What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Like many, I’ve been steering clear of the forward facing sonar debate raging across Canada and the U.S. Not because of the issues at stake, but to avoid getting drawn into some fairly heated discussions that seemed to be more about fishing access than sustainable fishing. And then I read about the Wisconsin department of Natural Resources survey on whether or not to ban the technology. So, today’s issue of the Blue fish News includes both an editorial on how this debate needs to move forward, and views about FFS from professional angler David Chong on The Blue Fish Radio show. And of course, there’s all the rest of the fishing, fish and habitat news from across Canada.

Professional angler David Chong

This Week’s Feature – Forward Facing Sonar Debate Escalates

By L. Gunther

I’m the last person who would want the evolution of technology designed to improve our ability to see to slow down for obvious reasons. People living without sight like me follow these sorts of innovations closely, and are usually the first to step up to purchase and test what are often very sketchy innovations being promoted as the next best thing to “seeing in the dark”. This time however, the debate concerns a new form of highly efficient underwater sonar technology being marketed to recreational anglers that represents a giant leap forward in how anglers can see fishes, the underwater structure fishes prefer, and even the lures we are using in real time. The problem is, not everyone believes it’s either fair or in the best interest of conservation. It’s called FFS or forward-facing sonar.

Electronic fish finders aren’t new. It’s technology that goes back easily forty years. But, in the past ten years significant advances have been made; testing the appetite of anglers to pay top dollar and discovering that price seems to pose no obstacle. Instead of looking down below the boat, we saw the introduction of side imaging, and then 360-degree imaging. This new forward-facing sonar or FFS goes further, providing anglers with a virtual spotlight of sorts that they can move about underwater to find fish as far as 50 meters away at all depths. Not only fishes, but promising underwater structure that is likely to be favored by fish, as well as their pray. It’s also powerful enough to reveal the angler’s lure in the water, and how the fish reacts to the lure, including the moment when the fish bites the lure in real time. But perhaps the most important advancement FFS represents is the ability for anglers to move about at slow speeds and find fishes that are in open water. Anglers now have an efficient means to locate fishes in open water that quite possibly have never been pursued or caught before.

From a fishing tournament perspective, FFS has provided competitors with a significant advantage over competitors who have yet to acquire FFS technology. Some also say it eliminates the advantage of those anglers who have invested considerable time and effort on the water to decipher the movements and feeding habits of fish. In short, it’s turned fishing into more of a “video game”, which is the other problem.

Watching competitive anglers fish using FFS is apparently quite boring. These anglers are constantly looking at the displays mounted on the bow as they move their boats around using their electric trolling motors. The only time they take a cast is when they spot a fish, and if it doesn’t bite, they don’t wait around, but instead continue their search for a fish that will. Five good bites are often all it takes to win a tournament.

The other problem people have with FFS is the increase in efficiency anglers have in terms of time and effort needed to catch their limit of fish. Fishing is no guarantee you will catch fish, never mind bring fish home. But with FFS technology, lakes that have been widely regarded as difficult places to catch fish are suddenly producing and doing so consistently. So what does this mean for fishing pressure and sustainable fishing?

At first many surmised that only top guides and competitive anglers would make the investment to purchase FFS, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Ice fishing is just one example of many where the popularity of FFS has exploded. Instead of having to drill dozens of holes through the ice in search of fish, an ice angler can simply drill one hole, lower their transducer, swing the device in a slow circle, and determine if there are fish nearby. After that it’s simply a matter of drilling a second hole where the fish were spotted, and lowering their baits.

Even if fish are being returned alive, there’s always the issue of barotrauma to consider. This occurs when fish are caught at depth below their capacity to return to that depth if brought to the surface. It’s true that all forms of sonar on the market allow anglers to search out and locate fishes at all depths, whereas before people had to troll lures at different depths and cover water with the hopes of crossing paths with such fishes. The ability to now efficiently find fishes in open water using FFS means more fishes may be subjected to barotrauma.

Fishes use swim bladders to establish neutral buoyancy at their preferred depth, but very few species of fish can make quick changes to the amount of air in their bladders, meaning fish that are brought up from extreme depth will experience difficulty swimming back down because their swim bladder may have expanded abnormally, keeping them near the surface where they are either spotted by birds-of-pray, or they eventually die from related health complications. There are ways to release excess air from the bladder using a hypodermic needle, and devices that can be used to lower fish to their preferred depth and then released. It may be that FFS will lead to new rules concerning the mandatory use of such equipment.

The debate around the use of advanced sonar technology has been long in coming. Whether its undermining local experience, increased barotrauma experienced by fishes, or the increase in capture efficiency, these issues have been simmering for years. So if FFS has put these discussions front-and-centre, what’s preventing regulators from addressing the fish health and sustainable fishing issues associated with the wide-spread adoption of sonar by anglers? Any reasonably well equipped fishing boat going back 25 years is equipped with at least one sonar device, and most of these now include a GPS and mapping component.

The days of imagining that there exist infinite numbers of fish are long over. We can now fairly accurately assess the status of any fish species if so desired. The problem is Canada has a lot of lakes and rivers, and not nearly enough human and financial resources to study exactly how many and what types of fishes live in each water body. It’s true our regulations have evolved over time to include catch-and-release by establishing size parameters for various species, in addition to the number any one angler can have in their possession. What we don’t have is data about how many fish are being removed each season from each water body. Regulators do conduct on-site creel surveys designed to estimate the number and fishing success of recreational anglers over a short period of time on a handful of specific bodies of water, but collecting such data is expensive and resource intensive.

Canada’s recreational fishing regulations rely on the premise that anglers will move on to other bodies of water when the quality of fishing reduces to a point that satisfaction can no longer be anticipated. When our ability to routinely catch fish begins to drop off, we simply move on to other water bodies where the fishing is better. This gives the fish in those over-pressured water bodies a chance to recover while anglers stay away. However, FFS now means fishing efficiency is improved, meaning even more fish from a specific water body can be caught and/or removed before the quality of fishing is judged by anglers as unsatisfactory. The consequence for fishes means it will soon take longer for their numbers to rebound, and what recovery means to anglers may also change given their enhanced ability to locate and catch fishes.

Talk to guys who remember what fishing was like before we had sonar, and they will all tell you it was better than it is now. It could just be that there were fewer anglers chasing more fish that had never been caught before and thus, easier to catch. Fish are getting smarter as they get caught-and-released, whereas before those same old-timers kept everything they caught, which is definitely not the case now.

According to the latest Statistics Canada recreational fishing survey conducted in 2015, on average about 2/3 of all fish caught are released. It’s also the case that guides and lodge owners know that their businesses depend on quality fishing, which means many now discourage their guests from harvesting fish unless the fishes being pursued are in plentiful supply. Most all recreational anglers also know that the quality of fishing depends on everyone doing their part, which is why this debate over FFS is so lively – anglers care.

To close, FFS technology is not only changing the way we fish, but also shining a light on how we fish. The fact is many of us are willing to purchase expensive sonar equipment such as FFS to improve our fish capture efficiency, but are we also using these technologies to be more selective of the fishes we catch, and to avoid incidental fish captures such as those fishes that would experience negative health impacts? And we still need to decide how fishing competitions should be based on rewarding the best anglers, and when the use of “performance enhancing” technologies should be banned.

Stuffing FFS technology back in the bottle is unlikely and isn’t necessary. Learning self-control and adopting more sophisticated and nuanced harvesting practices are becoming the new norm. These new fishing ethics are encouraged through social pressure, and will ultimately be enforced through regulations once enough anglers believe in the benefits of such practices. We have come a long way since our grandparents took us fishing with the goal of filling the stringer, but we must continue to evolve to become even better stewards of nature.

Link below to hear my conversation with professional angler David Chong on the Blue Fish Radio show. David is a top competitive bass angler and a representative of numerous fishing, boating and electronic brands. His insights and reflections on FFS are profound: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/e440-david-chong-on-forward-facing-sonar–59458104

Keep visiting the resource page on the Blue Fish Canada website to download the latest sustainable fishing tips. These are developed with input from local experts, knowledge keepers and fact-checked by top fishery biologists: https://bluefishcanada.ca/resources/blue-fish-sustainable-fishing-tips/

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Fishing closures at Port Renfrew a serious mistake / Vancouver Sun
This newest closure would gut Port Renfrew’s economy, force what few fishermen and fishing guides are left to travel long distances up the coast, burning a lot more fuel into the environment as well as greatly increasing the chance for marine fatalities. We are told that it’s to save the resident killer whales from starving. We also read a lot of opposing science on the subject but very little science from the Department of Fisheries supporting this rash move.

Tagging brook trout proves that catch-and-release works / Outdoor Canada
We know from mark-and-recapture studies that catch-and-release works brilliantly on relatively hardy fish like bass, but what about more fragile fish like brook trout? It was the defining question that Rob Swainson, in charge of managing the most famous brook trout fishery on earth, needed to answer in order to gain acceptance for the special regulations that would rejuvenate the Nipigon River fishery.

How Canadian companies are reinventing commercial fishing / Globe&Mail
The centuries-old fishing process where vessels drag large, cone-shaped nets held open by a pair of one-tonne steel doors (which often make contact with the sea floor) was becoming costly amid reduced fishing grounds, restrictive quotas, rising environmental scrutiny and soaring fuel prices. “We needed to change to meet the new policies, but also make the operations better by reducing costs, fuel consumption, gear repairs and bycatch,” says Mr. d’Entremont. “We needed to start to figure out a different way to fish.”

Canada, Alaska suspend fishing of Yukon River chinook salmon for 7 years / CBC
In a bid to help the recovery of the Yukon River chinook salmon run, the federal government and the State of Alaska have agreed to implement a seven-year moratorium on fishing the species.

Our waterways are for everyone to share, protect and enjoy / Outdoor Canada
Harassment of any kind should never be tolerated, and that includes the harassment of anglers (and hunters, for that matter). And when necessary, it should involve the police. In my home province of Ontario, in fact, harassment of anglers or hunters can lead to charges under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which states it’s illegal to interfere with anyone who is engaged in lawful hunting, trapping or fishing activities.

Putting the Cart Before the Redfish / Hakai
After a nearly 30-year hiatus, Atlantic Canada’s redfish fishery is coming back. But as opening day draws nearer, concerns about its viability are mounting.


What to know about elvers / CTV
Tiny, translucent baby eels, called elvers, are back in the news after two Mi’kmaq men from Nova Scotia reported being detained by federal fisheries officers and then left far from home at 1 a.m. — without footwear or phones — after they were caught fishing near Shelburne, N.S.

865 million farmed salmon dead in a decade  / Nature.com
A study released earlier this month found that 865 million farmed salmon died prematurely in sea cages between 2012 and 2022. The staggering death toll represents a colossal waste and untold animal suffering. The authors blame intensive production techniques, climate change, and predict the problem will get worse.

Should We Factory Farm the Highly Intelligent Octopus? / Yale E360
New insights into octopus intelligence are fueling opposition to a Spanish company’s plans to build the world’s first commercial octopus farm. The company contends that raising octopuses for their meat will help conserve the creatures in the wild. But critics say that caging octopuses, which are increasingly understood to be highly sensitive and capable of solving complex tasks, would be cruel and inhumane.⁠ “Octopods should never be kept in large numbers in confined spaces,” says an expert in animal consciousness. “It leads to stress, conflict, and high mortality.”⁠

Get Ready for the Robotic Fish Revolution / Hakai
Scientists say swarms of robotic fish could soon make traditional underwater research vehicles obsolete.

Options to deal with whirling disease limited / Columbia Valley Pioneer
Precious little can be done to get rid of whirling disease now that it’s arrived in the East Kootenay, but residents and visitors must remain extra vigilant to keep it from spreading any further and to keep out other invasive species.

Meet the Killer Whales You Thought You Knew / Hakai
The iconic marine mammals may not belong to one species but several. Surprise!

Against the odds, wild fish spring to life in Lake Ontario / Narwhal
It’s springtime, which means migration and spawning for many Lake Ontario fish — and a good time to share the fascinating story of how many salmon and trout came to live in this Great Lake in the first place. Brook trout and Atlantic salmon are native to the lake, but in 1873, the federal government began stocking it with non-native salmonids — a large family of ray-finned, carnivorous fish — starting with chinook salmon. Coho salmon, steelhead, and brown trout soon followed.

For Marlin, Stripes Mean Stop / Hakai
Drone footage reveals that marlin flash their bright stripes before going in for a kill.

Rescuers Grapple with How to Save Distressed Sawfish / Hakai
In Florida, an effort is underway to bring endangered smalltooth sawfish to safety, following mysterious behaviors and deaths. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is documenting reports of abnormal fish behavior, including spinning and whirling, in the Lower Florida Keys. Along with this abnormal behavior, there have also been reports of fish deaths in these areas, including more than 28 smalltooth sawfishas of March 24. The Commission is leading an effort to investigate the abnormal behavior and cause of death. Efforts to collect and analyze samples are underway.

Six Decades After the Film’s Release, Paul Greenberg Sheds Light on the Real Victims of Jaws. “Sharks as we would recognize them have been in the oceans for more than 350 million years… In less than a 700th of that time our species has made quick work of them,” writes Safina Center Writer-in-Residence Paul Greenberg in his new article. Unfortunately, the influence of Jaws goes far beyond the film industry, and reaches into the ways in which our species has viewed and treated sharks.


Adult Fish Struggle To Bounce Back In Marine Protected Areas / Science daily
Many marine protected areas are falling short of their most basic purpose: to rebuild struggling fish populations. In a new study, scientists looked at the age breakdown of reef fish in marine protected areas for the first time. They discovered in almost all of them, adult fish populations — vital to spawning the next generation — have either flatlined or declined. “It’s always difficult to prohibit fishing from any part of the sea — as if it goes against a basic human instinct,” said Melanie McField, co-author and director of the Healthy Reefs Initiative. “But fully protecting and enforcing these areas is the best way to grow bigger fish that can rebuild the populations and actually increase overall fish catches outside the fully protected areas.”

‘Forever’ chemicals found in excessive levels in Earth’s groundwater / CTV
Potentially toxic chemicals called PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are found in surface and groundwaters around the world at levels much higher than many international regulators allow, a new study found. However, drinking water may only be responsible for about 20% of exposure, with the most significant exposures coming from food, dust and other sources.

Light at the End of the Tunnel / Hakai
Millions of killer culverts lurk beneath North American roadways, strangling populations of migratory fish. Now with a nationwide project, the United States is trying to fix them.

Fish, frogs and… pharmaceuticals? How researchers are addressing Ohio’s medicated streams / The Statehouse News Bureau
Researchers are testing Ohio’s streams and wastewater for pharmaceutical drugs. Algal blooms and forever chemicals often dominate the conversation around water quality in Ohio. But, researchers across the state say there’s another, lesser known threat to Ohio streams: medications.

Crabs, kelp and mussels: Argentina’s waters teem with life – could a fish farm ban do the same for Chile? / Guardian
Banning intensive salmon farming has helped one region in Argentina become a foodie haven known for its bountiful local seafood. But in neighboring Chile, open-net-pen salmon farms have proliferated, threatening artisanal fishing and biodiversity alike. Now, activists are pushing Chile and other nations to adopt a ban like Argentina’s.

Why is the U.S. cracking down on PFAS and what are these ‘forever chemicals’? / National Observer
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has put limits on certain PFAS, or so-called “forever chemicals,” in drinking water for the first time. PFAS are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been used since the 1940s to waterproof and stainproof products — at a cost to human health. These chemicals have been linked to cancers, liver damage, high cholesterol and more. The new rules mean utilities will now need to look for six of these chemicals in drinking water and remove them if they exceed EPA limits. Limiting six chemicals doesn’t sound like much, considering there are more than 12,000 known PFAS, NPR’s Pien Huang reports. But experts she spoke to say it’s a strong first step. The EPA estimates it will cost $1.5 billion each year for water companies to comply with its new rules. Huang says consumer water bills may go up eventually, but the federal government has dedicated billions of dollars for PFAS removal as a first resort.

Discussing the Environmental Impacts of Zero Lake Ice / 13ABC
Lake Erie experienced record-low ice coverage this winter, raising concerns about fish health, erosion, and harmful algal blooms.

The first step to stopping invasive Asian carp is recognizing them. Here’s what every angler should know / Outdoor Canada
Like enemies at the gate, invasive carp are threatening to populate the Great Lakes. Collectively known as “Asian carps,” bighead, black, grass and silver carp are notorious for outcompeting native fish and destroying habitat, including wetlands. The most imminent threat comes from grass carp, which have reproducing populations in two U.S. tributaries of Lake Erie. So far, bighead, black and silver carp remain confined to the Mississippi River. Should these fish-farm escapees become established in the Great Lakes, they would also severely damage the region’s US$556 million a year sportfishing industry by harming populations of everything from bass to muskies. Anglers can serve as the first line of defence against these aquatic invaders, however, and that starts with being able to identify them.

Scientists Are Sweating Over Freakishly High Marine Heat / Hakai
While some experts believe global temperature anomalies adhere to climate crisis predictions, others are alarmed by the speed of change.

In Graphic Detail: Gluts of Ghost Gear / Tyee
Researchers from the University of Tasmania in Australia surveyed fishers from seven countries about their use of five different gear types: gillnets, purse seines, trawl nets, longlines, and pots and traps. From the surveys, the scientists calculated annual gear loss rates for each fishing method and extrapolated that to fishing efforts around the world. The researchers estimate that fishing vessels lose around two per cent of their gear every year, a staggering amount when taken together.


From the Torngat Mountains to the Labrador Sea, a new Inuit-led protected area takes a step forward Narwhal
A marine conservation area covering 16,791 square kilometres of ocean off the Nunatsiavut coast has been deemed feasible and desirable — a key part of establishing the project led by Labrador Inuit. The Nunatsiavut Government has led the charge to create a marine conservation area, working in conjunction with Parks Canada — which falls under Environment and Climate Change Canada. Currently, in order for Indigenous-led marine conservation projects to be federally recognized, a federal agency has to be a partner, be that Parks Canada or Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Learn more about becoming Rainbow Registered / Destination Northern Ontario
In today’s tourism landscape, diversity and inclusion are paramount for creating vibrant and immersive travel experiences. Despite Northern Ontario’s celebration of various cultures and backgrounds, many tourism businesses still lack diverse representation in their workforce. Embracing diverse perspectives enriches visitor experiences and fosters innovation and creativity in our offerings.


Marine Endangered Species Art Contest / NOAA
Teachers: Celebrate Endangered Species Day (May 17) by having your classroom or individual students participate in the 2024 Marine Endangered Species Art Contest! located in New England and the mid-Atlantic United States, we invite participants from anywhere in the world to submit entries! Artwork should highlight one or more marine endangered or threatened species from the New England/Mid-Atlantic region.


E440 David Chong on Forward Facing Sonar
While some can’t wait for the debate about forward facing sonar to end, others believe we aren’t finished by a long shot. Regulators in the U.S. are actually surveying anglers for their views on whether the technology should be banned. We reached out to professional angler David Chong for his views on the topic. David is one of Canada’s top professional bass anglers and a long-time representative of many fishing, boating and electronic brands. Welcome back David to The Blue Fish Radio Show!

Special Guest Feature: TAKE THE SURVEY – Would you support banning the use of live scopes, and similar 360° imaging electronics?

