In this March 1st, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News the focus is on BC’s shoreline communities and the threat to their sustainability and the fish upon which they depend. Included is a list / summary of relevant timely fishing, fish, water and other news. The Special Guest Feature is the open letter to DFO’s Minister from BC’s Public Fishery Alliance. 

This Week’s Feature — BC’s Public Fisheries and Coastal Communities

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

For years I’ve been interviewing people knowledgeable about the pacific salmon decline along Canada’s west coast. Go back through The Blue Fish Radio Show archives and you will find dozens of episodes dating back as far as 2012. I’ve spoken with conservationists, environmentalists, guides, First Nations leaders, DFO representatives, engineers, anglers, and scientists. I even featured Pacific salmon in my 2016 documentary “What Lies Below”. All this to say, I can say with confidence that there’s no “smoking gun” that has brought about the decline of wild Pacific salmon stocks.

Without doubt, there are a whole lot of people and stakeholder groups that want wild Pacific salmon stocks to recover. Unfortunately, there’s also no magic solution. It’s going to take a concerted effort on numerous fronts including resources and a commitment by our political leaders. In the meantime, there are coastal communities, indigenous and non-indigenous, who are searching for ways to sustain their way-of-life. Communities who are more than willing to work together and do what’s necessary to ensure the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon.

Here’s what we know about the economic importance and sustainability of BC’s public salmon fishery. According to the latest available economic data, in 2016 the public fishery contributed $1.1 billion to the BC economy, accounted for 9,000 jobs, and ranked as BC’s single most economically important salmon fishery. And yet, from a sustainability perspective, the public salmon fishery was responsible for harvesting only 10 per cent of the total salmon harvested in 2016. More importantly, the public fishery harvest included less than 0.5 per cent of endangered wild Chinook salmon. For DFO to be able to come up with these numbers, they depend on an extensive system of tracing, tracking and reporting based on seasonal salmon runs broken down by region, by species, and by origin. Or in other words, which fish are heading for which rivers and when. Unfortunately, this level of granularity isn’t available when measuring the impact of commercial purse seiners and gill netters responsible for 75 per cent of BC’s total yearly salmon catch.

As someone who participated as a hand-line fisher in the North Atlantic Cod fishery up until it’s closure in 1992, another story that featured in the documentary What Lies Below, I have first hand experience of a fish stock exploited to the point of no return. The Cod stock collapse was a massive ecological crisis precipitated by politics, economic pressure, scientists being ignored, corporate greed, poorly conceived economic stimulation policy, and the voices of artisanal and indigenous fishers going unheard. In many ways, a crisis like the one we are now witnessing on Canada’s west coast, starting with the river gill-net fishery and the salmon canneries over 100 years ago, the current state-of-the art purse seiner and gill netting   commercial fishing fleets, and exacerbated by climate change. Pacific salmon continue to be exploited by corporate and political interests, and it’s the coastal communities and the ecosystems upon which they depend that are paying the price.

Last summer I interviewed David Brown for an episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show. David had just received the highest civilian honour Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans can bestow. The award recognized David’s work to restore West Coast salmon. Never one to fear speaking truth to power, David’s growing frustration with DFO policies led to his founding the Public Fishery Alliance, and his leading a protest during the summer of 2020 in front of DFO’s Vancouver headquarters. Link below to listen to my conversation with David Brown shortly after the protest took place: https://bluefishradio.com/public-fishery-alliance-protests-dfo-pacific-salmon-closures/

Public fishers are frustrated with DFO’s approach. In 2017 DFO reduced the daily harvest limit of Chinook salmon by BC’s public fishery from two to one. In April 2019 and again in 2020, DFO eliminated retention of spring Chinook by the public fishery altogether.

Once again, the Public Fishery Alliance is asking DFO to allow carefully managed science-directed local public salmon fisheries to take place. They have been assured by DFO scientists that such a sustainable public fishery is possible by focusing on hatchery fish and avoiding endangered wild Chinook. On February 16, 2021 the Public Fishing Alliance issued an open letter to the Minister of DFO asking that the department follow their mandate as stipulated by the Prime Minister in his mandate letter to DFO in 2019. You can read the open letter to the Minister – I’ve included it at the end of the Blue Fish News as our “Special Guest feature”.

I’ve spoken with numerous amazing and dedicated people over the years who know intimately the plight of the Pacific Salmon. People who have spent their life safeguarding and angling for Pacific salmon, and who are now advocating for a complete embargo on salmon fishing. Many other concerned groups and members of the public are demanding the same. To allow crucial economic and social fishing related activity vital to coastal communities will mean more work, the engagement of stakeholders, and an element of risk. What’s being asked for is considerably more involved than simply slamming the door.

The people putting forward these proposals want salmon fisheries to be restored to their former glory as much as anyone. Their social and economic future, and for many their cultural identity, are dependent on their being salmon. Can the same be said for the large commercial fishing companies that scoop salmon up by the tens-of-thousands with no regard for wild salmon vital to stock rebuilding efforts? And yet, those offshore large-scale fisheries continue.

The Public Fishery Alliance is hoping for a last-stitch effort to sustain the socio-economic viability of BC’s coastal communities and avoid what happened on Canada’s east coast. It prioritizes sustaining wild Pacific salmon stocks, and artisanal and other small-scale fisheries vital to the health of BC’s coastal communities – indigenous and non-indigenous alike. And, if it turns out scientists can’t find a reliable way to bring this about, taking into consideration local knowledge, these communities are willing to stop fishing. Putting a stop to public fisheries without first having tried to find a viable solution may be expedient, but it’s short sighted.

No doubt, we all need to step up and take responsibility for the decline in Pacific salmon our actions or inactions have set in motion. We can manage our way through to reversing this downward spiral, but because the issues are numerous and well entrenched, it’s going to take a concerted effort and time. The risk of doing too-little-to-late can only lead to nature setting its own course, and once nature has determined a new shape for the North Pacific ecosystem, it can’t be easily undone., Just look at Canada’s east coast where scientists are still scratching their heads over why Cod stocks haven’t returned despite a 28-year fishing embargo. In short, take all necessary actions to rebuild BC’s wild Pacific salmon stocks, but don’t abandon BC’s coastal communities along the way.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

B.C. anglers pan federal response to salmon petition | The Star
Minister Jordan reminded anglers that new management measures in 2019 and 2020 were designed to allow for recreational fisheries in times and areas where stocks of concern can be avoided. Not satisfied, a Parliamentary petition, tabled Dec. 4 with 2,654 signatures, was initiated by retired Surrey resident and angler Bill Braidwood over DFO’s sweeping recreational closures of Fraser River chinook. The petition called for an amendment to the 2020 management measures that acknowledge the existence of abundant chinook runs, augmented by marked hatchery fish, that could be caught safely away from endangered populations. DFO is now considering a pilot recreation fishery on hatchery origin chinook, similar in structure to the petition request, which were tested in pilot projects last year, and is conducting a post-season review to potentially include more marked-selective fishing opportunities in the spring.

Watch your Step when wading BC’s salmon rivers | Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Between fall and spring, spawning grounds are full of vulnerable salmon redds. Studies on trout redds show that trampling can cause mortality rates between 43 – 96 per cent. A similar rate applied to wild salmon redds could be disastrous, especially for endangered populations. Find out how to identify and avoid them.

Fish:

Decades of cuts to salmon monitoring leave B.C. scientists uncertain of fish populations | The Narwhal
Less than 10 per cent of spawning habitat on B.C.’s central and north coast is being monitored by creekwalkers; the people who count salmon one by one. Critics say this leaves a critical gap in knowledge that could further imperil the species.

Blue Economy sessions kick off with roundtable marathon | Welland Tribune
Canada’s fisheries minister has wrapped up her first week of roundtable discussions with stakeholders on the development of Canada’s first Blue Economy. Jordan said she heard about the importance of B.C.’s fisheries and coastal tourism from the Pacific region, the level of importance of having reliable, timely, and accessible data on the oceans from ocean scientists and professors, and the need for collaboration between communities, First Nations and industry to produce a strategy that considers economic, social and environmental factors.

Salmon runs in B.C. are depleting — but some have the potential to come back, report shows | National Observer
The report, released by the Salmon Coast Field station, a field research base and charity near Echo Bay, analyzed more than 150 salmon populations in the Broughton Archipelago and inlets on northeast Vancouver Island and the central coast. They assessed fish in 92 river systems for abundance and 24 for resilience. “Rebuilding plans are required for depleted populations under the new federal Fisheries Act, the report shows where we need to get going on that.” said Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch.

How global warming is affecting B.C. salmon | Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Research shows global air temperatures are trending hotter than expected in recent decades. Five of the last six years were the hottest on record. The situation gets more dire as you move closer to the north pole, as temperatures are increasing more rapidly than they are at the equator. The effect global warming has on salmon populations will be widespread, long-lasting and irreversible without urgent action.

Hundreds of fish species – including many we eat – are consuming plastic | EarthSky
Trillions of barely visible pieces of plastic are floating in the world’s oceans. Microplastics are making their way into fish and shellfish, and potentially into humans. What are the effects of this plastic diet on fish and the animals that eat them?

Report lays bare the true costs of open net pen salmon aquaculture | ASF
The Changing Markets Foundation and Just Economics have released a new report called Dead Loss that examines the externalized costs placed on nature and the public from open net-pen salmon aquaculture in Canada, Norway, Scotland, and Chile. The numbers are staggering: 100 million salmon have escaped or died of disease since 2013 and unaccounted costs placed on the public are worth nearly $50 billion.

Washington State Pacific Salmon Future Grim
The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office has released a report on the state of salmon populations in the state’s watersheds—and the findings predict a grim future. The once prolific salmon populations in Washington State have been declining for years, and populations are now estimated to be at about 5% of historic highs.

In Search of BC Resident Killer Whales | Marine Mammal Research Unit UBC
In August 2020, nine people set sail aboard the M/V Gikumi to determine whether there are enough chinook salmon to support southern resident killer whales in the Salish Sea.  For 30 days, the team used electronic fish finders, biologging tracking devices, and drones to document the abundance and distribution of salmon – as well as the feeding behaviours of two populations of resident killer whales-one that is declining (the southern residents) and one that is increasing (the northern residents). Read the research groups diary entries.

Water:

DFO letter says City of Pitt Meadows is wrong on Kennedy Pump Station | Watershed Watch Salmon Society
The pumps at Kennedy Pump Station are aging and need to be replaced. Conservation groups have been demanding that the city replace the old fish-killing pumps with fish-friendly pumps such as those used in other places around the lower mainland. A recent letter sent from DFO says that non-fish-friendly infrastructure can violate the prohibition of harm to fish under the federal Fisheries Act. Pitt Meadows responded by doubling down on their commitment to use fish-killing pumps and declaring there are little to no native fish or salmonids in the waterway.

Massive Landslide Cools Fjord | Hakai Magazine
The landslide happened in a remote area, about 200 kilometers northwest of Vancouver, British Columbia. Researchers think that melting permafrost and a retreating glacier destabilized the steep slope until it gave way on November 28, 2020. The slide pushed an estimated nine million cubic meters of debris into a lake made from the glacier’s meltwater, creating a wave that may have reached as high as 110 meters.

Shuttered Glencore B.C. mines threaten Babine Lake salmon: report | The Narwhal
New research finds lax provincial regulations allow companies to discharge toxic wastewater with metal concentrations hundreds of times higher than what’s considered safe for aquatic life.

The Environmental Threat You’ve Never Heard Of | Hakai Magazine
It’s called coastal darkening, and scientists are just beginning to explore it. As phytoplankton form the base of the ocean’s food web, this could have stark implications. Some species of zooplankton, for instance, have adapted to eat one kind of phytoplankton. Any change in phytoplankton composition could result in winners and losers throughout the ecosystem.

U.S. Coalition on 30 by 30 Initiative Grows | NPAA
So far 42 U.S. hunting, fishing and conservation organizations have taken a significant step forward for conservation by officially joining as signatories to the “Hunting and Fishing Community Statement on the 30 by 30 Initiative.” The coalition was established to ensure the interests and contributions of fishers and hunters are incorporated into policies intended to advance 30 by 30 goals.

Indigenous:

Government of Canada and the A-Tlegay Member Nations Sign the Reconciliation Framework Agreement for Fisheries Resources | Cision News
Five First Nations have a long history of marine use and stewardship in the northern Gulf of Georgia and the Johnstone Strait region. The Framework Agreement commits the Parties to work together through a common fisheries negotiation table between the Government of Canada and the A-Tlegay Member Nations (AMN). The goal is to expand the Nations’ access to the commercial industry, including aquaculture, develop community fisheries, and create a mechanism for collaborative governance of fisheries resources.

New UBC Indigenous fisheries centre aims to uplift community rights | Salmon Arm Observer
The UBC’s Centre for Indigenous Fisheries focusses on bringing Indigenous communities in as full partners. One of the centre’s first initiatives is a multimedia project called Fish Outlaws, documenting the criminalization and dispossession of Indigenous fisheries around the Salish Sea.

Raising awareness of Indigenous water rights in B.C. | The Discourse

Industry:

Navico Appoints Chief Sustainability Officer | FishingWire
Navico, parent company to the Lowrance®, Simrad Yachting, B&G® and C-MAP® brands, announced the hiring of its first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer this week as the company has made sustainability one of its core strategic pillars globally across its brands, products, operations and production.

Boating:

Outboard Engine Sales Report show continued increase | NMMA
NMMA’s 2020 U.S. Recreational Boating data shows outboard engine retail sales rose for the ninth consecutive year in 2020 to a total of 330,000 units. It’s the highest annual sales volume in 20 years and up 18% from 2019.

Arts:

Alberta’s Ice Fishing Photo Contest | Alberta Conservation Association
Submissions from Alberta anglers are being accepted until the end of February, 2021. Enter in one of three categories: most Excited Angler; best Fish Photo; and, atmospheric Photo. Enter by visiting the Alberta Conservation Association Facebook page or via Twitter or Instagram. Post your photo as a comment, or post a photo on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #IceFishingPhotoContest2021. Prizes include ice Fishing Prize Pack (valued at $285)and $50 gift cards.

Special Guest Feature — Extracts from the Public Fishery Alliance’s Open Letter To DFO Minister Jordan (Feb 16 2021):

Dear Minister Jordan,

For the past two years your department has prevented the Public fishery from keeping any Chinook in critically important Southern BC salt and freshwater angling areas, even when no Fraser River Chinook stocks of concern are present. Furthermore, between April 1st and July 31st, keeping abundant US hatchery Chinook has also been off limits in areas where they make up a very high percentage of the Chinook stocks present. These actions have had devastating consequences for the Public fishery. Many hard-working Canadians in the public fishing sector are now without jobs and the infrastructure that supports angling is struggling. COVID-19 has magnified these social and economic impacts.

In early 2020, the Federal Fisheries Minister’s Sport Fishing Advisory Board submitted a fishing plan that included opportunities to catch and keep abundant Chinook salmon. It was developed with DFO staff specifically to avoid wild Fraser River stocks of concern using DFO’s latest scientific data. It also offered a minimal, but sustainable, opportunity for the Public fishery during these extraordinary times. Yet, your department refused to implement the entire proposal, devastating Georgia Strait, Juan de Fuca Strait and lower Fraser River Public Fisheries. Not adopting this fishing plan defies logic, runs contrary to science-based fisheries management and to your mandate.

Specific Fraser River Chinook stocks are undeniably in trouble. The strongly supports the immediate implementation of a comprehensive recovery program. The BC angling community has been pursuing this objective with your department for fifteen years. Yet, since 2008, increased fishing restrictions including closures are the only tools the department has used. The recovery so far, is a wretched failure.

The Public Fishery Alliance recognizes Fraser Chinook recovery will take many years. We also understand recovery of these wild Chinook is attainable, as is providing sustainable fishing opportunities without detriment to stocks of concern. These dual objectives are critically important. Our sector must have some form of meaningful access to Chinook stocks that are not in trouble, in order to maintain hope for surviving these extremely difficult times. These fisheries are defensible because:

  • This fishing plan allows anglers to keep Chinook in areas where weak runs of Fraser River Chinook do not occur based on decades of DFO data.
  • Retaining identifiable hatchery Chinook and releasing wild Chinook produces a known conservation benefit. This conservation and fishery saving tool is currently in use in Washington State.
  • Hatchery Chinook account for greater than 70% of the salmon present in JDF in April and May and it has been identified as a viable fishery candidate.
  • Wherever the 2019 & 2020 Chinook Public fishery restriction applied, no coded wire tags were turned in, significantly compromising data recovery programs. Allowing anglers to keep hatchery Chinook will result in the recovery of coded wire tags for critical scientific assessment.

Continuing your department’s heavy handed and overly broad Chinook regulation for a third year will systematically dismantle the Public salmon fishery. The PFA strongly recommends your department allow anglers to keep Chinook as described. Failure to do so reinforces the common view that science-based fisheries management and your mandate letter from Prime Minister Trudeau are not guiding your actions. Canadians deserve to know how your department operates and where it stands with respect to their interests, especially as a general election seems close at hand.

