Blue Fish News – September 26, 2022

In the September 26, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a celebration of World Rivers Day! There are plenty of amazing historic rivers worth celebrating in Canada, but the St. Lawrence River can always use a bit more love, which is why we reached out to Philip Ling and his amazing Maitland Tower revisioning project. Don’t miss out on this exclusive audio-video podcast – links below. As always, we cover the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news across Canada, with a focus on the state of the Great Lakes 50-years after the binational water quality agreement came into effect. Our closing Special Guest Feature chosen to inform and inspire our readers concerns the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission recently released Shared Priorities for the Great Lakes.

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Youth fishing programs have wrapped for the year, or at least until ice fishing season. It doesn’t mean Blue Fish Canada is taking a break. Meeting with fish and fishing stakeholders associated with a proposed National Marine Conservation Area for the eastern basin of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte continues – seven stakeholders engaged to date – stay tuned for a compilation multi-media report as well as access to the full-length recordings of our conversations.

Photo of the Maitland Tower along the shore of the St. Lawrence River

This Week’s Feature – St. Lawrence River Recovery and Renewal

Much focus is placed on the Great Lakes and the 20% of the world’s surface freshwater that passes through these five distinct water bodies. Much less so with respect to the tale end of the lakes where the St. Lawrence River stoically transfers all this water to the earth’s one ocean along it’s 1,197-kilometer length covering 1,600 million square kilometers. The spotlight hasn’t always focussed exclusively on the lakes. Numerous First Nations have made the river home for thousands of years, and for a much briefer period of time, many of North America’s industrial leaders regarded the river as their preferred summer destination. Maybe the river lost it’s shine due to all that industrial and human waste the River had to endure, or that the Seaway turned the river into a shipping highway of sorts. But thanks to a dedicated bunch of river advocates the state and reputation of the St. Lawrence River is experiencing an up-swing of sorts. The question is, can the St. Lawrence River recover, and what will it eventually look like?

My own fascination with the St. Lawrence began in 1967 when Montreal hosted the World Expo on the shores of Man’s Island. Only ten short years later in 1977 I took part in a canoe expedition led by the 1st. Georgetown Venturers that had us paddle two 8 meter warrior-style canoes down the length of the St. Lawrence River as part of our journey from Toronto to P.E.I. I’ve since camped many times with my own family along its shores and have taken part in numerous fishing tournaments on the river pursuing everything from bass, carp, pike and muskie. What gives me hope that the river is on an up-swing are the many researchers, FN leaders, and conservationists dedicated to the river’s recovery – many of whom I’ve featured on The Blue Fish Radio Show over the past nine years.

To celebrate World Rivers Day, and in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the binational Great Lakes water quality agreement, I wanted to feature several organizations that, to me, represent an interesting diversity of philosophies in how they view their conservation and renewal roles. Two of these organizations include in their mandates the preservation of artifacts that represent aspects of what many now refer to as colonization of the river by “settlers”. My focus today is how these two organizations, one being the Antique Boat Museum located in Clayton NY, and the other being the Maitland Tower located just east of Brockville Ontario, are moving forward without forgetting what came before.

As the name might suggest, the Antique Boat Museum has over 320 beautifully restored vintage personal watercraft that featured in the lives of the summer vacationers that as many as 12 trains a day shuffled between New York City and the Thousand Islands beginning some 150 years ago. Interstate highways developed in the 1950’s followed by the growth of passenger airline services precipitated the decline of the use of the islands for vacationing, but many of these families continue to own property in the area 4-5 generations later. Others have moved in to build and rebuild a new swath of expensive residences in the area. It’s definitely a destination on the rise with respect to vacationing, retirement, and remote work? I was fortunate to have been given a tour of the Museum by the museum’s executive director Rebecca Hopfinger and chief curator just ahead of their volunteer appreciation river cruise in recognition of the over 8,000 hours of volunteer effort their 200-plus volunteers provided in 2022. Thanks to John Peach, executive director of Save the River and Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper, for organizing the tour.

Click on the link to listen to the tour of the Antique Boat Museum on the Blue Fish Radio Show:

Like me, John Peach’s love of the St. Lawrence River straddles two passions; enjoying all things boating, and a dedication to conservation. To some, boating and conservation represent an irreconcilable contradiction. For others, finding ways to maintain the tradition of living and recreating on the River’s thousand islands and shores, while giving back to ensure the health of the ecosystem in ways that ensure it’s viability, represent the goals of renewal and recovery.