Recent move made by a state agency signals next-level concerns over forward-facing and 360-degree sonar. How can the Wisconsin DNR Spring Hearings potentially affect anglers nationwide? Because this round, they’re calling out fishing technology.

The first step in the process is getting public input on questions concerning potential legislation. That first step is happening now and the WI DNR is accepting online comments. (You do not need to be a Wisconsin resident to participate.)

Question #22 stands to be the most controversial amongst anglers. It reads as such:

Background for Question #22: Ban live scope: With the ability of these types of units to detect fish, as far as 180’ from the user, anglers have become more efficient at locating and catching fish. This type of pressure could reduce fish populations, which may lead to reduced bag limits for anglers.

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March 25th, 2024

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Report and Grant writing season is winding down, thank goodness. I have to admit, I both fear and hope all of our grants are approved. Hope, in that everyone at Blue Fish Canada are ready and excited about the projects being proposed, and fearful that it’s going to mean more work. But don’t worry, we are cognisant about “mission creep”, and in no way are we being led off in new directions that won’t build on our experience and reputation. The other good news is that we have settled on an insurance company that we believe, and so do they, that the coverage being offered is a good fit with our programs. This search wasn’t simple as few insurance companies want to insure charities, and even less-so if they serve “vulnerable youth”. We now have concrete proof that Blue Fish Canada’s commitment to provide programs to people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds and identities comes with an actual price. My whining about all this has to do with the editorial I wrote for this issue that celebrates the people who run and work in non-profit organizations. People such as Terry Rees, who just left the Federation of Ontario Cottage Associations after 20 years, and Robert Pye, who just took over at Watersheds Canada . Two of many selfless yet passionate people looking to make a difference.

A young deaf-blind youth with their first fish

This Week’s Feature – Champions of Nature

By L. Gunther

While preparing reports and submissions for new grants over the past few months I’ve been reminded of Blue Fish Canada having reached its 12th anniversary. Planning new projects involves looking forward, of course, but more importantly, it requires that one take a good look back. I heard something similar from an indigenous elder who said, moving forward is best accomplished by walking backwards, that way you never lose sight of where you came from. He explained that monitoring your forward direction takes only occasional glances over your shoulder, but remembering what you have said, done, promised, and achieved requires more of an effort to make sure we never forget the people and lessons learned along our path. It’s an interesting perspective and one that certainly contradicts much of what we hear these days from popular “life coaches”.

Another thing I’m growing ever more conscious of is the amazing people I meet while carrying on my work, which for a number of us also happens to be our passion. Whether it was during my tournament fishing days and the professional responsibilities I took on to represent various fishing and boating brands, or now with respect to my involvement in conservation. Each of these distinct circles includes their own unique groups of people. And what I’ve discovered over the years is that not only the number of people that make up these circles isn’t as infinite as I first assumed, but it’s also these same people who do the lion’s share of the heavy lifting.

Every person who leads a non-profit depends on grants to fund the work of their organization. Each year it’s the new projects that win the competition for grant funding, as very few of these funding sources will consider funding existing projects. It’s also the case that paying the salaries of your staff can only make up a small portion of the funds being requested, which means multiple grants are needed to cover 100% of each staff members’ pay. Of course, depending on volunteers to do the work is one way around this dilemma, but can’t always be counted on for meeting milestones throughout the life of a project, or for developing ideas of what should come next.

Meeting shifting granting priorities and paying salaries certainly adds stress to people who run or work in NGOs. So, why is it then, the same people keep stepping up to run the conservation and environmental charities that we count on to fix nature? There are less stressful ways to make a living, and yet, they seldom seem to burn out or quit, or even complain. In many ways, these people have become my personal heroes, but it’s not something I would ever admit to in their presence. These aren’t people who want or expect to be aggrandized by their friends or staff.

You won’t get to know them for the awards or public recognition – all of which they seldom receive. They also aren’t spending every moment of the day figuring out how to get in front of the media’s cameras, or posting on social media day-after-day so algorithms keep them trending. You might see them once a year if you pay to attend an annual fund-raising auction or dinner organized by their board of directors, or on location at some environmental catastrophe related to the work of their organization such as the death of a popular snapping turtle or fish kill. Where you will see them, time-and-time again, are at meetings, symposiums, conferences, consultations, and other meetings specifically meant to gather together all those who have an interest in conservation. It’s then that these leaders come out from behind their desks, not to jockey to get their turn behind the microphone, but to mostly listen to what others have to say.

One such leader I’ve had the privilege of getting to know over the past ten years is Terry Rees, soon to be the past Executive Director of the Federation of Ontario Cottage Associations, or FOCA. Terry has led this organization amazingly well for the past 20 years and will be sorely missed, but not necessarily gone. Who knows where he might pop up next, because it’s my observation that such champions never really go away, they just find new challenges where they can continue to pursue their passion for making nature better, stronger, or pretty much back to how it was years ago.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Terry about his reflections, concerns, hopes and fears. Not so much an “exit interview”, but at a time in his life when he’s reflecting on his career. You can listen to our conversation on The Blue Fish Radio show. https://www.spreaker.com/episode/terry-rees-and-his-20-years-with-foca–59155876

Another champion that just moved over to a new challenge is Robert Pye. As the new Executive Director of Watersheds Canada, Robert is applying his years of experience with communicating important information about nature to keep this amazing organization growing in its ability to undertake crucial shoreline and fish habitat restoration. You can listen to my recent conversation with two amazing champions of the outdoors, Robert Pye and Melissa Dakers from Watersheds Canada on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/watersheds-canada-on-fish-habitat–59155869

Who are your heroes? Is there someone in your circle that deserves some well-earned attention as they reach a personal milestone? Drop me an email with the details and how to get in contact so we can learn more about how they too reflect on their journey while walking backwards towards their next big challenge.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Ottawa celebrates signing a watershed ocean treaty / Penticton Herald
Canada has signed a landmark global ocean agreement on the first anniversary of the historic document’s creation.

B.C. fishers fined $29K for illegal catches at fishing lodge / CTV
Three people, including the operator of a British Columbia fishing lodge, have been fined $29,000 after they were found guilty last month of multiple fishing-related offences.

Remember the Salmon War? / Watershed Watcher
Alaskan fleets today catch more B.C. salmon and steelhead than B.C. fishers do.

Lake Erie Committee Sets Walleye and Yellow Perch Total Allowable Catches / Binational Lake Erie Committee
Total Allowable Catch (TAC) decisions are made by consensus of the Lake Erie Committee. The 2024 lake wide walleye TAC of 12.858 million fish is a 4.9% decrease from 2023. The walleye population remains strong following numerous years of successful hatches; however, a slight reduction in TAC is due to average Walleye size increasing in 2024 resulting in a smaller decline in harvested biomass compared to the decline in number of fish. The 2024 combined Yellow Perch TAC is 6.554 million pounds of yellow perch, a 0.3% decrease from 2023. Poor recruitment of yellow perch in the central basin continues to be a challenge, although the population is showing signs of stabilizing.

Introducing Our Salmon Advisory Panel / Ocean Wise
Ocean Wise has launched the Salmon Advisory Panel to tackle the challenge of identifying sustainable salmon options in British Columbia. Comprising of leading experts in B.C. salmon, the panel combines unique knowledge and guidance with Ocean Wise’s Rapid Assessment Standard. The goal? To enhance Ocean Wise’s ratings for locally sourced salmon.

Anglers and Biologists Introduce New Fishing Tournament / Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
The Midwest Walleye Challenge will give anglers in states across the Midwest a chance to compete for prizes while collecting important data for biologists.

The collection of angler catch data during the Nebraska challenge can help the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission learn more about Nebraska walleye fisheries. In the process, Nebraska anglers can see how their walleye fisheries compare to others in the Midwest.


Lagging spawning and increasing phenological extremes jeopardize walleye / Wiley Press Room
Walleye are creatures of habit, and the seasons—especially winter—are changing so fast that this iconic species of freshwater fish can’t keep up. The timing of walleye spawning—when the fish mate and lay their eggs—has historically been tied to the thawing of frozen lakes each spring, says the study’s lead author, Martha Barta, a research technician at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Now, due to our changing climate, walleye have been “unable to keep up with increasingly early and more variable ice-off dates,” says Barta.

Mass die-offs among farmed salmon on the rise around the world / BBC
Warmer seas and greater reliance on technology are linked to hundreds of millions of farmed salmon deaths.

Protecting at-risk chinook populations as others flourish / Watershed Watcher
Last year saw exceptional returns of two populations of chinook salmon.

Whistleblower video raises concerns about fish welfare at B.C. caviar farm / Salmon Arm Observer
No violations were found during the site visit, but BC SPCA and DFO are reviewing hundreds of hours of footage.

Over $300K in grants for N.B. Atlantic salmon projects / Country 94
The Foundation for the Conservation of Atlantic salmon has announced its 2024 grant recipient partners dedicated to the conservation of wild Atlantic salmon habitats and populations.

New Decade Dialogue: Saving Salmon, Watersheds, and Food Webs from 6ppd-q / Ocean Decade Collaborative Center

Even very low levels of pesticide exposure can affect fish for generations / ScienceDaily
Fish exposed to some pesticides at extremely low concentrations for a brief period of time can demonstrate lasting behavioral changes, with the impact extending to offspring that were never exposed firsthand, a recent study found. The findings raise concerns not just for fish, but for all vertebrates that are exposed to commonly used pesticides — including humans, said study co-author Susanne Brander, an associate professor and ecotoxicologist in Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Satellites track the tiny silver fish hugely important to marine life / National Observer
Herring spawning produces a turquoise water colour so vibrant it can be seen from space! This annual event is critical for the food web and brings many species to nearshore areas, including salmon, seals, sea lions, and whales.


‘Immediate threat to Canadian waters’: Here’s what the Invasive Species Centre wants you to know about grass carp / ISC
Researchers have found evidence of naturally reproducing invasive fish species in the Great Lakes, causing an “immediate threat to Canadian waters,” says the Invasive Species Centre (ISC).

Cleanup cost of Teck’s Elk Valley mines is billions higher: report / Narwhal
A new report finds the price tag to treat water contaminated with selenium in the Elk Valley could be $6.4 billion — more than three times the amount reported to the B.C. government.

Are Canada’s lakes becoming salty? / Watersheds Canada
Recent research has highlighted concerning news: there has been a pronounced escalation in the salinization of our freshwater bodies over the past twenty years. If this trend continues, many Canadian lakes will reach critical levels in the next 40 years. Elevated salt concentrations can severely impair aquatic flora, lead to widespread fish deaths, and turn these freshwater zones inhabitable for many species. The implications extend beyond individual organisms; heightened salinity can reconfigure food webs and perturb natural cycles.

Volunteer tossers replenish nutrients with dead salmon in Saanich creek / Saanich News
Slimy salmon work way better than frozen for the annual salmon carcass transplant, and Mother Nature provided with near 19 C weather for the PKOLS-Mount Douglas Conservancy event on Saturday.

Great Lakes Advisory Board Studies Explore how to Better Combat Nutrient Imbalances in Lake Erie / IJC
Canada and the United States set a goal in 2016 to reduce phosphorus loads entering Lake Erie by 40 percent from 2008 levels, but have made limited progress. The International Joint Commission’s Great Lakes Science Advisory Board, in collaboration with the Great Lakes Water Quality Board, recently published two reports that focus on addressing the delicate balancing act of nutrients in Lake Erie.

Multiple fisheries projects received funding to advance research / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Thanks to $1.3 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will fund three projects in 2024, which will aid in restoration of sustainable populations of coregonines in Lake Ontario to reestablish their historical roles as forage for predators.


Of Gitnuganaks, Glaciers, and Life at the End of the Last Ice Age / Hakai
Off the British Columbia coast, scientists guided by Indigenous knowledge are unearthing evidence of island life long, long ago.


Old Town® Introduces Limited Edition Autopilot / FishingWire
The Old Town Sportsman Autopilot from Johnson Outdoors remains the pinnacle watercraft for hands-free fishing. Anglers can command this high-tech kayak using the I-Pilot remote with just the touch of a thumb. The fully integrated 45lb thrust saltwater-ready motor leverages Minn Kota’s Spot-Lock technology, enabling anglers to motor to their fishing spot faster and virtually anchor with the push of a button.


New Salmon Conservation Stamp / PSF
Chosen from 19 entries in this year’s competition, Dale Cooper was awarded first place with his submission titled Pursuit. The painting will be featured on this year’s Salmon Stamp, a required purchase to catch and keep any Pacific salmon caught in the marine environment. PSF’s Community Salmon Program uses the Stamp’s revenue to grant up to $2 million annually to more than 200 salmon conservation projects.


E437 Watersheds Canada on Fish Habitat
Lawrence Gunther speaks with the new Executive Director of Water Sheds Canada Robert J. Pye, and Melissa Dakers, Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager, about their work on creating resilient fish habitat on The Blue fish Radio Show. Robert has many years of experience in promoting fishing and conservation, and Mel is led the charge to expand the charity’s shoreline restoration programs to include shoreline wetlands and fish habitat. Learn how their programs operate year-round, how you can get involved or learn more, and some exciting news about what’s coming up! This is our 3rd episode featuring Watersheds Canada over the past six years, and we are excited to witness the evolution of their focus on fish!

E438 Terry Rees and his 20 years with FOCA
Director of the Federation of Ontario Cottage Associations for twenty years, and recently announced that he will be moving on. Terry’s leadership on countless water quality issues over the years has served the over-500 cottage associations that are affiliated with FOCA, and the knowledge and experience he’s amassed is significant. Terry is our guest on The Blue Fish Radio Show where he talks about a wide range of issues, strategies, programs and regulations meant to maintain a strong one-health relationship between property owners and the waters they love and appreciate.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Newly Appointed Canadian Commissioners Chiblow and Phare Working Toward Greater Indigenous Collaboration / IJC
Canadian Commissioners Dr. Susan Chiblow and Merrell-Ann Phare share a common background and goal: extensive work with Indigenous Peoples and personal commitments to continued collaboration and engagement.

Chiblow was recently appointed as the International Joint Commission’s second Indigenous Commissioner. Phare was appointed to a second term.

Calls to Action:

Survey on Recreational Fishing in Canada’s Northern Indigenous Communities / IGFA
Share your opinion with the International Game Fish Association for a chance to win a $200 gift card. Your responses will help Northern Canadian communities develop sustainable fishing tourism offerings. The survey takes about 10 minutes

20 Years of Observations from a Water Enthusiast / Water Canada Magazine
Terry Rees issues a call-to-action to all fellow water enthusiasts, alongside his observations about what is changing on Ontario’s waters and what must be done about it.

Coming Up:

April 6, 3rd annual St Lawrence River Musky Anglers’ workshop.

This session brings together Canadian and US musky anglers to share research on the St. Lawrence River musky crisis (invasive gobies, loss of habitat, disappearance of YOY, and New York’s efforts to restock dead spawning  bays with fry to repopulate these formerly productive nurseries, and the citizen science program to monitor these fry 5 years later as they become mature and catchable by anglers. They’ve been tagged with micro chip tags that are readable with special readers in kits for anglers. It’s state of the art research and citizen (angler) science. April 6, 9-12. Everyone who fishes and cares about the legendary St. Lawrence muskellunge should attend this important session and have their say with the OMNRF. To register send an email to: r.b.macrae@icloud.com

Great Lakes Harmful Algae Conference / register by April 8th!
On April 18, 2024: 12:00PM – 1:30PMJoin PST, the Decade Collaborative Center and our expert speakers to learn more about 6ppd-q, its impacts on salmon, watersheds and food webs, and what action is being undertaken to prevent it from reaching critical salmon habitats and waterways.

Special Guest Feature – Clean Drain Dry Initiative Releases Annual Accomplishment Report / FishingWire

Wildlife Forever is proud to release the 2023 Clean Drain Dry Initiative annual accomplishment report. Through partnerships, on-the-ground efforts delivered critical invasive species prevention infrastructure and a nationwide public service campaign reaching over 83 million impressions.

Invasive species are a leading threat to the 206-billion-dollar outdoor industry in the U.S. When established, they can dramatically change the ecosystem and impact communities dependent on safe and reliable natural resources. The 2023 Report showcases national efforts to coordinate communications and prevention marketing by delivering on-the-ground strategies that empower the public and prevent spread.

“Tools at the access to clean boats and equipment are wise investments against increasing threats. Education and awareness must also remain a top priority to ensure public users understand best practices for prevention,” said Pat Conzemius, President & CEO of Wildlife Forever.

2023 Highlights Include:

  • Risk assessment and access enhancement implementation in the Columbia River Basin
  • Citizen Carp Control advocacy efforts to support commercial harvest and processing
  • Initiation and development of a new mapping tool to aid traveling boaters in doing their part to prevent invasive species

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Where did February go – certainly wasn’t spent doing a lot of ice fishing, not that we here at Blue Fish Canada had time to spare. Thank goodness for a few cold days. Otherwise, we’ve been busy preparing grant submissions, exhibiting and speaking at both the 4-day Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show and the Invasive Species Forum. Arranging insurance for the new Blue Fish Exploration Centre has been challenging to say the least. Our goal is to provide youth, their families, youth groups, and researchers of all abilities, backgrounds and identities with access to nature at its finest. Turns out not that many insurance companies have an appetite for insuring centres that provide experiences to everyone including those deemed “vulnerable”. We caved on ice fishing for now, but canoes, kayaks, boats, and all the rest is still a go. And in the meantime, enjoy the news including this issue’s editorial on the state and future of Canada’s small-scale commercial fisheries. Normally, Blue Fish Canada sticks to recreational fishing, but given the numerous overlaps, how can we ignore the plight of our commercial fishing friends.

Photo of the Blue Fish Canada exhibit at the 2024 Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show

This Week’s Feature – Small Scale Fisheries, Are they the Answer?

By L. Gunther

For years we have blamed international shipping for releasing non-native species of plants and animals conveyed in their bilges. These giant ships certainly are at fault, but new regulations brought into force have prevented any new invasive species carried aboard cargo ships from entering the Great Lakes for close to 20 years. And yet, we continue to blame cargo ships when, in fact, scientific evidence now points to small watercraft as responsible for the current wave of invasive species spread. Ontario’s new small craft regulations are meant to reduce the spread, but many still have doubts that their fishing boats can cause such aquatic chaos.

When I created the documentary “What Lies Below”, several of the stories concerned the impact of large-scale commercial fishing on fish stocks. Anger among small-scale commercial fishers, indigenous fishers and recreational anglers over industrial fishing harvesting excesses and incidental bycatch remains strong, and rightfully so. But, as commercial fishing excesses are dialed back through aggressive quotas and harvest tracking, the fish stocks targeted by these commercial fishing boats are beginning to show signs of recovery and stability in many of the territorial waters of Canada and the U.S. More science and fact-based quotas are still needed, but we seemed to have turned the corner. So why is it then that the public and many in the fishing industry still believe that large scale fishing vessels are ruining the oceans, and more importantly, that small-scale commercial fishers are the solution needed to bring an end to over-harvesting?