Yours truly,

“Public Fishery Alliance – Board of Directors”

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In this February 8, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News our focus is on Atlantic Canada fish health and the Ocean Tracking Network. As always, we offer a curated list of summaries and Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. We close with a call to action to protect Muskie issued by the Chair of the St John River Muskie Canada Chapter.

Lawrence Gunther with Art Geaton fishing Blue Sharks for scientific tagging

This Week’s Feature: Atlantic Canada’s Fish health and the Ocean Tracking Network

I first visited Atlantic Canada with my parents and three brothers in 1969 and new then I would be back. In 1986 I purchased a small cabin on a 5-kilometer-long gut that connected the Catalone River with the Atlantic Ocean. I’ll never forget the sound of Atlantic Salmon following the shoreline each night as they moved into the river for their summer spawn. By the time I sold the cabin 14 years later, the salmon had stopped coming and the Cod fishery was closed. Worse, scientists couldn’t even agree on what happened. Thanks to satellite tagging technology and the Ocean Tracking Network, we know a lot more now.

Oceans are warming, fish are moving, so what can Canada’s Ocean Tracking Network tell us? We speak with dr. Frederick Whoriskey Executive Director of the Ocean Tracking Network from Dalhousie University. Fred brings us up to speed on everything from Atlantic Salmon and Arctic Char, to Greenland and Great White sharks, and more. Link below to find out how Canada’s east coast fish species are fairing, and why Striped Bass numbers are on the rise, on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/canadas-atlantic-fish-species-and-the-ocean-tracking-network/

Speaking with Fred teleported me right back to my cabin on Cape Bretton Island – I could almost smell the ocean spray and hear the roar of the surf. It would have made for a great spot to hunker down this past year for sure. Can’t wait to go back — plenty of old and new friends to visit, and a much stronger stewardship capacity to celebrate. Fred’s right, it takes a combined effort from a wide cross-section of experts and people with local and indigenous knowledge to turn things around, and Atlantic Canada has plenty of both.

The Latest Fishing, fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

100 Mile House man catches massive 27-pound lake trout – iNFOnews
A 100 Mile House resident, known by his family as “the fish whisperer” got the catch of his life this week when he found a 27-pound lake trout. The angler estimated at that size, the freshwater char was roughly 50 years old. “I put it back down in the hole to be caught another time, who knows, maybe when it’s even bigger,” he said.

Manitoba RCMP, fishing guides issue warnings with lakes ‘busier than ever’ – Granthshala Canada
Members of the ice fishing community near Selark are still recovering, as a couple was found dead in their camp on the Red River at St Clements’s RM, north of CIL Road. Carbon monoxide being the likely cause. A local guide says several incidents have occurred in the past month near Winnipeg, with fishermen needing airlift to those trapped on ice overnight. A spokesman for the Manitoba RCMP said officials are reporting an increase in the amount of ice fishing. “It pissed me off, I was really surprised,” said Todd Longley, a professional fishing guide from the Winnipeg area.

2020 Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation Member Of The Year – OBN
The Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation is proud to announce that our 2020 Member of the Year is Mark Rorke from the St. Catharines Bassmasters! Mark is and has been an outstanding member of the Ontario BASS Nation for many years now. Mark is always giving back at the club and Team Ontario levels. Notably in the last few years by growing the St. Catharines Bassmasters Youth Program.

New winter fishery presents fun challenge for P.E.I. anglers – CBC News
Anglers on P.E.I. are being given a chance to fish for perch through the ice this year, in an experiment to see if a regular fishery is viable. The licence is free, but you must apply and report all you catch. Because the perch are coastal, the province is partnering with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the project.

Ontario Provincial Police say ice fishing allowed, but no staying overnight in ice huts – CBC News
Regulations imposed by the provincial government have left many anglers wondering if they are able to stay at their ice shacks overnight. The quick answer is no. During the day, fishing is allowed, said Sgt. Mike Golding, with the OPP in Thunder Bay. He said if you are outside, anglers must be in a group of five or less. However, once an ice shack gets involved, the answers are a little more complex. “You have to be there for less than 24 hours, you cannot spend the night, and then travel back,” said Golding. He said the rules apply to anglers who have their own ice hut or those who had booked a rental prior to the lockdown.

EU-wide ban on lead in fishing sinkers and lures looms closer – Angling International
The European body investigating the effect of lead in fishing tackle on the environment and health has concluded that an EU-wide restriction on its use would be justified. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has also called for an immediate ban on the use of lead sinkers when they are deliberately dropped to the waterbed – a technique commonly known as lead drop-off and popular with carp anglers. A ban on the sale and use of lead sinkers and lures is being proposed period of three years for those weighing under 50g and five years for those over 50g from the date the ban is brought into force. Health and environmental risks posed by the use of lead in outdoor sports puts an estimated 127 million birds at risk each year, and that citizens are also exposed to lead when making fishing sinkers and lures at home. Exposure lead is especially harmful to the neurological development of children.

Fish Health:

On the Briny Ocean Toss – ASF
Research gets physical, especially in the whipped-up seas of the Strait of Belle between Labrador and Newfoundland. The strait is the highway to the North Atlantic for juvenile and adult salmon leaving the Gulf of St. Lawrence and it where ASF researchers meet them to gather data about survival and migration in warming water. Here’s the story of one season on the water.

Muskie Canada calls on anglers to take action to save New Brunswick Muskie at Risk – MCI
Currently and in past years, New Brunswick DFO kills up to 60 Muskies per year at the Saint John River dams fish ladders. The Muskie stomach content research by Canadian Rivers Institute has shown zero predation of trout or salmon, and yet the NB Department of Natural Resources offers no protection, has no set fishing season, and limits are 5 muskies per day of any size any day of the year. Please complete this survey to help the Musky Fishery in New Brunswick whether you are a resident of New Brunswick or not.

Consultation: Lake Simcoe Protection Plan 10-year review – Ontario.ca
Lake Simcoe is the largest inland lake in southern Ontario and is home to more than 450,000 people. Ontario residents are invited to take part in a Virtual town hall will to be held on February 11, 2021, at 12:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Learn about the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and hear highlights of progress made to protect and restore the lake. Share your perspectives on the plan and suggest ideas that could help protect and restore the health of the lake and watershed.

Campaign launch: #peopleforsalmon – ASF
Listing some populations of Atlantic salmon under the Species at Risk Act in Canada might sound positive, but upon closer inspection, evidence and experience shows this bureaucratic measure will hamper conservation and close rivers unnecessarily. Learn more and add your voice to keep rivers open and conservation alive:

Aquaculture companies take Canada to court – National Observer
Following DFO’s termination of 19 open net-pen salmon aquaculture licenses in BC waters, Mowi, Cermaq, and Grieg have filed suit. The soon-to-be-shuttered farms are on key migration routes for wild juvenile salmon, and eliminating operations in the Discovery Islands was a recommendation made by the 2012 Cohen Commission investigating the decline of Fraser River sockeye.

Scientists puzzled by 30,000 chinook that seem to be missing from Yukon River – CBC News
There’s a mystery in Yukon and Alaska and it involves about 30,000 missing chinook salmon.

Magnuson-Stevens Act Update in Process – Fishing Wire
The Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the U.S. federal fisheries law, has not been reauthorized since 2006. And with a robust new draft bill to amend it, House lawmakers are breathing new life into the conversation about managing U.S. fisheries.

DFO is making new fishing rules. Will they work? – National Observer
In 1992, Canadians watched in horror as Newfoundland’s once-thriving cod stocks collapsed, leaving thousands without jobs and ecosystems transformed. Yet despite the horror, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has not been legally required to rebuild depleted fish stocks even as others, including the iconic salmon runs in B.C., have hit historic lows. That soon might change. Earlier this month, the federal government proposed a suite of changes to Canada’s fishing regulations that will force DFO to bring depleted commercial fish stocks back to abundant levels.

Harbour seals respond differently to pulses of out-migrating Coho and Chinook salmon smolts – Marine Mammal Research Unit
Predation by harbour seals is believed to significantly impact juvenile Coho and Chinook salmon as they enter the ocean. Biologging data from foraging harbour seals shows less impact on out-migrating salmon than expected. A few seals in the study population targeted juvenile Coho, and exerted less pressure on chinook—appearing instead to target other fish that are feeding on juvenile chinook.

Hundreds of goldfish in Fredericton duck pond present major risk – CBC News
Goldfish are highly predacious on native species, so they could clean up a population of juvenile trout, salmon and other fish in short order.

Trout Unlimited Supports Climate Change Initiatives – Fishing Wire
As President Biden signed an executive order aimed at beginning to address climate change, Trout Unlimited applauded the administration’s leadership on this issue of critical importance. These ambitious initiatives will help the nation protect sources of cold, clean, fishable water, and recover nature’s resilience to the more intense floods…

Water Quality:

Nova Scotia Announces Provisional List of Protected Areas – ASF
The province released a list of areas that will help reach its goal for protected lands, one proposed area that could secure the St. Mary’s River from Atlantic Gold’s proposed Cochrane Hill project didn’t make the list this time.

New Map Shows Dozens of Mine Pollution Threats In BC – SkeenaWild
SkeenaWild and the BC Mining Law Reform network released a new map pointing to over a hundred known and potentially contaminated mine waste sites that threaten to pollute waters, fish habitat and communities across the province. Concerns over mining have been growing since the 2014 Mount Polley disaster and 2016.

Even in Alaska: Fish Harvest Closed on Fairbanks Lakes Due to PFAS – Fishing Wire
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is continuing the restrictions on Bathing Beauty Pond and Kimberly, Bear, Moose, and Polaris lakes. In 2019, surface water in Kimberly Lake tested to exceed EPA and DEC actions levels of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Sport fishing at Kimberly Lake remains closed. For Bathing Beauty Pond and Bear, Moose, and Polaris Lakes, all fish species caught may not be retained and must be released immediately (catch-and-release only).

Atlantic Gold in Court facing environment charges in Nova Scotia – ASF
The company faces 32 charges under the Nova Scotia Environment Act, most related to heavy soil runoff from the company’s Moose River gold mine.

Bid to Overturn Tanker Ban on North Coast Fails – The Tyee
After 40 years’ debate, proponents are still pushing for oil exports via BC’s ports. And residents are still pushing back. Canada put in place a moratorium in 1972 following the U.S. construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which was expected to bring two million barrels of oil down the west coast each day in tankers. The moratorium was a way to pressure the U.S. government to avoid the Canadian coastline. Bill C-48 was passed in 2019 now prohibits tankers carrying more than 12,500 tonnes of crude oil from stopping at B.C. ports between the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the southern tip of the Alaskan Panhandle. A Conservative MP’s attempt to reverse the ban on oil tankers on British Columbia’s north coast was defeated in the House of Commons on February 3 2021.

The Looming Threat of the World’s Aging Dams – Yale E360
Tens of thousands of large dams are reaching the end of their expected lifespans, leading to a dramatic rise in structural failures and collapses. These deteriorating dams pose a serious threat to hundreds of millions of people living downstream, yet, as the new report claims, safety inspectors cannot keep up with the workload. Globally, there are an estimated 19,000 large dams more than 50 years old, which is beyond the typical lifespan before a dam needs major repairs or removal. According to the report, “By 2050, most of humanity will live downstream of large dams built in the 20th century” that are “at increasing risk of failure.”

Indigenous:

This serene B.C. island beach with Indigenous cultural ties is now a protected nature reserve – Coast Reporter
A serene beach on an island in Howe Sound, with remarkable biodiversity and First Nations cultural significance, is now a protected nature reserve.

Living with Water project explores coastal adaptation plans to address rising sea levels – Martlet
Indigenous communities will partner with researchers and governments to explore cutting-edge solutions.

Nisga’a scholar launches new Centre for Indigenous Fisheries at UBC – UBC News
A new Centre for Indigenous Fisheries is being launched at University of British Columbia.

Industry:

Bass Pro Shops founder announces huge amateur tournament – Angling International
More than $4million – the biggest payout in the history of fishing – is being offered by a new amateur tournament announced by Johnny Morris. And a further $1million will be donated to conservation. Following a series of U.S. regional qualifying rounds starting this Spring, 350 two-angler teams will compete in a three-day championship finale in autumn on Table Rock Lake.

Getting Back to Business at ICAST 2021 – ASA
This July, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show is headed back to Orlando. This year marks the 64th consecutive recreational fishing trade show produced by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) for its members and the recreational fishing industry. ICAST 2021 is scheduled for July 20 – 23. While the health, safety and security of exhibitors and attendees continues to be our top priority,” emphasized ASA President Glenn Hughes, “we are all looking forward to getting back to business.

The IGFA International Auction is Now LIVE! – IGFA
The 37th Annual IGFA International Auction is now open! Place your bids now on incredible trips, tackle, artwork, jewelry and more, until the silent auction closes on February 14, 2021. New items will be added daily. On Saturday, February 13, the virtual LIVE auction will feature a limited number of world-class angling adventures!

Boating:

Brunswick Adds Boat Capacity to Meet Unprecedented Demand – Fishing Wire
Brunswick will reopen its 225,000 square-foot Palm Coast, Florida boat manufacturing facility to expand dedicated manufacturing capability for Boston Whaler products by an additional 40 percent. In addition, Brunswick is expanding boat manufacturing capacity at its Reynosa, Mexico facility. The Reynosa facility, which manufactures Bayliner, Heyday, Sea Ray and Lund fiberglass boats, will increase capacity by 58 percent over the next 18 months.

Arts:

Kids’ Fish Art Contest – MNRF
Ontario students are invited to enter the Kids’ Fish Art Contest. This free annual contest lets you show off your artistic talents and learn about Ontario’s native fish and their habitats. If you win top prize, your winning image will be on the cover of the 2022 Ontario Fishing Regulations.

Memoir explores Nova Scotia rivers and glory days of fishing – The Chronicle Herald
In his new memoir, Harry Thurston meditates on the curious and beautiful ways that fishing, rivers, and the people he has fished with have shaped his seven decades of life.

Special Feature: New Brunswick Muskies in the Saint John River need your Help

Marlon Prince is the Chair of the Saint John River Muskie Canada Chapter. He recently sent out the following call to action.

WE NEED YOUR HELP PLEASE!

Please take 5 min for the attached survey to help the Musky Fishery in New Brunswick. Whether you are a resident of New Brunswick or not.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfdIROaj4ftCEtT3FKxaZvKHImuIcE2UcHmZiVigKuFpQybTQ/closedform

  • Currently and in past years, New Brunswick DFO kills up to or over 60 Muskies per year at the Saint John River dams fish ladders
  • DNR has no protection, no set fishing season and limits are 5 muskies per day at any size

As a Muskies Canada chapter chairman, I am working with UNB Biologists and DNR to create a management plan with the goal of protecting our resource. I could go on forever on this topic, but bottom line is:

  • these Muskies have been in the system for nearly 60 years and continue to thrive as a now naturalized part of the ecosystem. We are well past the point of them being considered invasive
  • we have a trophy fishery that continues to draw in new anglers, support guides, businesses and a Muskies Canada Chapter present since the early 2000s
  • there is ZERO evidence that the muskies are having a negative effect on the dwindling and mismanaged populations of native species in the river such as trout and salmon
  • on the contrary, stomach content studies by Canadian Rivers Institute have shown zero predation of those species.

This is a pivotal point in our goal to embrace and seek protection for this fishery and your help would be very much appreciated

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

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

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

Please rate The Blue Fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

In this issue of the Blue Fish News, we begin with a focus on Alberta’s troubled native trout and government actions underway that will either save or further imperil the fish and the cold clear mountain rivers upon which they depend. As always, we present summaries and links to a curated list of timely fishing, fish, water and related news articles and research publications. We end with a spotlight resource selected to inform and inspire readers in the art of sustainable angling.

Editor Lawrence Gunther with a rainbow trout caught in the Rockies

This Week’s Feature: Alberta’s Famous Trout Under Threat

Westslope Cutthroat Trout, bull trout and Athabasca rainbow trout are native trout species found in Alberta that need help. Restoring and protecting these native species and the diversity they represent is crucial if Canada is to maintain its world-class fisheries. Of course, all of this is moot if Alberta’s newly announced open pit coal mining is to commence in the headwaters of the rivers that these fish inhabit.

Native trout populations across the East Slopes of Alberta have experienced severe declines in population size and distribution. The Government of Alberta supports the Westslope Cutthroat Trout Recovery Program and the North Central Native Trout Recovery Program as stipulated by provincial Fisheries legislation. According to Alberta’s government the Recovery Programs are designed to “provide a comprehensive, consistent and progressive framework towards fish species recovery”, and “facilitate cross-ministry partnerships on fish recovery strategies”.

I learned about Alberta’s dedication to restoring native trout species by visiting the Alberta Conservation Association website, and those of their many local stakeholder partners involved in the government-funded recovery programs. I also spoke with senior Alberta Conservation Association biologist Mike Rodtka. Listen to my conversation with Mike Rodtka on this episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/rescuing-albertas-native-trout/

In June 2020, Alberta rescinded its watershed protection policy opening sensitive habitat to strip mines. There was no public consultation. Coal companies from Australia were quick to secure leases and have already begun building roads and conducting exploratory drilling.

