Blue Fish News – October 12, 2021

TAKE NOTE – October 14 Webinar on “Effects of toxic substances on Great Lakes fish health, and what it means for the health and wellbeing of people and their communities”

The Toxics-Free Great Lakes Binational Network, Blue Fish Canada and the Great Lakes Fish Health Network invite you to a binational webinar on the impacts of toxic substances on the health of Great Lakes fish. Learn about past and emerging toxic substances in the Great Lakes basin, how fish health is being impacted, and what this means for human health, indigenous cultures, and the social and economic sustainability of Great Lakes communities. The webinar will engage viewers by seeking input on what federal, state, provincial and other governments need to do. Continue

Register now to hear our three guest presenters, and to make your views known!

In this October 12, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on Canada’s commitment to protect 30% of our oceans, lands and freshwater as part of the push to create Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas to advance reconciliation through the “land back” movement. We include links and summaries to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news, and close with a spotlight guest resource from the International Game Fish Association on negotiating protection agreements.

This Week’s Feature – Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas and Canada’s 30-By-30 Protection Commitment

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

Who would have thought five years ago we would be experiencing so many nature conservation and protection initiatives that keeping them all straight would become an almost impossible task? Even more confusing is trying to sort out where these various often ambitious environmental initiatives overlap. Driving these initiatives forward is a collective understanding that we need to reverse the decline in Canada’s biodiversity, mitigate climate change, and support indigenous self governance while redressing past injustices through reconciliation. But there are those who believe their interests are being overlooked in the push to get agreements in place – protection that will cover more than 30% of Canada’s three oceans and just as much land and freshwater within the next eight years.

Few would argue against conserving nature in Canada and around the world as a means to halt biodiversity loss, tackle climate change, and to help shift people to live more sustainably. Numerous experts have concluded that over a million species are threatened with extinction due to 75% of the earth’s land and 66% of the earth’s marine environment already having been significantly altered by our actions. With this in mind, Canada has pledged to join other countries around the world to protect 30 percent of our land, freshwater, and oceans by 2030. The federal government has also committed to advocate at international gatherings that other countries adopt this same 30% conservation goal, and that science, Indigenous knowledge and local perspectives be used to guide their actions.

According to the DFO website, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are defined using science. To date, Canada has established 14 MPAs under the Oceans Act, three National Marine Conservation Areas, one marine National Wildlife Area, and 59 marine refuges. These areas contribute to protecting 13.81% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas. Each MPA can be defined differently in whether or how commercial, indigenous and recreational fishing is undertaken. For a more detailed analysis of what this means for recreational anglers, read my article published in Outdoor Canada Magazine in March 2018 “Why Anglers should Pay Attention to Proposed Marine Protected Areas”.

You can also listen to my conversation with Dr. Larry McKinney, a biologist who has created numerous successful MPAs along the Gulf of Mexico and an expert witness called to testify before a Parliamentary committee where he expressed serious concerns. Link below to The Blue Fish Radio Show episode:

Creating areas to protect nature using science alone fails to include local and traditional knowledge. According to the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, determining the future of traditional territories is at the root of indigenous nationhood. Indigenous leaders therefore believe that when negotiating Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), indigenous people should be holding the pen when lines are drawn on maps, sit at the table when decisions are made, and be the ones on the ground caring for lands and waters through Indigenous Guardians programs. To this end, the Canadian government just announced it would invest $340 million to support Indigenous guardians and Indigenous Protected Areas as part of our 30-by-30 commitment. According to Valérie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, “It is heartening to see the recognition of the role of Indigenous conservation and stewardship in achieving Canada’s ambitions in terms of its biodiversity goals and certainly in terms of keeping carbon where it is, which is in the ground.”

Many now believe that Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) represent our best chance of reversing biodiversity losses, and if they offer indigenous communities the opportunity to reclaim traditional lands along the way – the “Land Back” movement – even better.

