Blue Fish News – May 17, 2020

In this May 17, 2020 edition of the Blue Fish Canada Newsletter:

  • We continue our exploration of salmon and steelhead habitat access issues on the Fraser River; 
  • More water quality, fish health and fishing news; and,
  • In recognition of Safe Boating Awareness Week, we bring you a compilation of Covid-19 inspired boating and fishing best practices.

Fraser River estuaries serve as nurseries to salmon and steelhead
Last week we explored the Big Bar Fraser River landslide. Today we turn our attention to measures underway to rehabilitate the salmon and steelhead rearing habitat at the mouth of the Fraser River. While some doom-and-gloom people may think the writing is on the wall regarding the salmon and steelhead that rely on the Fraser River, there’s a lot of folks who refuse to give up. Their collective efforts, often now combined with resources from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, are beginning to turn the tide on the decline of the river’s former glory. 

The Fraser River is in no way just another of many west coast rivers that empty into the Pacific Ocean. It serves as a 1,375 km long freeway of sorts that links the ocean to numerous rivers and 12 distinct watersheds spread out throughout southern B.C. The steelhead and salmon that commute up and down the length of the Fraser also rely on the estuaries located near the river mouth for cover. Not just the process of smolting (shifting from living in freshwater to saltwater), but to build up the size and strength needed to survive in the open North Pacific ocean. 

Blue Fish Radio is always amazed and pleased to meet and present anglers who have dedicated huge chunks of their lives to stewarding the wild fish resources in their area. Dave Brown is another one of these local champions who may know more about the Thompson River and Chilcotin River steelhead that run up the Fraser River on Canada’s west coast. His knowledge and advocacy were recently recognized in 2017 with DFO awarding Dave the “National Recreational Fisheries Award”. Dave continues to work hard to save the iconic wild steelhead from annihilation. Link below to hear Dave Brown in conversation with Lawrence Gunther about the history, current situation, and what needs doing to save BC’s steelhead on this episode of Blue Fish Radio:

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed 13 of BC’s 26 southern Chinook stocks and found eight to be endangered. Contributing to the demise of these endangered salmon and steelhead is a history of well-intentioned developments along the Lower Fraser estuary such as dykes, pump stations, dredging and infilling that were taken over the past 100 years. Thankfully, a $2.7-million habitat connectivity project funded through the $75-million coastal restoration fund — part of the federal five-year $1.5-billion oceans protection plan – is already helping to restore crucial salmon and steelhead habitat. The days of the Steveston Jetty on the lower Fraser River preventing juvenile salmon from accessing the estuary zone in Sturgeon Bank may be coming to an end. The Steveston Jetty project is one of many underway to restore access to vital salmon rearing habitat essential to the development of salmon smolts prior to their entering the Pacific Ocean. Link below to learn how Murray Manson, a restoration biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is working with angling and conservation groups on this episode of Blue Fish Radio:

The Watershed Watch Salmon Society is devoted to addressing issues impacting wild salmon stocks throughout British Columbia. Whether it’s to improve conditions for struggling southern BC Chinook salmon stocks to help feed resident killer whales, or to ensure indigenous fishers and recreational anglers can continue to catch salmon to feed their families and sustain their coastal communities, the organization and its many volunteers are working hard to resolve spawning opportunities and habitat issues. Link to listen to Lina Azeez from Watershed Watch speak with Lawrence Gunther about their recent success in convincing BC municipalities to restore habitat for salmon smolts along the lower Fraser River on this episode of Blue Fish Radio:

It’s obvious that rebuilding Fraser River salmon and steelhead spawning and nursery habitats is a complicated issue that we have allowed to fester for far too long. Undoing the issues and reversing the decline of these important fish to the ecosystem and the socio-economic fabric of so many coastal communities will be a time consuming and costly endeavour. Thankfully, the alternatives of doing too little or nothing at all are ones that increasingly fewer people are willing to accept.

No doubt, as we learn about the success of restoration projects, our expectations will increase and still more such projects will be proposed, supported locally and funded. Ensuring that post Covid-19 infrastructure investments designed to rebuild economies include such habitat improvement considerations is something we all need to keep a watch over.