Alberta isn’t the only province permitting open pit coal mining to take place in the Rocky Mountains. Canadian mining company Teck Resources operates five coal mines in BC’s Elk valley, the largest being the Fording River mine. In 2014 Teck was warned about increasing toxic selenium pollution emanating from its five Elk Valley mine sites and undertook steps to mitigate the issue. In April 2020 Tech reported an increase in selenium pollution and a 93% decline in the West Slope Cutthroat Trout population in the Fording River. Despite their best efforts, the Tech mining company is unable to prevent selenium associated with their mining waste from entering the ecosystem.

Following calls from a broad cross-section of vocal stakeholders for Alberta to reverse its unilateral position to allow open pit coal mining, Alberta recently announced a temporary moratorium on issuing any new leases but has yet to reverse its decision to remove the decades-old protections that once safeguarded these lands. Kevin Van Tighem is one of many Albertan’s speaking out about the government’s need to reinstate protections of these watersheds and is our guest on The Blue Fish Radio show. Link below to hear my interview with Kevin about what the potential loss of these trout and their habitat would say to Albertans and the rest of the world, and whether the jobs associated with foreign owned coal mines that would operate on average for 20 years justifies their sacrifice: https://bluefishradio.com/albertas-native-trout-versus-coal/

It’s not unusual for a government to operate with apparently contradictory goals. What’s happening in Alberta, pitching economic growth against the future viability of its natural bounty, is one that has played out across Canada and the rest of the world for decades. The difference now is that the stakes are far higher given our technical capacity to affect change on scales that 100 years ago were unimaginable. What else has changed is that people now have the tools to learn of such proposed changes, and to communicate and organize opposition in real time. Gone are the days of politicians banking on the assumption that they can operate with immunity based on the “trust us” principle. They must now instead engage their electorate and stakeholders meaningfully or lose the public’s trust. Special interest groups are also finding that they too must now gather and share the science and knowledge used to formulate their positions. It’s a level of transparency and accountability people now expect during these sorts of economic / environmental balancing questions. Hopefully, the days when the short-term interests of a few trumps the future reality of all the rest is becoming a thing of the past. But, it only works if people are engaged.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Lake Erie Steelhead-Winter is Prime Time – The Fishing Wire
If you think the winter months are only for ice fishing rods, you might need to reconsider. Angler surveys regularly conducted on Lake Erie tributaries typically show that the highest catch rates for steelhead occur during the winter months. Coincidentally, this is also when the lowest angler effort also occurs. This is especially true during mild winters, such as the one we are currently experiencing.

Rare Under-Ice Behavior Captured on Video – The Fishing Wire
Burbot might as well be the groundhogs of the fish world. Each winter, almost like clockwork, burbot (aka eelpout) suddenly become common catches among ice anglers. Intriguing about the enigmatic eelpout is that for the rest of the year, no one particularly knows where they go. Saskatchewan fishery scientist Jeff Matity is working hard to solve the mystery.

Get Hooked on Alberta Fishing – Alberta Conservation Association
There are 21 aerated lakes across Alberta that are stocked with trout. The Alberta Conservation Association has created a map that showcases the combined stocking efforts of ACA and Alberta Environment and Parks. With over 130 lakes and ponds stocked with trout across Alberta, you can easily find an ice fishing haven near you.

Great Slave Lake winter fishery reopens – Cabin Radio
For the first time in 15 years, Hay River -in the Northwest Territories- winter fishery is opening as part of efforts to revitalize NWT commercial fishing. Under the program, the Hay River packing facility will receive and grade fish from commercial fishers in Yellowknife and Hay River. The fish will then be shipped to the federal Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation in Winnipeg for processing and sale.

Keep Fish Caught Deep in Winter – Fishing Wire
Keep fish caught from deep waters due to low survival rates for released fish. Catch-and-release fishing, no matter the time of year, is discouraged for fish caught in 30 feet or more of water, because fish reeled in from those depths have a greater chance of dying if released. Fish caught in deep water won’t likely survive because of the extreme change in water pressure, which causes the swim bladder to expand. Fish can no longer control their balance in the water column when this happens. Other internal injuries, such as rupturing of organs and bleeding, are also likely. Anglers targeting fish in deeper water make the commitment to keep what they catch. And once they reach their limit, anglers should stop fishing at that depth to avoid killing more than their limit of fish.

Recreational Fishing Booms in Hawaii During Pandemic – The Honolulu Star
Since the novel coronavirus made its way to Hawaii in March, Brent Young, owner of Brian’s Fishing Supply in Honolulu, has observed more interest in fishing. Some of his customers are new fishers who want to learn, and others are seniors who haven’t fished in decades, but have had more time to do so. And while many of them are looking to fish just as a hobby, Young has also noticed more customers who are out of work and need to fish. “We’ve had a lot … of people come in to say they catch the food because they’re not working, and they’ve been very thankful that we’ve been open”.

Pandemic has new and returning anglers hooked around Kamloops fishing holes – iNFOnews
As people look for outdoor recreation through the pandemic this winter, it appears many are choosing to dunk a lure into the region’s many fishing holes.

Debate Continues About Catch and Release Impact on Salmon Populations – VOCM
The debate continues among salmon anglers and conservation groups about catch and release and the impact on salmon populations. Junior Downey is with the Salmon Watchers Assistance Group or SWAG. His group is one of a few in the province which is against catch and release, and acknowledges that salmon groups in the province are divided on the issue. A federal petition has also been launched asking that catch and release be banned. Downey says most groups agree there is a 10 per cent mortality rate when it comes to catch and release in ideal conditions, but that rises as the water temperatures rise. His concern is that there are no controls over catch and release.

Fish:

Labrador’s Arctic char vulnerable to climate change, says new study – CBC News
A new study paints a troubling portrait of potential climate change impacts on Arctic char in Labrador, amid calls for more research to better understand what the future holds for the species that occupies a place of immense value in Canada’s North. The study, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the result of years of field and laboratory work by a team of Canadian scientists. The study analyzed the fish’s genetic data and, combined with climate modelling from 2050, concluded the southernmost fish are the most vulnerable and “may be unable to adapt to pervasive warming in the Arctic.”

Atlantic salmon in eastern Cape Breton could be added to list of species at risk– CBC News
Ottawa is considering listing Atlantic salmon in the region as endangered under its Species at Risk Act (SARA). But even if the salmon population is listed as endangered, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it won’t automatically stop recreational fishing. Bill Haley, president of the Margaree Salmon Association, said successful salmon stocking programs and hatcheries are helping conservation efforts. “The weak link in most of this is the investment in science hasn’t been there where DFO are concerned for almost a few decades,” Haley said.

Gizzard shad swarm in Thames River for once in a decade show – CBC
A shoal of gizzard shad, the size of which hasn’t been seen in nearly a decade, have congregated in an estuary along the Thames River in London, Ontario. Watch now!

Restoration Dollars Bring Six Times the Return on Investment – NOAA
A 2020 follow-up study confirms 2011 projections by calculating that a $10 million NOAA investment in habitat restoration is powering up local economies in Michigan by at least $57 million, with more benefits every year.

Canada’s ecosystem hotspots – The Narwhal
In 2017 conservation scientist Aerin Jacob was invited to join an expert team charged with advising the Canadian government on ways to meet its conservation targets. The team was asked to identify areas that provide important ecosystem services — such as landscape-based carbon storage, flood prevention, fresh water and food resources and outdoor recreation — so they could be taken into account when deciding where to put new protected areas. But there was just one problem: that information didn’t exist.

Invasive Species will be Winners and Losers Under Climate Change – IJC
Researchers who model climate change in the Great Lakes predict the waters will become warmer and subject to more intense storms in the decades ahead. These conditions will benefit some species and hurt others, including native and invasive creatures. If Asian carp invade Lake Michigan, for example, they may find more suitable habitat thanks to warmer waters, while invasive zebra and quagga mussels may have more trouble forming their shells.

I’m blue da ba dee da ba daa (and so are B.C. salmon) – The Narwhal
Remember when wild salmon in B.C. were plentiful? Changes to the farmed salmon industry could help bring back the good ol’ days. Critics have long charged that a big part of the problem lies within the province’s massive farmed salmon industry, whose open-net pens have been found to spread disease and sea lice to wild populations. The industry begs to differ and insists its operations pose no harm.

We’re Running Out of Seafood, Yet We Waste Billions of Pounds of It – Sierra Club
A 2015 study published in Global Environmental Change estimates that every year, almost half the seafood supply is lost. Globally, we lose 110 billion pounds. Considering it’s recommended that the average person consume at least 1.7 ounces of protein per day, that’s enough food to feed 2.8 billion people for a year. Here’s how commercial and social enterprises are making a dent in fishy food waste.

Water:

Five things the federal government must do for Lake Winnipeg – Lake Winnipeg Foundation
The Lake Winnipeg Foundation, in collaboration with the Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective, recently released a position paper on how to achieve meaningful results in decreasing blue-green algae in Lake Winnipeg.

Microplastics found in Arctic Ocean could be from clothing – The Narwhal
A new study shows that the synthetic fibres being found throughout the Arctic Ocean are threatening wildlife and Indigenous ways of life. Who would have imagined that the clothes we wear might be contributing to the problem? Evidence increasingly shows that tiny synthetic fibres are permeating the Arctic Ocean and finding their way into zooplankton, fish, seabirds and marine mammals.

The Sixth Great Lake is Under Your Feet – IJC
Between 20-40 percent of the water budget of the Great Lakes (the total water flowing in and out of the system) originates as groundwater. Without this unseen water, the Great Lakes would be dramatically different from those we know. Although the exact influence of groundwater on the quality of the surface waters of the Great Lakes has not been pinpointed, plumes of contaminated groundwater often discharge to lakes and streams. Strengthening public appreciation of and public policy protecting groundwater is a fundamental part of Great Lakes stewardship.

Where did the Deepwater Horizon oil spill go – NOAA
NOAA Sea Grant partners in the Gulf of Mexico released a short video that provides a clear explanation of where oil went after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The spill occurred at a depth of 5,000 feet and lasted 87 days.

The Big Picture: The biggest freshwater reserves – The Guardian
Water is necessary to life on Earth, but some countries have very little and others have enormous endowments. It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s population is at risk of water shortages, a problem only exacerbated by climate change. Countries like Qatar, Israel and Lebanon are among those most at risk of “water stress.” Meanwhile, other countries have more water than they need — including Canada. This country ranks third worldwide in freshwater reserves, which is generally considered to be water with low concentrations of dissolved salts. It can be found in lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, bogs, ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers and even underground (known as groundwater). While Canada’s resources are immense, they are only about half of those found in Brazil, the world leader in freshwater reserves.

Indigenous:

A letter from Henry Lickers – IJC
I write this letter to share my experiences as an Indigenous scientist. On the reserve, I had always wondered what job and who would pay me to play in nature. I was naturally drawn to the water, which seems to link everything together, and I decided to become a biologist. I, too, have had problems talking to and understanding the knowledge of my people, the Haudenosaunee. I hope that by sharing my story, you will become more aware of and curious about Indigenous ways and the importance of drawing from multiple knowledge systems.

Industry:

Lead is Dead…but Tungsten is here to stay – Clam Outdoors
There’s a quote in the tackle industry that is starting to take off…Lead is Dead. This is referring to the fact that many states are banning lead, and the trend is going to continue. Watch as Clam Pro Tackle Director John Crane talks about the benefits of tungsten tackle and talks about some of the most popular Tungsten CPT jigs on the market.

Simrad Continues Partnership with Gray Fish Tagging – The Fishing Wire
Simrad Yachting – a division of Navico and leader in the design and manufacture of world-class marine navigation, autopilot, radar, communications and fishfinding systems – announced today the continued sponsorship of Gray FishTag Research (GFR). “We have been sponsoring GFR for many years and their work is vital to the health and sustainability of our oceans and fisheries.” GFR is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, international, all species and fully interactive fish tagging program, powered by the world’s largest network of fishing professionals, consisting of approximately 10,000 charter boat captains and mates. The GFR program strives to be a fun and interactive program by introducing anglers to the world of fish tagging and tracking.

Boating:

Electric Boat Company Expands Capacity – The Fishing Wire
Ingenity Electric is increasing its capacity to build electric boats as part of parent company Correct Craft’s investment in 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space near its headquarters in Orlando. The new space will support growing demand for more sustainable boating solutions like the award-winning, 100% electric Nautique GS22E.

Ingenity President Sean Marrero stated, “The Nautique GS22E is incredible. It shows what’s possible with fully electric propulsion, but this is only the beginning.

U.S. Boat Sales Reached 13-Year High in 2020 – Fishing Wire
With heightened interest in outdoor recreation activities and ways to social distance, consumer demand for new boats surged across the U.S. in 2020. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), representing North American recreational boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, reports that retail unit sales of new powerboats increased last year by an estimated 12 percent compared to 2019. More than 310,000 new powerboats were sold in 2020. RV sales also reached their fourth highest level in 2020 with over 500,000 units sold in the U.S.

STEM:

The Coolest Teacher on Earth? – NPAA
Jean-Marc Perreault is not your average middle and high school science and technology teacher. For the past 27 years, the Canadian educator has consistently demonstrated that he will go to any length to make his courses more interesting and… In addition to teaching, Perreault is assistant scuba diving instructor and volunteer patroller for the Canadian Coast Guard. His passion for all things aquatic has led him to develop several unique learning opportunities for his students, the most recent of which involves the use of high-frequency sonar to locate and document previously undiscovered shipwrecks in the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Events:

Save The River Annual Conference
Join Save the River online for their 32nd Annual Winter Environmental Conference. ON February 6th at 10: a.m. Eastern Lawrence Gunther will be presenting “Health and Current Status of the St. Lawrence River Fishery”.

February 2nd is World Wetlands Day
Watch Blue Fish Canada’s Twitter and Facebook accounts where we’ll be sharing more information about the crucial role of coastal wetlands in fish health.

Special Feature – Blue Fish Canada’s “Youth Sustainable Fishing Training Program”

Science and Local Knowledge: The Blue Fish Canada “Youth Sustainable Fishing Training Program” ensures youth and their mentors have access to the latest regionally specific science and knowledge to fish sustainably. Program guidance documents and training modules are developed in collaboration with leading fish biologists, expert anglers, and indigenous elders across Canada.

Program resources include:

  • Fish species and size selection;
  • Bait, technique and tackle choices;
  • Disease and invasive species prevention;
  • Fish handling and release health and welfare;
  • Fish identification and biology;
  • Sustainable harvesting and euthanization
  • One health one welfare stewardship responsibilities and personal care; and,
  • Safe fish consumption awareness.

Learn more and become a program delivery partner – together we can ensure the future of fish and fishing!

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

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

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

Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

In our first issue of the Blue Fish Canada News for 2021, we start with a feature about our relationship with nature and fishing, including a deep dive on angler participation in 2020 with Dr. Steven Cooke from Carleton University. As always, we include a specially curated list of links to timely news about fishing, fish, water and related news. We conclude with part 1 of a multi-part series highlighting the Blue fish Canada “Youth Sustainable Fishing Training Program”.

Editor Lawrence Gunther with his guide dog Moby ice fishing

Special Feature on Health and Angler Participation During the Pandemic

Throughout 2020 Blue Fish Canada published 22 issues of the Blue Fish News that included special features and links to news from across Canada about fishing, fish, and water. Just as importantly, the News featured information about Covid-19 outdoor safety best practices curated from sources around the world and fact-checked as always by our science advisors and local knowledge experts. Blue Fish Canada will continue to ensure our readers have the knowledge to pursue outdoor adventures confidently and safely, and in ways that ensure both the sustainability of both our fisheries, and the environment as a whole.

If there is only one positive thing that came out of 2020, it’s that we deepened our understanding and strengthened our connection with Nature. More importantly, we gained greater awareness of just how much our health and that of nature is interdependent. It’s a connection with nature that means every action generates a reaction, that we need to be healthy to fully appreciate nature, and that we are dependent on nature for our physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.

The COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding public health mitigation strategies altered many facets of human life. And yet, little is known about how public health measures impacted recreational fisheries. Pandemic-related safety measures were introduced just as anglers were contemplating the re-opening of many recreational fishing seasons across Canada, leading to considerable speculation about the most appropriate path forward – to fish, or not to fish.

Canada’s Federal, Provincial and municipal governments all responded differently with closures, delays, barriers, or encouragement to get outdoors. Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans was one of the only governments in Canada to issue a guidance document advising west coast anglers on how to stay safe. The rest of the world was just as uncertain, but there were several U.S. states that also encouraged their citizens to get outdoors and issued guidance documents of their own. The Blue Fish Canada News reported on these angling safety best practices, and in the May 17 edition of the Blue Fish News issued a comprehensive list of tips to anglers on how to stay safe.

It wasn’t long before governments across Canada fell into line and opened fishing and access to related assets such as boat launches and fishing tackle stores. By early summer it was clear that people were turning to fishing in numbers never before witnessed. Sales of live bait, fishing tackle and boats set new records. What we didn’t know was who were the people doing all this fishing, were they able to stay safe, what was the impact on Canada’s fisheries, and was the economic activity associated with all this fishing benefitting everyone traditionally involved in fishing equally, including guides, local bait and tackle stores, fishing lodges, indigenous communities, and all the other communities that depend on angler activity.