Indigenous leadership involved in negotiating IPCAs share three essential objectives:

  1. IPCAS must be indigenous-led and give Indigenous governments primary responsibility for determining the objectives, boundaries, management plans and governance structures for IPCAs since they are seen as tied to self-determination. Thus, IPCAs may include a range of partnerships, including Crown governments, environmental NGOs, philanthropic bodies, and others such as for-profit companies.
  2. IPCAS are meant to represent a long -term commitment to conservation by indigenous People taking a multi-generational view of stewarding their territories.
  3. IPCAS elevate indigenous rights and responsibilities that reflect long-standing physical and spiritual relationships with the lands and waters within their respective territories and with the natural cycles that determine their use.

Resolving Indigenous Land rights has been a contentious issue for decades if not centuries. However, settling such claims is necessary if indigenous communities are to achieve self governance, and for Canada as a whole to achieve reconciliation. More than 70 treaties are now being negotiated including indigenous decision-making rights over whether or not development projects can take place on their traditional lands.

Many of Canada’s highest courts have already confirmed that indigenous relationships with nature have always included the right to benefit from the bounty of the natural world. Thus, indigenous leadership are asking that all IPCAs include acknowledgment that indigenous governments have authority over working with their people on how they use the land and water.

Government commitments to apply science-based conservation best practices throughout Canada continue to be a point of contention for both indigenous and non-indigenous stewards of the land, but for different reasons. Where one believes they are better suited to the task, the other wants government to do more to ensure that politics no longer influence how science is applied. Should government negotiate a departure from this important principle, the entire premise would be undermined. Finding ways to incorporate both local and traditional knowledge within science-based conservation best practices is more important than ever. At the same time, ensuring that everyone follows science-based precautions is an important issue for settler stakeholders.

Where Canada currently stands in terms of negotiating / finalising IPCAs, or the work underway to meet our 30-by-30 commitment, is difficult to determine. How many of these 30-by-30 protected areas will be governed through IPCAs is also unclear at this time. For example, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada, there are over 4,000 publicly and privately managed protected areas in Canada that cover 12.4 million hectares, or just under 1% of Canada’s territory. However, the website makes no mention of ICPAs, and talks instead about parks being the most common type of protected area. Canada is about 998.5 million hectors in size, about 89% of which is currently designated as Crown land. Without doubt many more protection areas and agreements are now under negotiation if Canada is to meet its 30-by-30 commitment.

There are those who feel that the rush to protect nature through IPCAs has something to do with politicians trying to pass off responsibility for making tough decisions. We always hear about “balancing” our economic interests against the environment, but increasingly this is becoming a no-win exercise for politicians. Say no to development and resource extraction and say goodbye to good jobs. Say yes to “business as usual” and you run the risk of being persecuted by environmental groups and First Nations communities in the media. Pass all this decision-making authority to indigenous communities, similar to what B.C. has done in terms of old growth forestry practices (e.g., Fairy Creek), and the problem no longer rests with politicians.

The vast majority of Canadians who live in cities (81%), see the move to strengthening environmental stewardship through either direct government action or by passing on responsibility to indigenous communities as preferable to more-of-the-same. However, for people who grew up on the lands and waters about to be designated as protected under 30-by-30 or through an IPCA, it’s not so straightforward. These “settlers” although few in number comparatively speaking are not only not being included in decision making and negotiation processes, but worse, they are being made the “scapegoats”. These are the people who directly take part in what are now considered to be unsustainable economic activities such as forestry, mining, commercial fishing and fossil fuel extraction.

Many settlers who live and work in rural, remote or northern communities can trace back their connection to their communities over multiple generations. These are also people who hunt, fish, trap, and who spend considerable time in the outdoors doing recreational, social, and foraging activities. They know their forests, lakes and rivers, and have learned from previous generations how to be responsible stewards. Disappearance of their jobs is one thing, but to stop them from pursuing their outdoor lifestyles or evict them from the land is quite another.