Click on the link to hear an update on the important conservation work underway at Save the River from John Peach and Lauren Eggleston on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

The day after visiting the museum I travelled 30 minutes east and met with Philip Ling, the man behind the restoration of six river-side heritage buildings constructed in the mid-19th century — one of which is an 8-story former windmill built to power what would become the largest flour mill in eastern Canada. I also met with Michele Andrews, the executive director and co-founder of the non-profit “Door #1”, a newly formed NGO associated with the Maitland Tower project. The six buildings located on 6 hectares along a 3.4 kilometer stretch of the St. Lawrence river’s north shore and a beautiful peninsula, include a 2-story stable, garage, greenhouse, 5,000 sq ft residence, a main building where mill business was conducted, and the 8-story tower itself. All but one building were constructed using stone from the area to form walls 60 cm in depth.

Philip purchased the property in 2016 after spotting the tower during a solo bike ride along the length of the St. Lawrence. An engineer, he felt compelled to ensure these important heritage buildings were preserved, and more importantly, given a new purpose. The buildings are now in the midst of being restored, and while their future role has not yet been finalized, the goal is to use the property to gather people with knowledge about the health of the river so learnings and knowledge can be shared, and to conduct further research. Philip is committed to see the buildings and the property become a facilitator of environmental renewal, conservation, research, reconciliation, and a means to reconnect people to nature.

Click on the link to this special audio/video production of my tour of the Maitland Tower project and conversation with Philip Ling on The Blue fish Radio Show:

Click on the link to hear my conversation with Michele Andrews from the Door #1 NGO on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

What strikes me when reviewing my conversations with these St. Lawrence River champions is the contrast between the tremendous grass-roots support generated by the Antique Boat Museum, and the near-solo effort being made by one person and the team he’s assembled to restore and revitalize what is arguably one of the most significant examples of early-settler economic activity on the St. Lawrence River. But, before you start worrying that people might care more about their toys than the place where they play, fear not, there are also numerous other organizations focussed on ecosystem restoration.

One need only look at the NGO “Save The River” located in the same town as the museum and all the great work and support they are generating. Or, the St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Science located just an hour’s drive east in Cornwall. There are many more organizations and NGO’s and a significant and powerful First nations that are reasserting their presence and authority. Numerous binational government- funded entities are also hard at work to address “areas of concern” where sizeable pockets of pollution have been identified, and to understand better what is needed to rehabilitate the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence – organizations such as the Great Lakes Commission, the International Joint Commission, and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission to name a few. However, we need to take care that conservation and restoration doesn’t degenerate into reactionary responses that result in history being erased. An indigenous elder once told me that moving forward should always be undertaken by walking backwards to make sure one never forgets where they come from.

Let’s all do what we can to make sure the focus on the 50th anniversary of the binational Great Lakes water quality agreement includes fish health. As the founder and chair of the Great Lakes Fish Health Network, I can attest to just how challenging it is to expand conversations about water quality to include fish. Recreational anglers and First Nations get this – both groups identified fish health as their top priorities in a recent binational Great Lakes stakeholder survey. The connection between fish health and our own is obvious but assessing the health of fishes goes beyond the potential danger they represent to those who consume them.

It’s difficult to grasp just how many fishes live in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River when these same waters keep these fishes so well hidden from the public’s eye. The massive annual economic contribution fishes represent to the Canadian and U.S. economies – $8.5 billion CDN – does little to impress on people the true extent of their numbers.

We also need to remember how each single negative impact we make as individuals is compounded. Dilution is no longer the solution since our emissions are no longer organic. In fact, the opposite is now the case as we have substituted organic materials with products manufactured using forever chemicals. Our lifestyles flow down stream into a space inhabited by fish. World Rivers Day organizers understand this, and that the earth’s rivers, lakes and oceans are all connected.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


St. Lawrence River named best fishery in the U.S. / Bassmaster Magazine
Bassmaster’s magazine ranked the “100 Best Bass Lakes” and crowned the St. Lawrence the top fishery for the first time since 2019.

Study Reveals Fishing ‘Invasion Superhighways’ Spread Aquatic Invasive Species / Ball State University
A recent study conducted by researchers at Ball State University, in partnership with Fishbrain, the world’s most popular fishing app, offers new insight into “invasion superhighways,” in which aquatic invasive species are spreading across the U.S.

