Blue Fish News – July 10, 2023

What’s new at Blue Fish Canada: On July 3, the first of six weeks of Ottawa Fish School got underway, and Blue Fish Canada is once again proud to be part of this urban youth outreach initiative. Editor and BFC President Lawrence Gunther is also pleased to be part of two new initiatives, including the Upper St. Lawrence Steering Committee responsible for developing a new River Strategy framework. We have more stakeholder interviews planned for those involved with Lake Ontario’s eastern basin fisheries, and have been invited by Parks Canada to tour Atlantic Salmon restoration initiatives underway in New Brunswick. We also have some exciting news regarding an off-grid youth engagement and research initiative  Blue Fish Canada is in the process of planning – stay tuned…. With so much going on, it’s all hands on deck this summer, which means the Blue Fish Newsletter will be taking a one month break. But no fear, episodes of The Blue Fish Radio Show will continue to be released!

Photo of Mohawk youth and editor Lawrence Gunther on the shore of the Upper St. Lawrence River

This Week’s Feature – Sending the Right Message

By Lawrence Gunther

I recently received a call from an angler who organizes annual youth fishing events in his community. He was hoping I could provide advice on how best to secure charitable registration status. I was curious why he thought becoming a registered charity would improve the quality of his program, and if he had considered other avenues such as registering as a non-profit, or turning his passion for fishing into a business.

To be clear, teaching kids to fish is not a specific objective of Blue Fish Canada. We recognized that there are plenty of terrific events being organized and held across Canada meant to introduce fishing to youth, and that’s great. We have no intention of trying to “compete” with the efforts of all those anglers who organize and volunteer for these types of events. The mission of Blue Fish Canada is “the future of fish and fishing”, and if this indirectly attracts young people to try fishing, that’s great, but our purpose is to help make sure those new to fishing or those who mentor such “newbies” are also taking into consideration sustainability, conservation, fish health and habitat, water quality, and more.

Contrary to popular belief, fishing isn’t always fun, which is why kids trying out fishing for the first time need people who know how to fish to make sure they have a positive experience. Kids that spend hours on a boat trolling unsuccessfully for some elusive fish are likely not going to want to go fishing again. Younger kids need to experience steady fishing success, which is why panfish are a popular choice among those organizing fishing events for anyone trying fishing for the first time. It’s what comes later when Blue Fish Canada programs come into play.

In the case of the person who contacted me, they told me their charity registration application to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) was denied. He was told CRA does not consider teaching people a sport to be a “charitable activity”. Learning any sport can be a positive part of anyone’s development, but I’m guessing that CRA feels that it’s not necessarily something that will make the world a better place and deserving of special tax status. Maybe not, but the sport fishing industry is certainly interested in recruiting new people to the sport.

The number of people who fish recreationally in Canada has been on a downward trajectory for years now as baby boomers enter their senior years. With disability rates among people over 65 hovering around 40%, (mainly back and knee issues), it’s understandable that some seniors may find it necessary to scale back on their outdoor adventures. Naturally, the sport fishing industry is concerned about the steady reduction in the number of people who fish, a trend that seems to have been reversed just recently due to COVID.

The sport fishing industry is very keen on supporting anglers to introduce people to fishing. They have also figured out that kids that learn to fish are far more likely to consider themselves as life-long anglers than are people who learn to fish later in life. Unlike many sports, people who learn to fish as kids often continue to fish their entire adult lives, that’s quite the customer profile.

Sports organizations often seek registration as non-profits, a process that is considerably less complicated and expensive than registering as a charity. The benefits of registering as a non-profit include setting up systems and acquiring equipment so that individuals or teams don’t have to incur these expenses on their own. Non-profits also involve boards of directors who can help oversee the activities of the organization so that mistakes aren’t made resulting in people getting hurt, or equipment or money going missing. Of course, none of this means making a profit by organizing fishing events is a bad thing.

Fishing guides organize fishing trips for clients for a fee, as do fishing lodges and outfitters. Lots of private schools make money teaching kids. It makes sense then that people who want to build a business around teaching kids to fish is no different than programs like hockey school in the summer, or hiring a coach to train a group of athletes. Just to be clear, Blue Fish Canada programs are either free or provided on a cost-recovery basis.