A love of nature and feelings of stewardship is not just restricted to non-urbanites. There are also plenty of people who live in cities but who spend their free time exploring and experiencing nature. The growth in fishing alone among urban women, youth, people of colour and new Canadians over the past two years has been extraordinary. Combined with those who grew up outside Canada’s cities, and you’ve got a lot of people with a personal stake in accessing outdoor spaces

Our rush to meet the 30-by-30 deadline and increasing pressure to achieve reconciliation through the establishment of IPCAs does not excuse leaving non-indigenous Canadians out of these crucial negotiating processes. Such talks always find space for environmental NGO representatives, but environmental activists don’t necessarily speak on behalf of non-indigenous people who harvest fauna in the outdoors. They may have knowledge about environmental issues and the measures needed to repair past damages inflicted on nature, but in many cases, they are against foraging by non-indigenous people, which is odd since most all environmental groups fully support the rights of indigenous people to do the same.

Failing to engage non-indigenous stakeholders in processes intended to protect the environment from unsustainable activities, to fight climate change, or to further reconciliation and self-governance goals through IPCAs, is not only wrong, but deeply insulting as it completely dismisses their local knowledge and connection with nature. It’s one thing to recognize indigenous land rights in areas of Canada inaccessible and unutilised by non-indigenous Canadians, but when such rights mean terminating long-standing and highly valued access to lands and waters enjoyed by non-indigenous Canadians, it’s undemocratic. Advancing reconciliation and protection goals without securing the buy-in of non-indigenous stakeholders could also undermine the long-term success of the agreements.

If we learned anything from the last election, it’s that all of Canada’s federal parties and the vast majority of Canadians are interested in moving forward on addressing environmental and reconciliation issues. The debate is no longer about whether we take action or not, it’s now about how we get to the finish line. If you want the negotiations to go fast then go alone, but if you want these agreements to go far wee need to work together.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News


Couple Captures Walleye Crown at Lake of The Woods / NPAA
To say Brent Knutson and his fiancée, Shawna Erdmann, experienced a full range of emotions during the Minnesota Tournament Trail (MTT) Championship, held on renown walleye sweet spot Lake of the Woods, would be an understatement. On day one the couple’s five fish limit included a 31.75” beast, a 30.25” trophy, and three more in the 27-to-28” class.

Invasive Pink Salmon found near Iqaluit / ASF
This invasive species has been expanding from rivers in northwest Russia and then Norway, and its spread is a concern for the future of wild Atlantic salmon. Anyone in Nunavut who finds a pink salmon is asked to send the fish to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. By examining a fish’s DNA and muscle tissue, DFO researchers may learn where the fish has been and where it’s migrated from. That in turn may help them better understand the species’ impact on the North.

How to save an endangered fish? Eat their enemies, say N.S. conservation groups / CBC News
Conservation groups are encouraging Nova Scotians to chow down on smallmouth bass and chain pickerel in hopes of saving the nearly extinct Atlantic whitefish.

The magnificent trout waters of southwestern Alberta’s Crowsnest Country / Outdoor Canada
The trout rivers of Alberta’s Crowsnest region are under threat by plans for new coal mines. It’s not clear how destructive the impacts will be or when we’ll see them, but any degradation of these pristine waters would be tragic. Here’s a guide to fly-fishing rainbows, browns and bulls of the Crowsnest, Castle and Oldman Rivers—at least while you still can.

To Kill or Not to Kill / In the Bite
There have been some great debates between tournament committees, competitors and conservationists on whether kill tournaments are good or bad for our sport. Although recreational anglers are legally allowed to harvest billfish, post a photo of your crew with a dead marlin and get ready for the keyboard warriors to attack. The truth of the matter is that many of the teams you see bringing fish to the scales probably release over 99 percent of the billfish that they catch. Attending almost every kill tournament in the U.S. are biologists eager to take samples of any fish brought to the scales. The scientific impact is undeniable and the amount of marlin that are harvested is well below the annual quota of 250 marlin allowed for Atlantic recreational fishermen in the U.S.

Salmon/Steelhead Action on Lake Ontario Tributaries / FishingWire
With higher-than-average water levels, good runs of migrating salmon and trout are expected in Great Lakes tributaries this fall. Anglers can expect quality fishing opportunities for Chinook and coho salmon from now through early-November, but the first two weeks of October is when it typically peaks. Steelhead fishing turns on later in the season, usually in late October through November when water temperatures are around 45-58 degrees F. And lest we forget brown trout where world-class waters such as Niagara River provide peak fishing opportunities in November and December.

