Blue Fish News – May 16, 2022

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Thankfully, after such a long winter, boats are getting re-launched, only this year with a heightened awareness of their potential to convey invasive species. For much of Canada, boats back in the water marks the end of that difficult and often frustrating period that starts when ice fishing ends. If you have a youth fishing event planned for 2022, drop us a line so we can help get the word out and celebrate your endeavour:

In this May 16th, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on nuclear risks to our Great Lakes fisheries and the results of a new International Joint Commission report. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, Habitat and other news you need to know.

Photo of danger radiation sign located on the shore of Lake Athabasca

Nuclear Threats to Great Lake Fisheries

The International Joint Commission recently released a significant report that clearly outlines a path forward for greater public and indigenous engagement on matters concerning nuclear power generation and decommissioning end-of-life generating stations on the shores of the Great Lakes. The report was prepared by the IJC’s Water Quality Board and covers the 38 nuclear reactors and 18 existing nuclear power stations located along the shores of the Great Lakes, including the three Ontario owned stations responsible for generating half of Ontario’s electricity. Many of these stations were built in the 1970s and are now nearing end-of-life. The report covers the decommissioning of the actual stations, the transport of spent nuclear fuel to long term storage facilities, and the creation of such storage sites. While not a technical report, it makes clear that both Canada and the U.S. have much work to do to meet these challenges, and that much of this work entails building public trust through meaningful consultations and engagement. These decisions and actions have massive potential consequences for freshwater quality that accounts for 20% of the world’s supply, and the most valuable freshwater fisheries in the world. The stakes are huge, and yet steps on how to decommission nuclear power stations and dispose of spent nuclear waste have yet to be fully developed and implemented. For more about the IJC’s recent report “Decommissioning of Nuclear Power Facilities in the Great Lakes Basin”, link below to hear Gayle Wood Canada’s Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is another organization seeking greater understanding of Ontario residents’ views on Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The NWMO is tasked with implementing Canada’s plan for the safe long-term storage of used nuclear fuel in a manner that protects people and the environment for generations to come. The Ontario communities of Ignace and South Bruce are the two areas currently involved in the NWMO’s site selection process for a deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel. All households in Ignace and South Bruce were sent a short survey in January 2021 to assess their awareness of the project, and to understand what topics people are interested in learning more about through community studies. No doubt, public perceptions are fraught with miss-information and legitimate concerns when it comes to the long-term storage of the spent nuclear fuel that continues to pile up at Ontario’s three power stations.

The issue of disposing nuclear waste is also one that concerns those 2-million people and 13 First Nations communities that live along side the Ottawa River. In 1944 the Chalk River Laboratories opened on the banks of the Ottawa River about 200 km upstream of our nation’s capital. According to Ottawa Riverkeeper there have been major accidents at both the National Research Experimental Reactor and the National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River resulting in several persistent waste issues. The facility’s Waste Management Areas have caused contamination of the groundwater which continues to be released into freshwater streams and lakes. In 2016 the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories submitted a project proposal to build a permanent Near Surface disposal facility at the Chalk River site that would operate for 50 years and dispose of waste from both the Chalk River Laboratories site and other similar facilities. The site, to be located several hundred metres from the banks of the river, will have a capacity of roughly 1,000,000 cubic metres of waste. Once the entire mound is filled, a permanent cover will be installed to reduce exposure of the waste to rain and snow. The fact that groups like Ottawa Riverkeeper remain highly concerned about these plans, and that there is little public awareness of the waste disposal plans being proposed, is not only evidence of pour planning and communications, but undermines public confidence in the way these facilities are being managed.

Even as plans for the disposal and decommissioning of current nuclear power stations gets underway, plans to meet our current and growing electricity demands now include exploring the feasibility of “Small Modular Reactors” and even smaller “Micro Modular Reactors”. Small and Micro modular reactors have a smaller footprint than traditional reactors, but in no way can be compared to portable generators used on construction sites or to provide off-grid power for RVs, cabins and fish camps. These modular reactors are designed to be assembled easily, produce at most 300MW, and come complete with sufficient nuclear fuel to last approximately 20 years after which they would be decommissioned. SMRs are being positioned as a clean technology to address climate change and are being promoted as an essential component of Canada’s emissions reduction plans. Having spent considerable time in Canada’s Arctic, where diesel powered generators are used to meet the electrical demands of communities, I understand why such technology would have its appeal given the lack of sun during winter months and the unpredictability of wind.

