Blue Fish News – March 14, 2022
What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Beginning March 17 and lasting four days, Lawrence Gunther will be live on the Outdoor Canada seminar stage at the Toronto Sportsman Show. Drop by booth 2723 and get caught up on the latest local, traditional and scientific sustainable fishing knowledge.
In this March 14 2022 Blue Fish Canada News we begin with an editorial meant to clarify confusion over invasive, non-native and native species. 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 are tips for removing invasive species from your boat and trailer at the launch.
This Week’s Feature – Native, Non-Native, and Invasive – Which is What?
As individuals, it’s important that we understand the various ways we commonly assess the value or impact of different species on the environment. There is growing awareness that invasive species pose serious threats to our beloved fisheries, but what we don’t fully appreciate is that preventing these impacts from occurring is not necessarily BEYOND our control. Take for instance the movement of fish and other species not technically considered invasive, but when these non-native species show up, the consequences for native species can be significant. No doubt, changes are occurring all the time, but under chaotic conditions, the rate of change intensifies. So let’s all get on the same page with respect to understanding how are attitudes and behaviors towards native, non-native and invasive species are impacting the fisheries we love so much before our great country turns into one giant smorgasbord.
Walk into any aquarium store and pick from a wide variety of legal but potentially invasive species available for purchase. What doesn’t come with your new aquarium pet are instructions on what to do should your interest in their upkeep dwindle. Thankfully, increasingly more aquarium stores offer credit for returned fish, but what none offer are instructions on how to humanely euthanize unwanted aquarium guests. The result is a “pandemic” of invasive aquarium pets being sighted in lakes and rivers across Canada. Everything from the simple Goldfish to Red Ear Turtles. Simple pets turned wild resulting in massive ecological changes.
Lamprey are another much misunderstood species thanks to the inadvertent introduction of Sea Lamprey into the Great Lakes following completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959. Prior to the entry of these big fellas, four other much smaller native lamprey species were existing quite “nicely” alongside other fish species for millennia. In fact, lamprey were a main food source of people for centuries. So before you go throwing shade on First Nations groups who are looking to restore native lamprey species, you might first take a few minutes to educate yourselves on how native lamprey species fit into the evolution of North American ecosystems. Only then will you understand why we actively control the spread of only the Sea Lamprey capable of killing most native predatory fish species in the Great Lakes. So what exactly is the definition of “native species”?
A native species is one that has evolved along side other species in an ecosystem. But one angler’s native species is another’s invasive species. Such is the case throughout much of North America. You would be surprised to learn just how many native fish species have been transported to other habitats where they now flourish and dominate, and have become accepted as non-native species. To list just a few, there are Brown Trout brought to North America from Europe in the mid-1860s. Brook Trout are in fact not trout but part of the char family, and are native to Eastern Canada only. That is until their aggressive and intentional spread across much of Canada starting in the 1880s. Rainbow Trout, on the other hand, a native fish species that evolved in a limited area of western Canada, were first introduced into the Great Lakes in the 1890s, and can now be found just about everywhere.
Like the Common Carp, these three iconic trout species proliferated throughout North America thanks to human intervention. So why are Common Carp still considered a “trash fish” by many, when Brown, Rainbow and Brook Trout are revered? I’m making this point because it showcases how perceptions can cloud our opinions, not because I’m looking to either degrade trout or raise people’s opinions of carp. So this begs the question, when does a fish species cross over from being non-native to native, if not technically, in our commonly held opinions?
In the case of Pacific Coho and Chinook Salmon being introduced into the Great Lakes in the 1960s, their “rock star” status was instantaneous. The reverence anglers have for these iconic salmon species on Canada’s west coast was quick to take route in Ontario. So much so, that efforts to ensure their successful naturalization became the common call of anglers and non-anglers alike. As soon as these salmon began to migrate up Ontario rivers, calls to introduce fish ladders and to remove orphan dams followed.