When I witnessed the demise of the North Atlantic cod stocks leading up to the closure of the fishery in 1992, the blame was clearly assigned to giant fishing ships. The reality though, the days of commercial fishers building their own wooden dories, equipping them with engines from cars or trucks, had most definitely come to an end. Wooden dories were replaced with a brand-new fleet of steel, aluminium or fiberglass boats equipped to fish for several days if not weeks at a time. The fishing equipment they were deploying no longer entailed fishers jigging hand lines, but instead deployed seine nets, miles of long lines, and hundreds of large traps, all of which could be efficiently deployed and recovered using powerful mechanical winches. Sonar and sophisticated navigation equipment made it possible to quickly locate and track schools of fish. In short, Canada’s Atlantic fleet of well equipped modern in-shore fishing boats were catching up to the harvesting capacity of their larger off-shore competition. The same thing is now taking place on Canada’s west coast with respect to the commercial fishing of salmon. And yet, many still argue that small scale commercial fisheries are more sustainable than having a few large industrial fishing ships chasing the same fish.

Some argue that one large ship is more efficient and produces fewer greenhouse gasses than having many smaller boats using fossil fuel to travel to and from the fishing grounds. This could all become a moot point should hydrogen some day become the fuel of choice. We have also just learned that large nets dragged across the sea floor stir up considerable amounts of previously captured carbon, causing it to be reintroduced into the ecosystem. Outboard motor manufacturers have been forced to switch from two cycle engines to cleaner burning four stroke motors in Canada and the U.S, but one hears nothing about regulating the emissions of the commercial fishing fleet?

The fact is, regulating large numbers of independently owned small-scale fishing vessels takes considerably more resources than overseeing a few large industrial-sized vessels. Cost of regulatory enforcement, however, should not be a determinant when deciding who has rights over the harvesting of wild fish. But, when it comes to the bottom-line cost advantages of large vessels over smaller scale fishing boats, up until now it’s been the marketplace that decides who prospers, and it would seem that industrial commercial fishing boats are best suited for supplying low-cost seafood.

There’s little doubt the public is bias towards small scale fishing operations and regard large offshore fishing vessels as little better than the “Death Star” in Star Wars. People are of the belief that owners of small businesses are far less likely to intentionally destroy the source of their on-going prosperity, unlike a distant corporately controlled industrial fishing vessel that can extract fish to the point of the stock’s collapse, and then move on and REPEAT.

In short, perceived value of the resource being harvested is based on more than simple economics. The public is all-too aware that the social and economic sustainability of the community itself is on the line. We all know what it means for a single industry dependent town to have its industry shut down. And yet, when we shop for groceries, the choices of over half of Canadians are made based on price.

We all know that small scale fisheries give local people the chance to succeed. It’s not just one corporation or distant owner who is reaping the profits. Instead, it’s a bunch of local entrepreneurs and deck hands that are generating the wealth, and then spending their profits right there where they live so others might benefit indirectly. It’s this knowledge that has convinced many Canadians to pay extra for their seafood with the belief that they are supporting more sustainable fisheries. But, how can we stop consolidation from taking place EVEN AMONG THESE HARVESTORS?

We are witnessing across Canada owners of agricultural operations grow in size as their numbers shrink each year. One-by-one they purchase or lease the land of their neighbours, ending the chance of the children of such neighbours to keep the family farm alive. Such consolidation is driven the same way the fishing sector expanded, through the adoption of larger, more efficient and costly farming equipment.

No longer is it possible for an individual to take up farming or fishing due to the high cost of equipment, land or licenses. Banks won’t offer loans to new businesses with such high up-front costs unless the applicant can guarantee the loan. The reason why we still have small-scale farms left in Canada is because a number of farming sectors like dairy require a license that specifically states exactly how much each farm is allowed to produce. It’s the deregulated farm sectors like corn, wheat and beef that are hollowing out Canada’s farming communities due to farm consolidation. Many of Canada’s fisheries are facing the same pressures.

Fishing licenses are meant to share access to the bounty that grows wild in the ocean and lakes. In most all fisheries the license places limits in the form of the total seasonal quota the combined fishery is permitted to harvest, and at the same time, leaving it wide open to which vessels will secure the greatest share of the quota. Hence, spurring on demand among license owners for larger vessels and more efficient technology. In most cases, being a bigger boat just means you get home sooner. Similar to farming, we incentify fishers to constantly modernize their vessels, squeezing out those without deep pockets.

When Atlantic Canadian commercial fishers were forced to stop fishing for cod, few other options remained. Lobster licenses can only be secured when an existing license holder exits the industry. Pressure mounted on other fish species such as dog fish, striped bass, halibut and flounder, all of which stocks were quickly harvested beyond their sustainable limits. The saviour for a few came in the form of snow crab, the licenses for which were allocated using a lottery. I’m told about one-in-three subscribers to these license lotteries during the mid-1990’s came away with a license. These lucky few could fish for 24 hours and come back with $10,000 in snow crab, and that was 30 years ago. The season was short, but long enough that license holders were earning six figure incomes, while those fishers without licenses faced hard times and welfare. It wasn’t hard to point out who among the small fishing communities scored the snow crab licenses by their new trucks and home renovations. Ten years later lobster fishers in Atlantic Canada were being offered $1 million for their licenses by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who in turn distributed the licenses to First Nations fishers along with boats, traps and other equipment purchased from the exiting lobster fishers.

These government-controlled assignments and redistributions of wealth at the community level may seem unreal but are very much associated with the socio-economic sustainability of Canada’s coastal fishing communities. And while all this is taking place, others with the means have been busy consolidating their wealth by acquiring through purchase or lease the fishing licenses of others, and purchasing larger in-shore fishing vessels required to harvest their growing share of the resource.

Canada may have already passed the point where it can reel back in the consolidation of the fishing industry. It’s also the case that fewer people are interested in fishing as a career due to its inherent risks – commercial fishers have the highest rate of accidental death compared to all other professions in Canada. Just like Canada’s agriculture-based communities, the fortune of coastal fishing communities seem to be experiencing a similar fate.

I’m not an economist and I don’t pretend to have the answers. Even economists won’t predict the future. But I will say that for a country that possesses the longest coastline in the world and shares the most valuable freshwater fishery in the world with the U.S., doesn’t it make sense that we don’t want everyone moving to the cities? Who will be left to watch over and harvest the fish.

We know from experience that we can’t assume that fishers will self-regulate their harvest. It means departments such as DFO need to work collaboratively with both First Nations and non-indigenous communities, and undertake and share the science needed to create the regulations, quotas and systems for overseeing small-scale fisheries. Just as importantly, the evolution of fish harvesting technologies means reaching agreement on where to draw the line, including putting a stop to the consolidation of licenses and quotas. Maybe follow through with the proposal that license holders are aboard the boat doing the fishing? It’s not rocket science.

A last thought concerning what we can learn from Canada’s agriculture sector. Even though the numbers of farms in Canada is shrinking each year, there is growth among the number of farms that generate less than $100,000 in annual sales. These are new farms started by people under 35 years of age, and who are meeting the growing demand for community supported agriculture. We are beginning to see a similar increase in small-scale fishers participating in community supported seafood. These aren’t the people producing boxes of inexpensive fish sticks, but just maybe it’s a sign that the seafood sector is beginning to swing back to producing seafood that’s sustainably harvested, fairly priced, and authentic.

As always, the above aren’t all my thoughts and ideas. I benefit from being able to speak with those with expertise and experience. Such is the case with the new e-book I had the honor of contributing to “Thinking Big about Small-Scale Fisheries in Canada” edited by Evan J. Andrews and Christine Knott.

The book’s forward, prepared by Ratana Chuenpagdee of “Too Big to Ignore”, , , states “Thinking Big about Small-Scale Fisheries is a collection of stories and evidence that can help address the misconception about small-scale fisheries. By virtue, the book is a proof that small-scale fisheries, both Indigenous and non-indigenous, do exist in all Canada’s oceans, coastal and freshwater ecosystems. The chapters illustrate why small-scale fisheries in Canada matter. The contributors provide compelling arguments of why better management and governance of small-scale fisheries is imperative, especially for the overall sustainability.”

Link below to listen to my conversation with the book’s co-editor Evan J. Andrews, and Kristen Lowitt, one of several co-authors of the chapter I contributed to “Declining Fish Health and the Communities Impacted: Insights from the Great Lakes Fish Health Network”, on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/e432-thinking-big-about-small-scale-fisheries–58908077

The book “Thinking Big about Small-Scale Fisheries in Canada” is free and can be accessed at:

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


COVID-19 reduced recreational fishing effort during the black bass spawning season, resulting in increases in black bass reproductive success and annual recruitment / ScienceDirect
In Opinicon Lake, Ontario during two non-pandemic years (2019 and 2022) the hook-wounding rates from recreational angling observed among nesting male largemouth bass Micropterus salmonids (LMB), and nesting male smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu (SMB), were quite high, but typical of those observed in the lake over the last 20 years of monitoring. That level of illegal, preseason angling resulted in very low percentages of both LMB and SMB nesting males being successful at raising their broods to independence, rates comparable to those observed for this lake in previous years. In 2020 and 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, access to fishing in Ontario was severely limited during the bass spawning season, which serendipitously provided a natural “whole-lake bass spawning sanctuary” to study. Not surprisingly, the hook-wounding rates for nesting male LMB and SMB in Opinicon Lake were the lowest rates ever observed over the last 30+ years. Concomitantly, the percentage of nesting male LMB and SMB that were successful at raising their broods to independence was approximately 3–4 times greater than that in the non-COVID years. Not unexpectedly, those increases in nesting success translated to similar increases in LMB and SMB reproductive success (production of post parental care, independent fry). More importantly, those increases further resulted in large increases in the annual recruitment of both LMB and SMB. This unanticipated COVID-driven experiment revealed that using bass spawning sanctuaries would be more efficient than closed seasons as a management strategy to conserve levels of black bass annual recruitment.

Unintentionally caught Chinook salmon contributes to population depletion / 1170 KPUG-AM
Chinook salmon native to the Nooksack, Skagit and other regional rivers were among thousands wasted as commercial fishers’ bycatch off the coast of Vancouver Island.

Thousands sign petition calling for longer N.L. recreational food fishery
A petition calling for a much longer recreational food fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador has collected more than 2,200 signatures.


New fisheries science shows that big muskies eat almost anything / Outdoor Canada
For muskies, perch were the most important item, but they only accounted for about a quarter of the diet. Suckers and invertebrates each accounted for about 10%. And then bullheads, northern pike, bass and sunfish all made up about 5% of the diet.

‘Silent extinction’ feared for steelhead trout across B.C. / Kamloops BC Now
Steelhead trout numbers are staggeringly low across B.C., and conservationists are concerned a lack of data is only making matters worse.

New details emerge about fish die-off in Cowichan River last summer / Chek News
The provincial and federal governments say multiple factors led to the fish die-off in Cowichan River last summer.

Good news for salmon recovery in Petitcodiac River / CBC
After 14 years of working to restore the Atlantic salmon population in New Brunswick’s Petitcodiac River and its tributaries, things are looking up for Atlantic Salmon. A new bridge is making it easier for fish to swim upstream, and juvenile populations are now on the rise.Habitat:

A recent study reveals alarming levels of toxic medicinal drugs in the St. Lawrence River / Freshwater Future
A recent study reveals alarming levels of toxic medicinal drugs like caffeine and ibuprofen in water and sediment samples in the St. Lawrence River. The pollution originates from wastewater treatment plants and poses immediate risks to the health of both the river and its aquatic life.

A voyage into a vanishing Arctic world / The Guardian
The abundance of diverse life in the Arctic Ocean is mesmerizing, especially given the cold and dark conditions. From filter-feeding feather stars to spoon worms with meter-long tongues, a variety of marine creatures call these waters home, and scientists are racing to determine how climate change is affecting one of the world’s least-explored seas.

Balancing act: A policy success story in the Great Lakes / Michigan Sea Grant
Implementing the “swish and spit” method successfully reduced the risk of AIS introductions from transoceanic ballast water. Since 2006, there have been no confirmed introductions of AIS to the Great Lakes through ballast water exchange. This rare success story is an example of what can happen when scientists, policy makers, regulators, and industries work together to find solutions.

Invasive earthworms are reshaping North American ecosystems / Earth.Com
According to a new study led by Stanford University, at least 70 species of invasive earthworms have made their way into North American soil. Non-native earthworms have begun to stress native plants, trees, and wildlife by altering soil properties and encouraging the spread of invasive plant species.

Why Fraser River oil spill took nearly 3 months to start cleaning / Narwhal
A landslide in early December caused a spill that First Nations leaders say endangers prime sturgeon habitat in the Fraser River. The spill was triggered by a landslide that knocked over a tanker truck container on the slope of the company’s rock quarry, impacting prime sturgeon habitat, according to Takoda Castonguay, community support assistant with the Emergency Planning Secretariat, an organization supporting rapid response for 31 Coast Salish First Nations. First Nations waited nearly three months for cleanup to begin, leaving them with concerns about B.C.’s emergency response regulations.

Report on uses of Great Lakes waters in 2022 / Great Lakes Commission
A recent report released by the GLC found that 40.8 billion gallons of water per day were withdrawn from the Great Lakes basin in 2022, about a 3% decrease from 2021 withdrawals. Considering both consumptive use and diversions, the basin gained a total of 869 million gallons per day in 2022.

Superior: The Warming of the World’s Largest Lake
Lake Superior holds ten percent of the world’s surface freshwater. While Superior is known for its shockingly cold water (making swimming a thrill), it is one of the fastest-warming lakes in the world. A new documentary “Sea Change for Superior: The Warming of the World’s Largest Lake” discusses the history of this great lake and its watershed, perspectives from Indigenous communities and how the changing climate is affecting the lake.


How First Nations are taking the lead in saving Alberta’s trout / Outdoor Canada
Better known as the Rocky Mountains, Miistakis has been sacred to countless generations of Niitsitapi, the Blackfoot people. Extending from the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River south to Yellowstone country, the “backbone of the world” is the source of almost all the usable water in Canada’s prairies. It’s also home to some of the country’s best surviving stocks of westslope cutthroat and bull trout, two native fish species that are sought-after by anglers, but at increasing risk of extirpation.

First Nations group criticizes federal fish policies, conflict of interest in B.C / Vancouver Sun
The First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance says the federal Fisheries Department is mired in a conflict of interest stemming from its dual regulatory and promotional responsibilities. The Alliance’s chairman Bob Chamberlin described it as like “marking your own homework.”

B.C. First Nation suing Canadian government over fishery closure / Salmon Arm Observer
Heiltsuk Nation on B.C.’s central coast is suing the Canadian government over a 2022 decision by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that banned the nation from its commercial harvest of herring spawn-on-kelp (SOK) fishery.

Canada proposes shutdown of troubled Maritime elver fishery in 2024 / CBC
The federal government has served notice it intends to close the commercial fishery for baby eels, or elvers, in the Maritimes this year — six weeks before the season is set to open. Last year, hundreds of unauthorized fishers flooded to rivers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick eager to cash in. Many were Indigenous harvesters claiming they were exercising their treaty rights to fish and did not require government approval.

Yukon First Nations, advocates push for chinook salmon protection at parliamentary committee / CBC
Yukon River chinook salmon competing against teaming hatchery pinks for food in the ocean, the territorial and the federal governments passing the buck to each other and mining and hydroelectric dams killing the fish — those are just a few of the problems delegates raised.


Meet Tiare Boyes, the harvester-artist championing sustainability in the fishing industry / West Coast Now
The second-generation fisherman is an artist, photographer, diver and environmentalist.


The book “Thinking Big about Small-Scale Fisheries in Canada” is free and can be accessed at: https://tbtiglobal.net/book-release-thinking-big-about-small-scale-fisheries-in-canada/


Thinking Big about Small-Scale Fisheries in Canada / The Blue Fish Radio Show
The E-book is a collection of stories and evidence that can help address the misconception about small-scale fisheries in Canada. Link below to listen to Lawrence Gunther in conversation with the book’s co-editor Evan J. Andrews, and Kristen Lowitt who co-authored the chapter “Declining Fish Health and the Communities Impacted: Insights from the Great Lakes Fish Health Network”, on The Blue Fish Radio Show.


How Humans Affected the Spread of Zebra Mussels / ISC
Over the past 35 years Zebra Mussels have invaded 33 US states and have spread from the Canadian border to the Mississippi river delta. These small invasive mollusks cause large amounts of ecological and economical damage every year. Once established in an environment they quickly outcompete native species, foul water systems, and cause infrastructure damage. During this presentation, our guest presenter Erin Sanchez will show how the human influence of water vessels affected the spread of Zebra mussels across the United States.

Webinar Recording:

Connecting the Dots on Assessing and Reporting Ecological Health in the Great Lakes Region / Latornell Conservation Symposium
Discover how watersheds are assessed using science-based data at different scales. Brought to you by Conservation Ontario, Credit Valley Conservation, and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Calls to Action:

‘Water You Thinking About the Great Lakes?’ / IJC
Latest IJC Great Lakes Water Quality Board Poll seeks public opinions in a new online poll about the Great Lakes, water quality issues and other topics related to restoring and protecting this unique freshwater system. Take the poll by March 15.

Coming Up:

Evaluating the Ecological Impacts of Waves and Shoreline Erosion on Nearshore Habitat in the St. Lawrence River / Science and Nature
Join the St. Lawrence River Institute for Science + Nature on March 13th at 6:45 Eastern at the Cornwall Public Library or virtually over Facebook to learn about wave cycle science and its relationship to shoreline erosion and aquatic habitat quality. For the last two years, the Great River Network, River Institute, University of Ottawa, South Nation Conservation, and the Raisin Region Conservation Authority have been working together to gain a better understanding of wave action and its impacts on our shorelines.

Special Guest Feature – Halls of Fame Inductees


Gord Ellis has a 30-year career spanning many facets of outdoor communication. He’s written several thousand articles as the senior editor of Ontario Out of Doors, columnist for Northern Wild and a frequent contributor to Quebec’s Sentier Chasse Peche. Ellis is also a fishing guide, popular seminar presenter and a familiar voice on CBC radio in Thunder Bay as a reporter, newsreader and outdoor columnist.

Andy Pallotta is a well-known figure in Canadian sportfishing industry circles, Pallotta is the president of Canadian Outdoor Sport Shows Inc, a family run operation. Involvement includes more than 65 events a year, such as consumer shows and tournament fishing events across Ontario, including the Spring Fishing and Boat Show.

Tom Brooke receives prestigious Rick Amsbury Award of Excellence!

Retired Shimano executive Tom Brooke is recognized for his lifetime contributions to sportfishing and fisheries conservation. In particular, Brooke is lauded for his contributions to tournament fishing in Canada by leading the charge to find better handling methods of fish, and the introduction of live-release boats, the Water Weigh In system and other procedures to reduce fish mortality.