Experts await details on feds’ new strategy for B.C. salmon / Q107 Toronto
As a teenager, Murray Ned was accustomed to fishing for salmon three days a week all year round on the Fraser River in southwestern British Columbia. Ned is a long-time Sumas First Nation councillor and member of the joint U.S.-Canadian Pacific Salmon Commission. “Salmon are in crisis,” he said, while Indigenous, commercial and recreational fishers await details on the federal government’s latest plan to recover plummeting stocks. “We’re literally losing our food security, but also our cultural security and integrity and connection to the Fraser River and the salmon species that go along with it,” Ned, who’s also the executive director of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance.


Ts’eketi, the 100-year-old B.C. sturgeon that’s here to save her species / MacLean’s
Deep in British Columbia’s Nechako River, the eggs of one ancient mama fish might be among the last hope for these endangered sturgeon. Genetically unique from other sturgeon, the Nechako white lives in the waters upstream of the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser rivers at Prince George. Conservationists say the fish hasn’t changed much since before the time of the dinosaurs, but its numbers have dwindled alarmingly over the last 50 years.

The goldfish invasion of Hamilton Harbour / MacLean’s
Goldfish flourish in Hamilton Harbour’s low-oxygen conditions, growing up to 40 cm long by feeding on algae blooms that other fish species can’t eat.

‘It’s amazing’: Chinook salmon are returning in surprising numbers to Cowichan River / CHEK
Thousands of Chinook salmon have returned to spawn in the Cowichan River this fall. Biologists are hopeful that the run is bouncing back from near extinction in 2009.

Why you might not be getting the salmon you paid for / National Geographic
Mowi, which supplies a fifth of the global demand for farmed salmon, is accused of misleading consumers by marketing its Ducktrap River smoked Atlantic salmon as “all natural,” “sustainably sourced,” and “from Maine.” Court documents state that the company acquires its salmon from industrial farms outside the United States where fish in crowded marine pens are often treated with medicines and chemicals, including formaldehyde-based formalin and bleach, to prevent disease and sea lice infestations.

‘This is ridiculous’: BC Hydro questioned after mass stranding of salmon on Cheakamus River / Global News
“The amount of dead and dying fish was something I’d never seen before in the adult phase of life of these pink salmon.”

Summer of Low River Levels in some Newfoundland / Labrador Rivers / ASF
Extreme weather could impact wild Atlantic salmon in several NL rivers long into the future. We need to look at land use practices, forestry practices, areas that need to be protected, cold water pools and tributaries and streams that are important fish habitat, where fish take refuge. We need to make sure they’re as resilient as possible. So, we need to really look at our rivers much more closely in terms of how to respond to climate change impacts.

Surrogacy Across Species / Hakai Magazine
Scientists can now borrow the bodies of one fish species to produce another—whether they should, though, is an open question.

Skeena Steelhead Update / Greg Knox
The SkeenaWild Conservation Trust’s Executive Director, Greg Knox, lays out the critical situation with Skeena Steelhead, which is already the worst return in history. The Skeena is the last best large steelhead system in the world, but in 2021 these fish are returning at record low numbers.

Recorded Webinar: Protecting our Great Lakes from Carp Invaders / DFO
Watch the webinar featuring Fisheries and Oceans Canada presented by the Federation of Ontario Cottage Association about the threat posed to the Great Lakes by Asian Carps. Think you could identify a Grass Carp if you saw one? Learn how!

A New Squamish Study Puts an Actual Price on Nature / The Tyee
The 150-hectare Squamish estuary runs roughly five kilometres along the town’s western flanks. A new report places a monetary value on natural assets in the Squamish River estuary, tallying local and global benefits, direct economic contributions derived from use, and the value of not using some resources at all. Its conclusion: The Squamish River estuary is worth over $12.6 million a year.


