Blue Fish News – January 9, 2023

In the Jan 9, 2023 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with an editorial on a new report that assigns responsibility to anglers for spreading invasive species. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, Habitat and other news you need to know.

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther’s truck and boat at the launch.

This Week’s Feature – Tracking Invasive Species with Fishbrain

By Lawrence Gunther

Like most, my knowledge of how invasive species spread is based on two well-known sources, the first being the ballast of container ships entering the Great Lakes, and the second being the escape of Asian carp into the Mississippi River. Both stories underscore how easily we reconfigure nature by failing to anticipate what we all now know to be obvious risks. Yes, ships that take on ballast water in one part of the world and release it in another transmit life along with the water. Over 185 non-native species introduced into the Great Lakes and counting. And of course, when you introduce a foreign species of fish into an ecosystem as a means of addressing water clarity issues or excessive weed growth, and then those ponds overflow during extreme storm events, these hostage pond cleaning “solutions” will most certainly move on to find other habitat, and in this case it’s the Mississippi River all the way up to and now very likely including the Great Lakes. It’s all to easy to point fingers at the sheer stupidity or willing ignorance of those who decided to set these invasions in motion, but now we have a new culprit to add to the list and, it’s us anglers.

Alright, I’m not announcing anything that others such as the experts at the Invasive Species Centre haven’t already revealed. People are now moving invasive species around with their boats, trailers, kayaks, minnow buckets, waders and boots. Our movement from one water body to another is giving a free ride to tiny life forms, whether plant or animal, to new yet to be adulterated watersheds. A claim that’s simple enough conceptually, but how do we know the extent to which this form of conveyance is reshaping ecosystems? After all, much of what is being claimed is difficult at best to be observed with the naked eye. Well, now we have proof.

Jessica (Jit) Weir, a researcher with Ball State University, has teamed up with the folks at the Fishbrain app company to do some CSI type investigating and the results are disturbing. Fishbrain has over 14 million anglers who allow their fishing destinations to be tracked using the GPS on their smartphones. I’m not talking about their favourite fishing spots, that’s another story, but simply the lakes and rivers that they fish and when. Through a bit of clever computer programming Weir was able to draw lines between where each individual angler fished and then where they fished next several days later. She was especially interested in those anglers who live near and fish bodies of water known to host invasive species. Over 250,000 anglers unknowingly participated in the research, and over 4-million points of interest were used to connect the dots. Link below to watch my interview with Jessica Weir on Blue Fish Canada’s YouTube channel – you will be amazed by the maps she’s created using the Fishbrain data:

What we learn from Weir’s research is that anglers are now definitely the ones responsible for spreading invasive species. The travel maps the data generated, and were then overlayed on digital road maps, show conclusively that the spread of invasive species from one lake or river to another correlates with the movement of anglers. Not necessarily at the granular level of the individual angler, but at the macro level where known large scale invasions have been documented. Invasions that can’t be blamed on container ships because there wasn’t any, or by rivers because these are different watersheds. And to be fair, pleasure boaters are also to blame, but let’s be honest, most pleasure boaters aren’t travelling to different lakes nearly as much as anglers.

I know many of you are probably experiencing the hair on the back of your necks standing up just thinking about “big brother” tracking your movements. I agree, it’s unnerving, but name me a social media tool that isn’t tracking your movement and then passing on the details to others who are using the data for one purpose or another. The fact is, most of us risk manage our privacy only to a degree since most of us are curious how business and researchers are going to use the data to improve our lives, or in this case, safeguard native life and nature itself. It’s why I also asked Nate Roman, Partnership Manager with Fishbrain to be part of the interview to discuss how and when researchers like Weir are permitted to come in the back door and snoop around the Fishbrain database. Hey, if keeping others from knowing where you are is important to you, good luck because just about everything we do now leaves a digital trail. You would have to walk everywhere and leave your phone and credit cards at home if you wanted to be completely untraceable, and now with cameras popping up everywhere make sure you cover your face too. We cover this all in the interview, but that’s not what this editorial is about.

Look, these new rules being rolled out about checking, draining, and rinsing your boat and trailer before leaving the boat launch weren’t dreamed up by some overly fastidious clean freak. This is for real – just as real as the Asian carp about to transform Great Lake ecosystems yet again. It’s now us that are the problem. No wonder that cottage lake associations are becoming increasingly aggressive about closing public boat launches or finding other ways to deter outsiders from accessing their lakes.