Highlighting leaders in conservation, sportsmanship, and angling excellence / IGFA
International Game Fish Association Announces Prestigious 2024 Annual Awards Recipients. Highlighting leaders in conservation, sportsmanship, and angling excellence. This year’s award winners include Canada’s own world-renowned distinguished aquatic conservation professor Dr. Steven J. Cooke. Dr. Cooke has diverse interests in integrative biology, conservation science, and natural resource management. His work spans the natural and social sciences with a particular focus on developing solutions to problems facing fish and other aquatic organisms. Specific projects of late have focused on issues and topics such as fish migration, fish-hydropower interactions, the sustainability of recreational fisheries, aquatic habitat restoration, the movement ecology of fish, the ecology of stress in wild fish, and winter biology. He has also been deeply involved with defining the new discipline of “conservation physiology” – a field dedicated to understanding the mechanisms underlying conservation problems.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: As the Chair of the Great Lakes Fish Health Network, I’m fortunate to be in the company of a team of terrific scientists and advocates who care about Great Lakes water quality and fish health. Not only do fish live in water, they are made up of about 80% water, making it especially important that the water they breathe, drink, harvest their food from, and absorb can both support life and provide a relatively stress-free existence. Having said this, we often measure the quality of a fish’s life by its ability to provide humans with food that won’t cause health impacts – healthy fish, healthy us – one health. To be sure, scientists are hard at work measuring fish health for both their and our benefit. But, can we truly depend on the quality and reliability of this research? A new report just published questions whether fish consumption advisories are telling us everything we need to know. The report was prepared by a number of us who contribute to the Great Lakes Fish Health Network; a summary of the report is the feature article in this edition of the Blue Fish News. And if that’s not enough, our guest contribution concerns a second recently released report that looks into Awareness of Impacts of Toxic Substances in the Great Lakes. Two report summaries, plus all the latest fishing, fish and habitat news, and a special podcast featuring the amazing artist Nick Mayer!

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther holding a Yellow Perch on the St. Lawrence River

This Week’s Feature – Navigating the tricky waters of fish consumption advisories in the Upper St. Lawrence River

by K. Lowitt, A. Francis, L. Gunther, B.N. Madison, L. McGaughey, A. Echendu, M. Kaur, K.A. Roussel, Z. St Pierre, and A. Weppler.

Fishing in the St Lawrence River is a practice undertaken by thousands of anglers each year and deeply tied to the lifeways of Indigenous peoples. Fish consumption advisories (FCAs) are public guidance intended to help all fishers make informed decisions about the safe consumption of their catch. However, what happens if there are multiple advisories in place in a watershed? Such is the case in the Upper St Lawrence River, which spans the traditional territory of multiple Indigenous Nations as well as the jurisdictions of Ontario, Quebec and New York State.

Our research examined the similarities and differences in FCA programs across jurisdictions in the Upper St Lawrence River.

We find an overall lack of coordination in fish monitoring and differences in consumption advice for a waterway in which fish, contaminants, and fishers all move across political borders. For example, for yellow perch caught from the St. Lawrence River in Ontario where mercury is the dominant contaminant of concern, the general population is advised to consume up to eight to 32 meals per month (depending on the size of the fish) and children/women of childbearing age (i.e., sensitive population) are advised to consume up to four to 16 meals. However, across the river in New York State, the general population is advised to eat only up to four meals per month of yellow perch and children/women of childbearing age are advised “Do Not Eat” due to concern of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Differing guidance can be confusing for fishers and make it difficult for individuals and communities to make decisions that affect their health. Importantly, not everyone bears the impacts of contaminated fish evenly. Women of childbearing age, children, anglers who rely on recreationally caught fish for food security, and Indigenous communities are disproportionately affected by the health and cultural risks of contaminated fish. FCAs also generally do not consider the risks or benefits of different eating practices. Indigenous communities, for example, have traditionally eaten a greater range of parts of the fish (e.g., skin, organs) in addition to the flesh, and these parts can have different contaminant loads.

Moving forward, we recommend four key steps for improving FCAs: (1) developing a shared and transparent approach to monitoring fish and contaminants, (2) integrating cultural food practices, (3) conducting more outreach with angler populations, and (4) upholding the self-determination of Indigenous communities in the development and communication of FCAs.

Link below to read the paper
Governing for transboundary environmental justice: a scientific and policy analysis of fish consumption advisory programs in the Upper St Lawrence River

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Hundreds of jobs, industry stability at stake in pending Atlantic Canada fishery decision / CBC
The Trudeau government is poised to allocate fishing access to the massive redfish population in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the end of the month, a highly anticipated decision generating both dread and hope throughout the industry in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Seabed Trawling May Be Spewing Huge Amounts of CO2 Into the Atmosphere / Smithsonian Magazine
A study published last week in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science finds that bottom trawling releases as much as 370 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, roughly double the greenhouse gas emissions from the fossil fuels burned by the world’s fishing fleets. When the heavy fishing gear is dragged across the seafloor, it stirs up long-buried carbon, which microbes convert into carbon dioxide. The study also found that about 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide released into the water stays there. In enclosed seas, like the Mediterranean, it can cause local ocean acidification, which can weaken and dissolve the shells of crabs and sea urchins and hamper the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon.


Salmon, The Masters of Adaptation / SkeenaWild Conservation Trust
In the research recently published in Global Change Biology, Dr. Price and colleagues at Simon Fraser University and Fisheries and Oceans Canada used 100-year-old salmon and climate data to report that a variety of lake habitats in the Skeena watershed is fostering a diversity of responses by salmon to climate change.

Citizen science-based initiative monitoring salmon to continue at Pender Harbour / My Coast Now
A citizen science-based initiative is gathering oceanographic data in the Salish Sea to learn more about salmon return changes in B.C. and Washington State.

New round of grants awarded to community-led salmon conservation / PSF
The Pacific Salmon Foundation Community Salmon Program has awarded $792,304 in grants to advance 65 community-led salmon restoration, education, and stewardship projects across B.C. and the Yukon. For more than three decades, the Community Salmon Program has empowered volunteers, local streamkeepers, Indigenous communities, and schools to take proactive measures to recover Pacific salmon and their habitats.

2024 Atlantic salmon and striped bass management / ASF
There is a smolt survival crisis in the Miramichi estuary. Smolt leave the river system at precisely the time when half a million predatory striped bass aggregate in the estuary to stage for spawning. During the last two springs (2022 and 2023), less than 5% of acoustically tagged smolt from the Northwest Miramichi survived through the estuary. The results manifested clearly at the Northwest Miramichi conservation barrier in 2023, with only 6 grilse returns, down 98% since 2011.

Can Animals Evolve Fast Enough to Keep Up with Climate Change? / Hakai
“Many creatures have a surprising capacity to cope,” says Sarah Diamond, an evolutionary ecologist at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Ohio. The traditional conception of evolution presents it as a gradual process, slowly shaping organisms over hundreds or thousands of years. In some cases, however, species can adapt much more quickly. Research conducted over the past couple of decades has shown that evolution can occur on timescales similar to those of climate change. By figuring out what factors set the speed of evolution, scientists are hoping to identify what conditions give animals the best chances of keeping pace with the rapidly changing world.

Ocean sunfish are odd, gentle giants
The ocean sunfish or Mola mola is a large and odd-looking fish. Large specimens can reach 14 feet (4 m) vertically and 10 feet (3 m) from mouth to fan-shaped “tail.” And they can weigh nearly 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg). They appear to be newcomers to the planet. Scientists think they’re one of the most recent fish in the sea.


Freshwater invasive species are pointing B.C. towards catastrophe / Georgia Straight
Incredibly destructive freshwater invasive species are pounding on B.C.’s door, but the federal government and energy utilities with everything to lose seem oddly unconcerned, writes B.C. Wildlife Federation executive director Jesse Zeman.

Adventures in West Coast Kelp Farming / Tyee
Fall in Prince William Sound, Alaska, is a stormy affair, with rain, wind, falling temperatures and diminishing daylight. But for kelp farmers like Skye Steritz, it’s a time to be outdoors in rubber boots and rain gear, prepping for the winter growing season. This includes long hours of what Steritz calls “line work,” the labour of stretching lines and building the floating arrays that by spring will support thousands of kilograms of kelp.

Can recreational fishing and offshore wind farms coexist? A resounding ‘yes’ / Angling International
When developed responsibly, offshore-wind power can coexist with — and even improve — fishing along the East Coast. Offshore-wind power can benefit recreational anglers if developed with our input in mind. In addition to reducing the carbon emissions that are driving climate change, the turbine structures will provide hundreds of fishable artificial reefs and current breaks that will attract numerous fish species.

Unsettled Pacific Ocean Offers Few Clear Indicators for Salmon Success in 2024 / NOAA
Researchers at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center track key ocean indicators, such as seawater temperature and salinity, and the number and types of tiny crustaceans called copepods. These indicators correlate with juvenile salmon growth and survival—and how many adults will return to rivers to spawn. The ocean indicators of juvenile salmon survival reflect a rapidly changing ocean that is tough to predict.

Ontario’s Greenhouse Sector is A Fuel for Harmful Algae in Lake Erie / Narwhal
Harmful and toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie triggered an agreement by the Ontario, Michigan, and Ohio state and provincial governments to reduce phosphorus pollution by 40% to the lake. Unfortunately, one of the inputs of phosphorus appears to be the proliferation of vegetable and cannabis greenhouses in southwestern Ontario. A study by the local Conservation Authority found that phosphorus levels in Leamington, Ontario streams are 100 to 200 times higher than the provincial target and were more concentrated in streams with greenhouses. The provincial Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has handed out few regulatory actions for violators of environmental protection laws concerning management of nutrients in recent years. Enforcing existing regulations on agricultural operations is essential to reduce the pollution to Lake Erie.


Four Manitoba First Nations sign historic conservation agreement / Narwhal
Four First Nations in Manitoba have signed a historic memorandum of understanding, a step toward the creation of an Indigenous protected area in the pristine 50,000-square-kilometre Seal River Watershed region. The pristine 50,000-square-kilometre Seal River Watershed region would be the province’s first federally recognized Indigenous protected area.


Yamaha buys Torqeedo
DEUTZ sells Torqeedo to strategic investor Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. DEUTZ today announced a further milestone in the repositioning of its portfolio as part of its Dual+ strategy: Torqeedo, the world’s leading manufacturer of outboard and inboard drives, will be sold to Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. (“Yamaha”).

Art / Books:

Nick Mayer is a successful artist who focusses on painting fresh and saltwater fish in-and around North America. His work is so highly regarded even your spouse will appreciate it on your walls. Nic also features his art in books like: a book to read to the kids NEW Fish ABCs an Angler’s Journal and a Wild Oceans Coloring Book and more. He’s an artist who loves to paint as much as he enjoys fishing. Check out his art at: Nick Mayer Art


It’s always a pleasure to speak with artists who have a focus on fish on The Blue Fish Radio Show. Nick Mayer has been earning his living full time painting fish and related fish art, and judging from the reaction in my own home, a truly extraordinary artist. His mission is to connect people with nature through appreciating it’s beauty. Not only does Nick paint, but he’s caught over 75 species of fish on a fly rod including sailfish, sharks, tarpon and muskie. You can learn more about Nick’s work at: https://www.nickmayerart.com.

Enjoy the podcast as Nick and I discuss his journey from marine biologist to successful artist: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/e425-nick-mayer-on-painting-fish-for-a-living–584941855


Guichon Creek daylighting and fish ladder / Global News
Many urban streams, like Guichon Creek, face obstacles to fish passage and the poorly designed culverts and spillways can be every bit as damaging to the movement of fish as large dams. The building of a new urban fishway through an old spillway (or small dam) in the midst of greater Vancouver addressed one of these concerns. The British Columbia Institute of Technology, a renowned local construction firm, and river advocate Mark Angelo made it a reality.


Scientists and Local Champions:

Destination Northern Ontario is set to restructure its Product Development teams in 2024. As we look to the future, we are asking stakeholders to engage in two virtual meetings for Product Development per year and participate in focused sessions during the Northern Ontario Summit (NOTS). The working group will collaborate and share their collective knowledge on how best to approach the enhancement and expansion of the sustainable tourism opportunity by exploring:

  • Develop and promote eco-friendly tourism initiatives.
  • Highlight sustainable practices to preserve Northern Ontario’s natural beauty.

Please get in touch with m.boyd@destinationnorthernontario.ca

Bass Fishing HOF Continues Scholarship Program / Best on Tour
The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame (BFHOF) is proud to announce the second year of its Fishery Management Scholarship Program. Recognizing the critical role of fishery management professionals in ensuring the health and vibrancy of bass fisheries across the U.S. and Canada, this program aims to provide financial support and encouragement to high school and college bass anglers pursuing careers in this vital field. Up to $15,000 will be awarded in June 2024 to selected applicants. Applications are now open and can be submitted through the BFHOF website.

Coming Up:

Special Guest Feature – Exploring Awareness of Impacts of Toxic Substances in the Great Lakes Basin: Voices from the Underserved and Underrepresented Communities

Canadian Environmental Law Association

There are communities and individuals in the Great Lakes basin who disproportionately bear the negative impacts associated with toxic pollution. The voices of these communities and individuals are usually left out of environmental policy and processes designed to address the impacts of toxic pollution in the Great Lakes.  The lack of involvement makes these communities vulnerable to environmental injustices, because of the lack of their representation. The absence of special consideration of the impacts facing people who are underserved and underrepresented weakens the efforts to curb the negative impacts from toxic pollution in the Great Lakes basin.

The authors of the report conducted an inventory of some existing mechanisms and approaches used to share science, specifically, chemical-related information with marginalized communities. They also organized and facilitated small focus group discussions with various marginalized community members to engage and collect specific information related to awareness and information needs related to chemical exposure, risk, fish consumption advisories and other chemical-related information.

Results generated by the focus groups revealed that The impacts of toxics on the local economy, primary industries such as fishing, human health, especially children’s health were widely held concerns. Toxic pollution impacts on nonhuman species were also a concern for many participants. Most participants who conveyed their concerns about water safety questioned if the water was safe to drink, and if the fish were safe to eat.

The report’s authors point out that many of the recommendations they put forward in their report apply to all of us, i.e., academic institutions, government, non-government environmental organizations, industry etc.

Report recommendations include the need to work jointly with underserved and underrepresented communities to find the best ways to increase awareness of and discuss solutions to improve communication. The report recommends that improving communications should include working in partnership with the communities they are to be used, and that information be provided that is of greatest relevance to the particular community. It should also be  publicly accessible and easy to locate, contain timely up-to-date information, and present data in a jargon free manner, without acronyms, without use of technical unexplained terms, etc. Focus group participants also requested that information be provided in a variety of depths, formats and languages, and that it include interactive types of tools including components specially designed for children and youth.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Along with all of you, we here at Blue Fish Canada are patiently waiting for ice to firm up and winter fishing to begin. But, that doesn’t mean we have been busy twiddling our thumbs. Along with ice fishing, we need to fit into winter time for grant writing, event calendar planning, and sponsorship reporting and renewal. Yup, 2024 is underway even though all outward signs would suggest otherwise. And before I forget, thank you all for sharing your words of encouragement and appreciation, it made the teams’ taking off a few weeks to be with family and friends that much more special!

Photo of Fortress Louisburg located on Cape Breton Island on the north-eastern tip of Nova Scotia

This Week’s Feature – Ownership of Canada’s Shorelines and Responsibility for Fish Stewardship

Prepared by President Lawrence Gunther

In 1986 I purchased a half-acre on Catalone Gut in Cape Breton Nova Scotia and took possession of what to me was my first shoreline property. I remember the lawyer I hired to close the deal telling me, “There’s only so much shoreline, and once it’s all purchased it’s gone.” Of course, I was more interested in the fish that I imagined living beneath the waves of the brackish water that began where the mouth of the Catalone River broadened out to 1.5 km in width for a 5 km stretch before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. It didn’t take long before I was obsessed with learning the habitats and seasonal movements of the Brook Trout, Pollock, Cod and Atlantic Salmon that lived in, or migrated through the gut between the ocean and the river. Fish aside, I was also curious about the history of the area and who may have spent time on my 70 meters of shoreline before me?

Catalone Gut had no more than a couple dozen shoreline property owners, most of us having purchased our lots from descendants of a family that homesteaded a quarter section of land over 100 years earlier, and then subdivided the land to sell off the more lucrative shoreline lots. It was a legal process established to encourage settlers to generate economic activity on what the government considered to be unused land, and led to more complex legal transactions that further deepened legal title to these properties, as well as wealth generation by their further development and sale. It all seemed completely legitimate at the time. I was led to believe that my purchase made me the second owner of a small piece of Canada’s wilderness, which technically may have been the case, but which we have now come to realize isn’t necessarily the truth.

I always suspected deep-down that surely there must have been others who followed this shoreline either by foot or canoe, and quite possibly have occupied the land at some point. After-all, France had established Fortress Louisburg as its centre for governance and trade in Atlantic Canada in 1713 just 20 kilometers away.

Throughout my 14-years of owning land and a cabin in Cape Breton, a First Nations man named Donald Marshall was in the news a lot. First, with his being wrongly found guilty and sentenced for murder, and then charged in 1983, a year after being released from prison, with harvesting and selling fish out of season and without a license. Twice in his life Donald Marshall would have criminal charges over-turned, culminating in his securing a Supreme Court victory in 1999 reaffirming his right to fish commercially. Donald’s latest victory was based on his being a member of a Mi’kmaq First Nation community located on Cape Breton that had entered into a treaty with the Crown in 1760 affirming their right to fish and hunt. His Supreme Court ruling paved the way for indigenous people across Canada to earn a “moderate” commercial livelihood from fishing and hunting, subject only to conservation requirements.

What happened to Donald and his seemingly impossible fight in one court after another signified the beginning of a seismic shift in how non-indigenous commercial fishers could engage in commercial fisheries in Canada from which they and their ancestors had prospered for over 500 years. Ironically, it was seven years before Donald’s supreme court decision was handed down that the Atlantic Cod fishery had collapsed and was shut down, throwing tens-of-thousands of Atlantic Canadians out of work, myself included.

The First Nations Mi’kmaq people who live in Nova Scotia, for the most part, exist separate from the vast majority of the descendants of those who began arriving following John Cabot’s arrival in Cape Breton in 1487. It’s a disconnection that settlers seldom spoke about until Donald Marshall won his Supreme Court ruling, and now with reconciliation. The socio-economic divide between Cape Breton’s Mi’kmaq and settlers reminded me in several ways of my own challenges at the time.

Despite my spending 14 summers in Cape Breton and making many friends, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was never fully accepted as a member of the community. I came to learn that being regarded as “from away” was not unique to Cape Breton, but an experience I shared with others who visited or moved to Atlantic Canada – people who did not possess deep local family ties in the region. Sure, I made friends, but seldom received invitations to community celebrations. And, when I spoke to others from away who moved to the area to work, I was told that taking a job from a local often led to being “black-balled”, a term describing the social isolation of being physically acknowledged but socially excluded.

I also understand what it is like to be stereotyped. As a person without sight, my own position and value within society is often regarded as inconsequential, or worse, a drain on community resources. Thankfully, technology has allowed me to assimilate into the mainstream of society by becoming recognized as a contributor. Eliminating exclusionary practices such as residential schools for the blind and the adoption of Canada’s Charter of Rights and freedoms in 1982 have also facilitated the mainstream socio-economic integration of people like me with disabilities.

