2022, baitfish or leeches (whether live or dead) must not be transported into or out of a BMZ.

To ensure a quick and safe release, use the finest hook cutters, by far, made by Knipex. Keep them in the boat to snip off the hooks after landing a big fish. This is especially important with muskies, since recent studies suggest they suffer from an over 30 per cent post-release mortality rate when handled in warm water. You can do it with one hand while you carefully control the fish with your other hand. Winter-time Lake Trout are delicate, so you want to get the hook out fast and the fish back into the water as quickly as possible. Snipping off hooks so effortlessly is safer for the angler as well, since you spend so little time with your hand close to both the fish and lure.

Hundreds denied fishing benefits in a move called unfair / Haida Gwaii Observer
More than 500 local fish harvesters have been denied Employment Insurance benefits for 2021, prompting Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Taylor Bachrach to call for action from the federal government.

Warming Ocean and Booming Squid Create New Fishing Opportunities in the Northwest / NOAA
Market squid have multiplied off the West Coast over the past two decades. They have increased especially from San Francisco north into Oregon and Washington in conjunction with warmer ocean waters in recent years, new research shows.


Open letter to Minister Murray and Premier Horgan / Smithers Interior News
“The Skeena angling community is extremely concerned that the iconic Skeena River Steelhead could follow the tragic downward spiral that devastated Interior Fraser River Steelhead stocks.”

How desert rainbowfish survive in Australia’s arid lands / Cosmos
A trip into central Australia involves packing your 4WD to the brim with survival gear, water and food. Yet fish have managed to persist in that parched landscape for thousands of years.

Holy Mackerel, Where’d You Go? / Hakai
A beloved fish with a rich history has become hard to find—will it rise again? A 2021 assessment by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) found that spawning-age stock was at the lowest level ever recorded, prompting a flurry of management measures, from a 50 percent reduction in quota for commercial harvesters to a catch limit on the recreational fishery—a first for a fishery that once had no maximum catch.

Look who’s talking now: the fishes / Cornell Chronicle
A new Cornell study finds that fish are far more likely to communicate with sound than generally thought – and some fish have been doing this for at least 155 million years.

The Oldest Living Aquarium Fish / FishingWire
Meet Methuselah, the fish that likes to eat fresh figs, get belly rubs and is believed to be the oldest fish in the world. Methuselah is a 4-foot-long (1.2-meter), 40-pound (18.1-kilogram) Australian lungfish that was brought to the San Francisco museum in 1938 from Australia. A primitive species with lungs and gills, Australian lungfish are believed to be the evolutionary link between fish and amphibians.

Salmon science expedition launching / Times Colonist
The largest scientific expedition ever launched to study salmon in the North Pacific during the winter is getting under way.

U.S. and Canadian Officials Focus on Risk Reduction and Protection Measures for Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales / NOAA
A recent meeting among U.S. and Canadian officials explored the conservation and protection of North Atlantic right whales. These collaborative, biannual meetings are critical to pressing forward to meet mutual goals.

Climate Change Is Shifting Tiger Shark Populations Northward / NOAA
A NOAA Fisheries study shows that tiger sharks are migrating into northern latitudes earlier and expanding their movements further north due to ocean warming. These changes leave them more vulnerable to fishing.


Insurmountable: The battle to bring a salmon run home / Canadian Geographic
In November 2018, 85,000 cubic meters of rock—equivalent to 750 double-decker buses—sheared off a cliff and blocked the Fraser River in British Columbia, a river that threads throughout the province and is central to its natural and cultural histories, especially in regards to salmon and all that are sustained by this keystone species. Efforts to restore the passage have faced a series of challenges—forest fires, floods, and, of course, a pandemic—but this past July around 79,000 salmon passed by the slide without having to be transported, bringing the salmon home.

How can B.C. share fish with Alaska? / Squamish Chief
By 2100, nearly half of the world’s shared fish stocks are expected to shift to neighbouring countries or international waters, says a new University of British Columbia study.

Debris from fishing and oyster farms lurks underwater, endangering sea life / Castanet
Abandoned oyster and other aquaculture farms off the west coast of Vancouver Island are a toxic and ¬tangled mess — and death traps to salmon, herring, marine mammals and myriad sea life.

Climate Change Puts Fish Stocks on the Move
Climate change will force 45% of the fish stocks that cross through two or more exclusive economic zones to shift. By 2030, 85% of the world’s EEZs will have seen a change in the amount of their transboundary catch that exceeds normal yearly variation.

Study Shows Peril of Europe’s Most Valuable Marine Species / Phys.Org
Over one quarter of Europe’s 20 most highly-fished marine species will be under extreme pressure by 2100 if nothing is done to simultaneously halt climate change, overfishing, and mercury pollution, according to a new UBC study.

