Blue Fish News – September 25, 2020

World Rivers Day

In this September 25, 2020 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we feature Canada’s rivers in honour of World Rivers Day, and as always, we offer up a curated collection of fishing, fish health and water quality news. We finish with links to several aquaculture resources, a call to ban open pen fin-fish aquaculture in B.C., and a guest article from the Atlantic Salmon Federation on impacts of escape aquaculture Salmon on wild salmon populations; including a second call to ban open-pen fish farming.

Photo of the 1st Georgetown Venturers on their canoe trip from Toronto to the World Scout Jamboree held in P.E.I. in 1977

This Week’s Feature on Rivers in Honour of World Rivers Day:

I was honoured and inspired to have the opportunity to speak with Mark Angelo, founder of the B.C. and World Rivers Day celebratory events. In fact, it was Mark who founded this now UN-sanctioned annual event; set to take place this year on September 27. Mark was inspired to pursue the creation of these events during a 1975 canoe trip down the Fraser River. His telling the story brought up memories of my own canoe expedition involving 18 members of my Scouts Canada 1st. Georgetown Venturer Company when we canoed from Port Credit on Lake Ontario to Summerset P.E.I. to attend the 1977 World Scout Jamboree.

Early settlers to North America observed the efficiency of indigenous people in their use of canoes and rivers to follow game, visit, celebrate, trade and to move their families with the changing seasons. It was a practice that settlers quickly adopted, and then just as quickly fell out of favour with the invention of refrigerated transport trucks and the extensive network of highways they spawned beginning in the mid-1950’s. Mark’s voyage down the Fraser left him acutely aware that much of society had turned their backs on their rivers, allowing the fait of these natural arteries to fall into the hands of large-scale industry. Our own continuation of using rivers to make waste disappear also became increasingly toxic as the nature of our waste transformed from largely organics, to refuse increasingly contaminated with manufactured chemicals and worse.

I can still recall when my fellow Venturers and I paddled our two 25-foot voyager canoes through the tail-end of the Lachine Rapids and found ourselves just downstream of Montreal sharing the surface of the St. Lawrence with hundreds of bobbing condoms. We know now that sewage continues to bypass treatment plants during periods of heavy rain, and it did rain almost every day of our 2,100 km paddle. And then, a week later to be paddling amidst of pods of Belugas curious about our long, slim, white-painted hulled canoes. We learned later that carcases of St. Lawrence Belugas found washed ashore were declared hazardous waste because of the high levels of chemicals bio massed within their bodies.

No doubt, the industrial revolution sullied our personal connection with rivers, which lead to our interest in their wellbeing deteriorating over time, the exception being anglers, indigenous fishers, the budding environmental movement, scientists who’s voices were going largely unheard, and canoeists Like Mark Angelo.

Mark Angelo shared with me his determination to have people turn back around and face their rivers to restore their appreciation and reconnection with nature. A restoration that might some day allow for drinking and eating of a river’s bounty without risking either one’s health or that of the river. His most recent call to action is his film “Last Paddle” which is set to begin it’s film festival journey this January 2021.

Mark and I also spoke about his many favorite Canadian rivers to fish and canoe, and how to select the right paddle and canoe for different water adventures. Link below to hear my conversation with Mark Angelo about all this and more on this special edition of Blue Fish Radio:

I also wanted to catch up with Leigh McGaughey, research scientist with the St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Science. Leigh started with the River Institute several years back with the launch of the Great River Rapport. I wanted to find out how her collection of scientific data and local knowledge was going, and what we can expect at the up-coming Annual River Symposium to take place virtually on October 28 and 29.

Not surprisingly, Leigh is discovering there’s a vast wealth of people who have been living along the shores of the St. Lawrence for generations who have been documenting their river health observations. Leigh is painstakingly going back in time and linking scientific data to the local knowledge she’s collecting from anglers, indigenous fishers and many others. Link below to hear my conversation with Leigh on Blue Fish Radio.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News


The 20th Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s National Team — NPAA
The 2021 Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s National Team Championship will launch from the shores of Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay next July for the first time in its storied history. Organized by walleye clubs sanctioned by The Walleye Federation (TWF,the 20th anniversary event will draw 200 or more teams from U.S. and Canada.