Below are links to two reports that explore the impacts and benefits of angler participation throughout 2020. The first was conducted by Dr. Steven Cooke and his team of researchers at Carleton University’s Cooke lab, and the second is a report out of the U.S. prepared by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Both reports show that more people fished in 2020 then in any other year, based on available data, and that anglers themselves seemed to have done so without having caused the pandemic to spread, either among anglers, or the places where the fishing took place.

The study undertaken by Carleton University’s Cooke Lab went further and determined that all this fishing wasn’t being undertaken in response to food insecurity. In other words, people weren’t fishing necessarily to avoid going into grocery stores, or to feed their families because they lost their jobs. That’s not to say that there weren’t anglers who approached angling with this in mind, but the studies are clear that people were fishing because they had more time on their hands during shutdowns, they wanted to do something safe with their families where they could easily bubble outside the home, and that they found fishing to be a terrific way to maintain sound mental health. Other than ordering food and other products on-line, recreational fishing was also one of the handful of positive economic drivers during what was otherwise a troublesome year for small business.

Link here to listen to the Blue Fish Radio interview with Dr. Steven Cooke about the survey his team of researchers conducted involving close to 1,000 anglers in the province of Ontario: https://bluefishradio.com/angler-participation-in-2020-and-dr-steven-cooke/

More about the Cooke Lab survey on 2020 Impacts of “Covid-19 Restrictions and recreational fisheries in Ontario”, – Center for Open Science

Using a web-based online snowball survey, Carleton University’s Cooke Laboratory targeted resident anglers in Ontario to learn how the pandemic impacted recreational fishing and related activity. Angler perspectives on pandemic-related restrictions and fisheries management were also surveyed. Approximately 20% of the anglers who responded to the Cooke Lab survey self-identified as either beginners or as former anglers returning to the sport. Motivations to fish included free time, to maintain mental and physical health, and a desire to be more self-sufficient. Survey results underscored the value of recreational fishing for maintaining mental and physical well-being, and the overall socio-economic popularity and value of outdoor recreation during a pandemic.

And here’s a link to the RBFF Report, US Study Finds Fishing & Boating Rose to Historic Popularity in 2020 – Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation

Millions of Americans took up fishing or boating as new or returning participants during summer 2020. A 2020 research report issued by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation found that New anglers and boaters are younger, more urban and more diverse. They are also highly socially connected. Their reasons for getting started included canceled vacations and summer plans, more flexible schedules while working from home, and inspiration from family and friends.

The Latest Fishing, Fish and Water News

Fishing:

Socially distanced fishing helps life feel a little more normal – The Herald

Like many devoted anglers, I suffered withdrawal symptoms when regional waterways were declared off limits this past spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, the new normal allows for fishing, a sport whose moral principals insist on effective social distancing. Managing a polite distance from others is well-ingrained behavior for fly fishers who swing a Purple Marabou for steelhead. Indeed, most of us fly fishers would prefer never to see another person on our favorite run.

Kokanee return in droves – Kelowna Daily Courier

If you thought you saw more kokanee salmon spawning in local creeks and along the shore of Okanagan Lake than usual this fall, you were right.

When is a trout a salmon and what difference does it make? – Daily Hampshire Gazette – Earth Matters

When I was fly fishing for pink salmon some years ago in the Pacific Northwest, I hooked an enormous steelhead, which is a sea-run rainbow trout. That steelhead was twice the size of the five-pound salmon I’d caught. All salmon migrate to saltwater and many trout do as well, although only steelhead and brown trout spend long periods in the sea. Even some strains of brook trout migrate for a few months to the ocean. Some species die after spawning (the five Pacific salmon) while others return to the sea (Atlantic salmon as well as brown and rainbow trout). So, there’s no real reason to differentiate trout from salmon.

The B.C. fish you’ve likely never heard of that’s confounding trawlers and officials – CBC News.

Bocaccio rockfish have made a huge comeback in B.C. since being deemed endangered in 2013, but the success story is being met with some trepidation. Bocaccio rockfish are found off the coast of British Columbia and often captured by fishermen targeting other groundfish species such as cod, sole or halibut.

New DFO regulations ensure tougher approach to rebuilding fish stocks – CBC News.

Canada is putting rebuilding depleted commercial fish stocks into law, starting with Atlantic cod off Newfoundland, spring spawning herring in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and three Pacific salmon stocks. DFO would have up to three years to come up with a rebuilding plan once a stock has reached what is known as the “lower reference point” — the point where a population is undergoing serious, ongoing harm.

The Old Man and the New Sea – Hakai Magazine (available in print and audio)

Three generations of the Hamada family have fished British Columbia’s coast. Will the latest generation outlive the salmon they seek?

Fish:

Pacific salmon 2021 outlook – Watershed Watch Salmon Society

Greg Taylor provides a summary of DFO’s preliminary outlook for 2021 Pacific salmon returns in B.C. — and he pulls no punches. The 2020 salmon season was the worst on record for many salmon stocks. In their summary, DFO states, ‘expectations for (2021) salmon returns are low and similar to 2020.’

Piscivory in recovering Lake Michigan cisco – Journal of Great Lakes Research

Contemporary conditions in Lake Michigan where cisco populations are expanding are vastly different from those encountered by the historic fish community. The top three prey items in the diet of Lake Michigan cisco now consists of non-native prey found in the Great Lakes, accounting for 87% of all observed prey mass consumed, such as round Goby, alewife, and B. longimanus.

Concern as Chinook salmon added to endangered species list in British Columbia – Angling International.

Fishery experts are concerned that Chinook salmon have been added to the endangered species list in British Columbia. Of 28 southern groups assessed in the state, only two have been identified as not at risk. Conservation groups and scientists are warning that hatchery fish will pass on inferior traits and that successive generations could be unfit for the wild.

Miramichi watershed Smallmouth eradication update – Atlantic Salmon Federation

Partners behind the effort to eradicate invasive smallmouth bass from the Miramichi watershed are awaiting a decision from the New Brunswick government that will determine if the project can proceed this year, or at all. This article offers a rundown of the major elements of the plan.

The rise of the land salmon – The Narwhal

Canada’s Narwhal online magazine recently published a 3-part series on the future of Atlantic salmon aquaculture, including an in-depth look at the growing trend to move salmon farming out of the ocean and on to land. Over 75 land-based salmon farms are now operational or being built around the world, including two in Canada, and the new operation near Miami Florida expected to meet over half of the demand in the U.S. – twice the number of salmon currently being farmed along Canada’s west coast.

BC’s Discovery Island Salmon farm sites to be removed over next 18 months – Atlantic Salmon Federation

In a major victory for the future of Pacific salmon, DFO has announced it will phase out some open net-pen salmon aquaculture sites off Vancouver Island.

Big Fish: The Aquacultural Revolution – Hakai Magazine (available in print and audio)

As the world’s population swells to 9.7 billion, industry and governments say aquaculture is the way to provide protein to the people—if that’s true, can we learn from the past and avoid screwing over the planet and each other?

Canada’s GMO salmon: frankenfish or food of the future? – The Narwhal

As the aquaculture industry tinkers with fish DNA to feed the world’s growing population more efficiently, critics say we’re moving too far, too fast without adequate transparency. Canadians with an appetite for salmon may have already consumed the world’s first genetically modified food animal without even knowing it.

Water:

Alberta to allow new coal strip mines that could kill four blue-ribbon trout rivers – Outdoor Canada.

Proposed new coal strip mines now threaten some of Alberta’s best trout streams—the Ram, Livingstone, Oldman and Crowsnest Rivers—with toxic waste. Angling and environmental groups have joined with ranchers, farmers and rural municipal governments to fight these proposals, but the outcome is far from certain.

NB Power files for removal of Milltown Dam on St. Croix River – Atlantic Salmon Federation

On December 21st the power utility submitted its Milltown Dam removal project to provincial regulators, kicking off a public and agency review process. The dam removal is a major piece of an international river restoration effort on the St. Croix which runs along the Maine-New Brunswick border.

Michigan/Illinois Invasive Carp Project Moves Forward – The Fishing Wire

The project to fight Asian carp invasion is made possible by funding from both states as well as the Federal Government. The governors of Illinois and Michigan today agreed to work jointly to protect the Great Lakes from invasive Asian carp species. The Brandon Road Lock and Dam in the Chicago Area Waterway System near Joliet, Illinois, is a critical pinch point for keeping bighead, silver and black carp – the invasive Asian carp species of greatest concern – out of the Great Lakes. The Brandon Road project would install layered technologies including an electric barrier, underwater sound, an air bubble curtain and a flushing lock in a newly engineered channel designed to prevent invasive carp movement while allowing barge passage.

Migratory fish corridors planned in dismantling of Montreal’s old Champlain Bridge – CTV News.

Workers will soon complete the construction of migratory corridors for fish in the St. Lawrence River as dismantling work on the old Champlain Bridge between Montreal and the South Shore continues. The project will reduce the impact on fish in the river. The two migratory corridors should be operational for the fish migration and the spawning season, next spring. More than forty species frequent the area where the St. Lawrence River widens between the Lachine Rapids and the Victoria Bridge, including bass, lake sturgeon, walleye and black perch. These species are all likely to inhabit the area of the river where the construction work for the jetty and the dismantling of the old bridge are located.

The Great Lakes, North America’s greatest resource, faces many threats – National Geographic.

Almost 40 million Americans and Canadians live in the Great Lakes watershed. We drink from the lakes, fish on them, transport goods over them, farm their shores, and work in cities that wouldn’t exist without the lakes. And of course, we pollute them. We’ve introduced invasive species that have permanently altered the lakes. The fertilizers we use to grow the corn we feed to the animals we eat and to make the biofuels we pump into our vehicles have contributed to the resurgence of algal blooms so large they can be seen from space. And with our ongoing emission of greenhouse gases, we’ve even managed to reengineer the weather over vast stretches of the Great Lakes watershed, increasing the frequency of severe storms.

Indigenous:

Indigenous Systems of Management for Culturally and Ecologically Resilient Pacific Salmon – Oxford University Press

Traditional technologies, harvesting practices and management systems could bring endangered populations back from the brink. More than 20 co-authors, including scientists and community leaders, conclude that revitalizing Indigenous fishing management systems and technologies — such as dip nets, fish traps and weirs — could support the sustainable harvest of salmon and strengthen Indigenous governance, unlike contemporary management systems, which have contributed to declining populations.

Industry:

Buzz Ramsey calls it a day after fifty years – Angling International.

One of the fishing tackle industry’s best-known figures has retired after five decades and three leading brands. Buzz Ramsey, 70, left his job as Brand Manager with Yakima Bait on New Year’s Day. Ramsey is an accomplished lure designer and had considerable influence on baits including Luhr Jensen’s KwikFish and Yakima Bait’s Mag Lip and FlatFish. The 30lb 5oz steelhead he caught in the Thompson River, British Columbia, was a world record at the time. In retirement, Buzz plans to continue working to find a solution for removing the four Snake River dams and recovering the fishery’s salmon stock.

Bass Pro outlines its plans for Sportsman’s Warehouse – Angling International.

The Great American Outdoors Group, parent company of Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and White River Marine, added the 112-store chain to its portfolio in a deal valued at around $800 million.

Boating:

Closure of new funding round totaling $37.5m for New Electric Outboard – Angling International.

Seattle’s Pure Watercraft first product is an electric outboard motor system with the propulsion equivalent of up to 50HP gas outboards. Its long-life lithium-ion battery has the most energy for weight of any battery pack in marine – about the same as that of a Tesla Model 3. “The quiet power offers a big advantage to catch more fish,” says TV host and pro bass angler, Troy Lindner.

Boat Licensing Changes proposed by Transport Canada – OFAH.

Do you use a boat with an outboard motor (10 horsepower or greater) that requires a Pleasure Craft Licence (PCL)? Or are you planning on applying for a Pleasure Craft Operator Card? If so, Transport Canada is proposing changes that will impact you.

NMMA Reports U.S. Boat Sales Reached 13-Year High in 2020 – Fishing Wire.

The NMMA reported today that retail unit sales of new powerboats in the U.S. increased last year by an estimated 12 percent compared to 2019. More than 310,000 new powerboats were sold in 2020. Sales of personal watercraft, including Jet Ski, Sea Doo and WaveRunner are up 8%, wake boat sales are up 20%, and sales of freshwater fishing boats and pontoons boats, which accounted for 50 percent of new powerboats sold in 2020, are up 12%.

Special Focus on the Blue Fish Canada “Youth Sustainable Fishing Training Program” – Part 1

Throughout 2021 Blue Fish Canada will continue to provide biweekly news with a focus on what we need to know and do to ensure we can strengthen and maintain our respective and collective one health relationships with nature now and into the future. This includes up-dates on actions underway to mitigate climate change, and measures being taken to improve both human and nature’s resilience to the impacts already being felt because of these changes. In addition to presenting in depth specials and links to relevant news, we will be including calls to action, both collectively and individually.

Now more than ever the future of our fisheries and nature depends on us doing things smarter. Traditions are important, but given the level of pollution, climate change, development, and advancements in innovations, it’s up to all of us to adopt science-based best practices in ways that make sense using our tremendous local knowledge. Learn more about the Blue Fish Canada “Youth Sustainable Fishing Training Program” to make sure the next generation of recreational anglers and their mentors have the tools needed to carry on the ancient practice of fishing confidently knowing that they are using the best available knowledge.

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

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

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

Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

In this final issue of the Blue Fish Canada News for 2020, we begin with an editorial by editor Lawrence Gunther “Local Knowledge Stakeholder Engagement” that explores whether the genie should be put back into the bottle post-pandemic. As always, we include a specially curated list of Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news, and close with a special resource selected to inform and inspire our readers to ice fish sustainably. 

Editor Lawrence Gunther with his guide dog Lewis, a Lab – Golden Retriever mix

This Week’s Feature

“Local Knowledge Stakeholder Engagement” – by Editor Lawrence Gunther

No doubt, 2020 was problematic for most of us at best, and far worse for many others. And while some may lament society’s pivot to webinars and video conferencing, the one bright spot is the increased participation levels and transparency that resulted.

Blue Fish Canada volunteers participated in more meetings in 2020, that prior to the pandemic, were never options due to costs and their associated carbon footprints. Our increased participation and that of many others, by this virtual throwing open of the doors, has set in motion broader collaboration and an openness to new ideas.

For years Blue fish Canada has been advocating for both greater stakeholder participation by recreational anglers and indigenous fishers, and increased consideration of fish health issues by those concerned with water quality. I’m pleased to report that we have made progress in getting fish and fishing included, if not on actual agendas in every case, as topics to be considered and discussed. Within the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence watersheds alone, the number of meetings we participated in set a new record.

Even though funding to organizations with official status flows primarily to scientific research, the introduction of local knowledge held by indigenous fishers and recreational anglers has helped to strengthen the framework upon which research findings are mapped and connected in ways that mirror this knowledge. Whether it’s the science that’s culminating in a more holistic and coherent story that people can then apply, or if it’s the local knowledge that’s identifying the gaps in scientific research that need filling, the point is that the dots are starting to be connected.

It’s now becoming abundantly clear just how important it is for researchers to collaborate with people and groups with local knowledge. The next step is figuring out ways to ensure the funding is there and applied equitably so we don’t revert to prior more insular processes that are, admittedly, a lot more predictable. Ensuring funding to groups that truly represent stakeholders with local knowledge is also imperative if we are to curb the dependents such groups now have on financing that comes with strings attached.

In my recent Blue Fish Radio interview with the co-founder of the environmental organization “Swim Drink Fish Canada”, Kyrstyn Tully speaks about how pre-loaded funding is shaping the directions taken by environmental and conservation groups who depend on grants to cover their operational and project budgets. Tully underscores the need for more stable funding so local knowledge organizations can stay true to the voices of their constituency. Even the funding needed to attend in-person meetings alone is often a hardship. You can listen to The Blue Fish Radio Show interview with Kyrstyn Tully using the following link: https://bluefishradio.com/krystyn-tully-on-the-future-of-environmentalism/

Having conducted over 300 long-form interviews with leading scientists and local knowledge experts from across Canada for “The Blue Fish Radio Show”, hundreds more with people who live by and from the water for my documentaries “What Lies Below” and “Lake2Plate”, and by simply spending time on boats fishing with amazing people, I can report that the sense of disconnection and frustration I’m hearing from people who directly experience the consequences of actions or inactions brought about by decision makers is growing. Whether indigenous fishers or recreational anglers, most now know where the science is being conducted and the decisions are being taken or not that impact their beloved fish and the fisheries that make up a big part of who they are.

For such decision-making bodies to move forward with a broader collaborative agenda, it’s no longer enough to simply include fish without also including the people who catch fish for cultural, social, subsistence, recreational, and entrepreneurial reasons. In short, we can not continue to study water without recognizing the direct relationships between water, fish, and the dependent people. Scientists need access to the knowledge these people possess, and fishers and anglers need answers and sound decisions that build on these answers, even if it involves strong medicine. It can only happen if the people responsible for taking decisions recognize the value of both, and back up this recognition with the funding and opportunities that make the science and participation by local knowledge stakeholders possible.