Lake levels lower than ‘historical’ values, international commission notes / The Star
If you were thinking Kootenay Lake right now looked lower than it has ever been, your analysis would be correct. The lake level is sitting nearly three feet below its normal height, said Merrell-Ann Phare, Canadian commissioner with the International Kootenay Lake board of control.

Ocean heat waves could wipe out half of Pacific salmon catch by 2050 / Times Colonist
“It’s scary but it lines up with what people have been seeing in their streams and rivers across B.C.,” says Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

Federal election: what Liberal minority means for environment and climate / The Narwhal
From eliminating fossil fuel subsidies to support for nature-based climate solutions and protected areas, here are some key things we can expect from the new federal government. In June, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society released a report card on conservation efforts which gave Ottawa an A- on land protection and a B+ on ocean protection, while assigning failing grades to many of the provinces. The report card speaks to the challenges the new government will face in securing provincial and territorial commitments to increase Canada’s protected areas — an accomplishment that would also address Canada’s growing biodiversity crisis.

The Liberals pledged to create 10 new national parks and 10 new national marine conserved areas in the next five years. They also promised to create 15 new urban national parks by 2030. The party also promised to create a $50 million B.C. old-growth nature fund — something advocates for old-growth have been calling for to help resolve conflicts such as the Fairy Creek blockades.

The Liberals promised to support Indigenous communities to enhance their capacity to establish more Indigenous protected areas and programs for Indigenous Guardians, which the Liberals began funding in 2017. Finally, the party also made a vague commitment to “restore and enhance more wetlands, grasslands, and peatlands, to capture and store carbon.”


These Indigenous fishers hold DFO accountable for B.C.’s shocking salmon decline / Canada’s National Observer
Salmon stocks on the Fraser have tumbled in the past decade, leading Fisheries and Oceans Canada to limit Indigenous food fisheries on the river, even as some recreational fishing is allowed. “You don’t play with fish. You don’t play with food. That’s where there’s challenges seeing recreational fishers,” added Murray Ned, executive director of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, a coalition of 23 First Nations working to manage and restore their fisheries. While he has sympathy for sport fishers, many of whom he knows care for the fish and the river, their relationship to the salmon is incomparable to the deep ties between First Nations and salmon.

Marine Protected Area network off B.C. Coast could provide a template / Canadian Lawyer
First Nations, federal and provincial governments are looking at a proposal.

Gitanyow Wilp Wii launching indigenous protected area for salmon populations / CFNR Network
The Gitanyow Wilp Wii Litsxw has launched an Indigenous Protected Area in order to protect salmon populations.

Done waiting on B.C., Gitanyow declare new protected area: ‘this is all our land’ / The Narwhal
After waiting for years for support from the provincial government and in the face of declining salmon stock, the Gitanyow are independently forging ahead with new protections under traditional law and custom for some 54,000 hectares of land and water, which are threatened by potential mining projects. This includes Gitanyow territory covering large portions of the Kitwanga and Nass River watersheds and significant sections of the upper Kispiox River, a tributary of the Skeena River.

Nunavut Inuit suing feds overfishing licence allocations to Mi’kmaw company / CBC News
Inuit in Nunavut are suing the federal government over a decision to hand over a sizeable portion of fishing quotas off its coast to a coalition of Mi’kmaw fishers in Atlantic Canada. The lawsuit describes how Nunavut fishers have only held about 50 per cent of total fishing quotas for all species off Nunavut’s coast, which Inuit argue is disproportionately low compared to the 90 per cent that fisheries in Atlantic provinces have off their own coasts — an acknowledgement the federal government and DFO have made on several occasions.


Best Weather Apps for Fishing / Best on Tour
Check out this collection of weather apps from Best on Tour that can make your fishing safer, more comfortable and more productive.

StrikeMaster® Lithium 24v Auger Delivers / NPAA
When ice anglers requested a lighter, more mobile battery-powered auger, StrikeMaster® delivered with the new Lithium 24v, a tough “little brother” to its legendary 40v auger. Fitted with an 8-inch auger, StrikeMaster’s new Lithium 24v weighs 14.3 pounds and can punch as many as 50 holes on a single charge. Fitted with a 6-inch auger, a Lithium 24v weighs only 13.3 pounds and can punch as many as 65 holes on a single charge.


