Blue Fish News- November 21, 2022

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Snow is flying, boats are being stored, and ice fishing gear readied. A perfect time to take stock on how 2022 unfolded. Stay tuned for Blue Fish Canada’s yearly up-date and plans for 2023 – coming soon. Thanks for your support – please keep it coming – none of what we do would be possible without you.

Oceana Canada’s Science Director Dr. Robert Rangely.

In the November 21, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we explore the challenges, opportunities and commitments needed to rebuild Canada’s fish stocks, including a discussion with Dr. Robert Rangely, Science Director with Oceana Canada. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Feature chosen to inform and inspire our readers concerns the Ontario Government’s Bill 23 and its potential impacts on fish habitat.

This Week’s Feature: Rebuilding Fisheries

By Lawrence Gunther

I recently spent a day with about 140 highly intelligent and motivated people representing all aspects of marine commercial fishing organized by Oceana Canada. Even the Minister of Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans spoke to us at the end and took questions, in addition to a number of DFO officials taking part.

Like Ocean Wise, Oceana Canada is not philosophically opposed to fishing. In fact, Oceana believes that if managed properly, the ocean could supply the world’s population with sustainably harvested wild fish.

The following three priorities shaped the discussions during the Symposium:

  1. Potential for rebuilding abundance in Canada’s oceans in the next decade.
  2. Growth opportunities for food security, income, and livelihoods in coastal communities.
  3. Required changes to ocean governance and investment over the next five years.

My reason for attending the Symposium, in addition to satisfying my curiosity, was to learn what lessons could be applied to recreational fisheries. Turns out commercial fishing could take a lesson from the recreational fishing handbook, and I pointed this out during A Q/A session with panelists, touching off an interesting little debate – more on that to come.

We heard from indigenous representatives who shared advice on moving forward together using a “two eye” perspective, or in other words, by drawing on both science-based best practices, and indigenous traditional knowledge and values. We listened to a lot of scientists discuss research that examined environmental, social and governance issues associated with commercial fisheries, and we heard from representatives from the fishing industry itself, including those promoting community supported fisheries that link artisanal fishers directly with consumers.

My general sense is that Canada is on the right track in terms of rebuilding marine fisheries, even if we have been a bit slow to get started. Unfortunately, not much has changed in terms of how we regard ocean fishes as distinct “crops” that continue to make a handful of people a lot of money.

Having participated in the North Atlantic cod fishery prior to the moratorium coming into affect throughout Atlantic Canada in 1992, I understand all too well just how important fishes like cod are to people trying to make a living. It worked for those who chose to migrate to North America over 500 years ago, and continued to do so for many subsequent generations. The environment, society and the governance of the people and the fish stocks never seemed to be an issue for much of this time. The question of indigenous participation in commercial fisheries is another matter that I really don’t know that much about other than barriers to accessing fisheries evolved to become problematic. What I did witness on Canada’s east coast however, was the use of significant technological advancements that led to significant impacts to fish stocks. It was my sharing this observation that touched off a lively debate among the panelists.

My question to the panelists was: “Why do we blame solely the large-scale factory trawlers for the depletion of the cod stocks off North America’s north Atlantic coast? No doubt, these large-scale fish harvesting and processing machines were to blame for much of the collapse, but it was also my experience that even independent artisanal fishers were constantly upgrading their boats and fishing technologies to maximize efficiencies?”. Nothing that could compete with the mega factory off-shore trawlers that exemplified “economy-of-scale” fishing, but modifications to smaller in-shore vessels that exponentially improved their catch-to-effort performance. In short, I wanted to know why more research isn’t being conducted on how to scale back fishing pressure, instead of trying to discover a social engineering solution to the problem.

There were those who felt that the solution was to turn back time to when many of these technical innovations such as sonar, GPS, machine driven winches, nylon nets and lines, on-board freezers, etc. became the norm. Others argued that fishing technologies designed to maximise economy of scale fishing is essential to minimise time on the water and the expenditure of fossil fuels. To me, I think about all the restrictions I need to know when I go fishing recreationally or when competing in tournaments, and wonder why commercial fishers aren’t being required to “dial it back” as well?

Recreational angling, whether with a guide, on your own, or in a tournament, functions within a broad scope of rules that limit how much fishing pressure we are permitted to apply. Things like how many hooks we can have tied on our lines at any one time, how many lines we are allowed to use at once, the types of baits we are allowed to use, whether we are allowed to set lines and then leave, or if we can use nets to do more than trap a fish already hooked, or whether we are allowed to use fish attractants like chum, lights at night or sounds. This is all on top of increasingly complex rules governing what size fish we are allowed to harvest, when and where we are allowed to fish, and how many fish of any one species we are allowed to have in our possession.