Let’s hope the rush to return to pre-pandemic practices in 2021 doesn’t bring an end to the inclusion and transparency many have now experienced at levels that far exceed what was once the norm. And hopefully, given the growing awareness among decision makers that science works best when combined with local knowledge, it will also mean greater financial consideration when allocating funding. To start, every scientific report should include a detailed section of how local knowledge was incorporated, the level of involvement of local experts in the actual research, and a budget line that clearly demonstrates the value of such collaborations. And then who knows, maybe directly funding local knowledge stakeholder groups to do more than plant shoreline greenery or scoop garbage. To give such organizations the breathing room to gather, sort and make available local knowledge in ways beyond providing opening and closing remarks at meetings.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Ten Ice Fishing Safety Tips by Canada’s own fishing legend Bob Izumi – Northern Ontario Travel
Proper preparation is one of the keys to ensuring a safe day on the hard water.

Fly Fishing’s Unlikely Following – Fishing Wire
Who would have guessed that old-fashioned fly fishing would captivate a whole new generation? But it’s true: the Zen-like practice is attracting millennials by the boatload.

How To Perform A Self Rescue if you Go Through the Ice – YouTube

Angling lost a legendary angler, educator, and industry icon with the passing of Ron Lindner – Angling Edge
Ron and his brother Al brought a scientific approach to angling that helped them evolve into elite tournament fisherman. The pair developed the Lindy Tackle Company and invented the Lindy Rig used by millions of walleye anglers. They went on to create a fishing media empire that began with the In-Fisherman magazine and expanded into radio, television, books and more. Then on to Lindner Media Productions which spawned Lindner’s Angling Edge and an outcropping of subsidiaries. Ron was inducted into many Sportsman and Fishing Hall of Fames. Rest in peace, Ron. Your accolades are many and varied, and changed the world through your life of service to the cause.

Minnesota’s NW Angle Businesses Unite to Save Ice Fishing Season – Fishing Wire
There is a part of the United States that as a result of the U.S. / Canada border closure, has been cut off from U.S. residents. In order to travel there, one has to drive through Canada about 40 miles before entering back into the U.S. Facing another season of virtually no revenue, the community has pulled together and come up with a solution, the NW Angle Guest Ice Road.

Fishing code of conduct being finalized for Haida Gwaii – Smithers Interior News
The recreational fishing code for fishing on Haida Gwaii is being developed by a trilateral group consisting of the Council of the Haida Nation, the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Included in the code: take only what you need, avoid unnecessary harm to untargeted species, refrain from targeting the largest fish, and ending catch-and-release practices.

Fish Health:

Discovery Islands salmon farms to be phased out of existence over next 18 months – CBC News
The controversial open-net salmon farms in the Discovery Islands near Campbell River, B.C., will be phased out over the next 18 months. Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said all 19 farms have to be free of fish by June 30, 2022, when their renewed 18-month licenses expire.

Permanent fishway to be built at Fraser River landslide – Kamloops This Week
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has awarded a contract that would see a permanent fishway built to help fish migrate past the massive Big Bar landslide on the Fraser River. The federal government has awarded Burnaby-based Peter Kiewit Sons a contract worth $176.3 million to design and build a fishway that’s expected to be operational by the start of the 2022 Fraser River salmon migration

Large-scale fish hatcheries hurting Chinook salmon populations – CTV News
New report says four Chinook populations are moving towards extinction and one of the threats to the population is large-scale fish hatcheries. “They are really struggling,” said John Reynolds, professor of ecology at Simon Fraser University and the chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered

Tofino Hatchery sets sights on restoring Chum salmon stocks – Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News
The hatchery recently launched a new project designed to boost Chum populations by collecting roughly 45,000 chum eggs.

Tire Treads Washing into Rivers Discovered to be Killing California’s Coho Salmon – SFChronicle.com 
Scientists in the Pacific Northwest say they’ve solved a long-running mystery behind the region’s dying salmon, a discovery that may explain what’s harming fish elsewhere around the globe. In recently published research, a team of university and government scientists identify a toxic material derived from tire treads that is washing into rivers and creeks as the killer of as many as 90% of the coho salmon in parts of the Puget Sound. The finding is a welcome breakthrough for Washington state after decades of losing the revered fish without a full explanation. However, it also points to a bigger problem, one that’s both difficult to solve and not limited to a single part of the country, and possibly rampant in urban areas everywhere.

Alexandra Morton: The trilogy of DFO decisions in 2020—is this the end of wild Fraser River salmon? – Georgia Straight
The North Atlantic cod collapsed because the DFO ignored critical warnings from its own scientists.

Scientists call for Fraser River Estuary Act – Business in Vancouver
More than 100 species in the Fraser River estuary could go extinct over the next 25 years, according to a new study led by University of BC scientists. About 15: of the threatened species are fish, essential to most of the rest.

Feds give more than $6M to assist species-at-risk projects in Nova Scotia – CBC News
The Nova Scotia Salmon Association will receive $3.8 million to be used in two projects, while the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq will receive up to $2.3 million. The bulk of the funds will go toward conservation planning for eight priority watersheds in several locations in mainland Nova Scotia. Work on the project started last year and will continue through to 2023.

New East Coast White Shark Research Consortium Formed – Fishing Wire
Shark research groups and government agencies from the northeastern US and Canada announced the establishment of the New England White Shark Research Consortium. With growing sightings of white sharks from Rhode Island to Canada, this is the perfect time to create a unique consortium to increase our understanding of white shark life history, including their migration, residency, habitat use, reproduction, and predatory behavior, factors that drive human-white shark interactions, and broader perceptions of white sharks by coastal communities.

Nearly 200,000 people come together in efforts to save BC wilderness – My Prince George Now
A new ‘Fish, Wildlife and Habitat’ coalition forms in B.C and has 188,000 members. The coalition is comprised of 750 businesses and 54,000 supporters from different backgrounds, lifestyles and political beliefs. The group is demanding fish, wildlife and habitat no longer take a ‘back seat’ in B.C. In 1954, BC spent approximately .63% of the provincial budget on fish and wildlife, by 2017, that number declined to .06%.

Whales to trout: Ottawa announces $50M for research into fisheries ecosystems – Kamloops This Week
The federal government is announcing more than $50 million for research into marine and freshwater ecosystems across Canada. The projects range from improving habitat for Atlantic salmon to measuring the effects of shipping on whales off the British Columbia coast to studying trout-bearing waters in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains where new coal mines and expansion of others are being considered.

Canada joins 13 nations in 100% sustainable ocean management pledge – Globalnews.ca
Canada, with over five million square kilometres of ocean area, is one of the countries to put forward a new ocean action agenda on Wednesday. Boris Worm, a professor of marine ecology at Dalhousie University, was the scientific advisor to the Canadian government and reviewer of papers written for the newly proposed oceans agenda. Worm says the world’s oceans are at a critical turning point, as some estimate a decline of 50 per cent in marine resources. “In Canada, only one-quarter of fish stocks is considered reliably healthy,” Worm says. “There’s a road to recovery we need to engage in, and we’re willing to engage, and that’s what this panel is all about — to make sure it actually happens.”

Water Quality:

Yukon wetlands at tipping point from placer mining – The Narwhal
The Yukon Water Board is asking the public to weigh in as the territory considers legislation to protect remaining undisturbed wetlands from small-scale gold mining in streams and riverbeds.

Ottawa’s Downtown tunnel finally ready to keep sewage out of Ottawa river –  CBC 
The $232-million “engineering marvel,” which began construction in 2016, is now ready to store water when the next big storm hits Ottawa. The pair of tunnels measure 6.2 kilometres in total, and include 15 underground chambers capable of holding up to 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of sewage.

13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding – Cowichan Valley Citizen
Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s executive director, Aaron Hill, applauded the investments, with a note of caution. “Much more is needed, including much stronger efforts to ensure our lands and waters don’t get trashed to begin with.”

It’s official: Alberta’s oilsands tailings ponds are leaking – The Narwhal
There are more than a trillion litres of toxic oilsands waste stored in tailings ponds near Alberta’s Athabasca River. A years-long international investigation has found ‘scientifically valid evidence’ the massive pits that store toxic waste in the oilsands are leaking, leaving Albertans wondering who’s going to clean them up

The watershed watchers: in conversation with the International Joint Commission – The Narwhal
Canada and the U.S. are bound together by waterways that transcend political borders. But what happens when industrial development changes those waters in ways that could last hundreds of years? Selenium pollution in the Elk Valley watershed, which is linked to fish and bird deformities and the collapse of treasured trout populations, is on the rise. And because the Elk Valley watershed drains into the Koocanusa reservoir, which crosses the B.C.-Montana border, the province’s selenium problem is now raising the ire of our neighbours to the south.

Government blocks proposed mine that threatened Alaska salmon fishery – The Guardian
Denial of permit to controversial Pebble gold and copper mine delights environmental and indigenous rights activists, and brings an end to the dreams of Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. The mine and it’s proposed open-pit excavation would have created a pit deeper than the Grand Canyon, threatening the headwaters of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery located in south-west Alaska.

The last undammed river of Manitoba – The Narwhal
The Seal River is Manitoba’s only major waterway that hasn’t been dammed — and five Indigenous communities have banded together to keep it that way by establishing a protected area.

Lake Partner Program News – FOCA
The Federation of Ontario Cottage Associations has entered into a new 5 year agreement in support of the Lake Partner Program carrying on their longstanding partnership between dedicated waterfront volunteers and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. Their important work together supports the shared commitment to the long term monitoring of our precious freshwater lakes.

Indigenous:

New Legacy art gallery exhibit aims to revitalize traditional W̱SÁNEĆ fishing practices – Martlet 
UVic’s Legacy Art Gallery has a new exhibit: “To Fish as Formerly,” is a powerful, educational exploration of the traditional fishing practices of the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) and Salish peoples.

Algonquin Land Claim Update – FOCA
Ontario recently undertook another phase of consultations regarding provincial land matters related to the Algonquins of Ontario treaty negotiations, expected to be completed in 2023.

Canada’s first Indigenous coast guard program is already saving lives – The Narwhal
In mid-November, a storm pounded B.C.’s central coast, 120-kilometre-per-hour winds whipping the waves into a frenzy. The newly operational Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary dispatch centre in Bella Bella started receiving a flurry of calls for help from several vessels in distress. “We had one vessel towing another vessel and he had to cut his tow loose. And we were told there was a person in the water,”. “We live on the coast, we live on the water and we will respond to any call for help,” said Johnson, who’s been a responder for more than a decade. Roger Girouard assistant commissioner for the Canadian Coast Guard says “the first step  was building relationships with the First Nations along the coast”.

Climate Change:

Increasing Ocean Surface Temperatures along West Coast – NOAA
Record marine heatwaves continue to build reservoirs of toxic algae Off the  West Coast and continue the spread of harmful algae forcing the closure of valuable Dungeness crab and other shellfish seasons every year since 2015.

2020 Was a Record Year for Hurricanes – Sierra Club
The most active Atlantic hurricane season on record began two weeks ahead of schedule and ended on November 30, 2020. This season surpasses the previous record holder set in 2005, and marks the second time in recorded history when meteorologists ran out of names and had to resort to the Greek alphabet.

IJC invites public feedback on high water impacts
The International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management (GLAM) Committee and partners are gathering input from property owners who have been directly affected by high water levels on the Great Lakes or along the St. Lawrence River shoreline over 2019 or 2020. Impacted property owners can participate in a voluntary online questionnaire, and are able to upload photos.

Sluggish start for Arctic sea ice freeze-up – EarthSky Voices
After the spring and summer melt season, the cap of frozen seawater floating on top of the Arctic Ocean begins to refreeze. In 2020, the annual freeze has been slow, When Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum in September 2020, it was the 2nd-lowest in the satellite record, and the sea ice extent for this October was the lowest on record for any October.

How climate change is making winter ice more dangerous – StarTribune.com
Sapna Sharma, an associate professor of biology at York University in Toronto and a lead author of the study, said people don’t realize how global warming is increasing the risks that come with winter traditions like skating, ice fishing and snowmobiling. Northern Canada and Alaska have higher rates of drowning, even in very cold temperatures. “It may not be as safe now as it was 30 years or 40 years ago.”

Boating:

Boat Manufacturing Momentum Slows in September – Fishing Wire
The NMMA reports new boat manufacturing activity in September pulled back for the second consecutive month following a summer of elevated growth, according to its latest Monthly Shipment Report (MSR).

Torqeedo Deep Blue Electric Power Boat that “Flies” – Fishing Wire
Propelled by the Torqeedo Deep Blue 50i, the Candela Seven is 7.is a 7 meter long boat with a top speed of 55 km/h and a range of 92 km when driven at 37 km/h.

Registering your Boat – Transport Canada

Canadian Marine Advisory Council continues to consider changes to the Pleasure Craft License (PCL), to better identify boat owners for emergency purposes, and to track abandoned vessels. Currently, PCL are valid for 10 years but TC is considering a shorter (e.g., 5 year) renewal period.

Special on Ice Fishing – Blue Fish Canada

Ice fishing is one of the fastest growing recreational fishing segments in Canada. If the growth in fishing witnessed throughout 2020 continues, the 2021 ice fishing season promises to be even more popular. Quality how-to articles on equipment, tackle, techniques and safety are prolific, but here’s something you don’t often hear about – tips on how to ice fish sustainably. Blue Fish Canada relies on top Canadian fish biologists and experts with local knowledge to fact-check all our Blue Fish Sustainable Fishing Tips.

  1. USE ROD AND LINE SIZED APPROPRIATE FOR EACH FISH SPECIES Using the right strength rod and line for each fish species ensures fish are captured without causing undue fatigue. Properly matched hook strength and size increases your hook-to-landing ratio and helps ensure fish go back healthy. The use of leaders when targeting toothy fish prevents their breaking off with your tackle in tow.
  2. KEEP HOOK CUTTERS AND REMOVER HANDY Needle-nose plyers and hook removers make hook removal efficient and safe by keeping hands away from the mouths of toothy fish and hook points. When hooks are difficult to remove, hook cutters can quickly and safely separate fish from lures.
  3. AVOID REMOVAL OF FISH-PROTECTING SLIME Bacteria found in fish slime serve as a protective coating. Make sure your hands are wet and hold fish away from clothing. Do not put fish you intend to return on dry ice or snow to avoid removing slime.
  4. SUPPORT THE BELLIES OF LARGE FISH USING YOUR HANDS Fish are anatomically designed to move through water with minimal resistance and live in a constant state of neutral buoyancy. They do not possess the stomach muscles required to support internal organs when out of the water and subjected to gravity.
  5. MINIMIZE THE TIME FISH SPEND OUT OF WATER Avoid subjecting fish to extreme cold or wind that can cause frostbite or damage to their eyes. Remove fish-hooks quickly and minimize the amount of time a fish will spend out of the water.
  6. HARVEST FISH LOWER ON THE FOOD CHAIN Alpha predator fish are similar to lions; they claim territory and live solitary lives. By targeting fish considered by apex predators as prey, you are harvesting fish that grow quicker and in greater numbers.
  7. HARVEST FROM PUT-AND-TAKE FISHERIES AND SUPPORT FISH STOCK REBUILDING EFFORTS Some ecosystems are routinely planted to ensure adequate supplies of adult fish for harvest. Other ecosystems may have experienced a significant decline, and efforts are underway to rebuild their stocks to self-sustaining levels. Put-and-take fisheries are intended for harvesting individual limits. Fish stocks at below sustainable levels should be treated as catch-and-release only.
  8. HARVEST FISH SPECIES IN PLENTIFUL SUPPLY Each unique ecosystem experiences yearly fluctuations in fish species abundance. Local anglers generally know which bodies of water are supporting an abundance of fish, and which fish species are at low numbers. Set harvesting goals by consulting local anglers familiar with the water you intend to fish.
  9. LIMIT HARVESTS TO ONE MEAL OF FRESH FISH Just because you can doesn’t mean you should fill your daily fish harvesting limit each time you go fishing. Many regulations include maximum numbers of fish you possess including what’s in your freezer. Frozen fish lose up to 30% of their flavor and can suffer freezer burn after six months. Fresh is always best!
  10. EXERCISE RESTRAINT WHEN HARVESTING FISH NEAR URBAN CENTRES Fishing locations situated near-by highly popular ice fishing locations experience higher fishing pressure than do more remote less-frequented locations. Not all fish harvesting regulations consider proximity to urban populations. Limit your harvest or practice catch and-release when fishing popular waters.

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

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

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

Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca<

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

While 2020 may have started off to be one of the charity’s most productive to date, the pandemic caused us to take a pause. Not because our programs were forced to shut, (this was only the case in a very few instances), but because we felt our beneficiaries had other more urgent issues at the time. Thankfully, the pause did not last long.

Photo of Blue Fish Canada President Lawrence Gunther and his new guide dog Lewis
Photo of Blue Fish Canada President Lawrence Gunther and his new guide dog Lewis

The Pivot: By early April our expert scientific advisors, citizen scientists, and local knowledge experts were advising us that more than ever people needed to get outdoors. In response, Blue Fish Canada began releasing weekly newsletters with information about the state of recreational fisheries across Canada, the United States, and around the world. More importantly, we sought out and developed angling and boating safety protocols to inform those contemplating a return to the outdoors. While careful not to encourage people to disregard stay-at-home orders, we also wanted to support people to begin thinking, planning, and dreaming about being in nature.