Fish farms closure forces B.C. salmon processing plant out of business / National Observer
One of the largest farmed salmon producers operating in B.C. says it’s permanently closing its processing plant in Surrey, B.C., because of a federal government decision to phase out some fish farms.

Global conservation goals are insufficient to avoid mass extinction event / Globe and Mail
While protecting habitat is essential for conserving nature as a general principle, the report highlights the growing body of evidence that suggests that multiple, interlocking threats to global biodiversity need to be tackled in a more comprehensive and internationally collaborative way to rescue the planet from a human-caused mass extinction over the coming decades.

The next source of trouble for Great Lakes fish populations might be tires Great Lakes Now
Researchers in Ontario have discovered 6PPD-quinone in two Toronto waterways, the Don River and Highland Creek, both of which empty into Lake Ontario. 6PPD-quinone – is a breakdown product of another chemical added to car tires to prolong life. It was running off from road surfaces into creeks during rainstorms.

New salmon farm proposals for B.C. coast raise questions about Ottawa’s promised 2025 phase-out / Narwhal
A raft of proposals to expand open-net pen salmon farms on the B.C. coast, including a plan for a new salmon farm off the north-east coast of Vancouver Island, is raising questions about whether fish farming will really be phased out in the province or whether companies will find ways, such as partnerships with First Nations, to circumvent federal Liberal government pledges to remove open-net pen salmon farms from B.C. waters by 2025.

Being Frank: salmon recovery will take more than money / Sequim Gazette
The U.S. has never experienced so much political will and funding on the table for salmon habitat restoration and climate resilience. The Biden administration is working hard to pay the price for salmon recovery. The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill is just an example.

Canada is leaving communities in the dark about the risks and costs of climate disasters in Canada
A new report finds the federal government isn’t doing enough to act on or disclose detailed information about the growing hazards of a warming climate, including extreme temperatures, flood, fires, landslides and drought.

Great Lakes ice predictions / GLERL
The Great Lakes annual winter freeze got a slow start this winter, with ice coverage well below average according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). However, the recent deep-freeze has improved predictions for maximum ice coverage (estimated recently at only 12.3% of the lakes’ total surfaces) to something closer to the annual average. Find out how much that is, and what current predictions suggest, in the Jan.19/22 GLERL blog.

Why Imperial Metals surrendered its mining rights in B.C.’s Skagit headwaters
After the mining company accepted $24 million from a coalition of groups in exchange for releasing mineral claims to the province of B.C., conservationists and First Nations are celebrating the end of potential exploration in an area known as the Doughnut Hole, an anomaly of unprotected land about half the size of the city of Vancouver that is completely encircled by Manning and Skagit provincial parks


The biggest land use plan in the world: how Nunavut is putting mining and conservation on the map / Narwhal
In the works for 15 years, the territory’s plan will plot the future of 21 per cent of Canada’s land mass. And it’s almost ready — hopefully. the Nunavut land use plan, which will create a framework for the future of the territory, determining which types of development can happen and where, and outlining where environmental protection is a priority above all. Across Canada, land use plans tend to be developed on a regional basis, rather than province or territory-wide — making Nunavut’s all the more sprawling.

B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ over Alaskan salmon interceptions / Business in Vancouver
A B.C. First Nation is calling on the Canadian government to take action over reports Alaskan fishers are intercepting B.C.-bound salmon.

‘Dead’ derelict boats pulled from Goose Spit K’omoks First Nation harbour / My Comox Valley Now
The Dead Boat Disposal Society, an organization that removes sunken ships from the sea, will be removing 18 individual boats in the waters off Goose Spit.

Experts weigh in on why diversity matters in creating ‘authentic’ tourism experiences / Northern Ontario Business
Kevin Eshkawkogan has experienced first-hand how diversity in tourism can bring big rewards. In his 20 years in the tourism industry, the President and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) has seen growth in the demand for authentic, Indigenous-led experiences. Before the onset of the pandemic, Indigenous tourism contributed more than $600 million to the Canadian GDP, with the industry supporting 600 businesses and 13,000 jobs.


Northern Ontario Tourism Spring Training Week is coming up soon! / Destination Northern Ontario
On April 12 – 14, 2022, join Destination Northern Ontario and Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario for an up-to-date look at our industry and ‘just in time’ information sessions that can help you as you launch into the busy spring and summer tourism season. The event will be delivered virtually and registration is FREE to all industry partners.


Submit Ice Fishing Artwork for a Chance to Win Ice Fishing Gear in Alberta! / ACA
Entering is simple: have your child or another family member draw an ice fishing picture, fill out the form, and upload a photo of their artwork or a photo of them holding their artwork by February 4. Whether it is toddler scribbles or a masterpiece, we want to see it! 50 ice fishing prize packs are up for grabs!