Learning about the arrival of European settlers to Cape Breton, or what was once referred to by the French as Port Royal, is explained in part by historic actors hired to animate Eastern Canada’s largest living museum, Fortress Louisburg. I was a frequent visitor to the fort to learn how settlers lived over 250 years before my arrival in the area. Much of the Fortress within the walls had been restored, but other than one stone home meant to replicate the typical housing of a Cod fisher, nothing was rebuilt outside of the fortress walls. References to Mi’kmaq people who traded with fortress settlers were sparse. As with the textbooks I was provided in school, few details were shared about indigenous people throughout North America.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Abraham Francis, a Mohawk from the First Nations community of Akwesasne located on the St. Lawrence River near Cornwall Ontario. Abraham and I talked about his people’s historic relationship to the land, the water and the game, and how this all suddenly and relatively recently changed. First with the introduction of settlers and the wars they brought to the region, and then the environmental impacts heavy industry had on the land and water. Abraham explained how toxins were introduced into the land and water had forced his people to turn away from the water. To suspend their reliance on fish for food and trade due to health warnings over fish consumption.

Having grown up in a culture that defined itself on land and home ownership and the right to private property, I find it difficult to imagine what it was like to live the blend of nomadic and community life Abe described. Yes, I stir my deeply imbedded internal feelings of provider when I fish, but I come from ancestors who strove to own land and to farm.

Both my parents were born on farms in Europe. My father’s family lived as farmers in Ukraine for three generations, and were then displaced during World War II, resulting in my family’s farm being seized and my father’s father being sent to Siberia. At age 18 my father found work on a farm where he met my mother. That farm would eventually belong to my mother’s younger brother, so my father and mother moved to Canada to start over yet again.

I learned to understand what my father lived through, and I think this helps me to understand what indigenous people in Canada must feel. The difference is my father was able to relocate, start over, and not experience systemic discrimination even though he came from away. Indigenous people not only lost their land but have faced all manner of discrimination for hundreds of years. We are only just starting to gain awareness of what this all entails.

Link below to listen to my conversation with Abraham Frances, environmental scientists, Mohawk of Akwesasne, on The Blue Fish Radio Show. Abe is sorting through what happened to his people who have lived for thousands of years along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. He’s working hard to restore and rebuild his community and their connection to the land, water and fish. https://www.spreaker.com/episode/e423-abe-frances-on-mohawk-fn-connections-to-fish-and-fishing–58298561

Our contamination of fishes in the St. Lawrence River, whether intentional or not, have seriously undermined the Mohawk’s people’s way of life, similar to how the collapse of the cod fishery in Atlantic Canada ended 500 years of small-scale local fisheries. Expecting Mohawk people to turn their backs on the river after thousands of years due to the legacy of heavy industrial activity is similar to our forcing the closure of coastal communities in Atlantic Canada due to large-scale industrial over-fishing, it’s just wrong and should never have happened. In order to rectify these injustices, we also need to sort out who owns and controls which land and resources.

The current system of reservations and crown land fails to acknowledge indigenous rights and treaties. Donald Marshall may have established a precedent overfishing rights, but this too needs to be interpreted and implemented more widely as excluding indigenous fishers from commercial fisheries is another on-going injustice.

Many difficult discussions still to be had, but good relations mean having such conversations. All this would be made easier if we knew more about indigenous people, their culture, values and history, something that’s still sorely lacking in our schools and throughout Canada.

Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis of small-scale fisheries, their social, economic and conservation benefits, and why reconciliation isn’t a simple matter of turning over industrial-scale fisheries to indigenous-led incorporations if we are going to establish strong and sustainable commercial fishing opportunities throughout Canada. Many indigenous leaders acknowledge that establishing truly sustainable commercial fisheries will take a “two-eye” perspective, which sounds to me like a pretty good place to start. Finding commonality is another.

The Latest Fishing, fish Health and Fish Habitat News


In Canada, women-only ice fishing is about more than fish / CS Monitor
Ice fishing in North America traces back about 2,000 years to Indigenous communities, but for the last century has been a sport dominated by men. Now groups like Ontario Women Anglers are introducing more women to the beauties of the “hard water,” in an extreme embrace of winter. “Being on a frozen lake is kind of like walking on the moon. When the ice is building, it’s actually an audible noise that kind of sounds like whales,” says Capt. Barb Carey, who founded Wisconsin Women Fish because all of this felt inaccessible to women at one time.

Find Aerated Lakes Near You / ACA
The Alberta Conservation Association has created a map that showcases the combined stocking efforts of ACA and Alberta Environment and Protected Areas. With over 130 lakes and ponds stocked with trout across Alberta, you can easily find an ice fishing haven near you. Did you know that Alberta has over 20 aerated lakes across the province that are stocked with trout? Aeration can weaken the ice layer causing open areas of water. Please do not approach the open water surrounding the aerators. Swimming in your winter clothes is not recommended!

Great Lakes ice season off to slowest start in 50 years of records / USA Today
It’s the slowest beginning to ice formation in 50 years of recordkeeping, with an infinitesimal coverage of less than 1% on Jan. 1, since researchers began officially measuring Great Lakes ice cover  in 1973, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario were completely devoid of ice, while just 0.1 percent of Lake Michigan was covered. Lake Superior had ice covering 1 percent of its surface. The lakes typically hit their peak ice concentration in February or early March. This year, they’re under the influence of a strong El Niño, bringing a short-term warming trend to the region, but scientists say evidence of the long-term climate change also can be seen in the region’s ice formation trends. Already this winter two ice-related fatalities have been reported in Minnesota and dozens of fishers have been rescued.

At Sharkathon, Shark Fishers Are a Keen Audience for Conservation Advice / Hakai
Every fall, more than 900 recreational anglers in Texas gather their gear and wade into the blood-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico for Sharkathon. In this four-day catch-and-release shark fishing tournament, anglers vie to land the biggest shark they can, seeking a share of the roughly US $80,000 prize pool. The sharks and the prize purses are huge: in 2022, the top award, worth $20,000, went to the fisher who ensnared a nearly three-meter-long hammerhead. But that year, Kesley Banks, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, went home with a prize of her own. During that year’s Sharkathon, Banks and her colleagues shared tips with participants about keeping sharks healthy while they’re on the hook. The researchers documented how anglers handled their catches, and in a recent study, they show that the interventions worked. Sharkathon anglers took Banks’s pointers to heart, giving the apex predators a better chance of surviving the ordeal of being temporarily ensnared.

The Unwinnable Battle Over Forward-Facing Sonar / Outdoor Life
Until 2018, no fishing technology had advanced so far that a genuine fear emerged over its potential to alter fisheries and the entire sport for the worst, but that’s exactly what’s happening with forward-facing sonar. Recently, the issue has come to a head after the technology was banned in a popular bass tournament. The implications of that decision could alter the future of professional bass fishing, but the cases both for and against forward-facing sonar are anything but cut and dry.

2023 Season Recap: Find out how BC’s salmon returns and fisheries fared / Greg Taylor
Fishing is always a trade-off between conservation and economic benefits in the context of the impacts of climate change on salmon abundance, diversity, and now markets. With Russian production creating such huge changes in international markets, should we be planning fisheries in the same way we have in the past? Should it be business as usual? Or do we need to reevaluate the costs and benefits of fishing? It is an intriguing question that DFO is addressing through its five-year, $647-million Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative program. We are closer to the end of the program than the beginning and are starting to understand how DFO intends to re-evaluate these trade-offs.

How crowded are the oceans? New maps show what flew under the radar until now / The Verge
New maps created with satellite imagery and AI reveal some of the under-the-radar, potentially nefarious activities occurring at sea. With unprecedented precision, the maps expose tremendous amounts of unreported industrial activity, including suspicious fishing operations. The research also reveals that three-quarters of the world’s fishing vessels are not publicly tracked. (The Verge)

Resolve to Meet (and Eat) New Seafood NOAA
The new year is a great time to try new things! In 2024, we suggest exploring overlooked sustainable seafood options. Discover a new world of flavors with seafood such as triggerfish, skate, and more. Get inspired with these delicious recipes while you learn more about sustainable seafood.

What kind of seafood is morally ethical to eat? / Los Angeles Times
A well-managed and abundant ocean could feed a billion people a healthful seafood meal every day, forever. Overfishing, especially by big industrial fleets, is destroying that abundance — collapsing a wild food resource essential to the health and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people along coastlines around the world. A four-year investigation of industrial distant-water fishing by the Outlaw Ocean Project, published this week in the Los Angeles Times, uncovered evidence of human rights abuses and violent and deadly conditions. Chinese-owned and -flagged ships are the largest distant-water fishing fleet in the world. This fleet includes an estimated 6,500 ships, and they fish in every ocean. To put this fleet in context, neither Japan nor the U.S. has more than 1,000 such ships.


Atlantic Salmon highlighted in IUCN Red List update / IUCN Red List
An update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species includes the first global freshwater fish assessment. Atlantic salmon are prominently mentioned; the document states that the species has moved from Least Concern to Near Threatened. The report’s authors cite climate change, habitat destruction, and salmon aquaculture as existential threats.

Lois Creek’s native cutthroat trout population supplanted by invasive brook trout / Kimberley Bulletin
After the recent discovery that an invasive species had supplanted the native cutthroat trout in Kimberley’s Lois Creek, the ecosystem has become the focus of a project from Wildsight’s Youth Climate Corp.

Northwest salmon hatcheries harm wild salmon populations, study finds / La Conner Weekly News
For much of the last century, fish hatcheries have been built in the Northwest, across the U.S. and around the world to boost fish populations where wild numbers have gone down.

Salmon skyline takes wild coho conservation to new heights in B.C. / National Observer
Each autumn, Courtenay Fish and Game volunteers go to great lengths to capture live spawning salmon from an isolated stretch of the Trent River to raise at their new Comox Lake hatchery.

“Over the years of growing hundreds of brood-stock brookies, I’ve noticed individuals that are complete outliers,” Jeff Matity said. “It’s usually a situation where you get a male with a rounded snout, weak kype and soft colouring. A female with a pronounced kype and gaudy paint job is much more rare in my experience.


Christmas trees helping Vancouver Island salmon habitat after ‘worst return’ / Alberni Valley News
Streamkeepers will fasten bundles of trees in pools near where chum eggs will incubate next winter.

Arctic temperatures have broken new records. What to know / Tyee
The 2023 Arctic Report Card tracks change that is shifting cultural practices and disrupting livelihoods.

Growing pains? SFU research tracks 100 years of salmon adaptation to climate change / Simon Fraser University
Juvenile salmon in British Columbia are growing larger than they did 100 years ago due to climate change, according to a new Simon Fraser University-led study.

Modern Hurricanes Have a Surprise Ingredient / Hakai
As Hurricane Larry curved north in the Atlantic in 2021, sparing the eastern seaboard of the United States, a special instrument was waiting for it on the island of Newfoundland, in Canada. Because hurricanes feed on warm ocean water, scientists wondered whether such a storm could pick up microplastics from the sea surface and deposit them when it made landfall. Larry was literally a perfect storm: because it hadn’t touched land before reaching the island, anything it dropped would have been scavenged from the water or air, as opposed to, say, a highly populated city, where you’d expect to find lots of microplastics.

Irrigation canals threaten the Bow River’s world-class sportfishery / Outdoor Canada
Ongoing concern extends throughout Alberta’s angling community regarding a decline in populations of mature trout in the Bow River. Provincial biologists have identified several major stressors on the fish, from erratic and declining flow levels to catch-and-release angling mortality. However, biologists have also identified another major factor contributing to fish mortality: irrigation canals.

New Twists on an Ancient Fishery / Tyee
The Quw’utsun fish spear begins with a wooden shaft — a round, three-metre Douglas-fir pole. There is a nine-metre length of nylon rope attached to the top of the shaft, connecting it to the thrower’s wrist to retrieve the spear from the river after a throw. The bottom of the spear consists of two tempered-steel points, slightly flared, and tightly bound to the shaft with strong twine. The tips of the points come off when the spear hits a salmon, sinking into the flesh to help prevent escape. But they remain attached to the spear with rebar wire, more nylon rope and flexible rubber from a bicycle inner tube. “You could pull in a car with that thing,” says Harold Joe, a Quw’utsun fishermen of the Cowichan River.

Leave The Lead Out / FishingWire
Tungsten and zinc alloy lures have become popular in the past few years. Those materials replace lead and are friendlier to our environment.& Lead negatively impacts the world in several ways. That’s why gas with no lead and paint with no lead is offered and widely accepted. People in some places have learned the hard way that lead in the drinking water is a bad deal. In many ways, tungsten and zinc alloy are better for wildlife, people, and fishing.


Restoring Gill Bar: A Collaborative Effort for Conservation and Cultural Preservation / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
The Xá:y Syí:ts’emílep (Gill Bar) restoration project has multiple objectives. These include the conservation and protection of key habitats and fish spawning areas, the integration of nature-based solutions for flood protection, the preservation of First Nations rights to traditional harvesting activities, and the development of a long-term co-management plan that facilitates recreational opportunities with minimal environmental impact.

Using AI to track salmon could be a ‘game-changer’ / Narwhal
Using AI means some communities are starting to collect quicker, more accurate data on salmon than the federal fisheries department. About a dozen First Nations are working with scientists to train AI models to recognize how many salmon are returning in real-time. It could revolutionize how First Nations fish and steward salmon, offering critical information for managing populations struggling from habitat loss and warming temperatures.4 days ago.

Indigenous groups in B.C. seek long-term funds to bring salmon back to the Columbia River / Globe & Mail
Nearly a century of dam construction and operation has transformed the Columbia into an electrical powerhouse, but has blocked entry to salmon.

First Nations fight to bring traditional foods back to the table / Narwhal
“Having access to abundant wild food that’s in close proximity within your traditional territory goes beyond ensuring food security, it’s about cultural integrity and self-determination,” says Mateen Hessami, a hunter, ecologist and tribal member of the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma, “Creating more wild food is just so important. Because we need people in those rural communities, we need jobs, we need guardians. Because if no one’s out on the land, cherishing it and utilizing it, then no one’s going to care about it.” Unfortunately, about half of Pacific salmon populations are in some state of decline, according to the Pacific Salmon Foundation. The foundation reports Fraser River sockeye declined 54 per cent in the past decade compared to all preceding years. A 2019 study found the second biggest sockeye run — Skeena River sockeye — has declined 75 per cent since 1913.


Environmentally Friendly Clam Pro Tackle / Clam
With environmentally friendly high-grade materials like tungsten in our jigs and zinc alloy in our spoons, we are reducing the amount of lead used in our tackle lineup – and we are proud to stand apart as an eco-friendly tackle brand. Clam Pro Tackle is committed to protect all aquatic species and wildlife, increasing water quality and being stewards of the environment for future generations.


E423 Abe Frances on Mohawk FN Connections to Fish and Fishing / The Blue Fish Radio Show
Abraham Francis is a member of the Mohawks of Akwesasne where he serves as the Environmental Science Officer. Abe speaks with Lawrence about the historic connection Mohawk First Nations people have with the fish of the St. Lawrence River, why his people were forced to suspend this connection for the past two generations, what’s being done to re-build this relationship, and why understanding fish health and fish contamination is crucial to reconciliation.


Jan 17 at 6:00 pm Eastern Dive In with Liz and Sylvia
Paul Greenberg, Liz and Sylvia will be discussing the deep scattering layer (DSL) of the ocean. The DSL is an area of high concentration of marine organisms that live suspended in the water column. Many of these organisms, such as fish, have swim bladders that can reflect sound. These swim bladders can reflect the sound so strongly that a “false bottom” effect can be created. When early sonar operators thought they were seeing the seafloor, they were actually seeing a thick layer of fish, squid, jellyfish, and other marine organisms. This layer is typically seen around 300-500 meters (984-1,640 feet) and can be deeper during the day and portions of the layer can get shallower at night. DSLs can be seen in ocean basins all over the world and serve important ecological roles in the open ocean. This layer of ocean wildlife is threatened by the commerical fishing industry.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Bass Fishing HOF Continues Scholarship Program / Best on Tour
The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame (BFHOF) is proud to announce the second year of its Fishery Management Scholarship Program. Recognizing the critical role of fishery management professionals in ensuring the health and vibrancy of bass fisheries across the U.S. and Canada, this program aims to provide financial support and encouragement to high school and college bass anglers pursuing careers in this vital field.Up to $15,000 will be awarded in June 2024 to selected applicants. Applications are now open and can be submitted through the BFHOF website.

Calls to Action:

Have your say on Atlantic salmon and striped bass management / DFO
Fisheries and Oceans Canada wants feedback on bag limits, size limits, catches, and other management measures for Atlantic salmon and striped bass. The survey is for people who fished in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region in 2023.

Coming Up:

Special Guest Feature: 5 Apps Every Fishing Enthusiast Should Have Installed

Fishbrain: The best fishing practices have often spread through word of mouth: good rods and lines to use, the best times of day to fish, spots to visit, and so on. Of course, not everyone has time to head over to the local marina and bother sailors with questions. Instead of that, why not join a massive online community of anglers to source the best information for your fishing trip?

FishAngler: Much like any hunting pursuit, information reigns supreme in the fishing world. Every last scrap of data, from the weather to the habits of the fish you’re pursuing, moves you ever so slightly closer to that coveted haul. The hard part is actually getting that information, but if you’re using the FishAngler app, that tricky task becomes a whole lot easier.

Fishing & Hunting Solunar Time: You know how the tides of a body of water are affected by the relative position of the moon? Well, that’s not the only impact the moon has on water. According to the Solunar Theory, animal behavior is also influenced by the moon’s phases and position in the sky. Ergo, by carefully following the moon, you may be able to maximize your fishing yield by venturing out on days when the fish are more active. It sounds a little hokey, but it’s a widely used practice. If you’d like to try it, the Fishing & Hunting Solunar Time app will help.

Fishing Knots app: Perhaps one of the most minute elements of the fishing experience is tying knots. The best tackle knots require particularly precise hand and finger movements, and even if you’re especially dexterous, it’s still a pain trying to remember which lines and loops go where and in what order. Practice makes perfect, of course, but if you need a little help along your path to becoming a knot master, try the Fishing Knots app.

FishTrack: Fishing in a pond or lake is one thing, but if you’re out fishing in the ocean, safety becomes a much more pressing concern. The last thing you want is to go out for a leisurely fishing day, only to end up getting rocked by a sudden shift in the tides or being hit with nasty weather. If you’re looking to stay safe while out on the salt, try the FishTrack app.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Blue Fish Canada underwent its most productive year yet! Covid may have forced a shift in how we deliver programs, and the need to take our foot off the accelerator while the world responded to the pandemic, but the last year offers proof positive that our programs are more in demand than ever, and we are back to in-person program delivery. Want to know more, read our year-end summary below, along with all the rest of the fish, habitat and fishing news. And most of all, thank you all for your support and assistance. Stay tuned for lots more to come!

Photo of editor Lawrence Gunther and his guide dog Lewis fishing brook trout under a waterfall

This Week’s Feature – Blue Fish Canada in 2023

Prepared by President Lawrence Gunther

Introduction: Without doubt 2023 has been a tremendous growth year for Blue Fish Canada’s programs, new and old. This report details the extent of the growth and results generated over the past calendar year – 2023.

“The Blue Fish Radio Show”: In 2023, 44 episodes of the podcast were produced and released. In addition to interviews with local champions and others working hard to build and strengthen fish health, water quality, and the future of fish and fishing, podcasts include live recordings from Canadian Fishing Network, live Facebook streams featuring Blue Fish Canada President Lawrence Gunther in conversation with CFN host Scotty Martin about the latest fish and fishing news. Of special note, on September 8, 2023, the podcast tracking service Feedspot released its review of the top 35 fishing podcasts around the world, and ranked The Blue Fish Radio Show as number two! Podcasts continue to be featured in Outdoor Canada Magazine’s website and social media.

“Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther”: The Accessible Media Inc. show and podcast “Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther” began its 4th season in September 2023. A total of 92 episodes have been released to date. The podcast features Lawrence and co-host young Lilly Melrose along with special guests discussing outdoor access and conservation. The target audience includes youth and others living with disabilities, their family and friends, and others who have an interest in outdoor life or who live in rural, remote or northern communities. The show airs each Saturday and Sunday over basic cable TV across Canada on AMI Audio, and is available as a podcast.

“Get Ready for Fishing”: In 2023 Blue Fish Canada rebranded its youth and family sustainable fishing program as “Get Ready for Fishing”. The program experienced tremendous success with over 500 youth and family members directly benefiting. Beneficiaries included First nations youth from the Mohawks of Akwesasne community, new Canadians throughout eastern Ontario, and 96 youth who took part in our partner initiative, “Ottawa Fish School”. The program goes beyond teaching youth and their families to fish sustainably, and includes modules such as invasive species identification, removal and prevention, water quality observation and testing, fish handling and release best practices, selecting species-appropriate and environmentally friendly tackle, fish health and habitat resilience, and sustainable harvesting and fish welfare. The program is made possible with assistance from key partners who provide venues and assist with marketing and logistics.

“The Blue Fish News”: A total of 26 issues of the Blue Fish Canada Newsletter were circulated to over 5,000 subscribers in 2023. On average, 31% of subscribers open the News within 24 hours. Each Newsletter includes an editorial, links to fishing, fish, habitat, indigenous, industry, boating, and other news articles, videos, webinars, books, podcasts, details about related up-coming events, and a featured guest blog – no ads. A google search for “fish conservation” places the Blue Fish News in the top-ten results.

“Blue Fish Exploration Centre”: After commencing a search for a remote location to establish a research station and youth exploration centre in early 2022, an off-grid property located 2.5 hours north of Ottawa was eventually chosen. The 3.5 hector (7 acres) Red Pine Forest stretches along 412 meters (1,350 feet) of pristine shoreline. The lake is home to Lake Trout, Northern Pike, Perch, and both Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass. Renovations are underway to the 162 square meter (1,750 sqft) cabin, and the installation of smaller “bunkies”. The cabin, bunkies, paths, docks and beach access will be fully accessible to researchers, youth and others of all abilities. The cabin will house between six and eight researchers, and the bunkies and canvas wall tents will provide sleeping accommodation for another 20 to 25 youth and their families.

The Blue Fish Exploration Centre will allow youth to learn directly from scientists, local experts, and First Nation knowledge keepers as they engage in structured activities designed to create and strengthen their connection to nature. Their un-plugged experience will include the cool air under the mature forest canopy, the dark night skies, the property’s level forest floor, access to a massive sandy swimming area, and its overall peace and tranquility. The lake is one of the largest in the area, and a network of trails lead to many other nearby water bodies and rivers home to wild fishes of all species.

Collaborations: Blue Fish Canada continues to leverage partnerships to extend program reach. Partner organizations are committed to fish health and conservation, the protection of fish habitat and water quality, and the belief that fishing is a terrific way for youth and others to establish life-long connections with nature. New and renewing partners in 2023 include Water Rangers, Cabela’s, the CNIB, Shimano, Ontario Power Generation, the Great Lakes Network, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Earth Rangers, Canadian Fishing Network, Maitland Tower, Watersheds Canada, B.C. Public Fishing Alliance, St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Studies, Ottawa Fish School, Save the River, Invasive Species Centre, and many more.

“Blue Fish Certified”: As fishing outfitters and resorts continue to recover from COVID-19 economic setbacks, Blue Fish Canada has been busy working with tourism industry leaders to design a Blue Fish Certification program that instructs, tests and certifies fishing guides and fishing resort management staff. Training focusses on water quality, fish health, invasive species prevention, fish handling best practices, fish habitat protection, and sustainable harvesting and fish welfare. Participation and completion of the certification program allows guides, outfitters and resorts to display the Blue Fish Logo, and provides their guests and customers access to pre-visit content explaining what to expect.

“Great Lakes Fish Health Network”: Since founding the Great Lakes Fish Health Network in 2017, Blue Fish Canada President Lawrence Gunther continues to serve as its Chair. In 2023 the Network has directed and overseen a legal review of fish consumption advisories, authored a chapter in a new book on small-scale fisheries, and written an article for a scientific journal on jurisdictional and methodological issues with current fish consumption advisories. Presentations on Network findings and analysis are presented at science symposiums, to Great Lakes Commissions, the Great Lakes Network, and others.

Outreach: In addition to our podcasts, newsletter, YouTube channel, and our other social media channels, we continue to exhibit and provide seminars at outdoor shows, conferences, and schools. President Lawrence Gunther also writes editorials for each newsletter on topics specific to fish and fishing, and is the bi-weekly environmental contributor on the Now with Dave Brown TV show aired over basic cable across Canada and as a podcast. Of special note is President Lawrence Gunther’s involvement in the Water Rangers “Water Ripple” series, an observer at bi-annual meetings of the Great Lakes Commission, a member of the Upper St. Lawrence River Strategy Steering Committee, a participant at the annual lake Committee meeting of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and a “Change Maker” for the River Institute’s “River Rapport”.

Grants and Donations: Grants and donations have been ramped up considerably in 2023 as Blue Fish Canada returns to in-person program delivery. Benefactors include Cabela’s, United Way, Ottawa Community Foundation, Maitland Tower, Service Canada, the CNIB, and numerous other public and corporate donors who believe strongly in our mission and ability to deliver. Comprehensive annual financial reports are submitted at the end of each fiscal year (March 31) to the Canada Revenue Agency, where Blue Fish Canada is registered as a charity, and to Industry Canada where the charity is incorporated as a national not-for-profit. Starting in 2004 reports will also be submitted annually to the Government of Quebec where Blue Fish Canada is now registered as a non-profit called “Poisson Bleu Canada”.

Plans for 2024: Registration to host Get Ready for Fishing events have commenced, and plans are underway to participate in outdoor shows as exhibitors and presenters. Work with engineers, architects and landscape designers for the renovation of the Blue Fish Exploration Centre, with a planned opening for July 2024. Another round of focus group testing for our Blue Fish Certification program will soon be underway, with new certified guides, outfitters and resorts coming on stream in 2024. More grants are being secured, summer students hired, and volunteers trained to support our mission and increasingly popular programs. Blue Fish Canada programs operate year-round.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


She and I, on the fly / Hatch Magazine
The YMCA of the Rockies is helping to increase angler access to affordable guided trips and female guides. The YMCA of the Rockies is a long-time institution in Estes Park that has served as a base camp for families visiting Rocky Mountain National Park since the early 1900s. The sprawling 860-acre property borders the national park, and today is the largest YMCA camp and conference center in the world — drawing more than 220,000 people to their location every year.

Tonnes of elvers were poached in 2023, but border agents didn’t find any / CBC
The Canada Border Services Agency says it looked, but did not find evidence of black-market shipments of baby eels or elvers out of Canada this year, despite widespread poaching in Maritime rivers.


The high levels of toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in our fish could be harming us / INews
A chemical that takes thousands of years to break down is found in England’s freshwater fish at 1,000 times above safe levels – and could end up on our dinner tables. The most commonly cited concern about forever chemicals is that they can weaken the immune system.

Reasons to Be Skeptical about Sentience and Pain in Fishes and Aquatic Invertebrate / ResearchGate
“Just because some folks keep saying that fish feel pain does not make it so” Dr. Steven Cooke “a paper that embraces an organized skepticism perspective.”

Seabirds Can Help Predict the Size of Fish Stocks—If Only We’d Listen / Hakai
The scientists who study terns, puffins, and other fish-eating birds are trying to get fisheries managers to heed their warnings.

Salmon farming companies settle class-action lawsuit alleging global price-fixing scheme / CBC
Seven companies accused of conspiring to manipulate the global price of salmon have agreed to pay a total of more than $5 million Cdn to settle a class-action lawsuit.

Huge spike in herring killed in B.C. salmon farm operations: DFO data / CBC
The Watershed Watch Salmon Society is sounding the alarm on data collected by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that show an unprecedented spike in wild fish killed in B.C. salmon farm operations. According to DFO, 817,000 wild fish — nearly all of them herring — were reported killed in open-net pen salmon farm operations in 2022. That’s an almost five-fold increase from the previous year and a 21-fold increase from 2020. The DFO documents describe how salmon farm operators are responsible for the killing during a mechanical sea lice removal treatment of penned salmon known as hydrolicing.

Canada’s Limits on Sea Lice in Salmon Farms Don’t Measure Up / Hakai
Research comparing salmon farming regulations in four countries finds that Canada’s rules fall short when it comes to protecting wild fish populations from one of the key threats posed by aquaculture: sea lice infestations. In Canada, where scientists within and outside the federal government have clashed over the risk posed by sea lice, farm operators must assess their fish every two weeks during the spring wild salmon migration. If more than three lice per fish are at the motile life stage—growing quickly, moving about the salmon, and generally posing a greater threat—operators have 42 days to bring levels down. But, by then, some wild salmon species may have already migrated past the farm.

“As if 150 years of failure isn’t enough for lessons to be learned, enhancement persists as a key component of salmon management in BC”. Osprey Journal
SkeenaWild’s Director of Science, Dr. Michael Price, and Fisheries Biologist Kaitlin Yehle featured in The Osprey, the International Journal of Salmon and Steelhead Conservation, Fall 2023 issue. Together, they wrote an article, ‘The Follies of Salmon Enhancement, Lessons from British Columbia’s Past.’ The pair discuss the crossroads BC salmon face after a century and a half of intensive commercial exploitation and habitat erosion that has left many populations diminished and vulnerable to existential forces like climate change. The article centres on the government’s heavy focus on artificial enhancement to rebuild these wild salmon populations, hoping to increase abundance and strengthen future resilience. Dr. Price and Kaitlin discuss the various challenges associated with methods of artificial enhancement, highlighting that relatively few have shown much success.

North Atlantic Right Whales Have Better Food in the Gulf of St. Lawrence / NOAA
Chopepods are planktonic crustaceans that occur in large numbers across the North Atlantic Ocean and are the North Atlantic right whales’ primary prey. New research shows that copepods are more nutritious in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, providing a higher quality diet for right whales compared to those in the Gulf of Maine and off Nova Scotia, even though abundance may be less dense.


COP28 climate summit signals the end of fossil fuels / Nature.Com
Nearly 200 countries at the COP28 climate change summit agreed to transition global energy systems “away from fossil fuels.” While the pledge falls short of “phasing out” oil, gas, and coal—despite pleas from more than 100 nations to use that wording—many experts say the explicit focus on fossil fuels is still an important milestone.

Quarter of world’s freshwater fish species at risk of extinction, researchers warn / CBS
Freshwater species are at risk from climate change, pollution and overfishing, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said Monday.

World’s biggest gathering of bald eagles feast in B.C.’s Fraser Valley / Vernon Morning Star
Thousands of eagles descend on Harrison River to eat salmon on their migration route.

Salmon escaping farms are wreaking havoc on wild fish / Newsweek
Atlantic salmon have recently been reclassified as “threatened” due to a worldwide population drop. The trend of farmed salmon escaping captivity and intermingling with wild Atlantic salmon is producing offspring that are less able to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Save the endangered Pacific wild salmon stocks from fish farms / Ecojustice
Ecojustice lawyers — representing the David Suzuki Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, Living Oceans Society, Watershed Watch Salmon Society and independent biologist Alexandra Morton — are back in court to support the federal government’s refusal to renew licenses for open-net pen fish farms near the Discovery Islands.

Alaska salmon woes, extreme precipitation, tundra shrub growth part of Arctic transformation / Alaska Beacon
NOAA’s 2023 Arctic Report Card highlights challenges posed by rapid climate change in Alaska and elsewhere in the far North.

Dire new results from Ottawa Riverkeeper’s monitoring program show that urban waterways are impacted by road salt all year round. For the first time in 2023, volunteer community scientists took samples during the summer, and the results were disheartening.

Deep in the Wilderness, the World’s Largest Beaver Dam Endures / Yale E360
In 2007, Jean Thie, a Dutch-born landscape ecologist who lives near Ottawa, was looking at the latest satellite imagery of places he had examined via satellite in 1973 and 1974, when he was studying permafrost. It was then that he first spotted the dam which is about a half-mile long and in the shape of an arc made of connected arcs, like a recurve bow. The idea of going to the world’s largest beaver dam came to Rob Mark after reading about Thie’s discovery, a challenge as it meant wading through ten miles of swamp and back again after being dropped off by boat that first had to cross a 25-mile lake.


Aquatic invasive species in Western NL: vase tunicate are a filter feeding animal and a competitor for other native filter feeders including mussels and other commercial bivalves.

Invasive aquatic plant discovered in Lake Saint-François Quebec: a type of freshwater macroalgae called Nitellopsis obtusa, or more commonly, starry stonewort. Native to Europe and Asia, it can reach lengths of over 1.5 metres, is bright translucent green, and has irregular branches that grow in whorls from the main stem.

Invasive mussel monitoring ongoing in Christina Lake in BC: The lake is a tourism hotspot, and should Zebra or Quagga muscles be detected, it could serve as an early warning for other water bodies in the region.

Zebra mussels found in Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba: Last year environmental DNA was detected, this year they discovered Zebra muscles.


Coastal First Nations get $60M boost from B.C. to protect Great Bear Sea / National Observer
The funding helps 15 coastal First Nations conserve B.C.’s ‘Galapagos of the North’ and move forward with a network of marine conservation areas that spans two-thirds of Canada’s West Coast. The Indigenous-led funding allows coastal First Nations to push forward with a vast marine conservation network in their traditional territories to protect marine ecosystems, create new jobs and economic opportunities, and foster sustainable fisheries and tourism, the premier of B.C. said.

‘Salmon parks’ in traditional First Nations territory aim to save habitats by stopping old-growth logging / The Globe and Mail
A new plan from the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, aided by the B.C. and federal governments, signals a shift in Indigenous-led conservation across the province. To meet commitments by the federal and provincial governments, B.C. will need to set aside more than 10 million hectares of new biologically important areas for protection from development over the next six years. Much of that will be achieved through Indigenous-led conservation projects that are now on a fast track for approval. This includes the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation plan, which will require additional funding to complete.


Gone fishing… for some fish data / Statistics Canada
Canadian households were asked if they participated in outdoor activities close to home during the second year of the pandemic, and just under 1 in 10 (9%) Canadian households reported they went fishing close to home in 2021.

A total of 853 fishing and hunting camps with employees were counted in the second half of 2022. Over half of the camps were located in Quebec (253) and Ontario (229). British Columbia (125) ranked third. Just over half (52%) of fishing and hunting camps employ from one to four people, and the three largest camps each employed from 100 to 200 people.


Ottawa Boat and Outdoor show February 22-25
Visit the Blue Fish Canada booth at the Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show and experience our “Get Ready for Fishing” program!


Guy Harvey Foundation Renews Support for the Art of Conservation® Fish Art Contest / Wildlife Forever
Wildlife Forever is proud to announce the continuation of their partnership with the Guy Harvey Foundation for the 2024 The Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest.


Episode 92: Marine Mammal Communications and Photographing Environmental Conflicts / Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther
On this episode of Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther, Lilly shares a story about dolphins rescuing a mother and baby whale from sharks, and we learn about marine mammal communications. National Geographic photographer Brent Stirton shares stories about his 25 years of photographing and reporting on environmental conflict, and Lawrence has a few tips on taking pictures without the use of sight. Lawrence also reflects on getting outdoors to open up you’re hearing.


B.C.’s ancient ‘river dinosaurs’ face uncertain future as population dwindles / Weather Network
Sturgeon fishing is more than just a sport, its cultural significance is deep in the province of B.C. The Weather Network’s Mia Gordon takes a look at the important history of sturgeon and the dangers facing them in the future.


Building Resilient Shorelands / Watersheds Canada
Discover the science behind vegetated buffers, strategies for achieving environmental net gain at the waterfront, shoreline planting restoration templates, and other resources promoting sustainable development along waterfront lands. Watersheds Canada has a free policy toolkit.

Unique pathways of invasive mussel spread / GLFC
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s Invasive Mussel Collaborative recently hosted a webinar on unique pathways of invasive mussel spread. Presenters included James Dickey with Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries; Courtney Larson with the U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development, Great Lakes Toxicology and Ecology Division; and Daniel Sandborn with the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Coming Up:

January 27th: Join Save the River at Winter Environmental Conference in Clayton NY to celebrate STR’s 35th gathering to hear about topics of critical importance to the health of the St. Lawrence River. Highlights include American Eels, Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), environmental indicators used in Plan 2014, and Save Blind Bay.
February 12-15: 2024 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
February 20-22: 29th Annual Wetland Science Conference
March 5-7: Great Lakes Commission Semi-annual Meeting and Great Lakes Day 2024
March 18-22: Great Lakes Fishery Commission 2024 Lake Committee Meetings.
May 12-16: International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species (ICAIS) in Halifax.
May 20-24: IAGLR’s 67th Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research

Special Guest Feature – Ice Fishing Season is on the Horizon

Invasive Species Centre

As the weather gets colder, many of the staff at the ISC office are keeping an eye on the lakes waiting for the ice to become safe for ice fishing. If, like us, you are impatiently waiting to get back out on hard water, it might be a good time to freshen up on some of the bait regulations, including Bait Management Zones and how to properly handle and dispose of your bait.

A reminder: in Ontario, it is illegal to dump the contents of a bait bucket or bait, live or dead, either directly into the water or within 30 metres of it. Unknowingly having juvenile invasive species in your bait bucket and mishandling that bait is one of the most common pathways for invasive aquatic species to spread, especially into isolated lake systems. This preventative practice is something all ice anglers across Canada should adopt where-ever the use of live minnows for bait is legal.

Blue Fish Canada relies on top Canadian fish biologists and expert anglers to fact-check all our Blue Fish Sustainable Fishing Tips. Check out our tips on how to ice fish sustainably.

About us:

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

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Attending the Ultimate Ice Fishing Show, equipping the Blue Fish Exploration Centre with a six-passenger side-by-side, preparing status reports for granting organizations, meeting fundraising goals, learning about threats to monster freshwater fish around the world from Nat-Geo TV personality Zeb Hogan, finding out what it takes to photograph man / environment conflicts for Nat-Geo by photographer Brent Sturton, collaborating on developing outdoor access best practices, taking on news agencies that aren’t practicing what they preach about inclusivity, debating animal sentience and if fish feel pain, reporting on EV vehicle up-take for AMI TV, and preparing for the up-coming outdoor show season – just another week at the Blue Fish Canada office. But most importantly, thank you to all who responded to our “Giving Tuesday” fundraiser with your donations, and just as importantly, your words of encouragement and thanks, it’s great to know we have so many loyal conservation-minded anglers out there who believe in what we do.