Salmon season is a thing to ‘revere’ — The Daily Star
In the late 1960s the first Coho salmon were stocked in the Lake Ontario watershed, with chinooks stocked soon after. The rest is history. These fish went to the lake and survived, growing big on the enormous amount of bait fish in the cold, deep water. Lake trout and brown trout stocking soon followed.

Iconic fall chinook fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River was short, but sweet — The Oregonian/OregonLive
There was promise in the sunrise, its glow framed behind the Astoria-Megler Bridge and embracing a parade of boats surging westward from town Thursday on the last day anglers could keep chinook salmon. Familiar alarms of foghorns thundered ahead of heavy ocean-going freighters, incessant in their urgency to clear a path through the fleet of hundreds of small fishing boats each trying to maintain its own course at trolling speed. Off in the distance, humpback whales near Megler put on what’s become an annual show as they gorged on tightly schooled anchovies in the Columbia estuary. And closer to the fleet at Hammond, a purse seiner drew hundreds of gulls and pelicans as it collected its own share of anchovy bait.

Quite a catch: Finding solace in fly-fishing — The Globe and Mail
I once dropped by Drift to think about buying a pair of waders and ended up watching Chris Krysciak, a competitive fly-fisherman who works in the store when he isn’t fishing 100 days a year. He was tying a hairwing version of a nighthawk salmon fly on a small double hook. The whole process took fifteen minutes. The fly looked like a miniature trophy. It was an admission of defeat (it could never be the real thing) but also a beautiful human imagining of a surprising level of detail in an object no bigger than a dime.

Demonstration recreational salmon fishery on the Fraser River going ahead without DFO approval — Agassiz Harrison Observer
The Fraser River Sportfishing Defence Alliance organized a “demonstration” fishery to showcase traditional bar-fishing techniques despite their proposal for a test fishery having been turned down by DFO. Part of the problem is that the “selective” nature of bar fishing, using a shorter leader length, has not been given a fair shake by DFO officials. Fred Helmer of Fred’s Custom Tackle has been blogging about the one-day demonstration and calling for angler support. It’s a chance to show that “the opportunity to fish on the Fraser River can and should be allowed during times of abundance

DFO confirms illegal sockeye retention — Castanet
This year’s Fraser River sockeye returns are the lowest on record, prompting a complete closure on all fishing for sockeye. However, some chinook fishing was allowed for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Sockeye that are caught as bycatch are supposed to be thrown back alive. Catch records for August 19 show that some sockeye caught incidentally in chinook fisheries were indeed returned. But in a few cases, sockeye were retained. In one case, in a fishery in the area known as Texas to Deadman, 4,614 sockeye were retained in an FSC (food, social and ceremonial) chinook fishery. The illegal retention is being investigated, according to DFO.

Lenny DeVos and his partner Jeff Desloges Wins Renegade Bass Tour Canadian Championship — Fishing Wire
The teams Day 1 bite would rely on fishing for deep smallmouth in 25’ to 45’ of water – a pattern they would continue on Day 2. They fished drop shot baits, Crush Worms and Drifters in Smoking Joe pattern, as well as Carolina Rigging. The team brought the final day’s biggest bag to the scales of 23.06lbs and a winning two-day total of 45.57lbs. “We had an incredible two days on the water and got the critical bites we needed because of the STH Crush Worm and Drifter.” said the newly crowned 2020 RBT Canadian Champion Lenny DeVos.

Fish Health:

Atlantic Smolt Tracking & Striped Bass Predation — ASF
Smolt survival through the Miramichi river and estuary has dropped to 10-30% since striped bass spawners exceeded approximately 250,000 (every year except once since 2013). The Atlantic Salmon Federation is advocating DFO to implement changes to the striped bass recreational fishery to remove the upper slot limit of 65 cm for retention in coastal waters and allow any sized striped bass to be retained in inland waters. Combined with the commercial fishery, these measures would reduce Striped bass numbers by well over 50,000 fish annually.

Study finds Yukon-Alaska salmon declining in size — The Narwhal
Climate change and competition with hatchery fish are causing chinook, sockeye, chum and Coho to shrink and produce fewer eggs. Four species of salmon are spawning at a much younger age.