Almost without exception, upper stretches of tributaries that emptied into the Great Lakes were thrown open to Coho and Chinook Salmon as if these watersheds had been nothing more than barren virgin waters just waiting to be inhabited. That is, with the exception of the Isaac Walton Fishing Club that continues to this day to resist the removal of a dam on the Credit River in Georgetown. This 100-year-old dam represents the last barrier defending other non-native fish species that made the Upper Forks of the Credit River home about one hundred years earlier – Brown and Brooke Trout. The Club recognized that water bodies have a limited biomass carrying capacity, and that if you bring in a much larger more aggressive species, there’s going to be losers.
Speaking of dominant sport fish, consider the Smallmouth Bass. This little champ is viewed by many, pound-for-pound, as one of the most ferocious fighting freshwater fish in North America. While they may not hold the public’s high regard like Coho and Chinook Salmon, Smallmouth Bass have a devoted following. So much so, their steady and surprisingly widespread invasion is said to be primarily due to five-gallon buckets in the hands of angling devotees.
The spread of Smallmouth Bass throughout Atlantic Canada is blamed for holding back the restoration of native Atlantic Salmon. The presents of Smallmouth is judged as so incredibly damaging that lakes are being drained and rivers poisoned in order to break their hold. But are those responsible for their spread any more criminals than those officials who introduced Common Carp into Lake Ontario 150 years earlier as an acceptable replacement to the extirpated Atlantic Salmon? I’m not making excuses for those who choose to relocate these fish, but I think our flip-flopping on what constitutes acceptable fish management practices hasn’t helped.
So when is a non-native fish considered “native”? The answer may annoy some, but never. However, that’s not going to slow down what’s coming.
Due to climate change, fish species are on the move. Fish more commonly found in warmer southerly waters are creeping north. These often-toothy newcomers are taking advantage of warming ocean temperatures to expand their range. And it’s not just predators either. Even forage fish are shifting north, and their vastly inferior fat content compared to the less aggressive cold water prey fish that put more effort into storing body fat than hunting year round, means native predators such as Pacific salmon species looking for their next meal are often left feeling somehow empty of the calories they require to complete the epic migrations they normally execute with the support of their former nutritious food base. Somehow that 1,000 km swim upriver just doesn’t seem possible anymore.
Arctic Char along Nunavut’s Baffin Island were once prized for their bright pink flesh, a result of their feeding largely on krill. Now, with the arrival of a far less colourful baitfish, the flesh of Arctic Char is now grey. This one visual indication of perceived value has placed Arctic Char on the “Junk heap” in market terms, putting an end to the once highly valued commercial fishing quotas once prized by Inuit fishers. To be frank, their pink flesh was about the only thing these char had going for them other than their exotic Arctic range. Like their cousin the Lake Trout, Arctic Char have a less than subtle flavour that many find unpalatable, but, I digress.
The lesson here is that like Canada as a whole, we are a nation known for our diversity and mobility. Just like people, fish species seem to move around with newcomers arriving all the time. While climate change related migration may be difficult to stop, fishery biologists, First Nation communities, and others are beginning to take steps to un-do the havoc imposed on native fish species by the introduction of non-native species.
Attitudes about tampering with natures balance to “improve” the fishing experience are shifting. Instead of putting a priority on bigger, faster growing, tastier fish, species protection now focusses on those native species that evolved over centuries. Not because they have some sort of moral right over other species, but because these native species represent diversity.
No longer is it considered prudent to put all our fish eggs in one basket. If our ecosystems are going to stand a chance against shifting weather patterns and other ecological challenges brought about by climate change, it’s better to have a variety of strengths possessed by different fish that have evolved separately from each other over time.
Scientists and others believe that by respecting distinct subsets of a specific fish species, we can avoid ending up with a single “monoculture” type species, which is the exact opposite of how fin-fish aquaculture operations now function. Protecting the DNA diversity within wild fish species at the sub-species level is just as important as protecting the species itself. Again, to ensure a variety of DNA strains exist that have already adapted to different environmental conditions. Besides, who wants to spend time and money travelling across Canada just to catch the same old fish everywhere you go?