6 Tips for Boating Safely with Your Dog / Mercury Dockline
A family boating outing can be even more fun if you bring your dog along. It certainly makes for some great photo ops! There are many dog breeds that absolutely adore being on the water. But it’s just as important to put safety first for your pet.

Canada Election Will Impact Recreational Boating / FishingWire
As NMMA Canada continues its countering of the luxury tax unveiled in the last federal budget, the team has begun proactive outreach to the various Ministers and their staff. NMMA Canada has commissioned strong economic analysis that will bolster the case for scrapping the tax, showing the tax will ultimately harm good-paying jobs in the recreational boating industry. Similarly, NMMA Canada and the U.S. team are working together to bring attention to the harmful effects a luxury tax would pose to U.S. marine manufactures and small businesses.


New Video – Connected Waters / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Connected Waters is Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s campaign to reconnect over 1500 km of salmon habitat currently blocked by outdated flood infrastructure. This issue requires the collaboration of all sorts of different people and their video aims to capture perspectives from the many people and communities working to improve the way we manage for floods. Use their letter-writing tool to send Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Horgan, your MP and your MLA a letter asking them to address one of the biggest habitat issues facing Fraser River salmon.

Fish Art Contest Now Underway / FishingWire
The free international art and writing competition is the perfect way to inspire youth in kindergarten through 12th grade to discover the outdoors through creative art and writing.

Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis / Safina Center
Much of what you’ve heard about plastic pollution may be wrong. Instead of a floating island of trash, the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of manmade debris spread over hundreds of thousands of square miles of sea— more like a soup than a floating garbage dump. Less than 9% of all the plastic we’ve made to date has been recycled, and microplastic fragments are found almost everywhere, even in our bodies. In Thicker Than Water, Cirino brings readers on a globe-hopping journey to meet the scientists and activists telling the real story of the plastic crisis.

Up Coming:

Watershed Stewardship Quiz – How much do YOU know about what affects water quality? / FOCA
Take the Federation of Ontario Cottage Association’s quiz about stewardship actions and water quality and get YOUR personalized rating!

Watershed 2021
Join Wellington Water Watchers on October 16 for Watershed 2021, a digital convention to deepen the water justice movement in Ontario! With plenary sessions, special guests, workshops, working sessions, networking, on-demand content, and an Expo Area featuring digital booths from local organizations, we’ll come together to restore environmental protections for water security and help build the movement for water justice in Ontario.

2021 Ask an Expert Series / Lake of the Woods
Join the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation this fall for a series of free “Ask An Expert” lunchtime webinars, as we study our watershed and learn how to protect our natural resource assets.
October 12 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Cathy Eimers, Trent University” Nutrient Export in the Canadian Tributaries”
October 19 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Jesse Anderson, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency “Minnesota’s Plan to Identify and Address Excess Phosphorus Pollution in Lake of the Woods and its Watershed, 1999-2021”
October 26 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Caren Binding, Environment and Climate Change Canada, “Lake of the Woods from Space: Satellite Observations for Algal Bloom Monitoring”
November 2 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Adam Heathcote, Science Museum of Minnesota, “Lake of the Woods: A Story of Pollution, Recovery, and the Road Ahead”
November 9 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Scott Higgins, IISD – Experimental Lakes Area, “Climate Change and it’s Effects on Lake Ecosystems in Northwestern Ontario”

NOAA Fisheries Slates MRIP Seminars / NOAA
NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program will kick off a series of educational seminars next month. The training sessions will provide stock assessors, fisheries analysts, and other data users with best practices for accessing, analyzing, and using recreational fishing data. Equipping data users with this information is an important step in the phased implementation of the agency’s Recreational Fishing Survey and Data Standards. The seminar schedule includes: Introduction to MRIP Data (October 26, 2021), Statistical Methods and Procedures (November 30, 2021), MRIP Query Tool (January 25, 2022), and Custom Domain Analyses (February 22, 2022).