Call to Action:

Wild Salmon in the Age of Covid – Watershed Watch Salmon Society
With governments poised to implement a new round of infrastructure investments, we have an opportunity to rebuild endangered wild salmon populations, while securing good local jobs and protecting communities.

Ask federal and B.C. governments to invest in proven, fish-friendly flood control and habitat restoration projects.

Expansion of the Roberts Bank Fraser River shipping terminal – The Narwhal
A massive container terminal proposed for British Columbia’s Fraser River Delta is set to be a litmus test for the federal government’s commitment to conserve crucial Fraser River salmon habitat.

In the News:


Newfoundland/Labrador Government Not Selling Non-Resident Salmon Angling Licenses in 2020 – Atlantic salmon Federation
For the first in many decades, the Newfoundland / Labrador provincial government will not be selling non-resident salmon angling licenses. Not surprising with the Covid-19 pandemic, but on another level, this is a province that has encouraged salmon anglers who “come from away” for more than 125 years.

Record Numbers of Young People Discovering Fishing – National Professional Anglers Association
Across the U.S. more teens are going fishing than ever before. Some speculate it may be a result of school closures due to Covid-19. In one week, the Minnesota DNR sold a record 13,369 fishing licenses to resident teens 16 and 17 years old, a 99% increase over the year before. Minnesota fishing license sales overall increased by 44%. While most provinces in Canada don’t track sales of fishing licenses to youth, one need only drive by public access shore fishing locations to see a similar up-take in fishing here as well.

B.C. Anglers call for Salmon fishery to open to chinook retention – Squamish Chief
Sports anglers say government regulations that restrict the harvesting of Chinook salmon on the south coast, including in Howe Sound, are not based on science. Conservationist say opening is the goal, but the preservation of the stocks at risk is more important.

Trout Stocking Extravaganza – Alberta Conservation Authority
The Alberta Conservation Authority has been working hard to ensure nearly all ACA lakes have been stocked for the long weekend, and urges anglers to go catch a big delicious trout!

A Podcast about seafood and local fishers – Coastal Routes Radio
Social FISHtancing is a new podcast that presents stories of local fishers living in a time of COVID-19, brought to you by Coastal Routes Radio. It investigates the impacts of the COVID-19 on fishing families and communities across North America. Each week the hosts speak with people involved in small-scale fisheries and how their fisheries are being impacted, and how fishermen and women are responding to shifting seafood markets and consumer needs. Coastal Routes Radio is produced at the University of Guelph and is an initiative of the Coastal Routes project, a network of researchers, coastal communities, and non-profit organizations — united to support verdant, sustainable, and just coastal livelihoods and places.

Watch Major League Fishing Pros Cast Their Best Trick Shots 
Most of us have been sheltering at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped many of us from practicing our casting. Major League Fishing pros were recently tasked with showing off their expert casting skills to the world and submitting their best “Trick Shot”, and the best were compiled into a video that can be viewed at


Fish parcels from home: Fish Distribution by coastal B.C First Nation’s – Cowichan Valley Citizen
Despite the pandemic, Kyuquot First Nation will continue with its annual food fish distribution to Kyuquot First Nation members spread across B.C., and the US. Each receives a doorstep delivery of fish from their traditional land on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Water Quality:

Great Lakes Water Levels Webinar – International Joint Commission
The IJC recently held their 3rd water levels webinar of 2020. IJC co-chair Jane Corwin advises that forecasts show the water levels topping out at about one foot higher than where levels are now.

Fish Health:

Ontario B.A.S.S Nation Fish Care Study 
In March 2020 Jason Barnucz OBN Conservation Director attended the 2020 B.A.S.S. Conservation Summit held during the 2020 Bassmaster Classic. This bi-annual summit brings all B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Directors, Resource Managers and Fisheries Experts from across North America together to discuss conservation issues including tournament fish care, invasive species, fisheries management and more. Ontario’s Jason Barnucz presented on the 2019 Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation Live Release Study carried out at the 2019 OBN Qualifier at Rice Lake. 