So where does that leave Canada? Does it make sense to make the removal of non-native species a priority? Or can we simply agree that moving fish and other species into new habitat is just wrong.
The new eco-tourism angling trend these days is the experience of capturing unique native fish species. Offering such bucket list opportunities is helping to create new sustainable tourism jobs in remote and northern areas of Canada. Regions that have been “burnt” by the boom-bust cycle of resource extraction type industries like forestry and mining. It all sounds great, but before you heap shame on fishery managers of past, a lot of the decisions taken to introduce non-native species had little to do with eco-tourism, and everything to do with ensuring food security for growing and food insecure populations.
While I’m not saying that harvesting fish for food is wrong, I’m simply suggesting that food security shouldn’t be addressed by promises of shiny new fish species such as Splake, a hybrid fish species created in hatcheries by crossing Lake Trout with Brook Trout. Instead, let’s rely on managing fishing pressure on wild fish stocks, and if that’s not enough, I’m sorry, but turning Canada’s lakes and rivers into giant pseudo aquaculture operations should no longer be an option.
Conservation should be our priority, and not playing at being God by mixing and matching fish with different habitats. This applies to fishery managers and individuals alike. Time to respect those that came first, instead of simply shoving them aside as if they were last year’s fashions.
The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News
My Catch Ontario Fishing Challenge / Angler Atlas
The My Catch Ontario Ice Fishing Challenge wrapped up February 28 with over 3,000 fish entered by anglers across the province! Over 500 participants competed for over $8,000 in cash prizes, as well as local bragging rights. The Township of Chapleau was crowned the 2022 Ice Fishing Capital of Ontario with 161 fish caught and 39 residents participating in the event. Dubreuilville came in second with 18 residents catching 372 fish. In third place is the town of Wawa, with 45 residents catching 193 fish.
Greg Marino of Sioux Lookout landed the longest fish of the event, with a 112.4 cm Northern Pike. The longest lake trout was won by Steve Dumonski of Sioux Lookout with his 103 cm catch. The longest Walleye came in at 76.2 cm, landed by Chris Hayes. The longest Brook (Speckled) Trout at a respectable 53.5 cm was pulled in by Darren Smith. The longest Yellow Perch measured up at 37.5 cm, reeled in by Nathan Monk of Nipigon. And rounding it all out, Tyler Soulliere of Espanola won the diversity prize catching 18 different species of fish during the event.
New freshwater Species added to the angling record keeping duties of the IGFA include:
Barbel Barus barbus – 44 cm
Bass, spotted Micropterus punctualtus – 34 cm
Buffalo, bigmouth Ictiobus cyrprinellus – 48 cm
Buffalo, smallmouth Ictiobus bubalus – 50 cm
Catfish, flathead Pylodictis olivaris – 75 cm
Gar, longnose Lepisosteus osseus – 77 cm
Huchen hucho – 72 cm
Inconnu Stenodus leucichtys – 64 cm
Muskellunge, tiger Esox masquinongy x Esox Lucius – 57 cm
Pellona, Amazon Pellona castelnaeana – 37 cm
Tambaqui Colossoma macropomum – 53 cm
Trout, tiger Salmo trutta x Salvelinus fontinalis – 43 cm
Clever Whales and the Violent Fight for Fish on the Line / Hakai
As I coiled rope on the deck of a commercial fishing boat in the western Gulf of Alaska, I felt the sudden thud of a revolver reverberate in my chest. I wheeled around as a crewmate fired more bullets; a round of buckshot followed, from a shotgun held by my captain. I’d known their anger was growing as sperm whales ate our catch but hadn’t expected they would vent their frustrations with live ammunition. I looked out and saw a sperm whale crest the surface for air around 20 meters away, seemingly unfazed by the heavy fire.