Fishing tournament organizers expand on recreational fishing regulations with many more restrictions meant to ensure that each angler has no unfair advantage over their competitors before and during the competition. Things like the size of our motors on our boats, a ban on soliciting information from locals on where to fish, and now in some cases, what types of electronics are allowed on board. In short, rules, both legal and situational, meant to ensure recreational fishing is both sustainable and equitable.

The concept of sustainability is only recently become an important consideration to those who manage and participate in commercial fisheries. The principle of equitable access is also an issue, and in many cases, has been deliberately undermined. When you have one man who owns virtually all the commercial fishing boats on Canada’s West Coast, and now much of the processing capacity as well, what’s fair about that?

I’ve personally witnessed one of his large saining vessels force hundreds of recreational, guide and First Nations small watercraft from the water in order to deploy their nets. They simply deploy their net by circling the school of migrating salmon without regard for other vessels that need to quickly move away to avoid being caught up in the “set”. To make matters worse, they then leave with the fish without even stopping to buy gas or lunch. It can take days for the next school of migrating salmon to replenish the local waters, and that’s never guaranteed.

It’s not just western Canada where you see this type of domination of a fishery by one person or corporation. Iceland’s Atlantic salmon fishery is one, the menhaden fishery off the U.S. East Coast is another. However, it’s not the issue of equitable access that’s causing fish stocks to decline, it’s the lack of regulations meant to ensure the sustainability of our fish stocks by limiting the way these resources are harvested.

One example of achieving sustainability by restricting the application of technology is the Bluefin tuna fishery on Canada’s East Coast. Bluefin tuna can be caught using rods and reels equipped with a single hook, a “tended line” with a single hook attached directly to a fishing vessel, and in certain limited situations, the use of Trap net/weirs that fish swim in to but then can’t find their way back out. Unfortunately, Bluefin can also be legally harvested as bycatch by off-shore vessels that use Pelagic longlines used to harvest swordfish and other tunas. These longlines are a mainline suspended by floats equipped with 600 to 1100 baited hooks on a line measuring from 50 to 90 kilometers in length. Incredible commercial fishing technology for sure. Fortunately, all Bluefin tuna caught are tallied each day in order that set quotas can be respected.

Some argue that the problem lies with DFO being responsible for both managing fishery sustainability, and the commercial success of the industry. That managing these two areas of responsibility presents a conflict of interest resulting from DFO placing more emphasis on helping Canadian commercial fishing businesses to succeed by ignoring the harvest limits recommended by their own scientists. These critics point out the long list of fish stocks being over-exploited, such as the crash of the North Atlantic cod stock off the east coast of both Canada and the United States. Thankfully, both nations have since strengthened their respective rules that now put fish stock sustainability ahead of corporate profits.

Personally, I’m not convinced that focussing DFO to manage fishing pressure exclusively is the answer. In the end, no matter what the department’s other responsibilities might include, they still need to consult with stakeholders when formulating and implementing harvesting regulations. Forcing DFO to forgo their role in promoting Canadian fishery businesses would simply hand responsibility over to some other department that would do much the same.

Unfortunately, large companies have had an advantage in past that allowed them to focus lobbying efforts to influence those in power responsible for making the rules. This wasn’t the case with small-scale entrepreneurs or what many now refer to as artisanal fishers. It’s not so easy to consult thousands of independent and diverse commercial and indigenous fishers who may or may not belong to national associations. It’s much more convenient and intoxicating to sit down with a handful of powerful ultra-rich industrial magnates to politely portion out the windfall. It’s this history of excluding local and indigenous commercial fishers that concerns many who presented at the Oceana Canada symposium.

So once again, there’s no one answer that will rebuild the abundance of Canada’s marine ecosystems. Yes, we need to reduce the level of fishing pressure, and yes, we need to make sure those who want to be part of our commercial fisheries can do so. Regardless, large players in the commercial fishing industry will argue that putting limits on the use of harvesting technologies will price Canada out of the market. Other than boutique-style markets, we won’t be able to compete internationally on price if we don’t employ the same economy of scale approaches used by our competition. But aren’t these same people the ones responsible for the overfishing and excess fishing capacity the world now finds itself in? There you go, another piece to the puzzle, ensuring fair and competitive competition, which I’m happy to say Canada is also now working on addressing.