Face facts, 80% of us live in urban areas, and many of us fish both local and rural bodies of water. Many of us are the same people calling for stronger measures to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes. It just makes sense that we would also hold ourselves to this same level of commitment to prevent the spread of any potentially destructive life form from invading new habitat. So, before you get sidetracked on whether or not Fishbrain should be opening up their data to researchers, remember this, it’s by studying catch logs that we regulate fisheries, so why shouldn’t we be safeguarding these same fisheries by examining our collective movements? Better we get 100% on board with measures to prevent our spreading invasive species, than to have the door slammed in our faces by angry cottage associations or local governments looking to protect the interests of their residents.

The report Weir produced using Fishbrain data is a wake-up call for anglers who like to travel to different bodies of water. It’s up to us now to take this seriously, or it will be us who people blame in ten or twenty years for ruining all those lakes and rivers that we drive to on the weekends.

And then what, people who live in the country will become the next wave of spreaders as they too transport invasive species still further into the wilderness? Where will it stop – it’s now in our hands…

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Winter Fish Fest 2023 / CFN
Canadian Fishing Network is teaming up with Angler’s Atlas to run the Winter Fish Fest using the My Catch app in addition to offering a Facebook option. Log on (or create an account on Angler’s Atlas, read the full rules, download the latest version of the MyCatch mobile app (available for iOS and Android), and submit each fish using the MyCatch mobile app.

Clam Outdoors Trap Attack / Clam
The Clam Outdoors Trap Attack Virtual Ice Fishing Tournament, hosted through the FishDonkey App, is back Jan 21-22! The Trap Attack is meant to give ice anglers an opportunity to get out on the ice and compete for a chance to win some amazing prizes. Last year over 600 anglers participated in the tournament all across the United States and Canada.

Gord Pyzer’s 50 all-time greatest Canadian fishing hot spots / Outdoor Canada
To commemorate Outdoor Canada’s golden anniversary, the Magazine’s long-time fishing editor Gord Pyzer shares his 50 favourite places across the land to wet a line.

Union critical of Ottawa’s plan to buy back Pacific salmon licences / CTV
The union representing British Columbia fishermen says a plan by the federal government to buy back commercial salmon fishing licences is underfunded, lacks transparency and doesn’t address the investments made by harvesters.

What challenges—and successes—will the next 50 years bring for hunters and anglers? That’s up to us / Outdoor Canada
What will the next 50 years bring? It’s unlikely crystal balls have improved any in the last half-century, but it’s a question worth pondering. After all, tomorrow’s hunting and fishing opportunities will almost certainly be determined by the choices we make, or avoid, today. Things of seemingly small consequence now may eventually prove to be critically important, setting us up for new conservation successes. Or failures. That’s the lesson history teaches, for those willing to learn.


John Palmore leads project to deter carp with sound / Virginia Tech
How do you stop an army of carp from invading the Great Lakes? Two Virginia Tech researchers are joining an effort to put up a defensive barrier made of sound waves.

B.C. salmon returns and fisheries 2022 season recap / Watershed Watch
Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s senior fisheries advisor, Greg Taylor, provides an update on salmon returns and fisheries in 2022.

Is road salt hurting salmon? UBC and volunteers are investigating / Weather Network
With Pacific salmon population numbers dwindling, could road salt be contributing to the decline? The University of British Columbia has teamed up with volunteer groups to find out definitively.

Why it’s time to put sustainable fish on the menu / Forbes
Nearly a third of all monitored global fish stocks are overfished, and almost two-thirds (60 per cent) are being fished to the maximum sustainable yield.

Green light for $100 million fish farm on former Gold River pulp mill site / Business Examiner
The Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has granted an Aquaculture Permit for Gold River Aquafarms, which has plans to develop a $100 million land-based steelhead fish farm.


Canada made big promises at COP15. Will it follow through? / Narwhal
196 countries set new global targets to stop the biodiversity crisis. The test now is to put words into action.

Cop15 in Montreal: did the summit deliver for the natural world? / Guardian
This past Monday, the Convention on Biological Diversity concluded in Montreal, Quebec with a global commitment to protect 30 percent of land and sea by 2030, while respecting Indigenous rights. The United States, the only country besides the Vatican that isn’t a member of the convention, made a similar 30 by 30 pledge and is about to ban the buying and selling of shark fins. While many people applauded the final text around Indigenous territories, language in other sections from consumption to plastic was watered down. (The Guardian)

How microplastic kills plankton. / The Slate Group
Plastic has become so pervasive that even tiny plankton are ingesting it. And since marine creatures from fish to whales eat plankton, plastic is harming species all the way up the food chain. New research shows that sea urchin larvae don’t even have to eat plastic to die from developmental problems; they just have to be reared in waters containing it.