Trout Unlimited Cane Rod Raffle / TUC
Support the conservation of cold-water resources and share the sport of fly fishing! Trout Unlimited Canada Northern Lights Fly Fishers has a bamboo fly rod up for raffle. This custom rod has a retail value of $1,500. Draw Date: June 1, 2022
New Hope for Billfish in the Pacific
With nearly fifty years experience working to conserve large open-ocean predators, Wild Oceans (formerly the National Coalition for Marine Conservation) …
Fundamental Growth Limitations Found in Antarctic Fish
Antarctic fish have adapted over millennia to survive in the freezing temperatures of the Southern Ocean.
Smallmouth Bass Caught at the Edge of Yellowstone National Park / GARDINER
An angler caught a smallmouth bass on Feb. 19 while fishing on the Gardner River.
Addressing Native Freshwater Fish Hybridization with Non-Natives
Oregon State University researchers have created a tool to assess the risk of hybridization among native and non-native fish.
Fall in Love with New Seafood this Year / NOAA
Whether you’ve made, broken, or forgone New Year’s resolutions this year, we have a tasty proposal: resolve to try some new seafood! Seafood is a healthy, nutrient-dense source of protein. Some fish are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart and can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish (particularly fatty fish) per week.
Wild fish stocks squandered to feed farmed salmon, study finds / The Guardian
Shoppers’ appetite for salmon is causing millions of tonnes of nutritious mackerel, sardines and anchovies to be wasted as fish feed, according to new research.
New research sheds light on salmon survival in open ocean / Campbell River Mirror
A recent study examines the relationship between environmental conditions, pathogens, and gene expression in wild salmon.
‘Grunts, growls and hums’: B.C. researchers help compile online database of fish sounds / CBC News
Cataloguing fish sounds will allow for a better understanding of marine ecosystems, researchers say.
Lady killers: declining female sockeye in the Fraser River / FISHBIO
Monitoring data has revealed a concerning trend: the proportion of females in many spawning populations in the watershed has been declining over the past 30 years.
Aquaculture salmon detected in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Maine rivers
Two aquaculture-origin Atlantic salmon were among seven adult fish collected on Nova Scotia’s Gaspereau River this year for breeding at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Coldbrook Biodiversity Facility, a hatchery where populations of critically endangered inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon are maintained. DFO scientists reported the information at a recent update on salmon recovery efforts.
30×30 Beginning to Unfold Across the U.S.
American sportfishing Association Government Affairs Vice President Mike Leonard has your March video update. This month’s episode is all about 30×30.
Regional organizations release annual joint priorities for the Great Lakes / ISC
To celebrate Great Lakes Day events, a binational coalition of regional agencies, legislators, local communities, tribes, and business, maritime and environmental groups released shared priorities for restoring the Great Lakes and supporting the region’s economy.
Extreme weather could help invasive green crab crawl along Vancouver Island, B.C. coast / ISC
The European green crab is present all the way up the west coast, but that invasion has been going on for over two decades, said Tom Therriault, a research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
Nature Conservancy hopes to keep round goby out of Lake Champlain / ISC
The Nature Conservancy in New York is calling on the state to close one of the locks along the Champlain Canal, west of the Mohawk River, until a permanent solution is realized to prevent the invasive Round Goby species from traveling to the lake.
UN agrees to create global plastic pollution treaty / CBC News
The United Nations approved a landmark agreement to create the world’s first ever global plastic pollution treaty on Wednesday, describing it as the most significant environmental deal since the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Enviros call on Canada to strengthen our rules after genetically modified aquarium fish escapes into the Brazilian wild / National Observer
As one of the first countries to approve the sale of the Glofish in the early 2000s and the first to produce genetically engineered salmon, environmentalists say Canada needs to take a long, hard look at its regulations around genetically modified animals.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joins NCC in protecting P.E.I. land / CBC News
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was a partner in a recent land acquisition by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in western P.E.I. NCC purchased 68 hectares of salt marsh, freshwater wetland, and forest along the Percival River.
British Columbia’s gold rush threatens wilderness and salmon / Outdoor Life
“Proposed mega gold mines in British Columbia are setting the region’s wilderness history and its mining future on a collision course.”
