Blue Fish News – June 21, 2021

In the June 21, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with more on Pacific salmon abundance issues and steps being proposed to reverse declines while maintaining fisheries crucial to coastal communities. As always, we include summaries and links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. We close with an opportunity to Have Your Say concerning a new Bill introduced in Parliament, and a Spotlight Guest Feature concerning Seven Public Fishery Principles put forward by the B.C. Public Fishery Alliance.

Photo of featured guest Brian Tutty
Photo of featured guest Brian Tutty

This Week’s Feature – Pacific Salmon are Thrown a Lifeline

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

Just when you think you heard it all, Pacific salmon are back in the news. I’ll personally never get tired of reporting on the salmon that are such a huge part of the B.C. ecosystem, economy and culture, especially when it’s clear to all concerned that Pacific salmon are at risk of being lost. So here’s what I’ve learned and covered in my podcasts over the past four weeks since last having featured Pacific salmon in the Blue Fish News.

In the June 7 issue of the Blue Fish News I wrote about human values and how these now need to include responsible choices. For centuries we took what we could and needed, and would only stop when it was clear that any more would be a waste of effort and resources. Only recently have innovations meant excess harvest of perishables such as fish can now be efficiently preserved, transported and traded. The export of fish from Canada started with salting Cod, then canning salmon, and now factory trawlers that process and flash-freeze fish as quickly as they can be caught. Innovations in harvesting technologies have also reversed our catch per effort ratio from more time fishing leading to more fish, to a continual decrease in effort required to harvest ever greater numbers.

Thirty years ago on Canada’s east coast harvest innovations fooled scientists, fishers and politicians into thinking that Atlantic Cod stocks were plentiful since we kept catching more as time went on. Fishing pressure was allowed to continually increase until suddenly, the Cod were gone. New rules at DFO brought about in 2019 now require that DFO create regulations to “restore damaged habitat and rebuild depleted fish stocks”.

Diminishing Pacific salmon numbers has just as much to do with habitat destruction and numerous other non-fishery causes such as climate change, as it does with harvest innovations and fishing pressure. What is evident however, is that all the factors contributing to Pacific salmon decline are related to how we value these fish. Both in terms of the economic return their harvest represents, and their intrinsic value to the ecosystem as a whole. We want to prosper from their capture and sale, but we don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to accommodate their ecological requirements.

Reversing the decline of Pacific salmon will take both practical solutions and an examination of our values. Thankfully, these parallel processes have been underway for some time now, and have already begun to bear fruit.

I recently spoke with Brian Tutty, a 38-year career biologist with Canada’s department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) about what he witnessed over his career and since. His efforts and that of DFO and many others to bring a stop to the decline of wild salmon should be made into a movie. These actions include numerous practical solutions implemented in amazingly creative ways with spectacular results. They all shared a common objective — to instill in others a sense of stewardship and responsibility for the health and wellbeing of Pacific salmon. Not only about what to do to ensure their survival, but to instill in others what absolutely they needed to stop doing because, in some cases, it amounted to intentional destruction. Much was learned over the years, and even though many of these programs were ended due to budget cuts, the know-how exists.

I’ve interviewed a lot of people about fish over the decades, and I’m now convinced more than ever that we need to challenge those who continue to believe that our actions are unintentional at best or ill-informed at worst. We need more story tellers like Brian Tutty if we are going to shape attitudes and instill values needed to ensure salmon receive the protection and conservation required to rebuild and sustain their numbers. Click on the link to hear Brian reflect on his over four decades of service in the name of salmon on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

Turns out politicians in Ottawa have also been listening. The biggest ever fish rescue program and investment was just announced. The Pacific salmon restoration program calls for $647 million to be spent over five years in four key areas. Program priorities include conservation and stewardship, hatcheries, harvest transformation, and integrated management. So, what does it all mean?

I asked both Aaron Hill from Watershed Watch Salmon Society, and Tom Davis from the Public Fishery Alliance, for their opinions concerning the spending announcement. Both these west coast salmon experts have dedicated their lives to safeguarding Pacific salmon, and both come from families and communities that are directly tied to these fish. While not a lot is known about exactly how the four announced priority areas will be addressed, both Aaron and Tom had plenty to offer in terms of where the resources should be applied and where not. They also both expressed considerable skepticism, but can you blame them given all we have recently learned concerning gill netting and aquaculture impacts on wild fish? Click on the link to hear my back-to-back interviews with Aaron and Tom on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

Big investments and program promises often proceed an election. No doubt, the state of B.C. Pacific salmon are going to figure in each party’s platform, and if they don’t, then it’s up to us to ask why. I’m asking, starting with MP Bob Zimmer, member of Canada’s Conservative Party. Click on the link to hear Bob’s findings and opinions after having met and spoken with public fishers up-and-down the west coast on this episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show:

I’ll also be asking representatives from the other parties as well, so stay tuned and get ready. If you have questions, you want me to ask or MPs that you want me to have as guests on The Blue Fish Radio Show, send me a note.