Angling Participation: We are pleased to have done our part to make 2020 a year that saw the highest levels of angling participation ever in Canada’s history. Just as importantly, we are proud of the angling community that pursued their outdoor lifestyles in ways that are respectful, safe, and healthy for both body and mind but, we didn’t stop there.

On-line Program Delivery: We continued to produce audio and video content to educate anglers who were turning to the internet in numbers never before seen. Our informative programming materials reached new and old anglers alike at rates that far exceeded our 2020 program delivery goals.

Video / Audio Content: so far in 2020 we have produced/released:

  • 29 hours of audio podcast con tent;
  • 325 minutes of TV content;
  • 179 minutes of online video; and,
  • 18.5 hours of live Facebook streaming video.

Print Format: people can’t seem to get enough reading material that has to do with fishing sustainably. Compelling Blue Fish Stewardship program material outputs include:


Fish Health: our research, citizen science and advocacy activities included:

  • 3 outdoor show exhibits;
  • 11 in-person and live-streamed presentations;
  • 27 on-line video conferences specific to water quality and fish health;
  • 2 on-line fish facts surveys; and,
  • Launching and chairing the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Fish Health Network.

Diversity and Inclusion: fishing is an activity of universal appeal. More than that, it’s essential to the healthy development of youth of all backgrounds and abilities. Blue Fish Canada continues to work closely with indigenous, women, disability and multicultural groups and youth to make sure accessibility to recreational fishing is the norm across Canada. Programs such as Girl Guide Fishing, Blind Fishing boat, Earth Rangers, Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther, Scouts Canada, and Urban Family Fishing remain high priorities.

Outreach Partners: active partnerships include:

AMIAudio and TVFishNerds PodcastOttawaRiver Keeper
AtlanticAngler ChallengeGreatLakes Fisheries CommissionOutdoorCanada Magazine
B.C.Anglers AllianceGreatLakes NetworkOttawaAdventure Film Festival
B.C.Federation of Fly FishersKeepCanada FishingSaskatchewanAngler Research Group
CanadianFishing NetworkMastersProduction Ltd.Savethe River
CanadianEnvironmental Law AssociationSt.Lawrence Institute for Environmental ResearchCanadianSportfishing Industry Association
MohawkCouncil of AkwesasneStriperCupCarpAnglers Group Ontario
MuskieCanada Inc.TheBlue Fish Radio ShowDestinationNorthern Ontario
Nowwith Dave Brown TVTomRowland PodcastEarthRangers
Natureand outdoor Tourism OntarioWatershedWatch Salmon SocietyFish’nCanada
OntarioBass NationWorldRiver DayUglyPike Podcast

What we learned: using a combination of online tools, print resources, and traditional storytelling is highly effective at engaging the next generation of recreational anglers, indigenous fishers, and their mentors and elders., These strategies achieve results. Even though our direct interface programs such as outdoor show experiences, Fishing Tackle Recyclers, urban shore fishing access, and kids fishing days, had to be scaled back in 2020 for safety reasons, our other engagement programs, delivered through strategic partnerships, far out performed our 2020 expectations.

Contact: Please continue to contact us with your suggestions or with any concerns. If you are looking for new volunteer challenges, we have opportunities. Otherwise, keep doing what you do to stay healthy, including getting out to fish as your wellbeing and that of the welfare of Canada’s watersheds and fish populations ar linked.

Donate: Blue Fish Canada is a registered Canadian charity and is 100% reliant on volunteers. There are programming related costs that depend on external funding. Please consider Blue Fish Canada in your donations for Giving Tuesday. You will also soon receive a short explanation of our program priorities for 2021.

Yours Sincerely,
Lawrence Gunther Euteneier M.E.S. M.S.M.
President: Blue Fish Canada
Email: Director@BlueFishCanada.ca
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BlueFishCanada/
Twitter: @BlueFishnews
Web: BlueFishCanada.ca

In this November 26, 2020 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a Feature-focus on the great lakes’ $8-billion annual recreational fishery in transition, including the latest analysis, research and local knowledge. As always, the news includes a curated list of links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news, and we end with a bonus resource selected to inform and inspire the hardiest of our readers.

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther aboard his Blind Fishing Boat with his new CNIB guide dog Lewis and a Northern Pike

This Week’s Feature:

The November Blue Fish News follows up on our October News feature and Blue Fish Radio interview with International Joint Commission (IJC) scientist Dr. Joe DePinto and the IJC report documenting the changing off-shore Great Lakes ecosystems and the impacts on the $8-billion annual recreational fisheries. Our investigation continues with an in-depth interview with a Great Lakes Fisheries Commission scientist. Dr. John Dettmers who recently released a paper “Whether to Manage for Economics or the Ecosystem?” Dr. Dettmers suggests the Great Lakes recreational fisheries of the 1980s and 1990s are now in transition due to veracious non-native pacific salmon and rainbow trout being in decline along with their preferred non-native prey fish (alewife and smelt). Dr. Dettmers points out the importance of maintaining and rebuilding native Great Lakes fish and prey fish species that once thrived in the pristine pre-industrial Great Lakes. Link below to hear my conversation with Dr. Dettmers on “The Blue Fish Radio Show” podcast: https://bluefishradio.com/great-lake-ecosystem-changes-and-recreational-fisheries/

We reached out to the U.S. Great Lakes Science Centre (GLSC) and received the below confirmation that the Great Lakes are indeed in transition. Dr. David Bunnell, a research fisheries biologist with the GLSC, reports that, “Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Ontario have undergone declines in productivity (e.g., nutrients, algae, zooplankton) over the past several decades which limits the overall biomass of prey fish that can be supported. At the same time, prey fish biomass is also influenced by levels of predator stocking. Determining the relative importance of resource limitation and predation remains an important research topic for fisheries scientists in these lakes. Similarly, discerning which species are best suited to thrive in these less productive systems is complicated and no consensus has been reached among the scientists.” Dr. Bunnell goes on to say that both Alewife and Rainbow smelt abundance is declining across most of the Great Lakes basin, and that cisco, once a key constituents of all five Great Lakes, “remain widespread and abundant only in Lake Superior, and have small but perhaps growing populations in Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Ontario”. Dr. Bunnell warns that, “even in Lake Superior, cisco abundance has declined since the 1990s, and the factors underlying its uneven annual production of offspring remains a research priority”.

Understanding the causes behind these seismic shifts in the Great Lakes has elicited calls from the International Joint Commission for a more holistic approach to researching Great Lake issues. In the recent IJC report “A Stressful Interaction: Some Ecosystem Stressors Have Greater Influence When Combined”, the IJC Science Advisory Board underscores the need to broaden the scope of their research to encompass a wider variety of issues impacting the Great Lake ecosystems, and to gain greater understanding of the impacts that result from the synergy of two or more of these issues. The IJC report concludes, “We need to recognize that managing environmental stressors in independent ‘silos’ may not always be the best approach. We’re more likely to succeed when we focus on the big picture and manage problems as they interact with each other. We’re moving in that direction but managing for multiple stressors in a holistic manner needs to be more widely practiced.”

The good news is Canada recently invested $5.1 million in Great Lakes protection. The federal funding will go towards supporting 46 new projects to protect and restore the Great Lakes. The “Great Lakes Protection Initiative” supports projects that address key Great Lakes priorities such as restoring areas of concern, preventing toxic and nuisance algae, reducing releases of harmful chemicals, engaging Indigenous Peoples on Great Lakes issues, and increasing public engagement through citizen science. All necessary priorities for sure, and Blue Fish Canada will be there to make sure citizen science public engagement includes the voice of recreational anglers.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Ranger Boats pro angler Jason Przekurat wins the National Walleye Tour — National Professional Anglers Association
The National Professional Angler Association presented the Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Championship event on Lake Erie, October 16. The win marks the first-time a pro angler (Jason Przekurat) has won the NWT championship twice.

This Ontario angler thought he had a big bass. He was off by about 200 pounds — Outdoor Canada
Coel Forsyth and his girlfriend, Emily Enns, were fishing for largemouth bass on Lake of the Woods when he flipped a Senko into a patch of reeds in roughly three feet of water. The 23-year-old fishing guide from Kenora, Ontario, reeled in the incidental catch of a lifetime: a 200-pound lake sturgeon.

Bass Tournament Organizer Fined $9,000 — Ontario Newsroom
On July 15, 2019, conservation officers responded to several tips about a bass fishing tournament that had been held on the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque. An investigation discovered 195 dead bass, including 188 dead bass in plastic bags found in the garbage. The tournament organizer was fined $9,000 and had his recreational fishing license suspended for five years.

FishDonkey partners with the National Professional Anglers Association — National Professional Anglers Association
The National Professional Anglers Association understands that the future of the industry relies on conserving our resources, and one piece of that puzzle is making catch and release tournaments the way of the future. FishDonkey is a mobile app that gives you the tools to create, manage, and join fishing tournaments. Each catch is documented through the app with anti-cheating technology applied to photos and a release video, and then fish are immediately released back into the water. Photos and standings are updated in real time throughout the day on live leaderboards. The app reinforces fishing conservation by reducing delayed mortality rate of tournament fish and legitimizing catch and release.

Glenn Hughes: why 2020 is the year of the angler — Angling International
Each industry sector plays a role in the process, but none of us can do everything. The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) TakeMeFishing.org website and Get On Board campaign are information portals to help new and returning anglers and boaters create a great day on and around the water and, just as importantly, come back again. The RBFF’s job is to do the heavy lifting when it comes to fishing and boating awareness and getting people excited to take the journey to becoming a life-long angler.

N.S. Moves Rec Fish Meetings Online — Atlantic Salmon Federation
Nova Scotia’s Inland Fisheries team, which holds annual advisory meetings with anglers around the province, is going online this year. Topics will include an overview of the 2020 sportfishing season, review of proposed regulatory changes, project updates, and a description of some new initiatives meant to grow the recreational fishery.

Fish Health:

Unique B.C. trout population suffers 93 per cent crash downstream of Teck’s Elk Valley coal mines — The Narwhal
Environment Canada was told that selenium pollution emanating from a string of coal mines in B.C.’s southeast corner could lead to reproductive failure and ‘a total population collapse’ of sensitive species like the westslope cutthroat trout. The adult population of genetically unique westslope cutthroat trout in the Kootenay region dropped by 93 per cent this past fall compared with 2017 levels, according to a monitoring report from Teck Resources.

Aluminum concentrations in Nova Scotia rivers too high for fish health — The Chronicle Herald
Aluminum concentrations in Nova Scotia rivers are too high to sustain healthy aquatic life, according to a study published recently by a Dalhousie University professor and a team of researchers.

Letters Support Eradication of Smallmouth Bass from Miramichi Watershed — New Brunswick Salmon Council
More than 1,260 people have responded to a letter writing campaign in support of smallmouth bass eradication in New Brunswick’s Miramichi watershed.

Nova Scotia targets invasive Smallmouth bass — Atlantic Salmon Federation
A team from Nova Scotia’s Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has taken decisive action against illegally introduced smallmouth bass in the St. Mary’s River watershed. Early indications are that the operation was a success.

Why so glum, chum? Scientists perplexed by this year’s low chum salmon numbers in Yukon River — CBC News
A new count of chum salmon in the Yukon river is giving scientists a sinking feeling. The latest estimates aren’t just bad, they’re “absolutely dismal,” says one researcher.

Cod Predation by Spiny Dogfish in Atlantic — Fishing Wire
As dogfish populations recover from overfishing, questions remain about how much Atlantic cod they are eating and its impact on the struggling cod population. Innovative genetic techniques help shed some light on the situation.

Greg Taylor on B.C.’s 2020 Salmon Returns — Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Greg’s overview provides explanation of this year’s steep declines. “This year, throughout the province, we’ve seen a dramatic and widespread reduction in the number of spawning salmon” – Greg goes on to say, “there is no more time for status quo fishery management, for further habitat destruction, or for industrial salmon hatcheries whose genetically inferior fish compete with wild salmon for limited food supplies”.

Alewife Recovery Continues on St. Croix River Breaking Records — International Joint Commission
Alewives continue to return to the St. Croix River in greater numbers, with a 2020 fish count exceeding 2019’s by more than 25 percent and the highest totals since 1996. The fish count ran from April through July 2020 and recorded 611,907 alewives passing through the Milltown Dam fishway, located near the mouth of the St. Croix River between the communities of St. Stephen, New Brunswick and Calais Maine.

Canada’s Government Sets up a Parks Canada Salmon Research Chair — Atlantic Salmon Federation
A research chair has been funded at the University of New Brunswick that will focus on aquatic restoration. Dr. Kurt Samways has been chosen as the first to hold this chair.

Aquaculture:

Ottawa plans to move from open-net fish pens to ‘sustainable technology’ in B.C. — The Globe and Mail
The federal government says it has a game plan to transition away from open-net fish farming on British Columbia’s coast.

Poor Cousins? DFO in B.C. pledges to get net pens out, but crickets in Atlantic Canada — Atlantic Salmon Federation
A perspective on the odd and unfair situation unfolding with open net pen salmon aquaculture in Canada. How can DFO act one way in the Pacific and not the Atlantic when they are responsible for wild fish health and the coastal environment nation-wide?

The Atlantic salmon doesn’t require tweaking — The Guardian
That’s the opinion of a senior adviser with Nature Canada who is lauding a recent U.S. court ruling that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violated core environmental laws when it approved the genetic modification of Atlantic salmon in Canada.

Public asked to weigh in on the treatment of farmed salmon — Maple Ridge News
First-ever animal welfare code for farmed fish enters public input phase. The National Farm Animal Care Council’s public comment period opened Nov. 2 and closes Jan. 7, 2021.

Canadians Petition to modernize Part 6 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act — Parliament of Canada
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) regulates genetically engineered animals, such as the salmon-like-fish now being grown in PEI. The Canadian Government recently committed to modernizing CEPA which hasn’t been updated in 20 years. A parliamentary petition urging legislators to use the opportunity to beef up safeguards against genetic pollution from modified organisms is now open.

Water Quality:

Environment & Climate Change Canada Wants Your Input on Lake of the Woods Phosphorus Objectives — Lake of the Woods
For over a decade the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation has been advocating for a plan for Lake of the Woods that identifies water quality objectives and reduction targets, particularly for phosphorus, the primary nutrient stimulating algal blooms. The Foundation wants to connect with members of the public who are interested in participating in upcoming public consultations with the federal Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Climate Change.

Federal government tells Teck to improve water quality from 2 B.C. coal operations — CBC News
Teck Resources Ltd. says it has been ordered by Environment and Climate Change Canada to improve the quality of water affected by two of its coal mining operations in B.C.’s Elk Valley.

Input needed on Canada Water Agency! — Environment and Climate Change Canada
Environment and Climate Change Canada is inviting your input on priorities for establishment of a Canada Water Agency. Contribute to the consultations and let government know that we can’t have healthy sustainable recreational fisheries without clean water, contiguous watersheds and vibrant shoreline wetlands.

Indigenous:

For a More Sustainable Way to Catch Halibut, Look to the Čibu-D Hook· — Hakai Magazine
The Makah refined the čibu·d over thousands of years. Even today, when compared with modern paired circle hooks, the halibut-specific hook offers a way to reduce by-catch without lowering the catch rate for Pacific halibut.

Canada gives $1.4 million to support Nunavik Inuit’s management of Arqvilliit Indigenous Protected Area — The Narwhal
A federal partnership will aid Indigenous-led monitoring and research of 24,000 hectares of remote Arctic islands that provide critical habitat for polar bears and other species affected by the climate emergency. Protecting the islands, which are also known as the Ottawa Islands, dovetails with the Government of Canada’s national commitment to conserve 25 per cent of Canada’s land, inland waters and oceans by 2025.

A lost world returns — Maclean’s
“Human remains unearthed on Vancouver Island have resurfaced the tragic story of the Pentlatch people, who at one time were thought to operate the largest pre-colonial fish trap complex in North America.”

Industry:

How Len Thompson Lures came to the aid of its community during COVID-19 — Angling International
When the owners of Canadian-based Len Thompson Lures realised the depth of the COVID-19 pandemic back in April, they wanted to do their part to help the community. “As with many businesses, we were very slow during the spring,” said company President Brad Pallister. “My sister, Jessica, and I wondered how we could keep people working, while also helping families struggling with the economic impacts of this unprecedented time,” he added. The siblings thought that their nationally distributed lures could generate interest across the country so they introduced six limited edition patterns in May, with half of the proceeds from the sales being donated to community food banks. The lures helped raise a total of $24,122, which Jessica Thompson-Pallister rounded up to $24,350 for the 29 community food banks that were supported.

Toronto Sportsmen’s Show Postponed to 2022 — Masters Promotion Ltd.
For over 70 years the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show has been a favourite for thousands of outdoor enthusiasts and welcomes hundreds of exhibitors annually. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to postpone next year’s show. For exhibitors who had booked and paid for the cancelled 2020 show with Canadian National Sportsmen Shows (CNSS), we will honor our original offer where you can reserve your space at a 50% discount in each of the next two shows.

