Blue Fish News – July 25, 2022

In the July 25th, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on disputes over B.C. Salmon fisheries and the role of hatcheries. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Guest Feature concerns the spread of a contagious viral outbreak among marine life along North Americas north-east coast.

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: As we sort through mounds of data and opinions concerning the plight of B.C. salmon, who’s catching them and who isn’t, and the 150-years of hatchery remediation intended to mitigate habitat destruction, we are also diving head first into the world of fishing in Lake Ontario’s eastern basin. And, all this while volunteers head outdoors and on the water themselves to take some well needed time to reconnect with nature. Lots more in the works, so stay tuned….

Blue Fish Canada volunteer Mike De Souza holding an 18lb Chinook Salmon

This Week’s Feature – Disputes Over Pacific Salmon and the Role of Hatcheries July 25 2022

British Columbia’s Pacific salmon hatcheries are increasingly coming under the microscope and calls for salmon restoration funding to be spent elsewhere are growing. The issues are numerous, but should we really be considering “throwing out the baby with the bath water?” Here’s a quick overview of some of the issues and arguments that warrant consideration as we begin to prepare, promote, defend and challenge both hatchery and fishery practices and policies, and their place in re-building and maintaining sustainable salmon fisheries.

On Canada’s west coast alone, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) operates 15 hatcheries and oversees 19 facilities run by First Nations and community groups. Collectively, they release approximately 300 million salmon each year.

Increasingly, Pacific salmon advocates are expressing concern that fishery managers may choose to allocate additional salmon restoration funding towards increasing salmon hatchery output in the name of salmon recovery. Their concern is based on scientific DNA evidence that hatcheries have contributed to the DNA contamination of the over 9,000 distinct populations of Pacific salmon in B.C. Click on the link to read an editorial explaining why key west-coast salmon advocates believe that “one generation of wild salmon raised in a hatchery can change hundreds of genes, and that multiple generations of breeding in hatcheries produces salmon that are fit for hatcheries but not the wild”:

In a recent Tyee article penned by author Jude Isabella we are told that by the time Haig-Brown published his first book in 1931, “the science had already aligned against fish hatcheries.” Isabella goes on to say, “At first, it was mainly politics and blind faith in technology. Today, the reliance on hatcheries is a combination of politics, law and desperation.” Click on the link to read Jude Isabella’s complete article:

Focusing on hatcheries as a “mitigation” solution for habitat destruction may have been il-conceived, but that doesn’t mean hatcheries aren’t playing a role in rebuilding endangered salmon runs. Hatcheries can and do perform vital conservation and restoration work. An article written by Vanessa Minke published in Hakai Magazine reports that a century ago roughly 20,000 coho would return to California’s Russian River and its tributaries in a typical year. By 1988, the number had fallen by 95 percent. It was a coalition of county, state, and federal agencies that captured the few remaining wild Coho’s to be part of a hatchery program. According to Vanessa Minke “today, 500 to 1,000 coho return to the Russian River each winter. Some were born at the Warm Springs hatchery, others in the river, spawned by hatchery-born fish. Nearly all are descended from those last wild fish that were taken into captivity between 2001 and 2003.” Click on the link to read Vanessa Minke’s article:

First nations communities are also turning to hatcheries to rebuild vital salmon stocks. A recent Hakai Magazine article written by Ashley Braun relays just such a story. “The Nisqually is one of many tribes with their backs shoved against the concrete wall of challenges that salmon face today, and so they, too, have resorted to hatcheries—facilities where humans direct salmon sex, fertilizing eggs in plastic buckets and giving naïve young salmon a head start before their journey through an untender world. But despite the genetic and ecological risks to future salmon populations, for the Nisqually and many other tribes, no hatcheries would mean practically no salmon. It’s untenable.” Click on the link to read the full article:

While playing fast-and-loose with salmon DNA may have inadvertently un-done centuries of evolutionary success, the problem now seems to be more about how much of a good thing is too much? According to author Miranda Weissin in her recent article published in The Tyee, “since the 1970s, industrial production of pink salmon has exploded, and today, hatcheries in the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan pump about 1.3 billion pink salmon fry into the Pacific each year, leading to the production of roughly 82 million adults. About 15 per cent of all pinks in the ocean originate from hatcheries, topping off a population that is already at a record level of abundance.” Clearly, hatcheries are not just being used to prop-up collapsing salmon runs but are also now being used for commercial gain. Click on the link to read Miranda Weissin’s article:

Any ecosystem can support only so much biomass. The problem in the North Pacific is there are too many countries with commercial fishing interests attempting to turn the North Pacific into one giant aquiculture operation for their own benefit. This is not the case in the Great Lakes where Canada and the U.S adjust hatchery outputs each year to reflect seasonal variations in pray abundance. The uncoordinated introduction into the north-east Pacific of select salmon species chosen by commercial interests has little to do with achieving salmon restoration goals, and everything to do with generating maximum returns.

We also now know that Alaskan commercial fishing boats are intercepting B. C’s Chinook and Steelhead. Thousands are being caught in commercial nets and going unreported. Alaskan interception fisheries now catch more of B.C.’s Pacific salmon than British Columbians do. While Alaskan commercial harvesters report record profits, Canada’s commercial, recreational and FN fishers remained sidelined. David Mills of Watershed Watch Salmon Society explains how all this came about and why it’s now time to revise the 1997 Pacific Salmon Treaty in this latest episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show:

Regardless of what you think about hatcheries, they aren’t the cause of the collapse of B.C. salmon runs. Yes, open pen aquiculture, climate change and other human-driven habitat destruction have resulted in the need for significant restoration work, but an equally troublesome issue impacting salmon numbers is the move away by certain fisheries from using selective fishing best practices. If salmon are to recover, stakeholders need to first agree to how many salmon each is allowed to add to the system, an then we need to stop taking fish that don’t belong to us. These aren’t impossible “asks.”

We have technologies that can both track and identify specific runs of fish. There are also First Nations and recreational anglers who are advocating for the adoption of selective fishing. The hold-up seems to be, once again, large-scale commercial fishing interests that won’t back down until their pursuit of salmon is no longer profitable.

The good news is that not all Pacific salmon stocks are at risk. According to the Pacific Salmon Foundation, problematic stocks account for about half. There are also excellent examples of stakeholders collaborating on the implementation of science-based precautionary strategies that focus on salmon recovery while maintaining fishing access for first Nations, commercial and recreational interests.

While not an exact science, selective fishing would be enhanced considerably if each hatchery salmon had their Adipose fin clipped. This would allow recreational, First Nations, and small-scale sustainable commercial fisheries to remain open while still operating under precautionary principles. Intentionally unmarked hatchery and wild fishes could then be released to spawn in their respective tributaries.

So let’s find a way to bring an end to the practice of shoving as many fish into the Pacific with the hopes of achieving ever-higher commercial harvesting profits. It’s an unsustainable fishery management practice that victimizes both wild salmon and the people and ecosystems that depend on them. And then, let’s agree to use technology and techniques that will put an end to people taking each others’ fish just because we can. No more excuses for not knowing whose fish are in your boat or net. Time we park our pointer fingers at the door and get started with building important collaborations based on science and respect before Pacific salmon go the way of the Atlantic cod.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Wild abundance: surviving a record-breaking salmon season in Bristol Bay / National Fisherman
Nora Skeele writes about her experiences on a fishing boat in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

Area M: the place in the sea where Alaska commercial and subsistence interests collide / KYUK
In the wake of chum salmon crashes in Western Alaska, subsistence fishermen have been pleading with the state to restrict salmon fishing near the Aleutian Islands. Subsistence users say that commercial vessels are taking fish bound for their rivers.

Alaska salmon harvest swells to 68.8 million fish / Fishermens News
Commercial harvests of salmon in Alaska jumped from 37.6 million to 68.8 million fish in a week’s time.

Who does the salmon in Area M belong to? / Alaska Public Media
In the wake of chum salmon crashes in Western Alaska, subsistence fishermen have been pleading with the state to restrict commercial salmon fishing near the Alaska Peninsula.

DFO closes Skeena Watershed to Chinook Salmon Fishing / SkeenaWild
DFO announced that sport fishing for chinook salmon is once again closed for the Skeena River watershed. The closure includes the rivers and lakes in the Skeena region except for the Kitimat River and the Nass River watersheds. DFO expects fewer than 22,000 chinook salmon will return to the Skeena this year which is only about one-fifth of the long-term historical average return, said Greg Knox, SkeenaWild’s Executive Director.