Photo of The new Tracker 800SX Le Crew side-by-side being loaded on to the Blue Fish Exploration Centre’s enclosed trailer at the Bass Pro Shop in Vaughan purchased with a $10,000 grant from Cabela’s and donations to Blue Fish Canada

This Week’s Feature – Conservation Takes a Community

By Lawrence Gunther

Over the past four years I’ve been issuing calls to action directed toward youth and others with all abilities, from all backgrounds, and of all identities. These calls are meant to inspire youth and others by showcasing my own experience as a conservation-minded angler living with vision loss. It’s my opinion that the largely silent world requires people gifted at storytelling to give voice to what most others aren’t able to see. It’s particularly annoying therefore, when I read comments like the following being shared by a leading independent news source, “We’re stumbling blindly through a dangerous present towards an even grimmer future.” Normally, I simply choose to ignore people when they share metaphors that portray people who are blind as ignorant, but since December 3rd is the International Day on Disability, I thought maybe I should take a moment and try to explain why comments like this can be alienating.

Before you start in on me for being overly sensitive, politically correct, or whatever you want to call people who challenge social norms, let me first justify my standby describing the myriad social experiments and changes I’ve experienced over the years. Keep in mind, my own personal path from sighted to blind allows me to see both sides of the picture, and let’s just say what I lost along the way was more than just sight. It wasn’t easy and still isn’t, to have my status within society diminished simply because I now use other senses than sight to make sense of the world around me.

As a child registered blind at age eight, I came close to being sent to a residential school for the blind. The transfer was stopped thanks to the intervention of the principal of my public school. He told me, “As long as you can get along you can stay.” It’s a reframe I have since heard, in good ways and bad, for many years since.

Throughout my teenage years, like most who grew up in a small town, I worked summer jobs as a farm hand during haying season, on construction sites as a labourer, landscaping, and other jobs like delivering newspapers and shoveling snow. I was even hired along with my brother at the AMC car factory in nearby Brampton Ontario subbing for fulltime employees taking summer vacations, but only after the HR official doing the hiring finally agreed to give me a chance with the proviso that floor supervisors would not be informed about my visual disability, leaving it to me to “get along.” He seemed to think it important that I receive no special consideration, something the floor supervisors found ridiculous as I was quickly swopped out of my first assembly line job involving detailing body work prior to cars being painted, with the job my brother was initially assigned, reaching underneath car bodies and feeling for holes that needed plugging with putty. Turns out there were plenty of other assembly jobs that I could do perfectly fine, and the money was great.

It was a reality check when I received two phone calls around the time I was finishing up high school. The first was from the president of the blind piano tuner’s union offering me an apprenticeship. Up until then I never identified as being blind, so that was a definite pass. The second call was from social services with an offer to receive life-long disability payments. My initial reaction was outrage that someone who didn’t even know me considered me as unemployable. It was only later that I understood the cold hard truth that the offer reflected a broader held opinion that people registered as legally blind like me were not capable of working. Clearly, the odds of my achieving success were stacked against me.

What followed were two years of college, four years in undergraduate school, and another three years earning my masters.

Despite graduating with three different post-secondary diplomas and degrees, each time I was told by potential employers that I was unemployable due to my being blind, even though, technically, I qualified for their jobs. I knew in my heart that they were wrong, and that if I had been given the chance I would have got along just fine.

Without doubt, my academic experience included my fair share of challenges. It included all manner of systemic barriers such as a lack of access to textbooks, the inability to access information being shared at the front of the class, professors who took exception to my handing in essays on cassette tape, and tests that I couldn’t read. This was before talking computers or other accommodation programs such as note takers and reader assistants. It was ironic that while I wrestled with academic institutions unwilling to provide any form of assistance to students with disabilities, these same institutions were embracing affirmative action and employment equity.

To escape the frustrations I was experiencing in classrooms, I spent much of my final two years of study pursuing independent field research throughout much of Canada’s Arctic, culminating in a year as a guest lecturer and researcher at Umeå University in northern Sweden. Equipped with a tape recorder, I met with all manner of people to record their local and traditional knowledge, including government officials, elected politicians, captains of industry, indigenous knowledgekeepers, NGO leaders, and people representative of different groups within society.

It was in my last year in university that I gained access to one of the first-ever talking computers for the blind, and a state-of-the-art electronic book scanning and reading machine invented for the blind by Raymond Kurzwiel. Despite being dropped into the world of literacy overnight, I quickly became a prolific writer.

Throughout my 20’s, my vision continued to deteriorate. In 1986 I reached the point where I had to get either a white cane or guide dog – of course, I chose the dog. As one of the first ten people in Ontario to receive a guide dog, it was overwhelmingly challenging to take the dog anywhere without being told, “dogs aren’t allowed”, but at the same time, extremely liberating in terms of my mobility. He was a black labrador who loved to hunt way more than guiding, but we managed to get along just fine for just over ten years.

Getting a guide dog allowed me to keep my part-time job in the city at a group home for ten men with mental health and developmental challenges, to continue to attend university, and to eventually undertake my field research. The only disadvantage of having adopted such an obvious mobility and orientation aid for the blind was that people now perceived me as “blind” in the worst sense of the word. Being restored with the ability to once again, independently move about and explore the outdoors certainly softened the blow of my status within society being even further downgraded.

Finding work in the summer was still a challenge. I eventually purchased a small cabin in Cape Breton where I was able to find summer employment as a commercial cod fisher. I was right at home stepping on to home-made wooden dories powered with old car engines, and spending 12 hours a day bobbing around on the Atlantic Ocean jigging for cod while my guide dog combed the forest around my cabin for rabbits and other prey. Funny as it may sound, my two shipmates decided it was safer for me to drive the boat back at the end-of-day instead of handling the sharp knives used for preparing our days catch for sale back at the dock. I could just see enough to head west towards land using the sun as my compass. Not only was I able to get along just fine aboard the boat, I received 10% from the sale of each days catch. Those were great days for sure, until somehow we fishers managed to catch them all, leading to the cod fishery being closed in 1992.

The transition from academia to running my own consulting business, and then working for the House of Commons as a research officer, were challenging days but rewarding times despite the recession in the early 1990’s.

I eventually landed a job in the Foreign service made possible through a management trainee program. After working at Global Affairs for a year I was offered the job full time. But first, they had to cancel their HR policy that all foreign service officers had to pass a fitness test deeming them fit to “stand at arms” should one of our embassies come under fire. The HR department even encouraged me to hire my wife as my reader assistant through their “spousal employment program” and assured me that my assignments over-seas would include only the safest foreign countries like France, the U.K., or Japan, posts that foreign service officers spend most of their careers trying to secure. To be frank, while the elimination of the systemic “stand at arms” barrier seemed appropriate, the accommodations being offered were over-the-top, and eventually led to my leaving.

Skip ahead 20 years and along came COVID-19. People like me who often depend on the elbow of a sighted guide all of a sudden became highly suspect as potential transmitters of the virus. And then there were those who wanted to lower their stress by petting my dog. These were challenging times, especially since my usual friends and volunteers were no longer available to drive with me in my truck to get out of the city.

All this new time on my hands led to the launch of a new podcast in September 2020 called “Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther”. Together with my youngest daughter Lilly who was 14 at the time, and my 12-year-old son Theo who continues to serve as our technical producer, we began creating content meant to inspire other blind and low vision youth and others to connect with nature in fun, meaningful, and sustainable ways.

Turns out I’m not the only person with a disability who has experienced alienation. It’s lead to the launch of the “Outdoorist Oath” movement. In fact, the issue of exclusion is of sufficient scope that conservation and other environmental groups are now adopting the policy of “diversity, equity and inclusion.

Over the years I’ve produced numerous documentaries, short videos, podcasts, blogs, articles, and plenty of TV content. My advocacy work has earned me the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal, the Public Service Award of Excellence, and numerous other awards and recognitions. By no means am I the first blind person to specialize in knowledge keeping and storytelling. I’m privileged to have met a number of elder blind Inuit and First Nations people who have dedicated their lives to continuing this ancient tradition.

More than ever our planet needs to be heard. It needs people to speak up on its behalf. By sharing traditional, local and scientific knowledge through storytelling, people are able to link the past with the present.

Clearly, we need new approaches to mitigating our impacts on nature and rebuilding its resilience. New perspectives, new approaches, new ways of seeing the world are needed to find our way back to living sustainably. It’s going to take all of our unique perspectives and skills to make these changes, and can only be accomplished if we work together.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Crappie Barotrauma Study / AnglingBuzz
The AnglingBuzz crew partners with the Minnesota DNR to study the effects of Barotrauma on crappies caught in deep water.

Lake Superior Fish Consumption Advisories / LRCA
Consult information posted by the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority regarding contaminant levels in fish due to Chemicals of Mutual Concern to help consumers make informed decisions to minimize exposure to toxins.

Advocates call for moratorium on herring fishing over concerns of stock collapse / West Coast Now
They say not enough is being done to protect herring in the Strait of Georgia, though others disagree.

All the Fish We Cannot See / Hakai
In a dark, unexplored layer of ocean, a hidden cache of fish might play an unexpected role in our climate’s future. It seems like a bad time for a new fishery.

Fishing Industry In ‘Fight Of Our Lives’ Over Offshore Wind / National Fisherman
The drive to develop U.S. offshore wind industry is growing along the West Coast, and fishermen should pay close attention to the political and legal battles already ongoing in the Atlantic states, a panel of experienced activists said at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle. Wind power developers “still believe mitigation will not be necessary” to compensate fishermen for the loss of fishing grounds when turbine arrays are built.

During COVID-19 Lockdowns, Fish Hit the Park / Hakai
In the absence of tourists, fish populations flourished within Mexico’s Cabo Pulmo National Park.


Special teams help salmon on drought-affected rivers / Victoria Times Colonist
When a massive die-off involving upwards of 1,000 spawning pink salmon occurred after the adult fish massed at a spot on the river and used up all the available oxygen, salmon SWAT teams mobilized and experimented with aerating the water.

Swimmer witnesses surprise fight between octopus and sea lion / CBC 
It was flippers against tentacles in an ocean matchup near Nanaimo, B.C.

Salmon in the Arctic: Bad omen or evolutionary success story? / Yukon News
Experts express concern that salmon moving into the Arctic could harm native fish species.

Public Meeting About Barrier to Prevent Grass Carp from Migrating to Lake Erie / Freshwater Future
Preventing grass carp in the Sandusky River from moving into Lake Erie was the topic of a meeting last week that discussed a feasibility study to assess different types of barriers. The $953,500 project aims to impede grass carp movement from Lake Erie to potential spawning habitats in rivers. These invasive species threaten native habitats and fishery resources, particularly aquatic vegetation crucial for waterfowl and native fish habitat. Learn more about the Lake Erie Grass Carp response strategy.

Chris Vandergoot is the director of the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (GLATOS), which brings together researchers and fishery managers alike who use sound to monitor fish.


Farren Lake residents lead second fish habitat project in twelve months / Watersheds Canada
In early August 2023, members of the Farren Lake Property Owners Association (FLPOA) gathered for the second time to create and deploy brush bundles on their lake. Now with both the eastern and western portions of the lake rehabilitated with underwater sticks and branches, residents of the lake can rest assured that their aquatic and amphibious neighbours will have the homes they need to survive and thrive far into the future.

Arctic Pearl Ice and Cold Storage Ltd. fined $755,000 for federal offences related to transporting and discharging ammonia into fish-bearing water in British Columbia / Canada.ca
On November 2017, Arctic Pearl Ice and Cold Storage Ltd. was quoted $19,000 plus taxes and freight by a refrigeration contractor to dispose of contaminated ammonia. Arctic Pearl Ice and Cold Storage Ltd. declined the offer of service. On the morning of November 24, 2017, a garbage disposal company employee arrived at the warehouse to collect garbage and became ill from the strong smell of ammonia. His call for help led local authorities to the storage tank’s location—it was in the back of the truck and was releasing ammonia into a fish tote of water. The contaminated water was overflowing into a storm drain, which flows into Bath Slough and discharges into the fish-bearing Fraser River.

Scientists ‘refrigerated’ a Nova Scotia salmon stream / Hatch Magazine
Scientists artificially refrigerated a salmon stream in Nova Scotia during last summer’s record heat wave. Hundreds of migratory and river-dwelling fish basked in the cold-water flows pumped into the river from a nearby groundwater well. The addition of cold water to the Wrights River was part of a Dalhousie University study conducted to determine if adding colder water to streams that become dangerously warm for trout and salmon during prolonged heat waves can help keep the fragile fish alive. Results, biologists say, were encouraging.

Glencore’s record questioned amid Teck coal mine takeover / Narwhal
Teck’s plan to sell its Elk Valley coal mines to Swiss mining giant Glencore has raised alarm bells on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border amid negotiations over an international inquiry into extensive water contamination from the mines. If the sale goes through, the company will inherit a contamination problem decades in the making.

B.C. coastal issues poll finds strong consensus on future of coastal economy / Research Co.
A new poll found that 79 per cent of British Columbians support the creation of more marine protected areas and 92 per cent are concerned about declining fish stocks.

Great Lakes Habitat Restoration: Partnering to Promote Fish Production / GLFC
Degradation of coastal, nearshore, and riverine habitats has adversely affected fish communities and fisheries in the Great Lakes for more than a century. Now a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (Commission) is advancing restoration goals for important habitat for Great Lakes fish. Working with NOAA Fisheries through a Regional Habitat Partnership funded at $4.8 million by NOAA, the Commission, along with local partners, is leading implementation of high priority projects as identified by Lake Committees across the Great Lakes basin.

Wildlife Forever To Build National Mapping Tool For Improved Access To Invasive Species Decontamination Locations / FishingWire
Wildlife Forever and a coalition of fishing industry stakeholders and federal partners will be designing a new online platform to identify watercraft inspection and decontamination stations across the country. In addition, the new website will feature state-specific aquatic invasive species information for boaters traveling across multiple states. This national resource aims to centralize information for traveling boaters and supports AIS objectives of the newly introduced MAPWaters Act. “Bring together key allies in the fishing industry and our state and federal partners to create a go-to resource that helps boaters and anglers understand where, when, and how to clean and decontaminate boats will greatly help protect our nation’s waters,” said Pat Conzemius, President & CEO, Wildlife Forever.

Let coastlines be coastlines: How nature-based approaches can protect Canada’s coasts / Yahoo!
It’s time to look beyond the status quo and consider nature-based solutions to protect the places we love.

The $500,000 fight to protect a Muskoka wetland / Narwhal
If you’ve spent time in the rocky stretches of the Canadian Shield — where water often pools in stony hollows and wetlands can seem a dime a dozen — it can be hard to believe that the soggy landscapes left are just a fraction of what was here 150 years ago, before European settlers began filling them in. In southern Ontario in particular, about three-quarters of the wetlands that once existed are gone. Very few of Ontario’s quickly vanishing marshes and swamps are safe from development. A group of citizens managed to preserve one, but they also found deep flaws in the system.


New ‘mountaintop to seafloor’ Indigenous protected area in B.C. / Narwhal
The Ḵwiḵwa̱sut’inux̱w Ha̱xwa’mis First Nation’s Chief Rick Johnson says the move to take over stewardship of the region — once teeming with salmon and abundant old growth — is to ‘reclaim what is already ours’.


ePropulsion Launches x Series Electric Outboard Motor Line-Up / FishingWire
ePropulsion announced the latest expansion to its product portfolio with the launch of its X Series outboard engines. Three innovative electric outboard motors, the X12, X20 and X40. Weighing up to 36% less than traditional motors, the ingenious X Series features a compact, fully integrated design. All motors within this series unify electric steering, power trim/tilt, the electric control unit (ECU) and the controller within a single assembly, simplifying installation and optimizing onboard pace. Cutting-edge driving assistance features like ‘Position Hold’ and ‘Heading Hold’ and ‘360 Motions’ offer additional safety-focused options.


Armstrong artist reels in salmon foundation contest top prize / Golden Star
Dale Cooper’s painting of Chinook salmon chasing after herring will be featured on stamp.


“Chasing Giants, In Search of the World’s Largest Freshwater Fish” by Zeb Hogan and Stefan Lovgren
The book offers a thrilling and enlightening dive into the over-30 one-hour TV specials filmed for Nat-Geo TV for the series “Monster Fish”.


E421 Chasing Giant Freshwater Fish and Zeb Hogan / BFR
National Geographics Monster Fish TV hosts Zeb Hogan and Stefan Lovgren have just released their new book, Chasing Giants, In Search of the World’s Largest Freshwater Fish. Hogan is a research biologist at the University of Nevada, an advisor to the UN Convention of Migratory Species, and our guest on The Blue Fish Radio Show. Zeb’s adventures around the world researching and filming over 30 one-hour specials for Nat-Geo TV have both amazed viewers world-wide and identified the five most common threats to the world’s largest freshwater fishes. A scientist and TV host who enjoys fishing as much as he does researching fish, Zeb has probably checked off every fish on the bucket list.


New Greenland salmon tagging video / ASF
For the last five years, ASF has worked with scientists from DFO and NOAA to map the routes that Atlantic salmon take from Greenland back home to North American and European rivers. Watch as ASF researchers Jonathan Carr and Heather Perry reel in large Atlantic salmon off the west coast of Greenland and release them with tags that track their homeward migration.

Calls to Action:

Ice events – the freeze and thaw dates of lakes and rivers / Ice Watch
As citizen scientists, IceWatch volunteers contribute to a scientific understanding of climate change. By analyzing citizen records, scientists have found that the freeze-thaw cycles of Northern water bodies are changing. However, since climate change is not consistent across the country and there are large gaps in the current monitoring network, scientists require critical data from many more regions. A citizen network of IceWatchers spread throughout Canada can help to supply that information.

Scientists and Local Champions:

After 20 years at the helm of FOCA, Terry Rees has announced he will be stepping down. / FOCA
As the leader of one of the largest membership associations in the Province, Terry has been committed to building a strong community, and to working collaboratively with a broad range of partners to address the many complex challenges facing Ontario’s rural communities and our freshwater environments.

Coming Up:

2024 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
Registration for the 2024 Invasive Species Forum is open and spots are filling up fast. By registering, you’ll make sure that you get a virtual front-row seat for the more than 40 presentations being delivered by invasive species experts from Canada, the United States, and beyond. The Invasive Species Forum is an annual event that brings attention to invasive species issues, research, and advances in prevention and management.

Special Guest Feature – Progress Report on Great Lakes Water Quality / FOCA

The International Joint Commission’s (IJC) 2023 Third Triennial Assessment of Progress on Great Lakes Water Quality is a review of federal government progress under the Canada-US Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement toward healthier Great Lakes. Access the full report (80 pages) as well as a summary of the top 3 recommendations.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: As open water fishing season winds down, conferences begin taking over our agenda here at Blue Fish Canada. From the Lake Links conference organized by Watersheds Canada, to the annual 3-day science symposium hosted by the St. Lawrence River Institute, and more, we are fully engaged. Snow and frost are also slowing our restoration work at the new Blue Fish Exploration Centre for the next few months due to winter road closures, but that doesn’t mean the doors are closed. Donors like Supreme Fireplaces of Montreal and Cabela’s in Ottawa are the latest corporate donors to lend support to the new Centre. Catch all the latest fish and fishing news in this week’s newsletter, and the latest episodes of The Blue Fish Radio Show.

Photo of Cabela’s GM Stephen Gagne and Blue Fish President Lawrence Gunther with a giant cheque!