Boating:

BRP Moves Forward on Project Ghost, Project M Electric Technology — Fishing Wire
As announced last May with the discontinuation of the production of Evinrude E-TEC and E-TEC G2 outboard engines, our Sturtevant facility will be repurposed for new and existing projects such as the next generation of our engine technology, publicly known as Project Ghost and Project M,” BRP senior media relations advisor Elaine Arsenault said.

Protect Your Boat’s Fuel System During Winter Storage — Fishing Wire
Check out these tips for keeping your boat’s engines gunk-free and ready to go when the weather warms again next spring.

Books:

“Days of Rivers Past” by Robert Hooton — B.C. Fly Fishing Federation
In January – when warm and wet, is the time when the local rivers fill with the first runs of steelhead, followed by anglers fishing fly and float. Yet we have seen their steady decline for decades and today the once great rivers on the east coast of Vancouver Island and elsewhere are devoid of fish. How did this happen? In Robert Hooton’s book “Days of Rivers Past” he writes of the systemic destruction of steelhead runs in British Columbia through his intimate knowledge of watersheds, such as the Skeena, Gold and many other streams throughout the Province, gained as a lifelong angler and his 37-years working as a B.C. fisheries biologist.

Book review: Salmon by Mark Kurlansky — Watershed Sentinel
In Salmon, Kurlansky deals with changes in fishing technology and government mismanagement – similar to what happened with the East Coast cod fishery.

Special Feature: Be a Safe steelheader this Fall / Winter

Wherever you spend time steelheading on Canada’s rivers this fall and winter, veteran steelhead angler Jason Barnucz suggests you adopt the following tips to help you prepare and stay safe:

  • Familiarize yourself with the river you plan to fish in advance.
  • Make sure you have permission from landowners before venturing onto private property.
  • Let a family member or close friend know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Go with a group of people whenever possible, and practice social distancing.
  • Wear a PFD – inflatable PFDs are more compact and comfortable.
  • Know the depth of water before attempting to wade into any river or stream.
  • Use a staff and wear spiked shoes when wading.
  • Layer clothing with synthetic or wool based materials for maximum warmth and comfort.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia, which can occur in any month of the year.
  • Pack extra clothes, food and water.
  • River conditions often change suddenly causing unexpected new hazards.
  • Remember that cellphone signals can be unreliable in wild places and help from emergency responders can take time.
  • Bring a garbage bag and pick up litter you may find along the riverbank or at the access point.

About us:

You can read current and back issues of the Blue Fish Canada News at: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

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

Please rate The Blue Fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast at: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Share your podcast suggestion or comment in an email to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please donate to: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

In this October 25, 2020 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on Saskatchewan and the University of Regina’s Somers Lab and their ground-breaking fish tracking research, and how such research could prove instrumental in advancing uranium mine reclamation along the shore of Lake Athabasca. As always, we include a specially curated list of summaries and Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news, and close with a spotlight guest resource selected to inform and inspire our readers.

Gunnar mine site being decommissioned – a huge industrial site next to the water

Saskatchewan Fish Tracking Research, Lake Athabasca, and Uranium Mines

The Saskatchewan Sportfish Research Facebook group is attracting significant attention with over 4,000 followers. Reviewing their posts got me thinking that I really need to find out who’s behind the group and invite them on Blue Fish Radio.

Dr. Chris Somers is the scientist / angler behind both the Saskatchewan Sportfish Research Group, and the Somers Lab at the University of Regina. His research team are advancing our understanding of how fish move throughout their ecosystems, including what fish do after we let them go. Dr. Somers tags and tracks Walleye, Northern Pike, Burbot and Common Carp year-round, including through the ice with surprising results. Understanding why fish travel such incredible distances, whether to pursue prey, to spawn, to flee a stress-causing experience, or to patrol their territory, is the next step.

Click on the link to learn more about Dr. Somers fish research and his love of Saskatchewan on Blue Fish Radio: https://bluefishradio.com/saskatchewan-sportfish-research-group-and-dr-chris-somers/

It wasn’t until well into my interview with Dr. Somers that memories stirred of my own experience on Lake Athabasca in the northern part of Saskatchewan. I had travelled to the Lake via float plane out of Fort McMurray Alberta some eight years before for a film project. Lake Athabasca is Canada’s 9th largest lake and stretches across the tops of both Alberta and Saskatchewan ,crossing into the North West Territories. My interview with Dr. Chris Somers got me thinking about his expertise and what we documented on Lake Athabasca.

Including Lake Athabasca as one of ten segments in my documentary “What Lies Below” had to do with the regions numerous abandoned uranium mines. Concern over environmental contamination was brought to my attention during a conversation with an outfitter who had established their operations on lake Athabasca. Directly across the lake from their camp was the large, abandoned Gunnar uranium mine site – one of over 80 in the region that the Saskatchewan government had identified as requiring decommissioning. Not only do abandoned uranium mines pose as extremely long-lasting ecological hazards to the environment, but prime targets for people looking to salvage everything from reclaimed building materials, to crushed tailings for use as gravel.

Photo of a Boaters Keep Out sign

Boaters approaching the area are warned away with signage and a warning to anglers to stay out of the bay. According to the mayor of Uranium City, a ghost town that once boomed with over 5,000 residence, these signs may need to stay up for the next 250,000 years. One of the obvious problems is that fish don’t read signs, but they do move around.

It was during one of many film festivals featuring my documentary “What Lies Below” that I met Terry Bachmeier. Terry grew up in Uranium City and told me about his father moving their family to the area, including the family car, and what work as a hard rock uranium miner meant in terms of both health and prosperity. Terry was a guest on Blue Fish Radio not long after, and then One of Terry’s daughters, who works as a writer for HuffPost Canada, wrote an article that revolved around her father’s return to the area to visit the grave site of his infant brother.

All this to say, I don’t think this story is over. Even though the Saskatchewan government is cleaning up the abandoned uranium mine sites, the issue of what to do with the slag piles and tailings ponds remains. Just how much of this radioactive contamination is getting into the watershed and fish? How many fish are being impacted and to what extent? How far are these fish travelling beyond the immediate areas of the mines with their radioactive contaminated bodies before expiring, leaving behind micro-radioactive waste piles of their own?

Link to the Blue Fish radio interview with Terry Bachmeier here: https://bluefishradio.com/reflections-growing-north-shore-lake-athabasca/

Link to the HuffPost Canada article here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-dirty-secrets-are-hidden-below-the-surface_b_58e3976fe4b02ef7e0e6e09c

Link to a teaser for the documentary What Lies Below (Stay tuned for a web streaming link to the documentary itself now that our exclusive broadcast license with CBC Documentary Channel has concluded): http://whatliesbelow.ca/

***Fifty years ago, the organization Greenpeace was launched with a concert in Vancouver, featuring performances by Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs and James Taylor. The goal was to raise money to send activists to protest at a nuclear test site on an Alaskan island. Ironic…

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Events:

27th Annual River Symposium – St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Science
A two-day, free, online event will take place October 28th and 29th. Highlights include Lawrence Gunther’s presentation on Fishing Apps and Technology for Fishermen October 28th Day, and Dr. Steven Cooke on Perspectives on the Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Freshwater Fish Biodiversity and Management on October 29th Science Day.

Fishing:

Reel in hand, women are rocking the boat in the male-dominated world of fishing – Roadtrippers Magazine
Roadtrippers the fastest-growing demographic in fishing, more and more women are sinking stereotypes in the male-dominated sports of competitive and recreational fishing.

Catfish NOW: Changing Strategies for Changing Seasons – CatfishNOW
The late summer/early autumn transition period is a golden season for catfishing fans. Summer’s crowds vanish. Lakes, ponds, and rivers shimmer beneath canopies of vermillion and amber leaves. Summer-fattened catfish are in prime condition

Sebastian precured Wins National Walleye Tour on Lake Huron – NPAA
Jason Precured, of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, weighed a combined total of 73.25 pounds to win the National Walleye Tour Presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Championship at Huron, Ohio, on October 17. The two-day championship paid out more than $289,000 in total winnings.

‘We will lose first-timers unless we stay connected with them’ – Angling International
“The demand for fishing information is through the roof. Tackle store shelves are empty, boating and fishing manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand, and fishing license sales are up too as fishing has become an escape from all that’s going on in the world right now,” said Frank Peterson, President and CEO of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.

Bob Allen Books Announces the Release of Monica the Muskie – NPAA
Monica the Muskie shares the fun and excitement of fishing with family and friends. Monica the Muskie shares suggestions for getting the elusive” fish of ten thousand casts” into the boat and captures the rewarding feeling dedicated Muskie fishermen know well. This is Bob’s 4th family fishing book.

Record Lake Champlain Lake Trout a Testament to Successful Sea Lamprey Control – The Fishing Wire
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department recently certified a record fish entry for a 19.36-pound lake trout caught in Lake Champlain in August. Department officials say this demonstrates the positive impact long-term sea lamprey control efforts are having on the lake’s quality fishing opportunities.

Fish Health:

Great News for Lake Erie Walleye, Perch Anglers – The Fishing Wire
The 2020 August walleye hatch index was 48 per hectare, a standard measure of catch per area. This is the eighth-highest value on record for the western basin and well above the rapidly increasing prior 20-year index average of 32 per hectare. “This year’s hatch combined with the exceptional 2015, 2018, and 2019 year-classes ensures an abundance of young walleye will complement the older and larger fish that make up the current Lake Erie walleye population, which is projected to hit a historic high in 2021.

DFO Scientist says Ottawa too beholden to aquaculture industry – ASF
Dr. Kristi Miller-Saunders, head of DFO’s molecular genetics laboratory at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo and adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia, has worked for Fisheries and Oceans for more than 25 years. She is troubled about recent assessments by the department that concluded the risk of pathogens transferring from salmon fish farms to wild stocks in B.C.’s Discovery Islands pose a minimal risk.

New Film Explores National Scope of Asian Carp Threat – NPAA
A new film explores the national scope of the problems caused by invasive Asian carp. The film focuses on the impact Asian carp have on the values and economies they threaten in the Great Lakes. “Against the Current”, released by the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center, features diverse viewpoints representing scientific, tribal, business, tourism, fishing, outdoor recreation, and conservation communities.

Nova Scotia Moves Quickly to Rid St. Mary’s of Smallmouth – ASF
The Nova Scotia government has taken a leadership role in eradicating illegally introduced invasive smallmouth bass from the St. Mary’s watershed.

Climate Change and St. John River Atlantic Salmon – ASF
Warm water and low river levels are a serious threat to Atlantic salmon says a biologist. He provides information on this year’s return of salmon as well.

What Would a British Columbia Seal and Sea Lion Cull Actually Entail? – Hakai Magazine
At least 100,000 harbor seals are thought to occupy the coves and nearshore waters along British Columbia’s coast. Now proponents are calling for the deaths of at least 75,000 seals and sea lions in the first year.

Captive-bred salmon in wild may do more harm than good – ASF
Releasing captive-bred Atlantic salmon into the ocean, a long-standing practice to boost stocks for commercial fishing, reduces the rate at which wild populations reproduce and may ultimately do more harm than good, researchers caution. Fish reared for any period of their life in an aquaculture environment, it turns out, somehow change compared to their wild counterparts.

Permanent fish-passage solutions considered at Big Bar landslide – Chilliwack Progress
DFO officials said roughly 151,000 salmon have now been detected with acoustic sonar north of the site of the Big Bar landslide, and contribute the success to their deploying the Wooshh portal, or salmon canon, that uses pressurized water and tubes to transfer fish up and over the slide.

‘Unprecedented’ new data tool aims to bolster B.C. salmon conservation – National Observer
The Pacific Salmon Explorer, a user-friendly data-visualization tool, provides valuable insights into the current health of salmon across British Columbia.

Sea otters are back with a worrying vengeance in B.C. – Macleans
Once within a whisker of extinction, the adorable creatures are making a major resurgence—but not all residents view their comeback in a favourable light.

Maryland Striper Spawn Lowest in Years – The Fishing Wire
The Fishing Wire Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that the 2020 juvenile striped bass index is 2.5, well below the average of 11.5, and even worse than last year’s 3.4.

Menhaden Catch Cut Aimed at Improving Striper Populations – The Fishing Wire
One of the most crucial fish in the Chesapeake Bay’s aquatic food web is getting more protection from potential overfishing, but not as much as some environmentalists and state fishery managers had wanted.

Water Quality:

British Columbia’s seamounts are becoming uninhabitable – Hakai Magazine
The deep ocean, where changes usually manifest over millennia, is losing oxygen at an unprecedented rate.

Secret recordings portray regulators as easing Pebble Mine’s path to approval – Hakai Magazine
The Pebble Limited Partnership’s latest plan to offset the damage caused by the proposed Alaska mine is being highly criticized.

Blue carbon: the climate change solution you’ve probably never heard of – The Narwhal
Canadian scientists are looking to re-flood marshes to mitigate the impacts of sea-level rise and store carbon, and seaweed is having its moment in the spotlight.

Indigenous:

Skeena sockeye returns jump 50 per cent in three years thanks to Indigenous leadership – The Narwhal
B.C. First Nations voluntarily closed their food fishery or limited the catch for two decades to help rebuild salmon populations. This year, those sacrifices are paying off.

Nova Scotia lobster dispute: Mi’kmaw fishery isn’t a threat to conservation, say scientists – Nova Scotia Advocate
The commercial lobster season in Lobster Fishing Area 34, in St. Marys Bay Nova Scotia, runs from late November to late May. The Mi’kmaw livelihood fishery was launched outside that, leading the commercial harvesters to label it as illegal. Commercial fishers are also upset by a decrease in lobster landings, and have articulated two conservation concerns about the Sipekne’katik fishery: its scale and whether fishing during the summer season — when lobsters molt and their shells are soft — is a problem for the survival of lobsters that are thrown back.

Conservation:

New Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition proposes new Conservation Fund – Wildsight
New B.C. wildlife coalition seeks to have Government, “dedicate all hunting, guide-outfitting, and trapping license fees, all industry wildlife compensation dollars, a portion of the royalties from new resource extraction projects and ensure all those who impact fish, wildlife and habitat” pay into a proposed new dedicated fund.

Hunting, Fishing Groups Release Statement on 30 by 30 – NPAA
The U.S. leading hunting, fishing, and habitat conservation organizations just released a statement on the Thirty by Thirty Initiative to establish a goal of placing 30% of the planet’s lands and waters under protected status by the year 2030. Given the historic and ongoing role that hunters and anglers have played in land, water, fish, and wildlife conservation, their statement sets out a number of objectives and goals that they plan to put forward at the up-coming meeting of the “Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity” (CBD), currently scheduled for May of 2021.

Industry:

Join us virtually this year for our Northern Ontario Tourism Training Week – Destination Northern Ontario
On Nov 23-27 Help grow Northern Ontario’s tourism industry. The Northern Ontario Tourism Summit was developed as a partnership event between Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO) and Destination Northern Ontario (DNO). Registration is free to all industry partners.

Squirrel Tails Can Help Fill Your Tacklebox – The Fishing Wire
Mepp’s is again offering their tails-for-tackle program to hunters sending them legal squirrel tails, which are traded for the classic Mepps squirrel-tail spinners.

Bass tournament organisers have united under one brand – SGB Media
Two of America’s biggest bass fishing tournament organisers have come under one brand. Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) has moved all its brand assets to Major League Fishing (MLF) in a move designed to elevate tournament bass fishing further and align the multiple circuits as one company which will be known as MLF Big5.

Lodge owners, guides concerned about Minnesota resorts fishing in Canadian waters – CBC News
Frank and Lynn Wepruk get frustrated when they hear the hum of a group of boats full of people going fishing, who will cross into Canada, fish, and then return south of the border. Canadian outfitters near Fort Frances, Ont., are concerned over rules which allow Americans to fish in Canadian waters without clearing customs.

Atlantic Sapphire Harvests First Fish – and Counts Big US Grocers Among Customers – Undercurrent News
At its large land-based grow out facility in Homestead, Florida, Atlantic Sapphire harvested and sent to market the first of its salmon.

Boating:

New Powerboat Sales Up 8 Percent in August – The Fishing Wire
New data from the NMMA show August was another strong month for new powerboat retail sales, which were up 8% year to date on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to a year ago.

Protect Your Boat from Ice and Freeze Damage – The Fishing Wire
As boaters prepare their vessels for a long winter nap it’s time to check the boat’s insurance policy for “Ice and Freeze” coverage. This affordable coverage does come with one caveat: Most insurers do not offer the coverage once temperatures drop, usually the end of October, so check with your insurer before then.

Special Guest Feature:

Advanced Telemetry Allows Tracking Great Lakes Fish

By Christopher S. Vandergoot
Michigan State University

Graphic representation of how acoustic telemetry works. Acoustic receivers are deployed underwater and passively ‘listen’ for an acoustic signal produced by an acoustic transmitter implanted into a fish.

To understand fish behavior and movement in natural environments, scientists typically use direct observation, such as following fish around underwater with snorkeling or scuba gear or tagging a fish and relying on someone to report where it was eventually caught.

In 2010, the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System research initiative started tracking individual fish using advanced telemetry to understand the mysteries of Great Lakes fish behavior. GLATOS is primarily funded through the US Great Lakes Restoration Initiative along with state, federal, provincial, and tribal natural resource agencies in Canada and the United States.