DFO plans more fishery closures under salmon management plan / Yahoo!
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Northern B.C. salmon management plan will take a precautionary approach to manage fisheries, including increased closures for the 2022-2023 year, stated a July 8 news release.

FishDonkey Fishing Tournaments
FishDonkey is about conservation and the ability to create a fishing tournament where fish can be immediately released back to their natural environment. To accomplish this we invented anti-cheating technology, which makes it possible to fish from anywhere and still have results you can trust.

Conservationists angling for a fight over fishing in High Park / TorontoStar
David Kearney and David Clark are directors of the Toronto Urban Fishing Ambassadors (TUFA), a group that promotes recreational fishing in Toronto and the GTA. TUFA supplies equipment, instruction, and bait for learn-to-fish events. Angling is permitted almost anywhere in Toronto, and Clark says it’s great way for city-dwellers to spend time outside and connect with nature. But not everyone is hooked on the activity. The High Park Natural Environment Committee (NEC) opposes the fishing festival and is urging the city to put a stop to fishing at Grenadier Pond for good.

It’s Taken More than 20 Years and Is Full of Holes, but a New International Agreement Targets Fishing Subsidies / Hakai
After 20 years of failed negotiations, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has secured a deal to curb harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing. Conservationists and campaign groups welcomed last week’s agreement as historic, despite criticism of “big holes” in the agreement.

First-of-its-kind spearfishing course aimed at controlling invasive species in Manitoba’s Clear Lake / CTV
Four employees of Parks Canada and four members of the Coalition of First Nations recently completed a Smallmouth Bass spearfishing course at Riding Mountain National Park. The course teaches how to dive and resurface safely, as well as proper spear throwing techniques.

The expert’s guide to teaching a kid to love fishing / Field&Stream
Wilkins’ number-one piece of advice is simple: Keep the action hot and always get excited when a kid reels something in—regardless of species.

Henry Winkler Catching Trout Is The Hottest Trend This Season / Vanity Fair
The fly-fishing Fonz is an internet sensation.

The world’s best fishing trips – put Alaskan salmon on your bucket list / Forbes
A salmon fishing trip to Alaska is an epic – and delicious – vacation, even if you are not an avid angler.

Did Ottawa truly understand the impacts of closing most salmon fisheries on the Pacific coast? / TheStar
We must ensure we’re building policies that allow ecosystems, coastal economies and food systems to thrive — and that no communities are left behind, writes Sonia Strobel, CEO of Skipper Otto.


Bold, sustained action can revitalize wild Pacific salmon in the Fraser /
Nineteen major populations of wild Pacific salmon in the Fraser River are projected to decline over the next 25 years—but it’s not too late to boost their chances of recovery.

The Hatchery Crutch / Tyee
Wild salmon struggle from California to Alaska, despite 243 hatcheries. Fish hatcheries around the Pacific Rim release salmon into the North Pacific at an astonishing rate, over five billion annually, and the ocean may have reached capacity.

Can We Have Too Much Pink Salmon? / Tyee
Pumped by the billions into the North Pacific, these hatchery fish are upending marine ecosystems. “Chinook from British Columbia fare poorly when pink numbers are high…. Steelhead in the central North Pacific go hungry in pink boom years, and on the Fraser River in British Columbia, fewer young chum survive in years crowded with juvenile pinks.”

The Hail Mary Hatcheries / Hakai
As wildfires, droughts, and floods deal a blow to coastal habitats, wild salmon are disappearing from waterways like California’s Russian River. Can conservation hatcheries save endangered runs?

As alewife deaths rise, Michigan aims to boost king salmon stocking /
In response to growing alewife numbers, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is advancing a proposal this summer to boost the number of chinook, or “king” salmon it stocks in the lake to 1 million fish next year. This year, the DNR stocked about 687,000 chinook, a popular sport fish which can grow quite large and feasts almost solely on alewives as its protein of choice.

New genetic data fuels debate over Bering Sea salmon bycatch / National Fisherman
The contentious issue of Chinook and chum salmon that are taken as bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock and groundfish trawl fisheries reached a new order of magnitude.