The most recent round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization saw Canada successfully put forward a limited number of proposals to ensure small scale commercial fisheries are protected and sustainable. More work to do indeed, but it seems we are moving in the right direction, with that one nagging exception — the lack of restrictions on fishing technologies to manage fishing pressure.

Hey, if placing restrictions on the use and application of certain fishing innovations is considered fair when regulating recreational fishing, why not apply restrictions to commercial fishers regardless of their routes or the pray being pursued. It has nothing to do with who’s doing the fishing, it’s about the tools in hand and their unimaginable destructive potential – a relatively new power that reaches well beyond the prior experience of all humans.

If you want to know more about what came out of the Rebuilding Abundance symposium, listen to my conversation with Oceana Canada’s Senior Science Director Dr. Robert Rangeley. Dr. Rangeley and I took time not long after the symposium concluded to discuss the points raised concerning the three identified priorities, and the applicability to recreational fishing. We also discussed why it makes sense to invite recreational anglers to join the table when fish stock research reports are being presented and harvest limits set – especially when the fishes in question are of interest to both recreational and commercial fishers. This inclusion already took place on Canada’s West Coast when it became apparent that the economic contribution of recreational fishing far outweighed the contribution of commercial fishing. Link below to hear Dr. Robert Rangeley on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Are Canada fisheries officials failing to protect their most iconic fish? / Sport Fishing Mag
An environmental report says Fisheries and Oceans Canada lacks staff to adequately enforce the nation’s laws to protect over a dozen species, including Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, bluefin tuna and Atlantic cod.

Canadian operation uncovers illegal fishing in North Pacific / SeafoodSource
As part of Operation North Pacific Guard Canadian fishery officers flew 29 patrols over 247 hours, and covered a total of 44,200 nautical miles. The multinational maritime surveillance mission uncovered a number of violations on the high seas such as sharks being caught and kept , and noted a large number of vessels with improper identification.

Fishermen take federal government to court over right to sell Class B licences again / Global
Donald Publicover, 71, wants the ability to sell or transfer his Class B fishing licence to ensure the financial stability of his family.

After record haul, Bristol Bay sockeye harvest forecast to drop next year / Seattle Times
2022’s record harvest was 104 per cent higher than the 20-year average. These fish, as well as smaller numbers of other salmon, were collectively worth more than $351M.

Record Smallmouth Bass Caught On Lake Erie! / WFN
Gregg Gallagher’s goal during a last-minute fishing trip with his son on Lake Erie was to “catch a giant smallmouth bass, 7 pounds or better.” The huge smallmouth caught Nov. 3 was not only a personal-best for Gallagher, it was likely the largest smallie ever caught in a Great Lake, pending certification, incredibly weighing in at more than 10 pounds. The behemoth broke the 68-year-old smallmouth record for the province of Ontario, Canada.

Ask MRIP: Answering Your Questions About For-hire Data / NOAA
Saltwater anglers, for-hire captains, and other members of the recreational fishing community often ask how and why the NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program collects recreational fishing data. They also want to know how the MRIP uses that data to estimate total recreational catch. Our Ask MRIP web series answers your questions about the science and statistics that support sustainable fishing.

Menhaden Harvest Increase Approved As Anglers Petition To Close Chesapeake Bay Fishery / FishingWire
East Coast fishery managers have approved increasing commercial harvests of Atlantic menhaden from Maine to Florida. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which regulates near-shore harvests of migratory fish, voted Wednesday to set a new ceiling on the coastwide menhaden catch of 233,550 metric tons, a 20 percent increase over the current quota.

Salmon’s Arctic Expansion Has Communities Worried / Hakai
Inuvialuit fishers are adapting to rising numbers of Pacific salmon in the western Canadian Arctic, but fears remain about impacts on native species.

Learning More about “Dark” Fishing Vessels’ Activities at Sea / FishingWire
Fishing vessels can “go dark” by turning off Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders that broadcast their location to satellites and terrestrial receivers. What they do during those invisible hours has long been a mystery. New research funded in part by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement analyzes where, when, and potentially why vessels disable their AIS broadcasts systems.

A complex case of murders on the high seas haunts a Canadian investigator / Walrus
When video of a grisly shooting on a fishing boat circulated online, one determined investigator went on a quest for justice

New Ocean Order / Craig Medred
The salmon fishing industries of Alaska and Russia look poised to continue as the big beneficiaries of global warming with Canada and the U.S. West Coast the big losers.


Canada proposes 62 fish stocks for sustainability protection / CBC
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has proposed adding 62 stocks to a regulatory list that binds the minister to rebuild them if they become depleted. Regulations that went into effect earlier this year as part of the Fisheries Act created a list of so-called prescribed fish stocks. In April the first batch of 30 was added.

