Blue Fish News – June 7, 2021

In the June 7, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we start with an exploration of why we insist on compartmentalising aquatic and marine ecosystems. As always, we include a specially curated list of summaries and links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. We close with a spotlight guest resource on marine recreational fishing safety tips.

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther as a youth with his 1st Georgetown Venturers and their two warrior-styled canoes used to paddle the St. Lawrence River and beyond

This Week’s Feature – One Ocean Many Names

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

World Ocean Day this June 8 got me thinking about an adventure I took part in in 1977 that led to my expanding my conception of our planet’s aquatic and marine ecosystems. It was the type of long intense first-hand experience that leads to one questioning their beliefs. In my case, it was a two-month canoe trip that triggered my realization that despite our need to label and name, the earth’s marine / aquatic ecosystems are, in fact, one continuous interconnected and interdependent system that spans the planet. The triggering event was a canoe trip that started just west of Toronto where the credit River enters Lake Ontario and finished on the east coast of Prince Edward Island some 2,100-plus kilometers and two months later.

Turns out it’s not impossible to paddle a canoe from Toronto to P.E.I. A bunch of us 1st Georgetown Venturers did just that. We needed to figure out how to get from Georgetown Ontario, just north of Toronto, to Sunnyside P.E.I. so we could take part in the 1977 World Scout Jamboree. That canoe trip created a cognitive map in my mind. It personalized the connection between the Credit River that ran through my hometown and into Lake Ontario, and east along Lake Ontario’s north shore to the Thousand Islands at the head of the St. Lawrence River. Then past Montreal and Quebec City to the Gaspesie Peninsula where we portaged the Matapedia River. Then south along the New Brunswick Coastline before crossing the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island, and ending after paddling around to the east side of the Island to the town of Summerside.

My fellow Venturers and I witnessed the ecosystem switch from northern pike and common carp to beluga and lobster. We tasted the water transitioning from fresh to salt and went from benefiting and thrilling from the eddies of the St. Lawrence as it passes through the Thousand Islands, and the rush of the Lachine Rapids along the north shore of Montreal Island, to battling rising tides and storm surges along the lower St. Lawrence River and New Brunswick coastline.

Our maritime companions transitioned from pleasure yachts to cargo ships to lobster boats. The reception from shoreline and coastal communities along the way ranged from hostile to indifference, to curious and welcoming. The only consistent aspect of the voyage was rain.

With only a compass to navigate by, no radio communications, and campsites chosen the night before using estimations based on best effort, there were many days on the water that stretched to 12 hours, and in one instance, 24. This later included a night spent huddled around a campfire with no water, food or sleeping bags. One particularly bad storm generated confused seas that sank three dories but spat our two 25-foot warrior-style canoes and 12 paddlers on to the beach fatigued but undamaged.

Water temperatures in the lower St. Lawrence River and Gulf and Atlantic never rose above 10 degrees Celsius. No one said it but we all knew that tipping would likely lead to death due to hyperthermia since it was unlikely anyone would witness our plight in time to organize a rescue. Crossing the Northumberland Strait was more a psychological challenge than a physical one, since at one point during the crossing no one was able to see land. By then 1–2-meter swells were our constant companion.

Perhaps if we had fully appreciated what canoeing the Lower St. Lawrence and Atlantic coast would entail, organizers and parents alike would have thought differently about the voyage. But that’s what maps do, they make even the most inhospitable and uninhabited geography look manageable.

What I learned is that Canada’s rivers, lakes and three oceans are, in fact, one system with different regional characteristics. There are no distinct transitions, no lines in the water, no abrupt changes, just a system that is highly interdependent and connected.

While landscapes may seem static, water is always moving. Because of water, even terrestrial ecosystems interact. The fluidity of water not only transfers beneficial nutrients but creates pathways that facilitate the movement of animals. It’s because of water interdependence between ecosystems is circular.

An example of a fish species that exemplifies aquatic continuity is striped bass. This fish species moves between fresh and saltwater annually, and travels thousands of miles each year.

I recently spoke with Jamie Howard from Howard Films about his most recent project “Running the Coast”. It took Jamie over four years of filming to document Striped Bass along North America’s east coast, and the people who seasonally celebrate these iconic fish throughout their journey.

Filming of this three-part documentary also led Jamie on his own path of discovery as he came to learn that the future of Striped Bass is not a certainty. Link below to hear my interview with Jamie Howard on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

As for my own journey of discovery, at age 13 I was not only the youngest paddler aboard the two canoes, but the only one who was legally blind. However, by no means was I the only one limited in the ability to see and appreciate what was below the hulls of our two canoes. The six of us paddling each canoe focussed mainly on the timing of our strokes and keeping out of the way of the numerous massive cargo ships we encountered each day. We had only glimpses of the life and vitality that thrived below the surface.