Fisheries and Aquaculture minister devious and reckless – South Coast Today
The recent Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture decision to give a 20-year permit to Cooke Aquaculture to raise farmed salmon in Liverpool Bay is likely to result in the raising and selling of virus-infected salmon in the province.

The Miracle Fish – The Tyee
Salmon, amazing in so many ways, have swum in these waters for 50 million years. It’s miraculous they still do.

Restoring Balance in the Heart of the Fraser – The Nicomen Slough
The Nature Trust of British Columbia has acquired an important piece of habitat for conservation in the Heart of the Fraser known for prime spawning habitat for salmon and white sturgeon and for serving as a nursery for millions of salmon fry every year.


Canada’s own B.A.S.S Elite Angler Jeff ‘Gussy’ Gustafson Raises Money for Covid-19 Relief
Gustafson has partnered with Shimano Canada and the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation to raise money for the Covid-19 charities of the winners choice, who will receive an autographed tournament jersey from Bassmaster Elite Angler Jeff Gustafson, and a G-Loomis E6X Rod of their choice from Shimano Canada.

Dire straits for BC’s sport-fishing – Times Colonist
Fishing guides are at home, hotels are closed and vessels are docked due to COVID-19 restrictions, and it’s not known when these seasonal businesses will be able to start up again.

Shimano’s much-anticipated ICAST product presentation Moves On-Line – Angling International
Instead of staging the showcase in its booth in Orlando, Shimano is moving it online in a virtual event scheduled for the same time it would have been held in the Orange County Convention Center this summer. Product development staff and pro-staffers will be introducing new products from Shimano, G.Loomis, PowerPro and Jackal.

Marine Retailers Association 58-page Guide to Operating Safely 
The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, along with trade association partners from across the marine industry, recently released a 58-page publication aimed at helping marine dealers operate safely in a new marketplace concerned with COVID-19.

Safe Boating and Fishing

May 16-22 2020 is Safe Boating Awareness Week. With boat launches and marinas moving to open up, Blue Fish Canada conducted a scan and pulled together the following list of Covid-19 boating and fishing best practices for staying safe:

  1. Maintain social distancing, other than with those whom you live, including limiting who you invite on your boat;
  2. When picking up tackle or live bait, arrange to have curb-side pick-up or no contact delivery if possible, or ware a face covering and gloves if entering a store / bait shop;
  3. Don’t share equipment such as nets, pliers, life jackets, water bottles, weighing or measuring equipment, fishing rods, minnow buckets or any other piece of fishing or personal gear with other anglers / boaters with whom you are social distancing;
  4. Wear a mask or face covering if you’re going to be fishing or moving around people with whom you are social distancing;
  5. Avoid using boat docks at launches if possible by entering and exiting your boat directly from the launch;
  6. If you need to use a boat dock, avoid using ropes and cleats, wear gloves, and clean the soles of your shoes when you enter the boat. Wipe down your gunnels and sanitize your hands after departing the dock or loading your boat;
  7. Avoid shore fishing locations or using launches that are congested or where others are failing to respect social distancing;
  8. Don’t fish off docks where people are launching and trailering their boats, and don’t go on to a dock until the person before you is finished using it;
  9. Park your vehicle far enough away from other vehicles and don’t touch anyone else’s vehicle or boat;
  10. Don’t request assistance, other than from those you live with, to help launch or load your boat, or help with netting or releasing your fish. If you can’t do it yourself, then don’t go;
  11. Keep your dog on a leash as dogs can transfer the virus by touching their fur;
  12. Be prepared to offer help to other boaters in distress by carrying with you gloves and a mask or face covering, as well as hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes. It’s unlawful and immoral to deny another boater aid when their life is at risk.

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish News by visiting:

For more about Lawrence Gunther, North America’s only blind professional angler, conservationist, writer, blogger, podcaster, film maker and TV personality, visit:

Gunther founded the charity Blue Fish Canada in 2012 and launched the podcast Blue Fish Radio in 2013.

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Yours truly,

Lawrence Gunther Euteneier, M.E.S. M.S.M.
President / Blue Fish Canada