I’m not going to promote one political party over another, I can’t. As the president of the charity Blue Fish Canada, promoting the interests of a political party is a violation of CRA rules that govern what charities can and cannot do.

I’m also going to continue to speak with and listen to First Nations representatives about their thoughts and priorities concerning not just Pacific salmon, but the federal government’s international commitment to protect 30% of Canada’s marine, terrestrial and aquatic territory by 2030. There’s lots of momentum behind the formation of Indigenous Conservation and Protection Agreements as a means of fulfilling Canada’s international 30-by-30 commitment, and as a strategy for advancing reconciliation. The U.S. has made a similar international commitment, so I’ll be reaching out to our friends south of the border as well.

For the latest news about fish, water and fishing, be sure to Subscribe to receive both The Blue Fish Radio Show podcast, and the biweekly Blue Fish Canada News. If you like what you hear and read, leave a ranking on Apple Podcast, and make a charitable donation to Blue Fish Canada:

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News


Fish are caught in the middle of the catch-and-release debate / Globe and Mail
Since 1828, sports anglers have been told to release fish they don’t need for food. Now they are being told they are wrong. A deep dive by veteran B.C. journalist and author, Mark Hume.

What it looks like to be obsessed with fishing / Pique Newsmagazine
“Fishing is still the most widely practised sport, hobby, distraction, time-waster in the world. It fulfils mankind’s primal instincts to challenge nature.”

Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program launches year 2 / Rossland News
A youth initiative and even a greater prize package is planned for 2021-22 angler incentive program.

Researchers catch record-breaking Nechako sturgeon, thought to be nearly 100 years old / CBC News
The largest Nechako white sturgeon on record was caught and released near Vanderhoof, B.C., earlier this month. Weighing in at 152 kilograms (336 pounds) and measuring 2.9 meters (9.6 feet), the huge fish was caught by staff at the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre (NWSCC).

Tournament App Allows All-Virtual Fishing Tournament Competition Worldwide / Fishing Wire
Scoring takes place using the popular CaptApp mobile application, which allows teams to shoot video that is automatically time- and date-stamped as well as geo-located.  Read more

DFO Closes all Fishing on N.S.’s Grand Lake and Shubenacadie River / ASF
Agencies are investigating suspected contamination that has killed dogs and sickened people.

The Great River Rapport / Perch Magazine
“The river changes, every year it’s different. It’s never the same.” Young fisherman Mackenzie Petrie transmutes his experiences on the river into observations that inform future scientific research. The St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Science collects observations from the past and is collecting current observations from community members to know the complete story of the river.

National Walleye Tour Heads to Lake Erie June 24-25 / Fishing Wire
The National Walleye Tour Presented by Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s will host its third regular-season event on Lake Erie at Huron, Ohio, June 24-25.

Worldwide Virtual Offshore Tournament for Women to Raise Funds for Charity / Fishing Wire
Scoring will take place using the CaptApp application, which verifies catches using video and geo-location, among many other features—cellular reception is not required for the app to operate.

22 Bass Over 13 Pounds in Florida Released during FWC’s Trophy Catch Season 8  / Fishing Wire 
The Trophy Catch team was thrilled to recognize the anglers who submitted 22 Hall of Fame bass weighing 13 pounds or more that were caught, documented, and released back into Florida’s waters. The associated comprehensive Trophy Care program promotes best handling practices for bass to ensure that each Trophy Catch bass is released alive.

U.S. officials plan to curtail salmon fishing along West Coast to help killer whales / CBC News
Federal officials in the U.S. are planning to curtail non-Indigenous salmon fishing along the country’s west coast when runs are forecast to be low, in order to help endangered killer whales.

Salmon fishing on Lower Yukon shut down / KYUK
On the Yukon River, subsistence salmon fishing is being closed to protect king salmon as they migrate upriver into Canada.

Blue Marlin World Cup Set for July 4 / Fishing Wire
The Blue Marlin World Cup, a one-day event targeting trophy blue marlin, will again be held on July 4th, around the globe.


We projected a fisheries collapse by 2048 — now there is reason for hope / The Hill
Fifteen years ago, a team of scientists reached “peak pessimism” and mathematically projected in a widely publicized paper a global fisheries collapse by 2048. This year, on World Oceans Day, the lead author of that study, Boris Worm, writes that he now has reason to hope that we might “have a fighting chance to leave an ocean to our children that is more abundant, more productive and more resilient than the one we inherited.”