One-year closure of commercial cod fishery in northern Gulf of St. Lawrence / CTV
DFO Minister Murray said in a news release that cod stocks in the area are at risk of serious harm, and the closure is needed in order to rebuild them. She said the one-year management plan will allow young fish in the stock to reach maturity.

30 years after the moratorium, what have we really learned about cod and science? / CBC
As is often the case with great catastrophes, the cod collapse presented a vast opportunity for even greater discovery — but have those lessons stuck?

Canada hopes to lure more nations into fighting illicit fishing / Vancouver Is Awesome
According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans, “it’s also about the importance of the ocean to communities and the variety of economic activities from food production to tourism that make (them) so incredibly important to our future.”

The Search for Pike / Rapala Fishing Blog
The coil. Then the flash. Within an instant, you’re in for a fight you won’t soon forget. And at the other end, a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth to greet you.

Livewell Tips and Tricks to Ensure a Healthy Catch / Mercury Dockline
Catch and release is one of the best aspects of bass fishing. The entire culture is built around this principle, with recreational and tournament anglers alike tossing back most of the bass they catch. The first step in this principle is learning how to care for bass being held in a livewell.

Sockeye opening on Fraser River will see anglers flocking to Fraser Valley boat launches / Chilliwack Progress
Current status of the Fraser sockeye return allowed for recreational retention, DFO says.

Climate change threatens world fisheries, say UBC researchers / Pique Newsmagazine
Global warming and overfishing threaten the world’s fish stocks without dramatic action, University of B.C. and U.S. researchers say in a new report.


St. Lawrence River zones that are hostile to invasive species can be refuges for native fish / ISC
Several invasive species, such as the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) are native to the Ponto-Caspian region, which includes the Black, Caspian and Azov Seas, and were imported to North America by transoceanic ships. These species are known to have disrupted ecosystems around the world, including those of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

Traces of silver carp found in Presque Isle Bay / ISC
The Fish and Wildlife Service found silver carp environmental DNA in one of 100 water samples it took from Presque Isle Bay on Lake Erie as part of routine testing for invasive species.

Studying Sources of Lake Huron Algae / ABCA
The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) worked with American researchers studying phosphorus nutrient loading in Lake Huron, and its impact on lower Great Lakes. The study used satellite imagery to locate sediment plumes flowing from Lake Huron into the St. Clair River. The water in the plumes was then tested for suspended solids and total phosphorus which can lead to algal growth, fish die-offs due to less dissolved oxygen in the water, and even the release of toxins that can threaten public health.

Atlantic Cod moratorium lessons for B.C. salmon / CBC
On the 30th anniversary of the Atlantic cod moratorium, what can B.C. learn about Pacific salmon? Pacific Salmon Foundation VP of Salmon Jason Hwang spoke about the parallels on CBC’s All Points West.

River Notes August 25 2022 / NS/ASF
“Stripers appear in the lower section of Lower South and West River Antigonish early and often. Angler reports indicate they had made their way upriver as high as the No. 7 salmon pool (West River) by early June. Based on the abundant population appearing in April, I would guess Striped Bass do not leave Antigonish harbour and may remain year-round. Based upon angler observation alone, I am of the opinion that the population growth we have experienced is having an impact on our trout fishery throughout the North Shore rivers.”

Illegal sockeye sales rampant on Fraser River / B.C. Wildlife Federation
“We are seeing evidence of illegal fish sales all over social media and Craigslist,” said B.C. Wildlife Federation Executive Director Jesse Zeman. Thousands of sockeye salmon that have been cleaned and apparently prepared for sale are being dumped along the Fraser River. Illegal sales of salmon are rampant in B.C., especially on the Lower Mainland.

Quebec’s Atlantic Salmon Run Data / ASF
Low water conditions were a major factor affecting angling success during the month of August on many of Quebec’s rivers. The attached tables display statistics up to and including late August 2022, and for the previous four seasons for comparison.


World Rivers Day Sept 25, 2022
It’s amazing to see the many creative ways in which people across the globe will be celebrating World Rivers Day! This year may well be the biggest celebration yet, with 1000s of events and millions of participants in well over 100 countries spanning 6 continents.

Rainwater Unsafe to Drink Amid ‘Forever Chemicals’: Study / WebMD
Researchers found major environmental contamination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which are human-made chemicals used in numerous products, such as food packaging and waterproof clothing. The chemicals can spread in the atmosphere and are now found across the globe, including in rainwater, snow, soil, and even human blood.