I’ve since remapped the part of my brain meant for interpreting optical nerve stimulation, to visualize my environment including underwater worlds. I also learned how to make better use of my ears to both hear and listen.

I just learned about a new 5-part Hakai Magazine series about listening underwater called The Sound Aquatic Podcast. I spoke with the host of the series Elin Kelsey, and it came as no surprise that we share a mutual love and respect for animals that depend primarily on sound to communicate.

Animals that have evolved to take advantage of the ability to hear and transmit sounds through water five-times faster than in air. To thrive in a world that is also often devoid of light or rendered inhospitable to those that depend on sight. Link below to hear my interview with Elin on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

So, as you think about world Ocean Day, the three oceans that make up Canada’s longest coastline of the world and 72% of Canada’s total territory, taking into consideration Canada’s exclusive economic zone, remember that it’s really one large system. We just like to carve it up on maps and give it different names to make it easier to convey geospatial information. Only by suspending geographic conceptions is it possible to appreciate the reality that fish evolved in a world with very few boundaries.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News


Socioeconomic Impacts of Atlantic Offshore Wind Development / NOAA Fisheries
To help analyze how party and charter boat fishing operations may be impacted by offshore wind energy projects, NOAA Fisheries compared vessel logbook fishing location data from 2008-2018 to current offshore wind energy project areas. We identified where and when fishing occurred relative to these areas and developed reports of potential socioeconomic impacts from each offshore wind project area based on the historic data. These reports include information on the number of primary species retained, number of party and charter boat trips, number of angler trips, revenue associated with party and charter boat trips, and communities affected by each offshore wind development project area. These reports will help estimate the potential impacts of such development on managed recreational fisheries and associated fishing communities.

Eco-Certified Recommendations / Ocean Wise
Ocean Wise recommendations cover a broad range of seafood sourced from all over the world’s oceans and inland aquatic systems. Ocean Wise recommendation is the result of an assessment that scores the environmental performance of a fishery or aquaculture operation.

Low flows and warm waters of concern for Newfoundland/Labrador salmon / ASF
The Atlantic salmon angling season begins on Newfoundland Island, and on June 15 in Labrador. In central and eastern NL especially, river levels are low, in part due to low winter snowpack.

Anglers and hunters are on the front lines of biodiversity / OFAH
On the heels of International Biodiversity Day, which just passed on May 22, OFAH Resource Management Specialist Lauren Tonelli, shares her personal fishing, hunting and trapping story and talks about how and why OFAH and our members are critical stewards for biodiversity.

Friends of the Cowichan demand Minister end winter fishing on the river / Focus on Victoria
Greater conservations measure are needed if the fish—and fishing the river is known for—are to survive.

Summer Fishing Challenge open to youths across B.C. / Port Alberni Valley News
The Summer Fishing Challenge, hosted by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, is designed to encourage youth enjoyment of freshwater fishing.

How Nova Scotia plans to make the province a sportfishing destination / CBC News
This fall, the provincial government plans to launch a new long-term program called Fish Nova Scotia. The hope is to attract tourists through sportfishing.

A Guide to Flying Fishing Flags / In The Bite
A standardized system regarding maritime flags exists within the International Code of Signals but there is no right or wrong way to fly a fish flag. However, there is an informal set of rules that is generally followed by many fishermen no matter the port of call.

B.C.’s North & Central Coast 2021 Fishing Season Forecast / SkeenaWild
SkeenaWild’s Executive Director Greg Knox explains the outlook for North & Central Coast salmon returns and fisheries openings and closures for this coming season.

BC’s Family Fishing Weekend returns June 18 to 20 / Nelson Star
Get ready with a free Family Fishing Webinar Series.


To protect wild fisheries, the government must listen to scientists / Alexandra Morton
COVID-19 has proven that our government can use science to save lives. Now is the time for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to apply science to Canada’s precious wild fisheries.

Globe Climate: Behind the story of thwarted efforts to help steelhead trout / Globe and Mail
Scientists were waging a behind-the-scenes battle over what it would take to save them from extinction. Here’s what happened.

Hatchery conditions linked to lower steelhead trout survival / WSU Insider
Alterations in the epigenetic programming of hatchery-raised steelhead trout could account for their reduced fertility, abnormal health and lower survival rates compared to wild fish, according to a new WSU study.

How aquaculture is spreading a salmon virus / Hakai Magazine
A genetic analysis of Piscine orthoreovirus shows how it was repeatedly transported from Norwegian salmon farms to aquaculture operations around the world—and on to wild Pacific salmon.