Blue Fish Canada applauds people and companies who donate their time and resources to organize fishing events for kids and their families. We think it’s great that anglers are interested in sharing their knowledge by forming or joining fishing clubs, or on-line forums or groups. We are also proud of those who have managed to turn their love of fishing into a successful business. Many competitive fishing clubs also include a conservation focus in their mandate and activities. Without doubt, there are lots of terrific people and fishing companies and organizations out there who care about the resource.

Blue Fish Canada seeks to gather local and traditional knowledge, the latest science-based fishing and fish research, and to find ways to organize and facilitate the sharing of this information. Our podcasts, newsletter, websites, videos and documentaries, seminars and articles, and instructional material are a few of the ways we facilitate this movement of information. Leading on important fish health issues is another, as is supporting fishery and fish habitat research. Training, assessing and certifying those involved in the fishing industry is still another.

With six million fishing licenses sold in Canada each year, and countless others who fish license free as youth and seniors, it’s more important than ever to make sure we are doing it right. This includes making it the common goal among people involved with fishing to inform and inspire anglers to take on responsibility for the health of fish stocks and their habitat.

Local champions who organize fishing events for youth / families need to include the message that fishing is more than just catching many or big fish, it’s also about giving back so nature too benefits from these newly “minted” outdoor enthusiasts. Thankfully, Blue Fish Canada isn’t alone in getting this message out. Increasingly, those in the fishing industry who support local initiatives are asking that messages about conservation be part of events being sponsored. They understand that not only is the future of fish and fishing dependent on teaching conservation, skipping this important topic delivers an incomplete or misleading message. In short, people new to angling need to know that fishing includes caring about fish health — a message the public also expects to hear.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


2020 fishing survey results revealed / Ontario Out Of Doors
The latest version of Ontario’s recreational fishing survey has been released. The survey, conducted every five years since 1975, provides a comprehensive perspective on angling in Ontario. There were 795,733 active anglers in Ontario, spending $1,618,217,000 in 2020, a number down due to border closures during the pandemic. Ice anglers spent 13,366,413 days on the hard water, and walleye was the most popular fish pursued during both open water and when ice fishing.

Can you catch a Tagged Walleye? / Anglers Atlas
From July 1 to Sep 4, 2023, anglers on Lake Nipissing can participate in a new Tag Challenge. It’s free to enter. The first tagged fish reported earns the angler a $500 cash prize. In the spring of 2023, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry tagged nearly 1,000 walleye in Lake Nipissing, and are encouraging anglers to report tagged fish. This is part of ongoing efforts within the Ministry to explore new methods of engaging anglers in support of fisheries research, management and conservation.

Marine Sanctuary on Lake Erie Likely Won’t Impact Fishing / NPAA
The proposed Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary would encompass approximately 740 square miles of Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie waters, from the shoreline to the Canadian border. Approximately 75 miles of the proposed sanctuary shoreline would be in Erie County. NOAA’s Marine Sanctuary page says this: “The majority of the collective waters in national marine sanctuaries are open to recreational fishing, providing opportunities for anglers of all ages and fostering a sense of responsibility.


Types of Bass: A Species Quick Guide / Field and Stream
There are more than 20 different types of bass, some of which are not even called by that name. So, when someone says they’re going bass fishing, what they mean can be very different depending on where they live and whether they’re fishing freshwater or salt.

Seeking a safe place for one of Canada’s most endangered freshwater fish / CBC
Last week, a final batch of 30 tagged Atlantic whitefish were released in the Petite Rivière system behind the town of Bridgewater on the province’s South Shore. The effort to save one of Canada’s most endangered freshwater fish now involves electronic tracking of specimens bred in captivity and released into the Nova Scotia watershed that holds the world’s only remaining wild population

Catching Canadian Shield smallmouth / Ontario Out of Doors
Ontario is loaded with lakes teeming with smallmouth bass, a species that only seems to be increasing in number, providing most anglers with incredible opportunities to catch these hard-fighting sport fish in the lakes that dot the Canadian Shield.

Trout in Lake Ontario tagged, tracked with hopes of resolving a fishy mystery / NNY 360
OSWEGO — A binational study involving researchers in the U.S. and Canada hopes to uncover a mystery involving the trout of Lake Ontario. To help unlock why the fish don’t seem to keep up their numbers past the egg stage, Mr. Gatch is one of the researchers from five agencies who spent time this past spring putting tags on lake trout after they were caught.