A multination effort to restore the Great Lakes: a watershed moment / Canadian Geographic
Fifty years after the landmark Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, what’s changed?

Your Lake Your Voice Canada / U.S.
This year, Canada and the US are hosting the triennial Great Lakes Public Forum in Niagara Falls, Ontario on September 27-29. The governments of Canada and the United States will update the public based on two comprehensive reports.

State of the Great Lakes 2022 Report
This report provides a summary of the health of the Great Lakes using indicators of ecosystem health, such as drinking water, fish consumption, and beach closures. The 2022 Progress Report of the Parties describes recent achievements in restoring and protecting Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health.

Assessing Progress under the Water Quality Agreement / IJC
The IJC is also working on drafting its latest Triennial Assessment of Progress, or TAP, report. We’ll document progress by Canada and the United States toward achieving objectives of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and make recommendations.

Share Your Input on Great Lakes Water Quality Progress / IJC
The International Joint Commission (IJC) launches its efforts to gather public feedback on the Canadian and United States governments’ latest Great Lakes progress report. Let us know what progress you’re seeing, or making, happen, and what should be done to improve Great Lakes water quality in your community.

Great Lakes Lakewide Action and Management Plans 2021 Annual Reports / Binational
The 2021 Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) Annual Reports for Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior are now available. These five-year strategic plans identify key priorities for each Great Lake and guide the coordination of binational environmental protection and restoration activities.

Trudeau announces expanded oceans protection plan / CBC News
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced new details of the federal government’s $3.5-billion plan to protect the oceans and boost coast guard facilities on the world’s longest national coastline.

Sunken vessel leaking fuel off San Juan Island / CTV
A sunken vessel is leaking fuel into Haro Strait, between the San Juan Islands in Washington State and Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The Aleutian Isle had 9,800 liters of diesel and oil on board, and the US and Canadian coast guards are working to contain the spill.

Healthy Great Lakes Funding Renewed / CELA
The Canadian Environmental Law Association is delighted to announce renewed funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to support the Healthy Great Lakes program. With a further two years of funding secured, CELA will continue to work toward ensuring clean, affordable, safe drinking water and freshwater health for all life. This includes continuing to support the work of the Great Lakes Fish Health Network.

Invasive Crayfish Discovered at Bow Lake / CTV
On Aug. 6, Parks Canada followed captured northern crayfish in one of the streams flowing into Bow Lake – the headwaters of the Bow River – about 38 kilometres north of Lake Louise along the Icefields Parkway – following a report a few days earlier.


Senate committee presents plan for peaceful fishery that sidelines DFO for Indigenous groups / CBC
A standing senate committee said First Nations fishing groups shouldn’t have to negotiate with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) for harvesting agreements.

Fisheries report brings hope to Indigenous communities, sparks anger in industry / Lethbridge News Now
A Mi’kmaw lawyer from the community at the centre of a violent backlash over its self-governed lobster fishery says she’s “very hopeful” about a new Senate report that calls for the full implementation of Indigenous fishing rights.


Outdoor retailer Patagonia donated to fund fight against climate change / Sierra Club
On September 14, Patagonia made headlines when Chouinard announced that he was transferring 98 percent of the family-owned company—and all its nonvoting stock—to the non-profits Holdfast Collective, an advocacy group with a mission to “fight the environmental crisis, protect nature and biodiversity, and support thriving communities.” When 73-year-old adventurer Rick Ridgeway learned that his old buddy Yvon Chouinard was giving away outdoor retailer Patagonia to a non-profit that will donate the company’s profits to environmental work, he wasn’t terribly surprised. Ridgeway has known Chouinard, the company’s 83-year-old founder, since the early 1970s, when the pair bonded during trips to climb and surf in remote places. Then, Ridgeway spent 15 years leading Patagonia’s environmental initiatives and public engagement. The company’s fidelity to green values, he said, was clear from the start. “Patagonia’s always been one step ahead, out in the vanguard exploring new ways to do things,” Ridgeway said. “The company’s had that commitment since it started 50 years ago.”