Podcasts and Videos:

The Fishing Forward Podcast / Coastal Routes
The Coastal Routes Radio team is very excited to announce a *new* podcast for commercial fishermen! Join us in our debut of The Fishing Forward Podcast, a project of the Northeast Center of Occupational Health and Safety (NEC) with the Coastal Routes Radio team at the University of Guelph with collaboration from a large suite of partners.

The Freshwater Stream
In the first episode of season two, host Danielle Paydli talks to Watershed Watch’s Lina Azeez about the recent extreme flooding in B.C. and how we can best prepare ourselves to handle more of the same.


The Best of Two Worlds: Lessons for sustainability from Indigenous ecological knowledge and western science
From January 26 – February 23, 2022 every Wednesdays at 4:00pm, learn from western and Indigenous environmental professionals’ approaches to stewardship of the environment. Speakers (in order of weekly appearance) are Norman Yan; Susan Chiblow; Neil Hutchinson, Richard Nesbitt, Brenda Parlee & Caroline Coburn; David Pearson; and Henry Lickers. Learn more and register here: 2022 Invasive Species Forum
February 1-3, 2022 – The theme of the virtual forum is “Action, Innovation, and Outreach featuring speakers from around the world.

Calls to Action:

Fishery and conservation groups call for listing of endangered Interior Fraser River Steelhead under Canada’s Species at Risk Act / Watershed Watch
Fifteen fishery and conservation groups have written to Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister, Steven Guilbeault, and to Fisheries Minister, Joyce Murray, requesting they place endangered Interior Fraser River steelhead on Schedule 1 of Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Interior Fraser River steelhead were the object of a scandal in 2018 when bureaucrats at Fisheries and Oceans Canada unilaterally altered the conclusions of a multi-author scientific report the federal cabinet relied on in their controversial decision not to protect Fraser River steelhead under SARA.

Link to House of Commons e-petition

National Tick Awareness and Behaviour Study – Hunters, Trappers, and Anglers Questionnaire Survey
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is conducting a study concerning prevention strategies and awareness of ticks and tick-borne illness. Part of this study involves a survey of anglers, hunters, and trappers to gain specific perspectives and information on the level of awareness of tick-borne diseases that affect humans and/or hunting dogs. The findings will ultimately be used to inform and develop future tick awareness campaigns.

Coming Up:

Toronto Sportsman Show
Get your tickets now for the Toronto Sportsmen Show taking place March 17-20, at The International Centre! Trusted in Ontario for over 70 years, this is the place to get excited, inspired, and outfitted for the great outdoors. With an expanded selection of products from fishing and hunting to boating, powersports and more – there is something for everyone!

Special Guest Feature – How to Use a VHF Radio

Mercury Dockline

We all have cellphones these days, and they help us stay in touch with the wider world. Yet, cell service can often be unreliable on the water. Especially for those who head deep into the backcountry or far out into a bay or ocean, phones simply can’t always be counted on in case of an emergency. Plus, cellphones are at risk of drops to the deck and water damage, so even if you stay within cell range you should include a backup form of communication in your boating safety plan. For that, a VHF radio is the hands-down most reliable way to call for assistance when you’re on a boat.

Using a VHF is very simple. Turn the radio on, tune the radio to the appropriate channel (see below), turn the squelch knob up until you hear constant static, then turn it down to the point where the static stops. Hold the microphone 2-3 inches from your mouth and depress the transmit button, wait a second, then speak slowly and clearly.

Choosing the Proper VHF Channel:

Channel 16 is used to call the Canadian Coast Guard for help. It’s against the law to use channel 16 for “superfluous communication,” general calls or when your boat is on land.

Channel 16 and channel 9 can be used to establish initial communications with other boats before switching to a different channel like channels 68, 69, 71 and 72 – used For general communication between any boats.

Channels 1, 7, 11, 18, 19, 63, 67, 79 and 80 – Working channels for commercial vessels only.

W1 through W10 – For receiving weather broadcasts.

Channel 13 – For “bridge-to-bridge” navigational communication between two vessels.

Choosing the Best VHF Radio:

All marine VHF radios are built to certain specifications, so even inexpensive models offer the same baseline performance. More expensive models add perks such as built-in hailers, channel scanning abilities, wireless microphones and more.

Digital Selective Calling: Fixed-mount marine VHF radios have something called Digital Selective Calling (DSC) built in. To make DSC ready to use (called “active” DSC), you need to register your radio, get a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number and program that number into your radio. With active DSC, you can press an emergency SOS button on the face of the radio, and it will immediately send a distress signal, including your identity and GPS location, to the U.S. Coast Guard. For this to work, however, your radio must either have integrated GPS or be wired to your chartplotter as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remember, the Coast Guard is always monitoring channel 16. If you ever have an emergency out on the water, your marine VHF radio will be the fastest, most reliable way to call for help.

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