Map showing the location of acoustic receivers (blue dots and underwater picture) deployed as part of the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System network as of August 2020. Credit: Dr. Thomas Binder

The impetus of this research was to provide fishery managers with needed information regarding the movements and behavior of native fish to aid in conservation and restoration efforts and inform aquatic invasive species management.

The Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation Systems, or GLATOS for short, consists of a series of underwater acoustic telemetry receivers deployed throughout the Great Lakes basin to monitor the movements of fish tagged with acoustic transmitters.

When a tagged fish swims close enough for a receiver to “hear” the unique signal emitted by the transmitter, this information is recorded and stored on the receiver until it is downloaded later. In some instances, this information can be monitored in real time.

In addition to being able to identify the presence or absence of individual fish, researchers can determine what temperature or water depth a fish is occupying if the transmitter is programmed to record this type of information.

To date, fish as large as lake sturgeon (almost 2 meters or up to 6 feet long) and smaller fish such as yellow perch have been successfully tagged and tracked throughout the Great Lakes.

As of August 2020, more than 13,000 individual fish representing 47 different species have been tagged and released as part of this research endeavor, resulting in close to 390 million detections or data points. There are now more than 1,600 active acoustic receiver deployments associated with the GLATOS network. In addition to better understanding population demographics like survival and movement rates, GLATOS researchers are providing fishery managers with important information regarding broad- and fine-scale habitat use of native and non-native fish species across the basin.

For example, acoustic telemetry has been used to evaluate spawning behavior and habitat selection of lake trout near Drummond Island in Lake Huron and movements of lake trout and lake sturgeon throughout the Huron-Erie Corridor St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River.

A lake trout tagged with an acoustic transmitter (not visible) and an external tag (orange plastic behind dorsal fin) prior to release. Credit: James Markham, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Telemetry data also has played an important role evaluating current methods and developing new control strategies for aquatic invasive species such as sea lamprey and grass carp.

Additionally, while most research conducted to date focused on understanding where and when fish move (or remain) in a particular area, in the future researchers hope to gain a better understanding of why fish occupy a particular area and how environmental conditions influence movement and behavior.

For example, researchers and managers need answers to questions like: How do fish relate to harmful algal blooms? Do fish alter their behavior when blooms develop? Are they vulnerable to predators when blooms develop? Additionally, how do fish react to areas that experience low dissolved oxygen levels that develop during the summer, like in the western and central basins of Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay, and Lake Michigan and Green Bay?

By understanding fish movement and behavior, fishery managers can better manage these ecologically and economically important resources throughout the Great Lakes.

(First published in the October 2020 edition of the IJC’s Great Lakes Connection newsletter – link to the original article)

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

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

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

Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

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: https://bluefishradio.com/world-rivers-day-founder-mark-angelo/

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. https://bluefishradio.com/health-of-st-lawrence-river-fish-and-the-great-river-rapport/.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

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.

NGOs:

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.

Industry:

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.

Arts:

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.

Aquaculture:

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:

“ESCAPES AT THE N.B. AND MAIN BORDER”

(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.

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

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

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

Please rate The Blue Fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.Ca

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

In this September 3, 2020 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we bust myths about dams and their fish passage systems; serve up a curated list of Links to fishing, fish health, water quality and other news; and end with an article on Newfoundland’s successful rebuilding of Atlantic Salmon numbers following the removal of a dam and a concerted long term recovery effort.

Milltown hydro Dam owned by New Brunswick Power on the St-Croix River that will soon be removed.

Dams and Fish Passage Systems

While most all dams pose barriers to fish mobility, not all rivers where dams are guilt are inhabited by migratory fish species. Further, dams equipped with fish passage systems don’t necessarily benefit non-migratory fish species. Compounding fish sustainability are reservoirs created by dams that don’t necessarily provide access to suitable spawning and rearing habitat, and the restrictions to fish mobility throughout watersheds that limit gene flow, resulting in unique and not always healthy genetic pools. The aging hydro dam on the St. Croix River in New Brunswick is one such dam that has caused all manner of fish sustainability issues for decades and is now about to be removed with the support of stakeholders including New Brunswick Power.

However, let us not forget the role dams can play in protecting and rebuilding native species like Alberta’s Cutthroat Trout from non-native migratory species like Rainbow Trout. Or how dams have prevented invasive Lamprey from moving beyond the great lakes. the paper mill dam in Georgetown Ontario on the Credit serves as an example of a structure being left in place on purpose to protect fish species introduced upstream, (Brown and Brook Trout), from having their habitat invaded by Rainbow Trout and Pacific salmon (Chinook and Coho) introduced into Lake Ontario in the 1970’s. Water exiting turbines can also serve as prime fish habitat that benefit both fish and anglers alike as they provide fish with a focussed source of food, and release the colder water located deep in reservoirs above dams that trout crave – a crucial habitat variable that is increasingly harder for fish to find as the climate continues to warm.

At the same time, thousands of abandoned commercial and private dams continue to carve watersheds into countless river-locked segments that serve no economic or practical purpose and remain largely forgotten. Professor Sean Landsman from Carleton University believes one of the main takeaways about dams and fishways is that there is hope for a better relationship between humans and migratory fish through increasing recognition that, “dam removal is warranted in many cases”, and “we are getting better at designing fish ladders and other fish passage systems that actually work”.

As humans continue to turn from carbon-based energy to electricity, the demand for hydropower will grow. The public, scientists, and perhaps most importantly, industry, recognize the need to ensure barriers to the movement of fish populations aren’t an unintended problem associated with newly constructed dams. But that doesn’t mean anglers can take for granted what’s happening at dams now.

The relationship between dams and fish is complex, which is why I asked Dr. Sean Landsman, a fellow angling nut, to help bring some clarity to a fish impact issue all of us anglers need to know. Dr. Sean Landsman is with the Institute of Environmental and Interdisciplinary Science at Carleton University.

In part one of this 2-part Blue Fish Radio series, Dr. Landsman discusses different dam configurations, movement of fish past dams in both directions, and why it makes sense to simply remove most smaller legacy dams. Link below for part one of my conversation with Dr. Landsman on Blue Fish Radio: https://bluefishradio.com/dam-busting-and-fish-passage-with-dr-sean-landsman-part-1-of-2/

Like me, many anglers may be of the mind-set that fish ladders or some other fish passage system introduced at dam sites is all that’s really needed. In this 2nd of my 2-part discussion with Dr. Sean Landsman, he explains the different fish passage systems adopted to move fish around dams, their strengths and weaknesses, and why alternative solutions to dams may be preferable in certain cases. Link below to hear the second part of my conversation with Dr. Landsman on Blue Fish Radio: https://bluefishradio.com/dam-busting-and-fish-passage-with-dr-sean-landsman-part-2-of-2/

Job creation, infrastructure projects, economic recovery, will all become priorities as we dig our way out of the pandemic. The federal government recently announced a fund to clean-up abandoned oil drill sites in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Let’s hope that something similar is in the works specific to removing the tens-of-thousands of legacy dams throughout Canada. The window for these sorts of projects is relatively short because, once the economy is up-and-running, the equipment and human resources needed to do this work will be focussed on private sector developments. No one wants to see public resources used to bid against privately funded projects for access to such services and equipment. The time to make a difference is now, so let’s make sure we get the removal of legacy dams on the table for funding consideration.

The Latest Fishing, fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Let’s go salmon fishing — The Daily Courier
The big salmon are biting like crazy off the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee recommends halt on fishing for Chinook — Yukon News
The Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee is recommending the complete cessation of fishing for Chinook salmon this year on the Yukon River.

Wide-open spaces for August salmon fishing — Campbell River Mirror
My fishing buddy had mentioned it would be a fact-finding boat ride and wanted to know if I would come along.

Kootenay Lake anglers incentive reels in plenty of interest — Nelson Star
Local anglers continue to be incredibly supportive of the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program.

A Tuna’s Worth — Hakai Magazine
Bluefin tuna are a luxury that feeds the egos of many, the bellies of few. Inside a Canadian fishery that pursues them. North Lake P.E.I. is a community too small to support an ATM but calls itself the tuna capital of the world. In the 1960s and 1970s, anglers here regularly landed bluefin that broke world records.

Fishing lines down in August during COVID times — Campbell River Mirror
Since mid-month, the salmon fishing around Campbell River has been on fire, meaning the fishing has been exceptionally good.

Fisherman ‘torn’ on closing access to salmon migration in Port Hope — Northumberland News
Port Hope council is seeking public feedback on whether to close all access lands to the salmon migration due to COVID-19.

Marathon Man Gears Up for Another Fishing World Fishing Record Attempt — Fishing Wire
Starting at 9:00am on September 9th, 2020, at Sankoty Lakes Resort and Retreat outside Peoria, Illinois, Jeff Kolodzinski will attempt to catch more than 2,172 fish on hook and line to break his own record set in 2019 as a charity fundraiser.

Why some rain falls so hard — EarthSky Watch
Some rainstorms drench you in a second, while others drop rain in a nice peaceful drizzle. A downpour or a drizzle: What causes the difference? A meteorologist explains.

Fish Health:

After 30 years of work to P.E.I.’s Miminegash River, Atlantic Salmon stocks begin long road to recovery — The Journal Pioneer
After decades of absence, Atlantic Salmon are back in Prince Edward Island’s Miminegash River.

In Ontario, it’s open season on cormorants — National Observer
Double-crested cormorants don’t have a lot of fans. Standing as tall as the average toddler, they have distinctive S-shaped necks, dark plumage and orange skin around their beaks. They sometimes vomit when threatened. Their acidic feces — called guano — kills vegetation on the islands and shorelines they settle, stripping trees bare until they look like bones. Cormorants also eat a lot of fish, and anglers have long viewed them as competition.

Salmon rivers closed in face of high temperatures, low water — The Telegram
Salmon rivers like the Exploits River in Newfoundland were closed to anglers around the province by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans earlier this week because of low water levels.

Parks Canada kills fish in remote Banff lakes to protect at-risk native species — Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF)
Federal scientists and managers are carrying out a program to remove non-native trout from some remote lakes and streams to establish a sanctuary for Westslope cutthroat. In New Brunswick, First Nations organizations and NGO’s are taking similar action after more than a decade of government inaction.

Alaska’s salmon are shrinking, impacting coastal communities and ecosystems — Oceanographic Magazine
The study concluded that the size of salmon returning to rivers in Alaska has declined dramatically over the past 60 years since they are spending fewer years at sea.

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish — Terrace Standard
U.S. government approves to kill up to 840 sea lions in a portion of the Columbia River and its tributaries over the next five years to boost the survival of salmon and steelhead at risk of extinction.

Water Quality:

Silt cloud in Great Slave Lake spells trouble for fishers and fish — Cabin Radio
A large silt plume spreading through Great Slave Lake is being attributed to high water levels in the Slave River. It’s not helping a tough year for fishers.

Catastrophic failures raise alarm about dams containing muddy mine wastes — Science Magazine
Poor design and construction lead to deadly disasters.

The Site C dam has become an albatross and a serious objective review is needed urgently — The Globe and Mail
A geological snafu is just the latest challenge for the increasingly expensive and uneconomic BC Hydro project.

BC government takes steps toward watershed cleanup — The Cordova Times
After the Tulsequah Chief Mine shut down, while continuing to leach acidic runoff into the Taku River watershed, B.C.’s government has committed to a long-term plan to halt the pollution.

U.S. Army Corps Decides Pebble Mine Can’t Be Permitted as is — American Sportfishing Association (ASA)
The ASA supports the announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the proposed Pebble Mine, a massive mineral extraction mining development in Alaska’s Bristol Bay area, cannot be permitted as proposed. The Pebble Mine threatens one of the world’s most productive wild salmon strongholds.

Ontario’s Bill 197, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act — Federation of Ontario Cottagers Association (FOCA)
FOCA is concerned that major changes to environmental oversight are underway, with the July 2020 introduction of the omnibus Bill 197, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020. This Bill affects 43 different pieces of Provincial Legislation. FOCA believes that all environmentally significant undertakings should be reviewed through an appropriate and efficient EA process that is open, fair, and evidence-based. Further proposals to change the Planning Act would give Ministerial discretion to issue zoning orders, and to overrule decisions by municipal council and planning staff, even to the extent of a specific project and site details.

No environmental charges as 6th anniversary of Mt. Polley mine dam collapse looms — Prince George Citizen
Nearly six years after the collapse of the tailings dam at Imperial Metal’s Mount Polley mine, no charges for environmental damage have been laid and there is no word on timing of a decision.

Indigenous:

We are poisoning our future — Prince George Citizen
Six years ago, the Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine waste dump failed. Billions of litres of contaminants flooded into Quesnel Lake and the Fraser River watershed, where my people, members of the Xat’sull First Nation, have drunk water and caught salmon since time immemorial.

Let’s heal our rivers and restore salmon — Bend Bulletin
“For some people, “water is life” is a slogan. For us it’s who we are. It’s in our DNA. As tribal members, citizens and fishing guides, we consider it our privilege and our duty to share our truth with others any way we can.”

First Nation celebrates sockeye harvest with free fish distribution — CBC News
The Westbank First Nation’s annual “Salmon Day” aims to restore traditional food systems in pandemic times and help members prepare for the winter.

Industry:

Canadian Tire Corp reports ‘extraordinary’ Q2 sales growth — Angling International
Canada’s leading supplier of fishing tackle has reported sales growth of 9.3% in the second quarter of its financial year, despite 80% of its stores operating under closures and restrictions for much of the period. Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC) also reported that its digital and e-commerce business across all banners reached CN$600m in the quarter.

American Tackle to host prestigious rod building challenge — Angling International
American Tackle Company, the creator of the multi-award-winning Microwave Guide System, is set to host the 2021 International Rod Building Challenge. The Florida-based company describes its latest move to promote the sector as delivering another chance to custom rod builders to showcase their ingenuity, creativity and craftmanship. The event will take place during the International Custom Rod Building Exposition (ICRBE) next year.

B.C. boat dealers report record-breaking sales amid COVID-19 restrictions — CBC News
Sales boon comes as many coastal communities ask visitors to stay away.

Sweden experiences ‘veritable boom’ in recreational fishing — Angling International
Sweden is experiencing a ‘veritable boom’ in recreational fishing following the onset of COVID-19. That is according to the Swedish Maritime Administration, which monitors participation in the sport. It says: “Consistent data from fishing licence sales nationally this year show a very sharp increase.

Feature Article:

Newfoundland’s Rattling Brook Atlantic salmon Recovery Effort is Bearing Fruit!

(Notes from the Atlantic Salmon Federation Aug 28 2020)

The Rattling Brook watershed in central Newfoundland is small by the standard of other salmon rivers, but its 384 square kilometre (150 square mile) watershed includes some remarkably productive habitat

For example, an archaeological dig at the mouth of the river in 2005 uncovered artifacts from three waves of Indigenous settlement, one more than 5,000 years old. The lead archaeologist at the time proclaimed, “this site is probably the largest warm season salmon processing site in all of North America.”

Angling on Rattling Brook caught on in the early 20th century, but then salmon were completely blocked by the construction of a hydro dam with no fish passage in the 1950s.

Some Rattling Brook salmon were moved to the nearby Big Rattling Brook and other waterways. They established themselves, but the run on Rattling Brook was finished.

That’s until the nearby town of Norris Arm struck a committee in 1999 to investigate the possibility of a recovery program. Officials determined that restoration could provide $3 million in annual revenue to the community through a sustainable recreation fishery and the Rattling Brook Salmon Restoration Committee was born.

Starting in 2011, 50 adult salmon were captured from Big Rattling Brook, where the original Rattling Brook salmon were relocated, and placed back in their ancestral stream.

By 2013, Newfoundland Power, had completed their contribution to the project; a $5 million project to establish fish passage at the utility’s hydro dam on Rattling Brook.

Transplanting adults continued for four more season. When stocking was complete, 2,310 fish had been placed throughout the Rattling Brook watershed. With primary problems like fish passage addressed, the number of salmon returning kept increasing, hitting a milestone 1,000 and counting this year.

The perseverance of the Rattling Brook Salmon Restoration Committee, and the willing participation of partners like the Exploits River Environmental Resources Management Association, DFO, and NL Power are a model to follow.

Salmon conservation is a marathon, and Rattling Brook is proof that when the right decisions are made, wild Atlantic Salmon respond.

As for fishing in Newfoundland up to August 20th, most rivers in the province were experiencing very low water levels and very high-water temperatures. This led DFO to close most rivers throughout the Island portion of the province, and/or they restricted fishing to early morning outings only. The poor fishing conditions and river closures during the past two weeks meant very few anglers were fishing. For those who did fish, angling success was exceptionally low. But the Atlantic salmon were there, indicated by reports of many fish seen in the rivers on the island and at river mouths.

In Labrador, no rivers were closed for environmental reasons, although some probably should have been closed, given the low water conditions and warm water temperatures that were experienced in some areas. This was especially true in Southern Labrador.

Yet despite the hot and dry summer this year, Atlantic salmon have showed up in respectable numbers compared to recent years. It seems Atlantic salmon at sea experienced a better winter, with some combination of sufficient food supply, lower predation, and lower levels of fishing in Greenland waters.

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

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

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

Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

Yours truly,

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