Closing Canadian commercial fisheries would help rebuild stocks and lead to economic gains — The Narwhal
At least a quarter of major commercial fish stocks in Canada are in decline, but efforts to rebuild them — such as closing fisheries or setting catch limits — are often met with strong opposition due to negative socioeconomic effects. A new study by UBC researchers shows how a 30-year closure of four different commercial fisheries would lead to significant long-term gain in their recoveries.

Tell local B.C. Municipal representatives to vote for wild salmon Habitat Restoration — Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Over 1500 km of streams, sloughs and side channels in the lower Fraser River are impacted by archaic flood control structures that kill fish or block their access to these vital habitats. These structures need to be replaced or upgraded to protect communities along the Fraser River from flooding. We can’t just replace these fish-killing structures with more of the same. A resolution is coming forward at the Union of BC Municipalities AGM with huge implications for wild salmon. Will you ask your elected representative to VOTE YES for wild salmon at UBCM 2020?

Water Quality:

Smoke and acid: where wildfires meet the ocean —The Narwhal
As forest fires burn uncontrollably south of the U.S. border, the smoky skies over B.C. hint at the suffocating life in an ocean growing increasingly acidic. Ocean acidification is caused by the growing concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which increases the amount of carbon dioxide that dissolves into the sea. Once it enters the ocean, carbon dioxide interacts with water molecules and undergoes two chemical reactions, the outcome of which is increased seawater acidity and altered carbonate chemistry. Already, shellfish aquaculture facilities along the Pacific Northwest coast from Oregon to British Columbia are suffering from the mass mortality of larval oysters, mussels, clams and scallops.

The home of the Klondike gold flush — MacLean’s Magazine
For decades, Dawson City was notorious among Canada’s poorest performers on sewage treatment. Like Victoria and some East Coast cities, the historic Yukon town pumped raw sewage into the nearest major water body – the Yukon River. After a judge forced historic Dawson City to fix its raw-sewage problem, the never-ending quest to build a system that works—and doesn’t bankrupt the place—has even Yukon’s premier saying ‘WTF’

Inside the ongoing mission to scrub clean B.C.’s wild beaches — Salmon Arm Observer
In British Columbia, the provincial government has funded the crews and boats of several small ship adventure tour companies—which have had their seasons scuppered due to COVID-19—to help remove marine debris from the province’s long, convoluted coastline. In all, nine boats and over 100 crew members will help clean 1,000 kilometers of remote shoreline.

Jacques Cousteau’s Grandson Wants to Build the International Space Station of the Sea — Smithsonian Magazine
In 1963, Jacques Cousteau lived underwater for one month with four other aquanauts in the Continental Shelf Station Two (Conshelf 2). Now, 57 years later, Cousteau’s grandson Fabien is to build the world’s largest underwater research station, Proteus, in a marine protected area off the coast of Curaçao. In 2014, Fabien spent 31 days in the Aquarius Reef Base, the last remaining under-sea research station built in 1986. The 400-square foot base sits on the seabed off Key Largo in the Florida Keys.

What is a hurricane storm surge? — EarthSky
Of all the hazards that hurricanes bring, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property along the coast. Storm surge begins over the open ocean. The strong winds of a hurricane push the ocean waters around and cause water to pile up under the storm. The low air pressure of the storm also plays a small role in lifting the water level. The height and extent of this pile of water depend on the strength and size of the hurricane.


World River’s Day September 27th
Join people in Canada and around the world to celebrate our life-giving rivers. Organize an event in your community or attend one!

Morlock Appointed Director of Government Affairs for Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association — Fishing Wire
Directors of the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association and the Canadian National Sportfishing Foundation are pleased to announce that Phil Morlock has been appointed Director of Government Affairs for both organizations, effective September 1st, 2020. CSIA/CNSF President Kim Rhodes commented, “Phil’s dedication and determination to set things right for the betterment of millions of Canadian anglers will continue during the peak of threats we are now facing in Canada from environmental groups”.

The Vancouver Aquarium is closing temporarily
Citing COVID-19-related reductions in visitors, Ocean Wise will be laying off over 200 Vancouver Aquarium employees, though animal care, research, and other programs will continue.

IGFA Releases 2020 Program Report — IGFA
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) recently released its 2020 IGFA Program Report, an annual publication that outlines the breadth of the organization’s work around the world.