Plastic Debris Is Getting into the Great Lakes, Our Drinking Water, and Our Food / WDET
Researchers are finding plastic microfibers so small, they’re actually in the tissue, the flesh of fish. That means people are eating it too. It’s not the only way you’re ingesting plastics.

New research shows that 2020’s travel restrictions were good—very good—for Ontario’s bass / Outdoor Canada 
The pandemic has been a crisis for humankind, but for the fish… maybe not so much. In this popular blog post, Outdoor Canada fishing editor Gord Pyzer explains astonishing new science showing that in one busy Ontario Lake, 2020’s reduction in fishing pressure led to the best bass spawn in 30 years.

Great Lakes Researchers Study Musky Travels / Fishing Wire
Scientists from the Michigan DNR, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ohio DNR and United States Geological Survey began tagging muskies in the Detroit River in 2016, with subsequent batches of fish tagged in the Canadian and American waters of Lake St. Clair.

Greenland Quota Puts Atlantic Salmon at Risk / ASF
Greenland resists negotiating with U.S., Canada, at NASCO meetings, holds firm on 27-t quota for 2021.

Video: Stewards of Nova Scotia’s St. Mary’s River / ASF
Conservation takes people, and in Nova Scotia local leaders on the St. Mary’s River are rising to the challenge and leading a successful recovery effort. ASF worked with videographer Tim Myers on this short feature video, profiling the work of the St. Mary’s River Association.

NEW 2021 State of Atlantic Salmon Report / ASF
ASF has released its annual overview of the latest information on North American Atlantic salmon returns and harvest.

Pacific salmon abundance plummeted in 2020 / Business in Vancouver
The global abundance of Pacific salmon in 2020 was the lowest since 1982, according to new data released by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission.

The sad fate of krill in the Southern Ocean / EarthSky
Little shrimplike krill lie at the base of the Southern Ocean food web. Many sea creatures in this ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, eat krill. That includes penguins, seals, fish and whales. But krill populations are projected to decline about 30% this century, due to human-driven climate change, and natural variability in the climate.

Cape Cod diver left with a whale of a tale after a humpback spat him out / CNN
A Cape Cod lobster diver is safe Friday, following a fluke encounter with a humpback whale that nearly made him the leviathan’s lunch.

Humpback whale freed off Vancouver Island from discarded fishing gear / CBC News
Fisheries and Oceans Canada successfully disentangled a humpback whale pinned to the ocean floor. The whale was trapped for hours near Nanaimo on Thursday, anchored by 50 traps, 3,000 feet of rope, two floats and two anchors.


Improving fish passage in the Elk River watershed / East Kootenay Online
A new initiative led by the Canadian Wildlife Federation will plan, prioritize, and implement barrier-remediation projects throughout the Elk River watershed to improve fish passage.

Aussie coal mines pose big threat to Southern Alberta’s water: study / The Tyee
New scientific research commissioned by local landowners warns of devastating pollution and habitat destruction.

Bad news for fish: Climate change is sucking the oxygen out of lakes, study suggests / CBC News
Fish could be left gasping for air as oxygen levels plunge in the world’s freshwater lakes due to climate change, a new study suggests.

Perspectives on renewed Great Lakes Agreement / OFAH 
When it comes to the Great Lakes, one of the key tools for Ontario and Canada to meet their objectives under the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) is the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. More commonly known as COA, it serves to spearhead cooperative efforts on things like nutrient management, reducing plastic pollution, wastewater/stormwater management, aquatic invasive species, and improving resilience to climate change.

NOAA anticipates lower than average algae bloom for Lake Erie  / NOAA
This year’s bloom is predicted to be smaller than 2017 and 2019 blooms. The decrease in severity is due to March and April rain levels and the associated discharge and phosphorus loads being lower than average.

Tiny specks bring big hope that ocean is improving after the devastating ‘Blob’ / The Seattle Times
A plankton ecologist with Oregon State University, reported seeing an abundance of plankton associated with cold water upwelling, and good fat levels and size in zooplankton, the tiny animals that feed the food web.

DFO Authorizes Use of Rotenone in Miramichi Watershed / ASF
Federal authorization means the operation to eradicate smallmouth bass from the Miramichi watershed will proceed in August.

Hunters join forces with conservationists to call on B.C. to protect fish and wildlife habitat / The Narwhal
As B.C.’s landscapes are fragmented by industrial activities and the province faces biodiversity collapse, with more than 2,000 species at risk of extinction, guide outfitters, hunters, fishers and trappers are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with naturalists, ecotourism operators and conservation organizations in a new coalition calling on the province to protect B.C.’s ecosystems before it’s too late.