How a salmon farm disaster changed Northwest aquaculture forever / High Country News
Thousands of salmon escaped into the Puget Sound. Then the controversy began.

PNW hatcheries aren’t saving salmon, investigation finds / Crosscut
After two decades and $2 billion in spending, the U.S. government’s promises to Native tribes to boost fish populations in Oregon and Washington haven’t held up. Nearly 250 million young salmon, most of them from hatcheries, head to the ocean each year — roughly three times as many as before any dams were built. But the return rate today is less than one-fifth of what it was decades ago.

New Life Arrives in Blind Bay on the St. Lawrence River / NNY360
This month, Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT) and the Thousand Islands Biological Station teamed up to release nearly ten thousand advanced muskellunge fry in the St. Lawrence River. The two-month-old muskellunge – or muskies were released in Blind Bay, a unique shallow aquatic ecosystem with submersed vegetation that provides critical spawning, rearing and foraging habitat for many fish species.

Why do muskies gulp air? / Outdoor Canada
According to Dr. Sean Landsman with the Institute of Environmental and Interdisciplinary Science at Carleton University, and president of the American Fisheries Society’s Science Communication Section, “Muskies are physostomous, so they have a little duct that connects their swim bladder to their esophagus and thus, the outside world,” he says. “This means they can gulp air to try and increase buoyancy or burp air to lose buoyancy. But why they need to do this is unclear. Are they having some sort of physiological issue that is preventing them from moving gas into their swim bladder? Did they just eat a large meal and need to compensate for the added weight by increasing buoyancy?”

Lake Erie’s once-thriving blue pike is long gone but never forgotten / Great Lakes Now
One of the last known (and most famous) blue pike was landed by hook and line in 1962. In 1983, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the blue pike extinct. Yet, nearly 40 years later, the population remains robust and healthy – in the hearts and minds of countless anglers.


Big Bar landslide response information bulletin July 18 2022 / DFO
Summer operations at Big Bar have been fully mobilized, including the three biological programs: monitoring, enhancement, and trap and transport.

B.C. has a mine waste problem and it could be catastrophic / Narwhal
As B.C. permits mines to hold more tailings slurry behind ever-growing dams, a new report finds the consequences of a failure grow in step. Climate change could make things even worse

Saskatchewan’s $4 billion irrigation project explained / Narwhal
The largest infrastructure project in the province’s history could be a win for farming and potash mining, but a loss for the environment and First Nations. One of the primary concerns is moving water around for agricultural purposes, which tends to change the composition of what ends up back in rivers and lakes. Added nutrients, particularly from fertilizer, for example, degrades water quality and can lead to toxic algal blooms.

New Brunswick Establishes First 84 Nature Legacy protected areas / GNB
The N.B. government has committed to doubling its permanently protected land and freshwater from 4.6 per cent to 10 per cent, an area equivalent in size to 19 Fundy National Parks. These protected lands represent every region of our province, from the headwaters of the Penniac Stream to the Little Gaspereau wetlands, the Little Southwest Miramichi River to Miscou Island, from the Wilderness Corridors of the Restigouche to Chiputneticook lakes,.

US cruise ships using Canada as a ‘toilet bowl’ / Guardian
Cruise ships on their way to and from Alaska dump an estimated 31 billion litres of pollution off Canada’s west coast each year.

Researchers call for science-based policies given impacts of mining on salmon, trout /
New research shows that, despite impact assessments, mines continue to harm salmonid-bearing watersheds.


Tribal Hatcheries and the Road to Restoration / Hakai
Despite the genetic and ecological risks to future salmon populations, for the Nisqually and many other tribes, no hatcheries would mean practically no salmon. It’s untenable.

Abegweit First Nation’s fish hatchery celebrates releasing over a million fish to Island streams / CBC
The fish hatchery at Abegweit First Nation, P.E.I. is celebrating an important milestone: it has now released more than 1 million fish into Island streams.

Micro fish hatcheries built in shipping containers help salmon recover / Globe&Mail
The hatchery at Nak’azdli is not a traditional operation. Instead of a multimillion-dollar, permanent Fisheries and Oceans Canada facility, the hatchery at Nak’azdli is a collection of shipping containers: a hatchery in a box.

‘A lot of people think we’re doing this just for First Nations people. We’re not’ / Tyee
The First Nations Fisheries Council is working to ensure that salmon are a part of our future.