We Saved These Tuna. We Can Save Some Sharks Too / Sierra Club
The data on tuna goes back the farthest. The first international tuna data-collection agreement was signed in 1949, between the United States and Costa Rica, just as motorized fishing boats and power block winches began to drastically increase the volume of fish that a single fishing vessel could bring in. Today there are five Tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) in which member nations try to hammer out catch limits, data collection, monitoring, and best practices for fishing.

Scientists Call for Setting Limits and a Possible Moratorium on Fishing in Antarctica / Phys.Org
This week, an international group of 10 scientists is calling for protective limits on fishing in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, reporting in the journal Science that current levels of fishing, combined with climate change, are taking a concerning toll on a diverse ecosystem of global importance.

Welcoming Herring Home / Hakai
In Howe Sound, British Columbia, a new generation of stewards is keeping careful tabs on the comeback efforts of a tiny fish with big cultural value.

Washington won’t renew leases for Puget Sound fish farms / Global
The Washington state Department of Natural Resources said Monday it will not renew a fish-farming company’s last remaining leases on net pens in Puget Sound.

Will aquaculture solve our seafood problems? Not likely, say these UBC researchers / VanIsle News
“Aquaculture has a role to play but we shouldn’t give up on our wild fish, and that means rebuilding and conserving them. We need aquaculture, we just need to manage it wisely, and not oversell its potential.”

Will Lab-Grown Fish Save Alaska’s Wild Salmon Stocks? / KDLG.Org
Although wild salmon remains one of Alaska’s most lucrative seafood industries, it’s also one of the state’s most vulnerable, as climate change and population growth increase pressure on the world’s oceans. As it looks more and more likely that demand will eventually outstrip the productivity of salmon and other wild seafood stocks, researchers have turned to another method for producing protein from fish by culturing it in a lab.


The real reason global fish stocks are declining — and what you can do about it / Discover
Although the oceans are already changing, advocates say it’s not too late to do some serious damage control. This includes halting the decline of global fishing stocks.

The World’s Biggest Marine Reserve Seems to be Doing it’s Job / National Geographic
Fishing boats around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawai’i are catching more tuna than they used to, suggesting local populations are growing again.

A deeper dive into the marine protected network plan on Canada’s West Coast / National Observer
There’s much to celebrate in the proposed plan to create a string of marine protected areas stretching Canada’s West Coast from northern Vancouver Island to Alaska, experts say. But the lack of information on specific protection measures for the BC Northern Shelf MPA Network means the blueprint to preserve sensitive ocean ecosystems risks becoming a string of “paper parks” — legally designated areas that don’t actually have effective conservation or stewardship measures.

Pristine alpine lake contaminated by dust from mountaintop B.C. coal mines, study shows / Vancouver Sun
New Alberta government research has found windblown dust from mountaintop removal coal mines in B.C. has polluted a pristine alpine lake to the point where its as contaminated as lakes downwind from the oilsands.

Ottawa considers crackdown on cruise ship industry for using B.C. coastal waters as ‘a toilet bowl’ / West Coast Now
Each year cruise ships dump tens of millions of tonnes of concentrated acidic sulphates, metals, and other toxins dumped into B.C. waters.


How the Kenney Dam broke the Nechako River / Tyee
First Nations want B.C. and Rio Tinto Alcan to save the river. Is it too late?

West Coast First Nations, feds reach tentative understanding on vast offshore region / Salmon Arm Observer
Off the west coast of Vancouver Island is an area spanning 133,019 square kilometres characterized by deep sea hydrothermal vents and seamounts surrounded by vibrant coastal ecosystems. Identified by authorities as the ‘Offshore Pacific Area of Interest’ and also known as Tang.ɢwan-ḥačxʷiqak-Tsig̱is, it’s future has been the focus of intense, groundbreaking discussions between West Coast Indigenous peoples and the federal government, discussions that may have hit a milestone.

Salmon’s Arctic expansion has communities worried / Hakai
Inuvialuit fishers are adapting to rising numbers of Pacific salmon in the western Canadian Arctic, but fears remain about impacts on native species.