Special Feature – The 30×30 Initiative: What Anglers Need to Know / The IGFA

In recent years, the discussion over our changing climate and loss of biodiversity has caused governments, the scientific community, and the general public to focus on what can be done on an international scale to protect terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The movement brought about by this habitat and biodiversity issue is the 30×30 initiative. Originally proposed by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the concept is to protect 30% of the planet (land and ocean) by 2030.

As anglers, conserving habitat is obviously in our best interest. Healthy habitats translate to more and better fishing opportunities. Conservation efforts that result in clean water, productive habitat, and sustainable fisheries are supported and advocated for by the majority of recreational anglers and angling groups, including the IGFA. The 30×30 initiative seeks to provide these benefits. However, the methods to achieving these end goals are yet to be determined, as well as what habitat “conservation” actually means.

A 2020 report published by The Campaign for Nature, a partnership between National Geographic and the Wyss Campaign for Nature, discusses the ecological and economic benefits of expanding conservation areas to 30% of the earth’s surface by 2030. The report states that economic output is greater if the 30% target is implemented, than if it is not implemented.

A key question in the 30% target is whether this will include aquatic habitats that already have some form of protections in place. The IGFA believes that habitats that already have significant protections in place should count towards the 30% target. Furthermore, instead of just shooting for a target of 30%, we believe that habitat conservation efforts should be prioritized toward protecting habitats that have been documented as having high risk of degradation.

The IGFA believes that habitats that already have significant protections in place should count towards the 30% target. Furthermore, instead of just shooting for a target of 30%, we believe that habitat conservation efforts should be prioritized toward protecting habitats that have been documented as having high risk of degradation.

Aquatic habitats are “natural resources” and, as such, have important ecosystem functions. However, natural resources such as habitat also have important and intrinsic value to humans as well. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a natural resource as “Any of the materials such as water, coal and wood that exist in nature and can be used by people.”

So, it is clear that recreational anglers not only rely on aquatic habitats, but they actively contribute to conserving them. However, one of our biggest concerns is how “conservation” will be defined in the 30×30 initiative. The Cambridge Dictionary defines conservation as “carefully using valuable natural substances that exist in limited amounts in order to make certain that they will be available for as long a time as possible.”

The keyword in both natural resource and conservation definitions is “use.” As such, the IGFA is supportive of the 30×30 initiative, as long as conserving or protecting habitat still allows for sufficient access for recreational anglers. What we do not support is the arbitrary creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that completely ban angler access without credible scientific merit for doing so. Unfortunately, there are some organizations that view no access MPAs as the first solution to achieving habitat protection, when, in reality, they should be viewed as the last.

Anglers should be supportive of regulatory actions that have the goal of conserving aquatic habitats. Indeed, anglers inherently understand that healthy habitat directly translates to vibrant fisheries. As such, the IGFA is supportive of the 30×30 goal of conserving aquatic habitats, as long as it does not unjustly or unfairly limit opportunities for recreational angler access. The IGFA believes in taking a proactive approach to the global 30×30 initiative by participating in this process at the regional, national and international level to best represent recreational anglers’ interests. Our specific objectives are to:

  • Demonstrate to the broader community that recreational anglers are not anti-regulatory in nature and are among the biggest proponents for protecting habitat.
  • Achieve adequate habitat protection/conservation that will benefit fisheries resources and angler opportunities.
  • Demonstrate that leading recreational angling organizations believe in utilizing sound science to drive management actions.
  • Ensure that angler access is not significantly affected in the 30×30 process, unless sound science indicates that recreational angling prohibits habitat protection goals.
  • Clearly define what habitat conservation/protection means and determine if the overall 30×30 goal includes habitat protection measures currently in place.

The 30×30 initiative is already underway. Only by taking an active part in this process can we ensure that recreational anglers’ interests are accurately represented. For more information about 30×30, visit the Hunt Fish 30×30 website, which represents the thoughts of leading hunting and fishing organizations, including the IGFA.

About us:

Subscribe to receive the Blue Fish Canada news in your inbox.
Read back issues of the Blue Fish Canada News
Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast.
Email us your news or podcast story ideas.
Donate to Blue Fish Canada, a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity.