Blue Fish News – March 15, 2021

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST! Blue Fish Canada is about to host the premier streaming of the award-winning Canadian documentary “What Lies Below”. The 79-minute documentary first featured at the Hot Docs Theatre in Toronto during the Planet in Focus Film Festival. It went on to screen at numerous film festivals across Canada and around the world before being licensed by both CBC’s Doc Channel and AMI TV. These exclusive licensing agreements have now just expired. Won’t you help us get the word out?

Join Blue Fish Canada on April 15 at 7p.m. EST for the premier streaming of the Canadian documentary What Lies Below. Follow Lawrence Gunther and his guide dog as they reveal ten stories impacting water, fish, and diverse Canadians who live by and from the water. Discover what is truly taking place out-of-sight beneath the surface of Canada’s many rivers, lakes and oceans.

Link here to watch the teaser:

In the March 15 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with a focus on the fastest changing lake in the world, Lake Superior. As always, we include links and summaries to news about fishing, fish, water and more, and close with a spotlight guest feature – the NOAA’s Great Lakes restoration work.

This Week’s Feature: World’s Fastest Changing Lake – Lake Superior

The Great Lakes have a combined 244,106 square kilometers of surface area, the largest freshwater system in the world. Lake Superior itself is also the world’s largest freshwater lake. But the Great Lakes are also imperiled by no less than 43 “Areas of Concern” (AOC)defined as environmentally sensitive or damaged. Twelve of these AOCs are in Canada, 26 in the U.S. and five more are shared between the two countries. You can learn more about what the U.S. is doing to address the AOCs on their side of the border in our Special Guest feature at the end of the News.

So how do we know Lake Superior is the fastest changing lake in the world, and what does it mean for water, fish, and the people who live by and from the water? IN a recent IJC report, “Assessing Progress: Climate change and algal blooms in Lake Superior”, Dr. Jay Austin of the University of Minnesota’s Duluth Large Lakes Observatory reports on his team’s research to measure how fast summer lake water temperature is warming, and the decrease in duration of winter ice cover. We also learn that blue-green algal blooms are now a concern, as are the number of storms causing record erosion and shoreline infrastructure destruction.

Link below to hear Dr. Austin discuss his research with editor Lawrence Gunther on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

According to the IJC, “the high resource value of Lake Superior needs to be protected to maintain public trust that important resources can be saved”. While much work remains to mitigate climate change, thank goodness scientists like Dr. Austin and his team are being supported to document the rate of change Lake Superior is experiencing. Their research is essential to improve the resilience of the lake, the life that depends on its ecosystems, and the Lake’s shoreline communities. After-all, Lake Superior still represents an almost perfect example of “one-health”, or what nature intended as a winning trifecta of water, fish, and people. Unfortunately, we also now know that no where else in the world is this interdependency being undermined as fast as Lake Superior.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News


Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson Goes Wire-To-Wire on the Tennessee River — NPAA
It was a spectacular showing by Northland Fishing Tackle and Shimano pro, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson, who went wire-to-wire to win the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite on the Tennessee River in Knoxville, Tennessee with 63 pounds. Gustafson caught a limit of smallmouth all four days of the event, something no one else accomplished. Winning by just over seven pounds, it was the first career Bassmaster Elite Series victory for the Keewatin, Ontario native.

Ice Fishing Tips for Lake Superior — Northland
Lake Superior’s acres are tabulated in millions, 20.288, in fact. Of those, however, only a fraction is chonsidered ice fishing territory. But in aggregate, when you compile Canada’s portion with shoreline zones in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, we’re still talking hundreds of thousands of hardwater acres.

Aqua-Vu: Gussy Talks Underwater Cameras — NPAA
“It’s always in my boat,” affirms Bassmaster Elite Series angler, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson, referring to a particular fish-finding tool that’s been popping up in recent conversations among hardcore bass fans. “A lot of the anglers have figured out that an Aqua-Vu is a mandatory piece of equipment at places like the St. Lawrence River”.

Maine Biologists Encourage Fish Harvest in Some Lakes — The Fishing Wire
If you have ever been fishing, either open water or ice fishing, it is likely you have heard someone say, “let them go and watch them grow.” While this catch and release message was important several decades ago when we saw more fishing pressure and higher harvest rates by anglers (and may still help some fisheries), other present-day fisheries, (and in Maine’s case many fisheries), rely on harvest by anglers to maintain healthy fish populations and to achieve size quality management goals.

Northland Tips on Side-Imaging — NPAA
Structural anglers are used to locating a spot of interest via high-definition contours, then picking those locations apart with traditional down-sonar in an effort to locate fish, catch them, and store location (GPS) information in order to return to that spot someday down the road. A staple amongst tournament bass anglers these days is Side-Imaging that map both structural elements, and individual fish to target.

‘Trapped’: Women working as fishery observers allege sex harassment, assault at sea — Vice
Four women who worked on the front lines of fisheries monitoring in Canada, often alone on a boat full of men, allege their jobs were a hellish grind of sexual harassment, assault, intimidation, and threats.


Kiyi Eyesight Gives Researchers Insight into Restoring the Fish in the Great Lakes — IJC
A species of fish called kiyi has evolved to see particularly well in deep parts of Lake Superior, giving it a significant advantage at those shadowy depths, according to recent research by the University of Buffalo.

Tidal Wave-Like Seiches Could be Drying out Northern Pike Eggs in Lake Erie Wetlands
Northern pike are among the top predators in the Great Lakes and a prized sport fish. They are even known to happily eat invasive common carp, potentially providing an ecological control in great enough numbers. But in recent years, the species has had problems successfully reproducing in western Lake Erie. An ongoing study suggests wild winds and waves could be having an effect.

Tracking the Spawning Grounds of Invasive Grass Carp
The vast majority of grass carp in the Great Lakes basin are reproducing in Ohio’s Maumee and Sandusky rivers, a recent study has found. Grass carp are an invasive species in North America known for eating large amounts of aquatic plants. This in turn can destroy habitat that native fish, amphibians, insects and birds rely on.

The American eel has seen a 99% decline in its Ottawa River population since the building of major dams. The greatest obstacle is the Carillon Dam, right at the mouth of the Ottawa River. As Hydro Quebec prepares for a $750 million renovation of the dam, the Ottawa River Keeper is advocating to have an eel ladder added as part of the dam’s renovation.

East Coast Aquaculture vs West Coast Aquaculture — ASF
Leo White, President of the Salmonid Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, draws attention to the ways DFO is treating net-pen operations differently on Canada’s two coasts. In particular, he notes the grants to subsidize operations in NL compared with requirements to remove cages in the Discovery Islands in BC.

Fisheries minister congratulated on Discovery Islands decision — BC Local News
“Indeed, problems began from the moment the salmon farming industry arrived in British Columbia’s coastal waters.”

Ottawa backs $27M open-net salmon farm, ocean sensor project in Atlantic Canada — CBC News
A Norwegian company’s proposal to open a salmon farm and hatchery in Placentia Bay, N.L., got a major boost Thursday from Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, a federal innovation funding organization.

Grinding fish to feed fish — The New Yorker
A visit to The Gambia for a deep dive into the business of fish meal and fish oil, servicing aquaculture in the developed world at the expense of people in developing nations.

WWF calls for halt of capelin fishery to protect species — ASF
WWF-Canada is greatly concerned for the lack of recovery of capelin, a key species in the food web off Newfoundland and Labrador. Capelin are an important forage fish species, upon which Atlantic salmon rely heavily while feeding at sea.

Eat the Fish enters new business waters due to pandemic — CBC News
The Thunder Bay-based fish company will move to a community supported fishery sales model.

Sacrificing wild Atlantic salmon for gold — Halifax Examiner
Trading a river for someone else’s gold profit.

Canada is failing its freshwater fish populations — Globe and Mail
Canada needs to better value freshwater fish and recognize their roles in ecosystems and the diverse ways in which they benefit residents, experts say.

Watch: South Newfoundland Salmon and the Species at Risk Act — ASF
On March 4th ASF staff were joined by nearly 100-people, many from the South Coast, for a 90-minute webinar on salmon in the area and a potential listing under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Hear a presentation on ASF’s “Do Not List” position and hear the discussion that follows.

An urgent call for a new relationship with nature — Scientific American
We should pause to assess fully what we have learned from the tragedy of the past year and commit ourselves to restoring our relationship with nature. We need fundamental change to our economic systems so that financial incentives go to those whose activities result in the conservation of nature rather its destruction.


The Great Lakes Region Needs a Coordinated, Consistent Approach to Climate Change — IJC
As the global climate changes, so do conditions in the Great Lakes. In coming decades, the Great Lakes are expected to see warmer waters, more frequent and intense storms, less ice cover and greater fluctuations in water levels. The Great Lakes of 2021 are different than they were in 1960 or than they will be in 2050.

Resiliency Along the Shores of the Deepest Great Lake — IJC
Despite being the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior is the least densely populated. Its shoreline, including islands, spans roughly 4,350 kilometers and much of it remains wild and undeveloped. The harsh, rocky shoreline and northern climate are poor conditions for agriculture and settlement. About 230,000 people live along Superior’s shoreline in Canada, around half of them in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Research Needs to Address Climate Change Impacts on Great Lakes Hydrology
Large fluctuations in water levels are part of the Great Lakes’ natural cycle. Levels have been historically high in recent years but were extremely low less than a decade ago. Scientists are working to understand how climate change may dictate the severity, length and frequency of extreme lake level events. As those who live and work along the Great Lakes continue to experience the extensive impacts of extreme conditions driven by climate change, it is critical to understand the changes that are happening in the basin to prepare for the future.

Road salt levels in some creeks toxic to aquatic life — Ottawa Riverkeeper
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has established federal guidelines around the amount of chloride — which is partly what salt breaks down into when it dissolves in water — in water bodies. Those guidelines state that 120 milligrams per litre leads to chronic, long-term toxicity, while anything above 640 milligrams per litre is considered acutely toxic. Not only does chloride take a long time to break down further, but it’s also toxic to aquatic life such as fish, amphibians, invertebrates and insects. According to the Ottawa Riverkeeper, researchers found water samples containing chloride amounts five times the acute level.

9 things that haven’t changed since Alberta’s about-face on coal mining policy — The Narwhal
The United Conservative Party was backed into a corner on its decision to open up the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains to open-pit mines. But it hasn’t completely abandoned its push to allow more coal projects in the province.

B.C. under pressure as U.S. EPA releases selenium pollution standard for water near Elk Valley coal mines — Narwhal
An environmental group is calling for an official Canada-U.S. International Joint Commission investigation over pollution downstream of Teck Resources’ operations. A Kootenay conservation organization is urging the B.C. government to “stop stalling” and match a new, more stringent U.S. standard for selenium pollution in a cross-border lake downstream of Elk Valley coal mines. B.C. and Montana spent years working to develop a new selenium limit for the watershed. Montana moved to implement the new standard last year.

Tribes, fishermen slam halt to Alaska-Canada water analysis — Washington Post
American and Canadian authorities have announced they will cease data collection on three transboundary watersheds that began from concerns about the impact Canadian mining could have on Alaskan waters. “Given the existence of other sampling programs planned by state, federal or provincial agencies throughout the transboundary region, there is no need to continue the joint program,” the state and province said in a joint statement.

U.S. Sportfishing Industry Puts Support Behind Bipartisan Bills — NPAA
The American Sportfishing Association announced its support for two bipartisan bills to help restore land and water surrounding abandoned Cole mines that would otherwise threaten fisheries and nearby communities.

Quebec’s Magpie River is the first place in Canada to be granted legal rights. — National Observer
The river will now be under the protection of “nature rights,” which treat the river as a person as opposed to an object. The river is protected under nine distinct rights, including the right to sue. This kind of environmental strategy has been put in place by at least 14 other countries, including Bolivia and New Zealand.


Indigenous Organization Helps Prepare for Climate Change on Public Lands — IJC
Long held up as the coldest and the cleanest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior is nonetheless seeing the impacts of climate change. Warmer air temperatures have brought more frequent and powerful storms to the region, and Superior is warming faster than the other Great Lakes. Communities that live and work along the shores of Superior are preparing for these changes by strengthening shorelines and protecting key plants and animals. For Indigenous communities, this preparation extends beyond reservations into ceded territory, specifically those on public lands. For more than 35 years, the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) has exercised authority delegated to it by its 11 Ojibwe member tribes to operate comprehensive conservation, natural resource protection, conservation enforcement and public information programs designed to implement the tribes’ treaty rights.


Nominations Open for C.A.S.T. For Kids B.A.S.S. Humanitarian Award — Fishing Wire
B.A.S.S. and the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation are accepting nominations for their annual humanitarian award recognizing the important work being done by many anglers to support fragile populations.


The Pro Angler’s Guide to Proper Boat Insurance — NPAA
Many of us believe we have all the coverage we need as we pursue our passion of angling, and in some cases even think we have over insured our equipment. The reality is that there are several “grey areas” that exist in most traditional insurance policies that can leave professional anglers high and dry when it comes to covering their equipment.

In Memory:

David Schindler, the Scientific Giant Who Defended Fresh Water — The Tyee
By the age of 50, Schindler was one of the world’s top freshwater ecologists. Politicians and bureaucrats feared him because he wielded scientific evidence the way a Samurai swung a sword. His ground-breaking research on phosphates, acid rain, climate change, UV radiation and transboundary pollutants had rattled governments in North America and Europe and driven important policy changes around the world. Schindler’s work, and that of his many collaborators, had also changed the daily life of Canadians. Whenever anyone added a phosphate-free detergent to a washing machine, they were honouring the work of Schindler’s team at the Experimental Lakes Area, one of Canada’s greatest science experiments. David was a truly great Canadian who was never afraid to speak truth to power — he will be missed.

Daryl Guignion remembered for strong Atlantic salmon advocacy in Prince Edward Island — ASF
Founder of the Island Nature Trust and Morrell River Management Cooperative, he played a central role in undertaking assessment of Atlantic salmon streams on the island, and in teaching a new generation of conservationists at the University of PEI. He is greatly missed.


Fish Art Contest is Casting For Entries —
The deadline is fast approaching for the 2021 Art of Conservation™ Fish Art Contest, supported by Title Sponsor Bass Pro Shops. This free contest is open to youth in grades K-12 from across the globe. The deadline to enter is March 31, 2021.

Special Feature: NOAA’s habitat restoration work in the Great Lakes strengthens healthy fisheries and ecosystems, benefits local economies, and supports resilient communities.

The Great Lakes are an important natural, recreational, and economic resource. But they face many threats, including habitat degradation, pollution, overfishing, and the spread of invasive species. NOAA and our partners work to restore habitat in the Great Lakes region to support the fish, ecosystems, and communities that rely on them through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

11 years: NOAA has worked through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative since 2010 to restore habitat across the Great Lakes region. Our story map celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, highlighting a decade of NOAA and partners’ work in the Great Lakes.

79 projects: NOAA has supported almost 80 high-priority habitat restoration projects through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Our efforts have helped strengthen valuable Great Lakes fisheries and restore coastal wetlands that improve water quality. We recently supported habitat restoration in places like the Detroit River in Michigan and the Buffalo River in New York.

4,500 acres: The projects we’ve supported have restored more than 4,500 acres of habitat for fish and wildlife. This restoration work has improved fish passage, cleaned up debris, restored coastal wetlands, and managed invasive species.

6 states: NOAA has supported habitat restoration projects in six states: Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. You can explore projects we’ve supported in these states through the NOAA Restoration Atlas, our interactive project mapping tool.

17 Areas of Concern: Our habitat restoration work in the Great Lakes has helped improve conditions in 17 “toxic hot spots” known as Great Lakes Areas of Concern. There are currently 26 designated Great Lakes Areas of Concern in the U.S. These are areas where a waterway’s poor conditions are affecting the environment, human health, and the local economy. NOAA and partners work to address the most pressing threats facing these waterways, so that they can be removed from the list of Areas of Concern.

As the largest freshwater system on earth, the Great Lakes are one of the most important natural resources in the world. They serve as important economic resources, supporting industry, transportation, commercial and recreational fishing, and tourism. NOAA’s habitat restoration work helps strengthen valuable fisheries and coastal resources and restore coastal wetlands that improve the quality of our water. It also provides recreational opportunities and supports the resilience of Great Lake communities.

We can’t have “green” without “blue”! – Canadian Freshwater Alliance

In less than three weeks, Canada’s federal government will release its COVID-19 recovery budget: the financial backing that will help the people and institutions of this country to regain our footing after the past year of this devastating pandemic. Let the government know that investing in our watersheds is investing in a healthier, greener and more prosperous future. Send Your Letter Now!

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