New awards added to recognize outstanding achievements in the worlds of freshwater and fly angling. / IGFA
Named after the individual that many consider the biggest influencer in the history of fly fishing, the newly announced IGFA Joe Brooks Fly Fishing Award acknowledges anglers who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the world of fly fishing. There are few names if any, that carry more weight in the world of recreational angling, especially freshwater angling, than Johnny Morris. The newly announced IGFA Johnny Morris Freshwater Angling Award will acknowledge anglers who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the world of freshwater angling.


ePropulsion Expands Electric Inboard Motor Line-Up With New I-Series / FishingWire
Available in 10KW, 20KW and 40KW input power, the I-Series electric inboard motors are ideal for leisure marine and commercial applications on small and medium size boats. All products in the I-Series have been designed for ease of use and space-saving. The models have a compact design that integrates the motor, gearbox, motor controller, system control unit and cooling system into a small area that requires 60% less space than a typical combustion engine. The I-10, I-20 and I-40 are also 65% lighter than a typical combustion engine and feature an easy-to-maintain, high-performance and durable lithium iron phosphate battery.


Kids Art Contest / PSF
The Pacific Salmon Foundation’s 2nd Annual Kids Salmon Art Contest is accepting salmon themed entries until December 5. Award winning entries will receive a prize pack worth up to $150 each! AND each submission from a classroom/ on behalf of a school, either individual or class, will be entered to win one of three $1000 cash prizes towards Pacific salmon education and resources for your classroom or school.

Guy Harvey Foundation Renews Support for The Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest / FishingWire
White Bear Lake, MN – Wildlife Forever is excited to announce The Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest has partnered with the Guy Harvey Foundation for the 2022-2023 contest. The partnership will continue to spotlight the Guy Harvey Shark Award, featuring four critical shark species. Art eligible for the Guy Harvey Shark Award must depict a Mako, White, Bull, or Tiger Shark, and include a written component relevant to the chosen species. The Fish Art Contest is open to youth Kindergarten – 12th grade from anywhere in the world.


Subscribe here to Alberta’s 2023 Discover Guide! / ACA
The 2023 Annual Alberta Discover Guide is coming in January – sign up today for this FREE guide and get it delivered. Over 790 conservation sites for hunting and angling including sites from Ducks Unlimited Canada and Alberta Fish & Game Association.

Special Issue of Fisheries Shines Spotlight on Citizen Science / NOAA
A special issue of Fisheries magazine highlights citizen science and other nontraditional data sources in fisheries science and management. This issue includes papers, project information, and discussions based on a symposium held at the 2020 American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting. Access to the special issue is free for the next 2 months.

Special holiday Subscription Rate for Outdoor Canada magazine / Outdoor Canada
A one-year subscription includes 6 issues per year, featuring Canada’s only national fishing and hunting magazine. First subscription: $19.95, each additional subscription $14.95.


Rebuilding Abundance With Oceana Canada / Blue Fish Radio
Oceana Canada believes that if managed properly, the ocean could sustainably supply the world’s population with sustainably harvested wild fish. Ensuring Canada is doing its part is their mandate and the theme of their recent symposium “ Rebuilding Abundance”. Over 140 experts and stakeholders met to discuss Canada’s potential, opportunities and needed investments. An invitation and professional Curiosity about how all this might apply to recreational fisheries led to my attending, and a subsequent conversation with Oceana’s Science Director Dr. Robert Rangeley. Check out this episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show to hear Dr. Rangeley discuss what we learned and what needs to come next.


White Shark Necropsy / Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark
Check out “White Shark Necropsy October 2022” filmed near Halifax N.S.” by Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Nature Inspirations Awards – Fishing for Success / Canadian Museum of Nature
These annual awards, now in their ninth year, recognize individuals, businesses, and not-for-profits that show leadership, innovation and creative approaches to sustainability in order to connect Canadians with nature and the natural world. One of the eight 2022 winners is “Fishing for Success”, a community social enterprise in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland for its program that introduces women and girls to sustainable fishing practices.

Special Feature – The Ontario government’s “More Homes Built Faster” Bill 23

Bill 23 is the Ontario government’s plan to immediately build 1.5 million new homes by 2031 by bringing in changes to ten provincial Acts relevant to the protection of freshwater and shorelines. Blue Fish Canada provided the following submission to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“As a registered charity dedicated to the future of fish and fishing, Blue Fish Canada is concerned that Bill 23 may result in the destruction of important fish habitat. Shoreline wetlands are crucial to fish during spawning and development, and provide a source of prey for adult fish. Should these shoreline wetlands be impacted, entire eco systems may be put at risk. Such impacts to the Great Lakes alone can cause harm to the $8.5 billion freshwater fishery and the food and income upon which many people are dependent. Please modify this bill to ensure important wetlands are preserved to ensure the future of fish and fishing in Ontario. The 1.4 million Ontario fishing license holders and their children and grandparents will thank you.”

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