Catching crabs in a suffocating sea / Tyee
Climate change is creating ‘dead zones’ on the west coast. Researchers and crabbers are working together to find solutions.
St. Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia fish farm application filed as community vows to show its opposition / SaltWire
Canadian Salmon Farms Ltd. has taken the next step in the application process to develop four finfish aquaculture sites in St. Mary’s Bay.
Canada fisheries minister reiterates commitment to removing salmon farming net pens in B.C. as industry begs for clarity / IntraFish
The status of 79 remaining salmon farming licenses in British Columbia set to expire in June remains up in the air.
‘It’s for our survival’ — Indigenous women lead conservation efforts in Canada / National Observer
In Canada, Indigenous women are leading the charge to preserve biodiversity and fight climate change by heading up important new conservation initiatives.
Feds float $11.8 million for Indigenous commercial fishing ventures on West Coast / National Observer
The funds will support new businesses, training opportunities and increased access to fisheries for 31 Indigenous commercial fishing companies involving 117 First Nations across B.C.
A 30-Year-Long Fishing Dispute Fizzles Out / Hakai
Indigenous people and their ancestors have been netting salmon and digging clams in the island-studded Salish Sea for at least 10,000 years. These long-time residents of what are now Washington State and British Columbia—multiple communities represented by dozens of languages and a long, branching, sometimes-overlapping history—forged alliances among families to allot access to the rich fishing grounds. The arrival of Western colonial powers, however, froze those boundaries and undermined the ability of Indigenous peoples to govern those fishing territories and their natural resources.
International Game Fish Association names five angling greats to the 2022 class of the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame / IGFA
This year’s inductees include IGFA World Record holders and light tackle aficionados Pam Basco and Enrico Capozzi; renowned angling historian and advocate Mike Farrior; iconic B.A.S.S. leader and industry pioneer Helen Sevier; and legendary lure designer and innovator Joe Yee. Elected unanimously by the IGFA Board of Trustees, the 2022 class will join 136 legendary anglers, scientists, conservationists, writers and fishing industry leaders whose contributions to sport fishing are forever preserved and celebrated in the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame.
NAISMA seeks new Executive Director / ISP
The North American Invasive Species Management Association is seeking a new Executive Director.
ePropulsion, a global leader and market challenger in marine electric propulsion systems and services, has announced record sales / EPripulsion
Sales revenue increased 200% year-on-year in 2021, with over 15,000 units sold across the globe. The company estimates a further 100% growth rate in 2022 as more boat owners look to switch to more sustainable boating and convert to electric propulsion systems.
New Episode of the “Fish of the Week” Podcast
Put on your shades and learn about one of North America’s most colorful fish, the Longear Sunfish.
My Catch Panel on Virtual Tournaments and Fisheries Research / The Blue Fish Radio Show
This podcast is a recording of a panel discussion I organized with the St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Science featuring virtual fishing tournament organizers, Fish biology researchers, and the inventor of the My Catch app. The five presentations take the first 30 minutes, and is followed by a live Q/A session with the over 280 webinar participants who caught one of the two Facebook streams or YouTube stream. We drilled down on topics such as confidentiality, data protection, and how the app facilitates both fisheries research and tournament coordination.
Please share freely / Blue Fish Canada Stewardship Tips:
Webinar March 22 water security, collaboration between Indigenous & non-Indigenous scientists / Canadian Freshwater Alliance
On World Water Day March 22 Canadian Freshwater alliance is hosting a talk on how a new project from Clearwater River Dënë Nation showcases how experts in Dënësułinë knowledge systems are working alongside experts in Northern social, ecological and interdisciplinary science systems to create powerful relationships that allow science to be more effective in developing community-led water security solutions.
Scientists and Local Champions:
Become an ISAP Ambassador / Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program
Are you, or someone you know in high school, college, or university, part of an environmental or eco-club, or have thought about starting one? Well, Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program (ISAP) wants to help! We are looking for Ambassadors for our new volunteer program – the ISAP Ambassadors, or ISAPA for short! Register now to be part of this exciting opportunity.
Call to Action:
Tell MPs factory fish farms aren’t above the law / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
As of March 1st, factory fish farms must abide by rules requiring them to keep their parasite levels below three salmon lice per farmed fish. This rule was created by the federal government as an attempt to protect vulnerable wild juvenile salmon as they migrate past the farms and their harmful parasites.
Right now, parasites are out of control at many factory farms. Some farms can have upwards of 16 parasites per farm fish. Obviously, these farms are unable to control the spread of parasites and are now endangering juvenile wild salmon during their outmigration.
We are exactly four months away from June 30th, when almost all factory farm licences expire. We know the industry is nervous about this upcoming deadline, we see their propaganda ramping up. These next few months will be pivotal in the fight to get factory fish farms off the B.C. coast and away from migrating wild salmon.
Our federal government promised to get factory fish farms out, and while they’ve taken some action, removing farms from the Discovery Islands, they’re not done yet. We need to keep reminding them to keep their promises and defend wild salmon from fish farms and their parasites and diseases.
Please take action. Our MPs need to hear from us on this. Send them a quick email.
Have Your Say Lake of the Woods Anglers / NDMNRF
Ontario is seeking the public’s input on the management of the recreational walleye fishery on Lake of the Woods through virtual roundtable sessions on March 22, 2022 at 7 pm EST, 6 pm CST.
BC Outdoors Show
On April 8-10 in Chilliwack BC, after three years of anticipation, our inaugural event the BC Outdoors Show is finally happening, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Our intention with this show has always been about bringing the industry together. We are ready to reunite in person with friends, colleagues and you!
Toronto Sportsman Show
On March 17-20 at the Toronto International Centre, the Toronto Sportsman Show is back! Check out seminars taking place on two stages, hundreds of outdoor exhibiters, and plenty to excite people of all ages.
4th Local Seafood Summit / Local Catch
We are thrilled to invite innovative, inclusive, and collaborative speakers to submit proposals for the 4th Local Seafood Summit to be held in Girdwood, Alaska on October 2-3, 2022. Proposals for the summit will be a accepted through Sunday, April 17, 2022. We encourage that presentations and sessions provide tangible learning takeaways and practical skills, tools, and strategies for summit attendees, and align with the summit theme, Building the Future of Local and Regional Seafood Systems.
Special Guest Feature – How to Remove Aquatic Species from Your Boat / Mercury
Just a few extra steps right after you pull your boat out of the water can help ensure that you don’t take any aquatic invasive species – or eggs or seeds – to another body of water.
- Once the boat is on the trailer, pull it to the nearest possible out-of-the-way spot. A slight incline is preferred to facilitate more complete drainage.
- Remove the drain plug and make sure there is nothing preventing the bilge water from flowing freely.
- Lower all engines or outdrives to allow the water in the coolant passages to drain.
- Remove the plugs from all livewells and baitwells and let them drain completely.
- Starting at the rear of the boat, do a visual inspection for organic matter and remove it with your hands. Don’t forget the trailer, outdrive, swim platform, boarding ladders, transducers and anything else that tends to collect debris. You should also remove any mud or sediment you might have picked up as it can harbor seeds, eggs or tiny creatures.
- Continue the process down one side of the boat, paying special attention to the trailer rollers or bunks, as well as the axles, rims, brake lines and other hardware. A boat hook can help reach potential AIS material that is not easily accessible by hand. Repeat the process on the opposite side of the boat and trailer.
- Next, check the interior of the boat for any organic matter. Fishing tackle, tow ropes and the like can easily pull AIS material into the boat, and they can just as easily set it free in the next body of water you visit.
- Inspect the exterior of the boat from several angles to check for anything you might have missed the first time.
- If you’ve got a trolling motor, thoroughly inspect and decontaminate it as well.
Finally, raise your engines or drives back up to the normal traveling position and you’re ready for the drive home.
As the boat owner, it’s ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your vessel is clean and free of any potential AIS material before you leave the immediate area of the waterway.
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