How a Russian Vessel’s Grounding Highlights Perils of Arctic Shipping / Yale E360
A recently released report on the 2018 grounding of a Russian ship in the Canadian Arctic points out the many dangers of a coming shipping boom in an increasingly ice-free Arctic, including the lack of reliable navigational charts and crews inexperienced in polar waters. 74 groundings have occurred in the Canadian Arctic from 2000 to 2018. The report underscores in chilling ways how a steady increase in shipping in a rapidly melting and largely uncharted Arctic could result in an environmental and human disaster.

Climate Change Impacts Coastal Fisheries and Communities / NOAA
Changes in our climate and oceans are affecting our communities, businesses, and natural resources—including our fisheries and coastal habitats. Climate change is already affecting the productivity, abundance, distribution, and composition of fish stocks that anglers enjoy. As a result of these kinds of changes, coastal businesses and the associated industries we cherish face unprecedented challenges.


Why the first river in Canada to become a legal person signals a boon for Indigenous Rights / The Narwhal
The Muteshekau Shipu in Québec will enjoy new protections as Canada joins a global movement to recognize both Indigenous law and the rights of nature.

Why Indigenous knowledge should be an essential part of how we govern the world’s oceans / The Conversation
“We have an opportunity to empower traditional and contemporary Indigenous forms of governance and management for the benefit of all people and the ecosystems we are part of.”

First Nations, commercial harvesters, and recreational fishing groups join forces to save Fraser River fish / Chilliwack Progress
First Nations, commercial, and recreational fishing groups have joined forces to help stave off any further decline of fish stocks on the Fraser River. The Lower Fraser Collaborative Table (LFCT) includes membership from 23 First Nations of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, recreational fishing groups, and commercial reps from the Area E Harvest Commercial.

Potlotek, DFO agree on first authorized moderate livelihood fishery / CBC News
Potlotek First Nation Chief Wilbert Marshall says his band’s fishery plan will include enforcement protocols authorized by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Mi’kmaw fishery will not affect conservation levels. The lobster stocks are healthy, and Potlotek’s traps will be fished under existing licenses and seasons.

‘Salmon War’ 40 years ago: ‘The reaction may have been too harsh’ / The Star
In 1981, approximately 500 police officers and stormed the Listuguj First Nation Reserve on the Gaspé Peninsula. It was one of the first events of the “Salmon War,” a conflict that pitted the Quebec government against Indigenous communities.


BPS/Cabela’s Donating Over 40,000 Rods and Reels to Non-Profits / Gone Fishing 
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s are once again donating more than 40,000 rods and reels to hundreds of not-for-profit partners throughout North America that help kids from all backgrounds connect to the great outdoors to kick off Gone Fishing.


All-Electric-Boat Bass Tournament Results Announced / Fishing Wire
The event, sponsored by ePropulsion, was held on May 29, 2021 on the Hard Labor Creek Reservoir in Walton County, Georgia, drawing nine clubs with a total of 72 anglers, with winners earning the State Championship title and a new ePropulsion Navy 6.0 Evo outboard engine.  Read more

Have Your Say – Bill C-297, the Selective Fisheries Act

On May 26 a Private Members Bill “Bill C-297, the Selective Fisheries Act” was introduced into the House of Commons. The Selective Fisheries Act responds to the demands of B.C. anglers to “allow for selective fisheries for plentiful species while maintaining the conservation of vulnerable salmon stocks”. The Bill would give the Fisheries Minister the authority to “create selective fisheries and increase the number of marked hatchery fish for anglers to target”. Link to review Bill C-297:

Let MP Mark Strahl know what you think of the Bill by completing the survey:

Special Feature – Seven Proposed B.C. Public fishery Principles / Public Fishery Alliance

The following seven draft Public Fishery Principles were first developed in 2018 by B.C. fishers, conservationists, politicians, scientists and others. They address barriers or inadequacies that threaten public fisheries along B.C.’s coast and continue to be updated by the B.C. Public Fishery Alliance to reflect and inform current issues and opportunities.

The seven Public Fishery Principles follow:

  1. Marking of all current hatchery stock to allow clear identification of harvestable fish by First Nation, Commercial and public fishers.
  2. Support for developing and implementing selective and sustainable harvesting innovations to replace current unsustainable harvesting practices.
  3. Sufficient financial and enforcement resources to restore habitat, ensure equitable and sustainable harvests, and prevent pollution.
  4. Hatchery enhancements that support sustainable and equitable harvest by First Nation, Commercial, and public fishers, and reduce genetic dilution of wild fish.
  5. Timely and accessible fishery announcements to ensure sufficient time to plan, prepare and implement fishery activity.
  6. Consultation and collaboration with and between stakeholders in decision-making processes.
  7. Designated regional Directors General of public Fisheries.

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