Scientists: atmospheric carbon might turn lakes more acidic / Castanet
The Great Lakes have endured a lot the past century, from supersized algae blobs to invasive mussels and bloodsucking sea lamprey that nearly wiped out fish populations.

Climate change: rivers and lakes need better protection, says report / Phys
The effects of climate change are increasingly affecting rivers and lakes and threatening the ecological balance in these waters. Adaptation measures are needed. However, in order to implement them in a targeted manner, more knowledge is needed about the complex interactions in aquatic ecosystems.

PFAS Are Everywhere / Siera Club
Some of the most hazardous chemicals to human health and the environment are in just about everything we purchase and consume, whether it’s personal-care products, food packaging, cookware, or clothes. Known as PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are commonly used to make surfaces nonstick and resistant to water and grease. PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, do not naturally degrade. They are found in the blood of 99 percent of Americans. And there’s no way to remove them from our bodies.


Behind the long wait for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas / Narwhal
Canada needs to protect more land. There’s 500,000 square kilometres in proposed Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas. So what’s the holdup?

Tribes seek U.S. help to curb Canadian mining threats to Northwestern states / Bonner County Daily Bee
Indigenous leaders from the Northwest renewed their call this week for the federal government to pressure Canada to stop additional mining activity in British Columbia, which they say contaminates waters and threatens Native American ways of life in Alaska, Montana and Idaho.


EFTTA Board member: Angling could become a dying activity if we don’t lobby the EU / Angling International
European Fishing Tackle Trade Association member Gerard Bakkenes is under no illusions as to the importance of lobbying for the future of recreational fishing. EFTTA, which is based in Brussels and represents the industry at the highest echelons of the EU, has this week reiterated its resolve to fight for the sport. And Bakkenes (left) has told Angling International: “Without lobbying angling could become a dying activity. It is crucial to the survival of the sport.


Brunswick Launches New Electric Boat Brand / Brunswick Marine
Veer is an all-new boat brand designed to support electric propulsion and appeal to the next generation of boaters.


“Managing to Zero – The Thompson Steelhead Travesty”
Read author Bob Hooton’s latest book “Managing to Zero – The Thompson Steelhead Travesty”. Once a fishing bucket list experience that brought anglers to B.C. from around the world, Their slow but now surely immanent demise has been excruciating to witness. Bob Hooton, a retired fish biologist, explores how such a world-famous fish has been reduced to the point of near extinction, and the politics responsible for this preventable disaster. You can order your copy now from Amazon.


Blue Fish Radio: IGFA’s new youth fishing program is coming to Canada
In this episode of Blue Fish Radio, producer/host Lawrence Gunther talks to Lisa Morse (above left), Education Programs Manager with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). With Lisa’s support, Blue Fish Canada is the first Canadian partner chosen to help deliver IGFA’s Passports to Fishing program for youth, their families and mentors. Lawrence and Lisa discuss this exciting youth program—which includes education on conservation, stewardship and safety, as well as angling skills—and the importance of growing interest in sport fishing.
To listen to the episode now, press PLAY below. To download this podcast to your device, go to the Blue Fish Radio home page. Play episode IGFA Global Partners Deliver Youth Programming


PFAS Are Everywhere. We Need Systems Change to Fix That. / Sierra Club
This year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that there is virtually no safe level of PFAS in drinking water. Even so, the federal government has still not established limits for PFAS in water, food, or consumer products, leaving states to set their own. Some organizations look to Denmark’s PFAS threshold: no more than 20 parts per million in paper foodware. Fortunately, there is momentum for change in the US. Some states have banned PFAS in products such as food packaging, cosmetics, textiles, and carpets. And thanks to a raft of new studies, we now know a lot more about what products are safer than others.

Coming Up:

Little Program, BIG Responsibility!
Overland transportation of watercraft between waterbodies is one of the most notorious pathways responsible for the accidental spread of harmful aquatic invasive species across North America. Saskatchewan’s mandatory Watercraft Inspection Stations are fundamental to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. On Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023 join the Saskatchewan Aquatic Invasive Species team to learn about the “6 W’s” of watercraft inspection and get a behind the scenes look at how Saskatchewan manages it’s watercraft inspection program.

Registration is Now Open for 2023 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
This year’s Invasive Species Forum theme is Invasive Species Action in a Changing Climate. The February 7-9 Forum presents the opportunity to learn from a variety of dedicated sessions including Ecosystem Resilience; Vectors, Pathways, & Threats; Indigenous Communities; and more.

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