Weak salmon run on Yukon River halts harvesting in First Nations / Yukon News
Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nations ask members not to harvest salmon.

Chief says renewal of fish farms will take ‘huge toll’ on wild salmon in B.C. / APTN
A hereditary chief in B.C. says the renewal of fish farms will have a ‘huge toll’ on wild salmon in the Discovery Islands.


IGFA Surpasses Goal to Teach 100,000 Children to Fish / IGFA
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA), is excited to announce that the organization has recently met and surpassed its goal of teaching 100,000 children around the world to fish. To accomplish this ambitious initiative, the IGFA established three avenues: Develop and distribute IGFA Passports to Fishing kits (fishing clinics in a box); to an international network of supporters and education partners; Create a series of online angling education modules and virtual fishing programs to teach the basics of recreational fishing and the importance of conservation and environmental stewardship; and, Establish strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations and educational institutions that share similar missions and values when it comes to youth angling education. Through the development of these new programs and relationships, the IGFA youth angling education programs have expanded to nearly 40 different countries on six continents and are offered in 14 different languages. Blue Fish Canada is proud to offer the IGFA program in Canada.


5 Common Nautical Superstitions / Mercury Dockline
While many boating superstitions got their start as a practical response to a perceived threat to life on board ship, today, we can enjoy them as colorful pieces of nautical lore. Here are five myths that seem to persist: 1, it’s bad luck to rename a boat; 2, never step onto a boat with your left foot; 3, whistling is forbidden on board; 4, bananas should be banned from boats; and 5, cats bring boats good luck. Read the article for explanations on how these myths got their start.


Watershed Watch / SkeenaWild B.C. Salmon Update
Watershed Watch fishery advisor Greg Taylor’, and Greg Knox SkeenaWild’s executive director, together provide a midseason update on B.C. salmon. The two Gregs answered questions on management decisions, stock abundance, and gillnets.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Joe Izumi founded Canada’s first organized bass tournament. This is his untold story / Outdoor Canada
Before TV star Bob Izumi burst onto the pro fishing scene, his father, Joe, founded Canada’s first-ever organized bass tournament. This is the remarkable true story of the challenges Joe Izumi faced, and the incredible legacy he left behind.

Free Resources:

Nova Scotia Salmon Association hosts series of training sessions / NSSA
NSSA’s Habitat Programs offers training each summer to the field staff and volunteers of community groups, river associations, and Indigenous-led organizations involved in the Nova Scotia Salmon Association’s Adopt-A-Stream program. The sessions provide hands-on experience installing in-stream habitat structures (known as digger logs) and an introduction to stream ecology.

Download your free Lake Protection Workbook / Watersheds Canada
The “Lake Protection Workbook: A Self-Assessment Tool for Shoreline Property Owners” is an educational tool that helps property owners make improvements to their shorelines, and provides information about lake protection.


DFO Research Scientist Requests Anglers to Report Tagged Atlantic Salmon / DFO
Many Atlantic salmon have been tagged as part of the Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF) project with internal acoustic tags (small black cylinder, see photo) or external satellite tags (big black bobber with tail. When releasing a satellite tagged salmon cut the tag off where the string holds the tag to the harness. Do not try to remove the harness. Salmon with either tags should be reported through the “ESRF Atlantic Salmon” Facebook page or by email:

Special Guest Feature – NOAA declares an Unusual Mortality Event for elevated Maine harbor and gray seals

On July 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed that samples from four stranded seals in Maine have tested positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1. HPAI is a “zoonotic disease” that has the potential to spread between animals and people (and their pets).

Live seals on the beach have symptoms including lethargy, coughing, discharge from the eyes and nose, seizures, and death. HPAI H5N1 has now been confirmed in 41 U.S. states and 11 Canada provinces, in commercial poultry, nearly 90 species of wild birds, eight species of scavenging mammals, and now seals.

According to the U.S. Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the health risk posed to the general public is low however, precautions are recommended for people and their pets. The public should not touch ill, stranded or floating dead seals, to keep pets far away from seals, and should call their local stranding network organization to report live or dead stranded seals. The most important action someone can take is to immediately report strandings to the Greater Atlantic Marine Mammal Stranding Networks rather than take matters into their own hands.

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