Newfoundland Labrador lumpfish hatchery application gains government approval / ASF
NL has approved an application for the lumpfish hatchery at Marystown. The fish are to be used for sea lice control in open water net-pen aquaculture salmon.

PRV Virus Story Continues to Generate Ripples / ASF
Peer-reviewed study determined that a Norwegian salmon virus had been introduced into BC waters. The discovery brings to light yet more ecological damage caused by open net-pen aquaculture.

Efforts Need to be Greater to Protect Wild Newfoundland Salmon / CBC Radio
CBC’s The Broadcast interviews Mi’sel Joe, Chief of the Miawpukek First Nation (Conne River), on the need to improve protection of wild Atlantic salmon on the south coast of Newfoundland.

Proposed West Greenland Atlantic Fishery Measures Failed / NOAA
The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) is meant to promote the conservation, restoration, enhancement, and rational management of wild Atlantic salmon stocks. Members include Canada, Denmark for the Faroe Islands and Greenland, EU, Norway, Russia, U.K. and the U.S. A new regulatory measure to reduce the mixed stock fishery that occurs off West Greenland against scientific advice failed to be adopted and will continue to take critically endangered U.S. and Canadian origin salmon.

Surge in Ocean Nitrogen Sends Sargassum Ballistic / Phys.Org
Increased nitrogen availability from natural and anthropogenic sources, including sewage, is supporting blooms of Sargassum and turning a critical nursery habitat into harmful algal blooms with catastrophic impacts on coastal ecosystems, economies, and human health, says this study. Read more


Assessing the carbon footprint of aquaculture /ASF
Aquaculture’s ecological footprint has significant carbon consequences associated with farming fish.

B.C. failing to meet international biodiversity targets: report / The Narwhal
A decade after Aichi biodiversity targets were set by Canada and other nations, a new report examines how B.C. measures up, finding the province has failed to protect nature in the midst of a growing global ecological crisis.

Fight to Free the Petitcodiac Proves Power of Grassroots Democracy / ASF
It took the persistent efforts of concerned citizens to reconnect the Petitcodiac River with the ocean. New Brunswick’s Petitcodiac River now flows freely for the first time in more than half a century.

Victoria, BC no longer flushing raw sewage into Puget Sound / CBC
In response to public pressure from local environmental advocates and Washington State, the city of Victoria constructed a sewage plant that is now in operation. No longer is Victoria using surrounding ocean waters to flush away raw effluent now that a $775 million sewage plant has started treating the equivalent of 43 Olympic-sized pools of waste daily.

Stop using B.C.’s oceans as a toilet / The Province
Government needs to set clear policies that prohibit sewage dumping.


Shíshálh Nation opposes chinook fishery opening / Coast Reporter
Shíshálh Nation is calling for the immediate closure of the recreational sports fishery in their territory, days after Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced the immediate opening of parts of the coast for chinook retention on May 14. The opening is on a trial basis. Fishers can catch one marked chinook per day, or one unmarked chinook at a maximum size of 80 cm.

Kwanlin Dün accelerates land use planning as Yukoners flock to Fish Lake / The Narwhal
The Kwanlin First Nation and the Yukon government have begun working on a land-use plan that will guide the future of Fish Lake, in part by designating different uses for the area, such as residential, commercial, traditional or environmental protection. “We know that if we don’t act now, the problems out there will only get worse,” says Kwanlin Dün Chief Doris Bill. “So, we need to figure out a way to coexist.”

Special Feature – Marine Boating Safety Tips and Tools / Blue Fish Canada and the NOAA

  1. Will a storm move in while you’re on the water? Check marine forecasts and be in the know before you go. Use a weather app and radio to stay alert to weather hazards in the area.
  2. Wear your life jacket offsite link. Always. Every passenger.
  3. Recreational boaters: Know what you’re getting into, literally. Check nautical resources such as the latest tide and current predictions.
  4. Understand the danger of cold water and how to prepare for and survive in it should you accidently go overboard.
  5. Know wildlife-viewing or fishing regulations, guidelines and tips for the location you’ll be enjoying. And boat responsibly.
  6. Using a mooring buoy? Make sure you are using it correctly.
  7. Boat clean and green. Secure all trash onboard, and don’t dump it overboard. Help prevent small oil spills if you have a vessel with an engine.
  8. “See A Spout, Watch Out.” It’s so exciting to encounter a whale when you’re out on the water. Know how far away you must stay from these beloved marine mammals for their and your safety. Boat strikes can kill whales and seriously injure passengers.
  9. If you’re headed to larger bodies of water, an EPIRB or other long-range emergency beacon is a great investment–a true life saver in the most difficult situations.

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