Walmart reports sales of ‘unlikely items’ like fishing rods — Angling International
Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer and a prized outlet among fishing tackle brands, made special mention of fishing tackle sales as it revealed an impressive profit jump for the latest financial quarter. The chain posted net income of $6.5 billion, up almost 80% from the same period last year.

Japan’s ten richest companies reveals surprise at number nine — Angling International
Think of the top ten richest companies in Japan and you could be forgiven for coming up with huge corporations like Honda, Sony and Mitsubishi. But, surprisingly, except for the top company – Nintendo – the majority on the list are not the globally-famous names you would come to expect. The surprise number nine in the rankings is Shimano. The bicycle components and fishing tackle manufacturer is said to have 266.9 billion yen in its ‘wallet’. The survey was based on net cash recorded in each business’s accounts.

AFTCO Mask Donation Program A Big Hit — Fishing Wire
AFTCO’s “Buy 1, Give 1” mask program has produced some 200,000 mask donations thanks to AFTCO customers.


Fish Art Contest Season Opens — Future Angler Foundation
Wildlife Forever and Title Sponsor Bass Pro Shops and the Johnny Morris Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, is proud to announce that the 2021 Fish Art Contest is officially open and accepting entries. This free international art and writing competition is a perfect way to inspire learners in kindergarten through 12th grade to discover the outdoors.


Big Fish: The Aquacultural Revolution — Hakai Magazine
In this in-depth editorial package, Hakai Magazine investigates some basic questions about domesticating animals that exist solely for human benefit: what will we feed all of the fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic species we’re raising from birth to dinner plate? How will we shelter them humanely and raise them efficiently? Can we feed 9.7 billion people without destroying the environment? And as business booms, who will profit?

CFIA details virulent ISA outbreaks in New Brunswick and Newfoundland — CFIA
CFIA just released its latest findings on virulent ISA from salmon cage sites. This disease can be passed to wild Atlantic salmon as well as other wild fish species like herring. Four new cases in NL and two more in NB during August.

Sep 30, 2020 fish farm deadline fast approaches — Watershed Watch Salmon Society
September 30, 2020 marks the deadline for removing all salmon farms from the Discovery Islands, near Campbell River according to the 19th recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River. The inquiry was headed by Justice Bruce Cohen, took over two years to complete and, in 2012, culminated in an 1100 page final report with 75 recommendations covering habitat protection, salmon farming, hatchery management, fisheries management, government accountability and more.

Guest Article:


(Atlantic Salmon Federation River Notes by Tom Moffatt)

As spawning time nears for wild salmon populations in the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine, a pulse of escaped aquaculture salmon has been detected at the Magaguadavic River fishway in St. George, N.B.

Five fish from industry cages were identified through fin and scale analysis, then culled, with samples being sent for analysis. ASF scientists working with DFO and researchers at the University of British Columbia recently published the first look at the infectious agents carried by aquaculture salmon in this region, finding a concerning array of viruses and bacteria.

Beyond disease, aquaculture salmon chronically escape and have bred with wild fish throughout Atlantic Canada, like along the south coast of Newfoundland and where the Magaguadavic meets salt water – the Bay of Fundy.

The result is offspring less fit for the wild, contributing to population collapse and altering the genetic heritage of wild populations.

Escapes are in the news around the world right now. In western Scotland tens of thousands escaped when four cages were destroyed in North Carradale in Argyllshire.

The Scottish government is asking anglers to kill the aquaculture salmon and take samples, offering a guide to identifying the escapees.

In Norway there have been even more escapees, and the harm they are doing will last centuries. The Norwegians estimate 3% to 9% of salmon entering their rivers since 1989 have been escapees. Most recently, in monitored rivers in 2019 there were 6% escapees. Their studies have shown that 2/3 of monitored rivers had wild salmon contaminated with aquaculture escapees. In some cases, this has led even to altered age and size at maturation for wild fish.

The legacy of escaped salmon is another reminder of the high cost of salmon aquaculture.

ASF Biologist Graham Chafe (r) assisted by Ellen Mansfied of ASF Research take samples from an aquaculture escapee late last week at the Magaguadavic River fishway. Neville Crabbe/ASF

It is time that governments really did institute a Precautionary Approach with more than lip service to the term. And one central part of this would be a plan to move aquaculture operations out of the oceans where they are jeopardizing the long-term health of the ocean’s living web of life and that of our rivers as well.

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