At the other end of the spectrum there’s the mining of the actual fuel used to power nuclear stations big and small. Canada was once a world leader in the mining of such fuel and would continue to be such if demand for uranium hadn’t dropped off. One need only visit northern Saskatchewan for evidence of once booming uranium mining operations such as the Gunnar mine site located on the north shore of Athabasca Lake. This mine and others made up the sole industry that prompted development of communities such as Uranium City, once home to over 5,000 people prior to the closure of the Gunnar Mine site. Literally over night, residents of the community, now jobless, packed up their vehicles and drove the 100 kilometers south across the frozen lake to start over. The shuttering of the mines and departure of the miners and their families left behind over 80 abandoned uranium mine sites featuring slag heaps and waste ponds that continue to release dangerous levels of radioactive contamination to this day. Link below to hear a resident of Uranium City discuss his life and his family’s exodus on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

What the IJC report made obvious is that Canada requires stronger nuclear related policies that provide clear and strong guidelines on how nuclear waste and uranium mines should be managed to bring Canada more in line with international norms. Should Canada choose to restore its position as an international leader in nuclear power, it will also need to adopt more comprehensive regulations to properly evaluate and monitor all manner of proposed developments. Decommissioned power stations and temporary waste collection sites must also be re-assessed to ensure they are safe from climate change driven weather events. The last thing we need are more signs being posted such as those found on Lake Athabasca warning the public to keep clear due to dangerous radiation. Signage like this requires a half-life of 250,000 years.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Manitoba Wildlife Federation supports upcoming changes to the province’s fishing regs / Outdoor Canada
The Manitoba Wildlife Federation says it’s completely on board with a suite of upcoming changes to the province’s recreational fishing regulations. The changes will affect fishing licences and seasons, possession limits, size restrictions, the harvest and use of live bait, ice-hut rules, and regulation enforcement.

New Ontario Bait Strategy
New rules, effective January 1, 2022, make it illegal to bring baitfish or leeches, whether live or dead, into a Bait Management Zone (BMZ). Persons coming into Ontario in areas where BMZs abut the border of the province must ensure they are not bringing these commodities with them. Non-resident anglers are required to purchase their baitfish and leeches from within the Bait Management Zone they are going to be using it in. They are required to retain a legible receipt and must be able to immediately produce if asked by a Conservation Officer. The bait must be used within two weeks of purchase.  Visit the website for more information on the new bait regulations.

Lee Livesay Relies on Baitfuel to Win Bassmaster Central Open / Fishing Wire
BaitFuel products have undergone extensive scientific research and testing to ensure the mix of bite-inducing ingredients is fully optimized for maximum performance in both BaitFuel Gel and BaitFuel integrated soft plastics. BaitFuel is supercharged with F.A.S.T. (Fish Active Scent Technology), water-based technology that releases scent easily and mimics the smell and taste of actual prey.

Video: The Science behind Bait Fuel / Bait Fuel
Using a revolutionary manufacturing process to supercharge traditional soft plastic baits, Dr. Bruce Tufts and his researchers came up with the ultimate fish attracting scent now marketed as BaitFuel.

Added measures return to protect B.C.’s southern resident killer whales / Salmon Arm Observer
The federal government is once again putting measures in place to protect southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. The southern Gulf Island salmon fishing closure will last from the first southern resident sighting until the end of October.


Life Cycle of Atlantic Salmon / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Atlantic salmon make an epic migration in their lives, swimming thousands of miles across the North Atlantic. Typically, adults will spend two winters at sea before migrating back to their natal rivers to spawn. Unlike Pacific salmon, which always die after spawning, Atlantic salmon often survive spawning and may migrate back out to sea with the chance of returning to spawn again. Female repeat spawners are an important dynamic to the species survival since these older fish are more fertile and produce larger eggs with a better chance of survival.

Invasive species found in St. Lawrence River / Watertown News
A small population of the Eurasian tench has been found in the St. Lawrence River by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. The discovery has hooked the interest of both river officials and north country anglers.

Ontario’s feral goldfish population is exploding and climate change may be to blame / CBC News
Researchers at the University of Toronto believe this scenario is repeating itself hundreds of times in suburban storm ponds all over the province. Originally built to reduce neighbourhood flooding and relieve pressure on Ontario’s city sewer systems, these pools have become ground zero for what Nicholas Mandrak calls “super invaders.”

Millions of tonnes of dead animals: the growing scandal of fish waste / Guardian
Dumped at sea, lost on land or left to rot in shops and fridges, the global catch of fish is being wasted like never before – hurting not only the oceans but the nutrition of billions of people. Can it be reversed?

Big Bar landslide response information bulletin May 9 2022 / Fisheries and Oceans Canada
The first salmon fry releases of the 2021 Big Bar conservation enhancement program have begun.


Last habitat of endangered Atlantic whitefish saved from logging / National Observer
Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables announced the decision Monday, citing the species’ precarious state as the reason for an indefinite hold on logging plans near Minamkeak Lake that include three sections of Crown land.

Canada dumps billions of litres of raw sewage into natural waterways annually. How can we stop? / CBC News
Every year, cities across Canada dump billions of litres of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and oceans. Uytae Lee looks into how we got into this mess and how can get out of it.

The ocean’s biggest garbage pile is full of floating life / New York Times
Researchers found that small sea creatures exist in equal number with pieces of plastic in parts of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which could have implications for cleaning up ocean pollution.

Feds appear to cover-up inconvenient salmon lice science / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
In 2012, a federal inquiry found that salmon farms in the Discovery Islands may pose a risk to wild sockeye salmon and should be removed by September 30, 2020, (or sooner if evidence arises) unless DFO can show they are of minimal risk. On September 28, 2020, DFO held a press conference concluding that 9 pathogen risk assessments showed salmon farms pose minimal risk to sockeye salmon. Evidence pieced together by Watershed Watch Stan Proboszcz suggests DFO may have covered-up some of its own research that concludes sea lice can harm sockeye.

Why a federal salmon study that found viruses at B.C. fish farms took 10 years to be released / Globe and Mail
For ten years, Kristi Miller-Saunders could not fully disclose the results of her study that showed a virus spreading among fish-farmed salmon in British Columbia. The federal Fisheries Department in the government of Stephen Harper would not release the 2012 report into open-net fish farms, a position that continued with the Trudeau government. In March, the federal Information Commissioner ordered the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to release the information that found pathogens among open-net fish farms in the province. The commissioner ruled that suppressing publication of the document was not justified. The study found that fish-farmed salmon suffered from jaundice and anemia because of the highly contagious Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV). This virus is associated with organ failure in chinook although it is not considered harmful to humans.

Years of regulation may have reduced invasive species risks in the Great Lakes, study says / Great Lakes Now
The study, released by McGill University and the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, looked at the bi-national regulation of ballast water. According to the study, this practice has actually reduced the risk of an invasion by 85% since 2008.

Nature Canada leads campaign to designate PEC as a National Marine Conservation Area / Cottage Life
Along the shore of Prince Edward County (PEC), the waters of Lake Ontario serve as a hotspot for bird watchers, nature lovers, and adventure seekers. But without safegaurds, this may not last. Lake Ontario is one of the least protected of North America’s Great Lakes, making it vulnerable to land development, runoff pollution, and invasive species. According to Nature Canada If the area is designated a NMCA, it’ll prevent extractive and destructive practices from disturbing the ecosystem, such as bottom trawling, lake bed mining, oil and gas extraction, and dumping. What it won’t change is how cottagers use the area. The waters will still be open to recreational use, including swimming, paddling, surfing, motorboats, and even commercial fishing.

The Queen Conch’s Gambit / Hakai
The first and only queen conch hatchery and nursery run by local fishers is poised for duplication across the Caribbean—but even if conch farming can help ease overfishing, can it survive in warming, storm-lashed seas?

In Graphic Detail: The Right Whales Aren’t All Right / Hakai
More than 80 percent of right whales have been entangled at least once. The ropes and floats hamper swimming and sap the energy available for growth, leaving the whales smaller, on average, than 40 years ago. The odds of survival look increasingly grim for the North Atlantic right whale, one of the world’s most endangered large whales. The population, estimated at just 336 animals in October 2021, is the smallest it’s been in two decades.

Open-net fish farm closures delayed / CTV
The promise to phase out B.C.’s open-net fish farms by this summer has hit another speed bump, as the industry pushes back once again in court. Marine-biologist Alexandra Morton explains the next steps to Gloria Macarenko.

Bridgewater opposes logging in home of critically endangered fish / CBC News
The Nova Scotian town of Bridgewater water utility is opposing an application to log on Crown land inside the Petite Riviere watershed, citing fears that the proposed harvest poses a risk to its water supply and the remaining population of critically endangered Atlantic whitefish.

P.E.I. environment minister confirms Canada Games project damaged spawning grounds / Salt Wire
Environment Minister Steven Myers confirmed construction of upgrades at the Mark Arendz Ski Park in Brookvale caused damage to salmon spawning grounds in a West River tributary.

It’s past time Canada banned dumping of ship scrubber discharge into our waters / The Province
“Scrubbers dump acidic sulphur, heavy metals and other chemicals into the ocean at levels that exceed thresholds set for protecting local marine life. Transport Canada has the authority to ban them.”

We should be concerned about aquaculture projects in Newfoundland / Salt Wire
“People from the area should have a last look at the bay as they knew it and get ready for big aquaculture.”

Concerns raised about possibility of invasive fish disease in B.C. waters / Nelson Star
Whirling disease has decreased fish populations by 90 per cent in certain regions.

How Teck Resources’ coal mines threaten fish from B.C. to Idaho / Narwhal
Selenium from a string of Teck Resources’ mines in southeastern B.C. is projected to contaminate the transboundary watershed connecting Canada to the U.S. for centuries to come.


Bringing the salmon home initiative / Toronto Star
The three governments of these First Nations have banded together with the government of Canada and British Columbia to form the Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative.

First Nations hold floating protest to demand end to salmon farming in B.C. / CTV
Dozens of Indigenous protesters and their allies took to the water in Tofino Harbour on Saturday to demand that the federal government refuse to renew salmon farm licences on the B.C. coast next month.

BC Province announced a $30 million investment in partnerships that empower local leaders to secure a sustainable future for their watersheds and the communities that depend on them. Of this funding, MakeWay and Watersheds BC (a project on MakeWay’s shared platform) will steward $15 million specifically to support Indigenous-led projects for watershed health. We will work hard to administer this funding in ways that reflect the recommendations of the Indigenous Leaders Advisory Council, and in collaboration with Indigenous partners, to shape a thoughtful process for deploying funds. From restoring rivers and streams and protecting salmon habitat, to fostering future generations of watershed stewards, this work will help pave the way towards a model of watershed security that is rooted in long-term resilience, local values, and Indigenous rights and title.

This fishing captain is combining Inuit knowledge with scientific expertise to fight climate change in the Far North / Globe and Mail
Using a traditional spear and modern ice sensors, Inuk fishing captain Joey Angnatok is part of a global effort to monitor the effects of climate change in the Far North. When he’s not fishing, he operates his 60-footer as a marine research vessel, working with scientists to collect data that help with long-term tracking of sea ice and wildlife trends. He also hops on his snowmobile to do ice reconnaissance with his harpoon.


Recreational Fishing World Reconvenes at ICAST in July / NPAA
Celebrating its 65th year the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades – better / MPAA known as ICAST – heads to Orlando, Fla., and the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) from July 19-22 for the planet’s largest sportfishing trade…

Scientists and Local Champions:

Watersheds Canada Seeks New Executive Director
We are looking for an individual who can champion our vision that all Canadians are engaged and caring for clean, healthy lakes and rivers that sustain humans and wildlife for years to come. By joining Watersheds Canada, they are joining a close-knit family made of dedicated staff that are excited to support the new Executive Director in leading the organization to new successes.

Remembering Ray Scott, A True Friend to All Anglers / NPAA
Ray helped make dreams come true for many! Ray, the founder of the Bass Angler Sportsmen’s Society, B.A.S.S., and the father of modern-day conservation.

Alan Graham honoured with top salmon award / ASF
The 2022 T.B. ‘Happy’ Fraser Award was recently presented to Alan R. Graham. The award is the Atlantic Salmon Federation Canada’s top honour, given out since 1975. It recognizes sustained and substantial contributions to conservation, protection, and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and wild rivers.

Coming Up:

World Fish Migration Day – Connecting fish, rivers and people
Help celebrate World Fish Migration Day on May 21. It’s a truly global celebration to raise awareness of the importance of free flowing rivers and migratory fish.

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