Resources for Boaters / Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program
With the new regulations for watercraft users that came into effect this past January, preventing the spread of invasive species through the boater pathway has been top of mind. To make it easy for boaters to find the resources they need, we have collected them all and added them to our new ‘Boater Resources’ page. These resources are available as free, downloadable PDFs you can save to your phone or computer for easy access. You can also visit this page for instructions on ordering Clean, Drain, Dry signage for your lake!


Spot a B.C. salmon and enter the ISpySalmon / PSF
As a part of this year’s Salmon Spotting campaign, the Pacific Salmon Foundation is proud to partner with the BC Parks Foundation on a photo contest! Capture a photo of your salmon spotting experience and use the hashtag #ISpySalmon to be entered to win prizes.

25th Anniversary Fish Art Contest / Wildlife Forever
Wildlife Forever is excited to announce that the 25th Anniversary Fish Art Contest is now officially open! Since 1997, the contest has grown into an internationally recognized youth conservation program, drawing thousands of entries each year. The program is free to enter and open to youth Kindergarten through 12th grade.


Great Lakes Untamed / TVO
Premiering Monday, September 26, 2022 (9:00pm ET) on TVO channels and YouTube: a three-part natural history series about the North American Great Lakes. Learn how the lakes were formed, how animals, plants and people have been shaped by the extremes of this vast watershed and explore how climate change is challenging the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem.


Great Lakes Tri-Board Webinar
Link to the recording of the Great Lakes Tri-Board webinar on Tuesday, August 30.

Scientists and Local Champions:

African Women in Science 2023 program applications open / ACARE
The International Institute for Sustainable Development and the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education (IISD-ACARE) are happy to announce the open application for the African Women in Science (AWIS) 2023 program. We encourage all interested and qualified applicants to apply to the program by completing the form on the ACARE website by October 7, 2022:

‘Evangelist’ of fishing inducted into Freshwater Hall of Fame / Angling International
The man who has played a central role in growing and shaping Trout Unlimited (TU) has been inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Chris Wood joined TU 20 years ago and has been President and CEO since 2009. The industry has seen the benefits of Wood’s work in the shape of the protection of public lands and waters and the restoration of rivers and streams.

Coming Up:

Northern Ontario Tourism Summit Register now! / Destination Northern Ontario
Destination Northern Ontario is encouraging the industry to register for the largest northern tourism event of the year, the Northern Ontario Tourism Summit, this fall in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The early bird deadline falls on September 30th this year, and we want to make sure our industry partners can take advantage of the special price starting at $250 per person.


Please sign the petition today / Watershed Watch
SkeenaWild and Watershed Watch Salmon Society need your help to get a petition about Alaskan overfishing to the House of Commons. They need 500 signatures to get it on the table. The Pacific Salmon Treaty is an outdated document, created at a time when salmon populations seemed plentiful. In a changing climate, with increasing numbers of endangered populations, this agreement needs to be overhauled. At a minimum, we need to do away with unselective interception fisheries. This parliamentary petition asks our government to do just that.

Special Guest Feature – Shared Priorities for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence / GLSLCI & GLFC

The Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and Great Lakes Fishery Commission released Shared Priorities for the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence: Advancing Equitable Restoration, Revitalization and Resilience. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are an integral part of Canada, and North America’s economy, culture, and history. More specifically, almost 20% of the world’s surface fresh water is found in the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River basin. This basin is invaluable as the source of drinking water for more than 40 million people in Canada and the U.S. The basin directly generates more than 1.5 million jobs and $60 billion in wages annually and is the foundation of a $6-trillion regional economy, which would be one of the largest in the world if it stood alone as a country. Recreation in the basin’s waterways – including world-renowned boating, hunting, and fishing opportunities – generates more than $52 billion annually for the region, and the area is home to over 3,500 plant and animal species, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth. It is imperative for all levels of government, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence organizations, communities, and residents in the region to collaborate closely to tackle complex issues.

In the interest of protecting and restoring these treasured freshwater resources the GLSLCI & GLFC are committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders towards advancing the following priorities:

  • Improve cross-border dialogue and collaboration between agency and government sources involved in water governance.
  • Enhance coordination and governance of domestic freshwater management to better address the impacts of climate change and other stressors.
  • Increase funding to complement investments made into Great Lakes restoration by the United States.
  • Strengthen vital water and shoreline infrastructure across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin.
  • Put forward adequate protections for the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River basin from aquatic invasive species
  • Take active measures to reduce pollution and improve water quality across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin.
  • Lay the foundation for a prosperous Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River “Blue Economy.”

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