It’s Getting Harder for Fish in the Sea to Breathe / Yale E360
“It’s monstrous,” says University of British Columbia fisheries researcher Daniel Pauly of the explosion in numbers of ombay duck, a long, slim fish with a distinctive, gaping jaw and a texture like jelly. When research ships trawl the seafloor off that coast, they now catch upwards of 440 pounds of the gelatinous fish per hour — a more than tenfold increase over a decade ago. The reason for this mass invasion, says Pauly, is extremely low oxygen levels in these polluted waters. Fish species that can’t cope with less oxygen have fled, while the Bombay duck, part of a small subset of species that is physiologically better able to deal with less oxygen, has moved in. The reason for this mass invasion, says Pauly, is extremely low oxygen levels in these polluted waters. Fish species that can’t cope with less oxygen have fled, while the Bombay duck, part of a small subset of species that is physiologically better able to deal with less oxygen, has moved in.


Bloodsucking Sea Lampreys Are Biting Back in America’s Great Lakes / ScienceAlert
Between 2020 and 2021, the COVID–19 pandemic and ensuing travel restrictions interrupted the agencies’ ability to go out and perform some of the population management operations. Now, fishery managers say the population of the parasitic fish has ticked up across the Great Lakes, The Wall Street Journal reported. It’s unclear how much the population exactly increased, but according to a 2022 report from Undark Magazine, a nonprofit science publication, crews responsible for population control were only able to treat about 25 percent of the target streams in 2020. The following year, the teams reached 75 percent of their targets, the publication reported.

Water flow in Alberta is ‘exceptionally low’ this year and could pose challenges for fish / CBC
In Alberta, June typically brings high levels of rain, which hasn’t been the case this year. Snowpacks also disappeared, on average, about a month earlier than they would have in a normal year, according to Paul Christensen, a senior fisheries biologist with Alberta Environment and Protected Areas. The big question is what this means long-term for the fish. If these conditions become a “new normal,” it would influence spring spawning trout like cutthroat trout that are motivated by temperature and higher flows, Fitch said.

Boom! Detecting gregarious goliath groupers using their low-frequency pulse sounds / Science Daily
From growls to booms, whales, fish and crustaceans all produce sounds. Selecting the gregarious Goliath grouper, researchers deployed a novel automated detector and localization model to find underwater marine organisms using their low-frequency pulse sounds. Although passive acoustics has shed light on fish habitat preference as well as their movements, no studies have been able to illustrate their detailed behavior, until now. Classifying sounds produced by fish will help to understand how they respond to environmental changes and anthropogenic disturbances.

A single chemical is decimating salmon populations / La Grande Observer
It’s been over two years since the cause of a strange and devastating die-off of Pacific coho salmon was uncovered by clever scientific research.

Harmful Algal Bloom Season Has Started on Lake Erie / Great Lakes Now
The formation of harmful algal blooms in some parts of Lake Erie is occurring earlier in the season than usual. Although the size of harmful algal blooms (HAB) on Lake Erie are expected to be smaller than average for 2023, a smaller HAB does not mean it is less toxic or poses less of a risk. Smaller blooms may have a higher concentration of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, that are capable of producing microcystin, a known liver toxin. HABs are caused by excess nutrients, especially phosphorus, flowing into Lake Erie, with Agriculture continuing to be the primary source of phosphorus. While both the U.S. and Canadian governments as well as Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario have made repeated commitments to reduce the phosphorus levels by 40% by 2025, there has been little reported progress towards this goal.

Canada Will Start Regulating ‘Forever Chemicals / Tyee
Canada takes its first bold step to regulate the production and use of a large group of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a family of environmentally persistent and toxic chemical compounds. These chemicals are found in food packaging, waterproof cosmetics, non-stick pans, stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, paints and firefighting foams. The Canadian government released a report detailing the risks of PFAS exposure and potential management options. This report, which advocates for the regulation of the thousands of PFAS as a whole, will directly influence future regulations and policies surrounding their production and use. This contrasts to previous policy initiatives that targeted PFAS individually.

Marine Protected Areas, Explained / Hakai
In Canada, three federal departments—Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Parks Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada—along with the provinces, territories, and private conservation groups, are responsible for creating 31 different types of MPAs and OECMs.

U.S. Fishery Management Council Report Finds More than 72% of Federal Waters Classified as “Conservation Areas” / FishingWire
The nation’s eight regional fishery management councils (Councils) have released a first-ever synthesis of conservation areas in federal waters of the United States. The report, titled An Evaluation of Conservation Areas in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, identifies hundreds of conservation areas covering nearly three quarters of federal waters. These findings demonstrate that a large portion of federal waters are protected from fishing activities that could negatively impact the environment. According to the report, bottom trawling is prohibited in over half of U.S. federal waters. The U.S. effectively demonstrates how the Councils’ fishery management measures directly result in improved conservation outcomes that benefit sustainable fisheries, other marine species, and habitats.


Meet the Listuguj Rangers, protecting Mi’kmaw fishing rights on the Restigouche / CBC
The Listuguj Rangers emerged out of the community’s long-fight to protect its ancestral fishing rights. The program is now expanding and is being looked to as a model of Indigenous-led fisheries management. In 2021, 40 years after the raids, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reached an agreement with Listuguj officially recognizing the role of the rangers and upholding the treaty right for moderate livelihood fisheries.

How First Nations Are Asserting Sovereignty Over Their Lands and Waters / Tyee
Indigenous nations often designate marine protected areas under their own authority, referred to in Canada as Indigenous protected and conserved areas. This two-part series digs into the growing trend and legal intricacies of Indigenous-led marine protection. A case study about Gitdisdzu Lugyeks, or Kitasu Bay, on the central coast of British Columbia demonstrates how Indigenous sovereignty and conservation go hand in hand.

The future of conservation in Canada depends on Indigenous protected areas. So what are they? / Narwhal
Canada’s climate commitments rest in Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas — often called IPCAs. While the concept isn’t new, it’s gaining better recognition and funding from, at least, some governments. Since 2018, more than a billion dollars have been earmarked for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), Guardians programs and other initiatives — but despite those promises, very few places have received formal recognition from colonial governments.


Ottawa accepts call for tighter fishing boat inspections in aftermath of N.S. sinking / The Toronto Star
A March 22 report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada concluded that the dragger Chief William Saulis capsized because 2,700 kilograms of unshelled scallops blocked the drainage system as high seas crashed into the boat. It recommended that Transport Canada inspectors verify whether required, written safety procedures are available to crew, such as methods to store catch in a way that doesn’t block drainage. But he says Ottawa must mandate that boats are tested for stability, which would give crews precise information and training on how to load a vessel so that it remains stable in rough seas.

Floating accommodations prohibited as of July 1 / Ontario Out Of Doors
A regulatory change prohibiting floating accommodations from docking overnight on provincial waterways comes into effect on July 1, 2023.  “With these changes, we are taking action to protect our waterways by preserving access to lakes and rivers, ensuring access for recreational users, and reducing the potential for pollution of lakes and rivers.”


Discover 9 Spectacular Fish found in Canada / A-Z Animals
Canada is the world’s second-largest country by area, measuring 3.85 million square miles. There is a lot of beautiful wilderness, including many bodies of water in the country. So, there are a lot of spectacular fish to be found. Many species of Canadian fish can also be found in the northern United States. Some of the most popular and plentiful Canadian fish are used for food. Fishing is a popular pleasure sport in the country, and it is also usually in the top 25 countries for commercial fish production globally each year.


Cooperative Research—Citizens and Government Working Together to Study Fisheries / NOAA
Cooperative research is a team effort! But what is it exactly? It’s research that involves NOAA scientists as well as recreational and/or commercial fishermen. In this episode, we explore a few different kinds of cooperative research that citizens and recreational and commercial fishermen have participated in.

Special Guest Feature – Angler actions to stop the spread of invasive species / Invasive Species Centre

Learn more about Clean, Drain, Dry / MNRF

To prevent watercraft users from transporting aquatic invasive species, the Ministry of Natural Resources, and Forestry (MNRF) has regulated watercrafts (i.e., boats, canoes, and kayaks) and watercraft equipment as “carriers” under Ontario’s Invasive Species Act, effective January 1, 2022.

These regulations exist to ensure that watercraft users of all kinds, whether recreational or professional, do not transport invasive organisms between waterways. These new boater pathway regulations are a legal requirement and align with the first two steps of “Clean, Drain, Dry”.

Learn more about the laws around using live bait

Many anglers use live bait like minnows, leeches, and crayfish. While these might help you catch a big fish, it can also lead to the accidental release of invasive or non-native species into new waterways. For this reason, the movement of bait in Ontario is regulated to prevent the accidental release of invasive or non-native species into new waterways.

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