This Week’s Feature – A Time Between

By Lawrence Gunther

Suddenly we have arrived at that time between when open water fishing becomes less about when we have time, and more about when will the weather permit. And then there’s the risk to one’s fishing boat that grows as temperatures drop. Never mind how cold we can tolerate as the years pile up; it’s all adding up to calling a stop to open water fishing for 2023.

I’m reminded of a man I fished with many years back who had calculated the likely number of fishing trips his life has left based on factors such as his allotted holidays, cost, bucket list, and how much time he has to live based on the average age men in Canada pass away. Literally, he was counting down his fishing trips. Talk about glass half empty, but don’t we all eventually cave to the temptation to count the days before we retire, so how is this any different?

What is it that has us putting fishing on par with retirement? Sure, both represent the opportunity to cut ties with our obligations, even if one is only temporary. But there’s more to fishing than simply the act of getting away.

There’s a primal aspect to fishing that I’m convinced all people walking the earth today carry in their DNA. Fishing could very well be one of the oldest professions, but even well before we commercialized the activity, we engaged in fishing to feed ourselves and our families. It’s a source of food that, to this day, is a main source of protein. According to those who track this number, as many as 3 billion people depend on wild caught or raised seafood as their primary source of protein.

Food security is not why I personally fish, and I doubt it’s the primary reason why more than six million Canadians claim to fish, have fished, and plan to fish again. There’s just something about fishing that resonates well within our collective soles.

Is it the act of the chase? To go out into the wild, present pray to wild fish, and then turn the tables at the last minute and become the actual predator? No doubt, the stealth factor enhances our fascination with planning for and carrying out the act of catching fishes.

Still others argue that from the moment the fish bites fishing is no longer fun, and instead becomes an often brief and occasionally disappointing source of stress. I’m sure I’m not alone by admitting to feeling both excitement and dread every time a fish connects with my tackle. The stress is exponentially greater when a record or tournament win is at stake, but thankfully far less when fishing involves tackle meant to increase the chance for fish to get away such as barbless hooks. And yet, in both, the struggle between a fish and an angler is primal.

I think we can all agree that much of the fun associated with fishing begins with selecting a destination and time, the purchase of some new tackle or even a new rod, and that moment when you join a good fishing friend in the early morning to head out for the lake or river. Actually launching a boat, kayak or canoe, or setting up on shore, may seem like a lot of work and an expenditure of effort and resources that many who don’t fish often question, and then we come home with nothing to show for our efforts other than a sun burn, empty lunch bucket, and smile. It’s impossible to explain why we do what we do in the face of all these miss-applied personal resources, but thankfully, we are able to do what we love even if we can’t explain exactly why.

No wonder then we are eager and proud to introduce youth to fishing. Kids understand play time. Unlike baseball however, where the worst that can happen, other than getting hit by a ball, is breaking a neighbor’s window. Fishing, on the other hand, can cause injury to fishes and their habitat in ways that we are learning more about each day. It’s important therefore that fishing responsibly means knowing when enough is enough; crucial to ensuring the future of fish and fishing.

It’s a fine line we as anglers must walk. To balance our desire to fish with a deeper understanding of how our fishing and our very existence impacts the environment. But, before you go to think that I’m suggesting that nothing good comes from fishing, rest assured, I as do many others understand full-well that fish have their own special role in nature, and that’s to produce many many fish so others might survive. Why else do fish lay so many eggs?

Fish DNA is tuned to their reproduction of many more fishes. We are often told this is due to the extremely low survival rate of their off-spring, but I think it has more to do with their role in providing nutrients to many other life forms – both aquatic and terrestrial. Heck, even fishes of the same species will not only predate on their own kind, but often depend on this food source for their own survival. Our challenge is to know our place in line along with all the rest of the life forms that choose to catch and eat fish.

Aquaculture around the world produces almost half of the over 148-million tons of seafood we consume each year. The rest is harvested from the wild. As a general rule, I try not to delve into issues of commercial fishing, not only because it’s not an objective set out in Blue Fish Canada’s charter, but mainly because there are so many others engaged in discussions over the sustainability of commercial fishing. But, as do many others, I recognize that recreational anglers also now possess the tools and technologies to harvest far more than what nature can sustain if not applied responsibly.

The Future Angler Foundation in the U.S. also gets this. It’s why they strive to not only instruct youth in the sport of fishing, but to inspire those new to angling to become stewards of nature. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the Foundation’s president Pat Neu on a new episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show. Link below to hear more about the founding and mission of the Future Angler Foundation, and how it seeks to inform and inspire youth to fish responsibly and become the next generation of conservation-minded anglers:

As we look back on the 2023 open water fishing season and the many adventures we undertook with friends and family, it’s important that we can take pride in knowing that we also fished in a way that will ensure fish and fishing will be around for many future generations to experience. Fishing also keeps us connected to nature in ways that few other activities can replicate, and if you’re a reader of these editorials, you already know what I think about how important fishing is to our establishing one-health relationships with nature and how crucial these relationships are to our wellbeing and conservation.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


For Alaska, federal fisheries updates can’t come soon enough / Anchorage Daily News
“The North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s management practices are doing little to address the collapse of some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet.”

“It truly is disgusting” say residents in Port Hope following this year’s salmon run / 93.3 myFM
In the last few years, local fishing enthusiast Sean Carthew has seen more and more fishermen ignoring even the most basic rules of the sport, leaving carcasses and roe to rot on the riverbank, overfishing the river and other violations.

Newfoundland fishermen get ‘best news’ on northern cod stocks in a generation / CTV 
Because of a change in their scientific method, officials at Fisheries and Oceans Canada now believe that Newfoundland’s northern cod stock has moved out of the critical zone for the first time in decades. The reassessment opens up the possibility of more commercial fishing of the resource — something that’s been heavily restricted since the federal government imposed a moratorium on the fishery in 1992.

Federal Fisheries Department doing a poor job of monitoring fishing industry / CBC
The federal Fisheries Department’s failure to properly monitor the country’s commercial fishing industry could lead to overfishing, a new audit from Canada’s environment commissioner says. Jerry DeMarco’s report released Tuesday says Fisheries and Oceans Canada lacks the ability to collect timely and dependable data on what and how much is being caught. “Many important monitoring requirements that would improve the timeliness and dependability of fish-catch data remain absent or incomplete,” the report says.


Fishing groups sue 13 US tire makers over rubber preservative that’s deadly to salmon / KNKX Public Radio
Also found in footwear, synthetic turf and playground equipment, the rubber preservative 6PPD has been used in tires for 60 years. As tires wear, tiny particles of rubber are left behind on roads and parking lots, breaking down into a byproduct, 6PPD-quinone, that is deadly to salmon, steelhead trout and other aquatic wildlife when rains wash it into rivers.

Salmon at risk after Bay of Fundy fish farm escape / Narwhal
In early August, staff with the Atlantic Salmon Federation began detecting escaped aquaculture salmon at a fishway on the Magaguadavic River in southwest New Brunswick — a significant concern in the region, since farmed salmon can mate with wild fish, threatening the health of populations. Three weeks after escapes were first detected by the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd., the salmon farming subsidiary of Cooke Aquaculture, reported to the province that three of their pens in the Bay of Fundy were breached due to damage from seals on Aug. 24. This breach would account for the fish picked up in late August and early September, but leaves the source of the earlier escapees unknown. Data gathered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists and others shows that there’s been hybridization and introgression — meaning genetic mixing in the population — between escapees and wild salmon in the Bay of Fundy for decades.

Atlantic Sturgeon and Climate Change: Warming Water Impacts Spawning and Development / NOAA
As water temperatures increase in the spring and summer, sturgeon move inland to await optimal spawning conditions. During spawning, some sturgeon populations are sensitive to the number of daylight hours between sunrise and sunset. Ideal spawning conditions vary from population to population. For example, in the Chesapeake Bay, females release eggs on days with about 12 hours of light between sunrise and sunset in water temperatures between 70-77°F. As temperatures continue to increase, the day length cue for spawning that sturgeon follow may eventually occur when water temperatures are above 77°F. If these two drivers of spawning happen at different times, it could have detrimental effects on their reproductive success and survival.

Second snow crab season canceled as researchers pinpoint cause of decline / Anchorage Daily News
Billions of snow crabs in the east Bering Sea died between 2018 and 2021. Scientists now believe they know why.

Research Confirms Link Between Snow Crab Decline and Marine Heatwave / NOAA
In 2022, the Alaska snow crab fishery was closed for the first time in history due to a sudden, dramatic decline in adult and juvenile crabs. Using a combination of survey data and laboratory studies, NOAA Fisheries scientists identified starvation as the most likely cause of this mass mortality event, linked to a marine heatwave.

On the hunt for thousands of salmon that escaped Icelandic fish farm / New Scientist
Some 3,500 salmon have escaped from a fish farm pen in Iceland and now the hunt is on to catch them before they hybridize with the local wild, genetically distinct salmon in the fjords.


Fish farm giant Mowi suing fisheries ministers, taxpayers for Discovery Islands closures / National Observer
Factory fish farming giant Mowi is suing Canadians for lost profits because the federal government canceled 11 of their sites in the Discovery Islands. And Mowi doesn’t seem to want Canadians to know about it. There is no mention of the lawsuit on their website or social media channels, though they’re more than happy to talk about how their company is benefitting B.C. communities, while ignoring the damage they do to our wild salmon and our coast.

Climate change is pushing salmon north in Alaska, scientists say / Smithsonian Magazine
Researchers recently found about 100 chum salmon spawning in the Arctic, suggesting the species is shifting to new habitats.

Whirling disease closes lakes in Yoho, Kootenay National Parks / CTV 
Parks Canada has closed lakes in Yoho and Kootenay National Parks, in an attempt to limit the spread of a suspected case of whirling disease.

Who’s in and who’s out in landmark fight over Nova Scotia salmon farm expansion / CBC 
Regulators have chosen who will be allowed to intervene in hearings on a massive salmon farm expansion proposed on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. They do not include the Lunenburg-based authors of Salmon Wars, a book sharply critical of the salmon farming industry.

What is Ontario’s experimental lakes area? / Narwhal
Deep in northwestern Ontario is a collection of 58 small, pristine lakes where, for the past half century, scientists worried about water have gathered to take their laboratory outside. This is the world’s largest outdoor experimental freshwater research facility, allowing scientists to develop invaluable long-term data about the effects of pollutants, clean-up processes and climate change on a finite resource.

Cooling down rivers may protect fish from climate change / Time Magazine
Researchers in Canada are experimenting with ways of creating cold spots in warming rivers to help migrating salmon cool down.

NOAA Fisheries will receive an unprecedented investment in strengthening the agency’s core mission to provide science-based management and conservation of the nation’s marine resources as we confront climate change.


Canada, U.S. to meet with Indigenous leaders next week on transboundary pollution / Victoria Times Colonist
Canadian and U.S. officials to meet with Indigenous leaders as they work on cleaning up toxic mining run-off that’s polluting waters on both sides of the border.

Why Okanagan salmon hatcheries are more successful than their controversial counterparts / iNFOnews
Large hatcheries are causing problems worldwide but, locally, the Okanagan Nation Alliance has been seeing positive results.

First Nations-led AI technology holds promise for salmon recovery / Phys.org
Scientists and natural resource managers from Canadian First Nations, governments, academic institutions, and conservation organizations published the first results of a unique salmon population monitoring tool in Frontiers in Marine Science.


What does the law of the sea say about climate change? / Hakai 
A team of 21 judges is going to figure it out.


Lawrence speaks with Future Angler Foundation President Patrick Neu about the origin, mission and future plans to get more youth out fishing. Pat describes how they were able to achieve TV broadcasting success on PBS, and why youth need to learn about boating safety and responsible fishing as part of their introduction to the sport. Lawrence and Pat also discuss the many new challenges facing fish and fishing, and why youth seek to become stewards of the resource.


Canadian-led mission enforces international fishing regulations / Rossland News
Fishery officer Jessica Bouwers’ effort to climb aboard a vessel heaving from three meter waves was a tiny speck of human drama playing out on the vast expanse of the North Pacific Ocean.

Calls to Action:

Huntsman Marine Centre seeks species tips from citizen scientists / CBC 
A new project at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in Saint Andrews is looking for citizen scientists to help catalogue the species living in the Bay of Fundy. The centre, in southwestern New Brunswick, is asking people who live and work around the bay to keep an eye out for any interesting or unexpected finds. Claire Goodwin, a research scientist at the centre, said the project, funded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is the formalization of ongoing monitoring already carried out by sea-life enthusiasts.

Petition – Save Blind Bay / Save the River
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is proposing a new Border Patrol facility in Blind Bay. The proposed facility would consist of approximately 48,000 square feet of building space, detention center, an impermeable parking lot for up to 100 vehicles,  canine facility, marine storage, boat ramp/docks, car wash, fuel depot, communication towers, perimeter fencing and high-intensity lighting.  The industrial-scale facility will accommodate up to 75 agents and enable future expansion. Blind Bay has been one of the most prolific muskellunge spawning areas in the region and has been monitored since 1990. St. Lawrence River muskellunge have experienced a significant and recent decline due to losses associated with viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) and habitat degradation. Maintenance of high quality spawning and nursery habitat is critical to ensuring population recovery and sustainability. Other important fish species at the site are small and largemouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed, and bullhead; 53 fish species have been recorded at this location.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Event recap: Lake Links 2023 Watersheds Canada
The 22nd Annual Lake Links workshop took place on Saturday, October 21st, 2023. The theme this year was “Hooked on Habitat: Sustainable Fisheries for the Future”. Check out the videos and presentation slide decks from this year’s workshop:

Dr. Steven J. Cooke – Carleton University – “In Search of Sustainable and Responsible Recreational Fisheries” slides
Robert McGowan – Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters – “Aquatic Invasive Species Threatening Eastern Ontario Fisheries” slides
Gord Rodgers Memorial Award presentation
Joffre Côté – Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry – “From Science to Regs – How science is shaping fishing regulations and addressing fisheries concerns” slides

Panel discussion:
Michael Peterson – Rideau Lake Environmental Foundation slides
Margie Manthey – Get the Lead Out Program slides
Melissa Dakers – Watersheds Canada – Fish Habitat Restoration Program slides
Conservation Authorities – Fish Projects slides

Coming Up:

Nov 21: Building Resilient Shorelands: How to take positive land use action in a changing environmental and legislative climate / Watersheds Canada 
To protect Ontario’s freshwater ecosystems and increase the resiliency of waterfront communities in the face of climate change, Watersheds Canada has created a free policy toolkit through its Planning for our Shorelands program. This new toolkit contains education and action resources for municipal decision-makers, Conservation Authorities, freshwater stakeholders, and the public. During this session, you will discover the science behind vegetated buffers, strategies for achieving environmental net gain at the waterfront, shoreline planting restoration templates, and other resources promoting sustainable development along waterfront lands.

International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species (ICAIS) 
Please join us for the International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species, ICAIS 2024, to be held May 12 – 16, 2024 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Invasive Species Forum
SAVE THE DATE | The Invasive Species Forum is taking place Feb. 12-15, 2024. The virtual Invasive Species Forum is an annual event that brings attention to invasive species issues, research, and advances in prevention and management occurring across Canada, and in neighboring U.S. States.

Special Guest Feature – “Frankenfish” / FishingWire

Almost as scary as Frankenstein’s Monster, northern snakehead are an invasive, predatory fish species native to Asia. Dubbed the “frankenfish,” northern snakehead can breathe air and survive for days out of water. Once established, these voracious predators have the potential to wreak havoc on an aquatic ecosystem: out-competing top predators, throwing off the balance of native fish communities, and more.

When it comes to identifying northern snakehead, they’re commonly confused with bowfin and burbot, which are both native to Canada. They are long, thin fish with a flattened head and a single dorsal (top) fin running the length of its back. They also tend to have a more pronounced blotchy pattern along their sides. Bowfin can most easily be distinguished from northern snakehead by a shorter anal fin and a rounded tail fin, while burbot have two dorsal fins and a single chin barbel.

How you can help:

  • Do not dump aquarium contents in any waterbodies, drainage ditches, or sewers.
  • Use certified bait that is non-invasive and disease free.
  • Learn how to identify northern snakehead and report any encounters.
  • If you believe you have caught a northern snakehead
  • Take several photos of it from different angles, including the fins, and freeze it, then:
  • Report the catch to your area invasive species authority, or through the Fish Health Tracker App.

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Supreme Fireplaces Supports New Youth Outdoor Exploration Centre!

The New Blue Fish Exploration Centre located in Quebec’s Pontiac Region receives a new heat source from Supreme Fireplaces of Montreal to heat the centre’s 162 m2 research station. “The donation of the Supreme Novo 38 wood stove will provide our off-grid research station with a safe, reliable, and environmentally sustainable heat source,” says Blue Fish Canada’s president Lawrence Gunther.

The new Blue Fish Exploration Centre encompasses 2.9-hectares of crown land including 380meters of pristine shoreline, all sheltered under the canopy of a mature Red Pine Forest. Youth visiting the Centre canoe and kayak, forage and fish, and follow researchers as they assess fish health and nature’s resilience.

The Supreme Novo 38 woodstove donated by Supreme Fireplaces represents cutting-edge technology that is environmentally friendly, easy to use and redefines the art of modern fireplace design. “We are pleased to offer our support to ensure youth and researchers visiting the Blue Fish Exploration Centre are warm and safe,” says Terry Tsarouhas, Finance and Operations Manager, Supreme Fireplaces.  

Terry Tsarouhas, finance and operations Manager, Supreme Fireplaces and Lawrence Gunther, president Blue Fish Canada

About Blue Fish Canada:
A registered Canadian charity since 2012, Blue Fish Canada / Poisson Bleu Canada is establishing the Blue Fish Exploration Centre in July 2024. The Centre’s mission is to provide youth of all abilities with direct access to traditional, local and scientific knowledge, and to facilitate their forming one-health connections with nature.

About Supreme Fireplaces:
For more than 40 years, Supreme Fireplaces has pioneered technological advancements that have redefined the art of modern fireplace design. Supreme is passionately committed to implementing environmentally sound practices, starting with all products meeting the most stringent EPA emissions requirements.

Les Foyers Suprêmes offrent leur soutien au nouveau Centre d’Exploration Poisson Bleu !

Le nouveau Centre d’exploration Poisson Bleu situé dans la région du Pontiac au Québec reçoit une nouvelle source de chaleur de Foyers Suprême de Montréal pour chauffer sa station de recherche d’une superficie de 162 m2. « Le don du poêle à bois Supreme Novo 38 fournira à notre station de recherche hors réseau une source de chaleur sûre, fiable et respectueuse de l’environnement », a déclaré Lawrence Gunther, président de Poisson Bleu Canada.

Description :
Le nouveau Centre d’Exploration Poisson Bleu s’étend sur 2,9 hectares de terre publique, dont 380 mètres de rivage immaculé, le tout abrité sous la canopée d’une forêt mature de pins rouges. Les jeunes visitant le centre y pratiqueront le canoe, le kayak, la pêche, la cueillette sauvage en forêt, travailleront côtes à côtes avec les chercheurs sur la science de la santé des poissons et la résilience de la nature.

Le poêle à bois Supreme Novo 38 offert par Foyers Suprême représente une technologie de pointe respectueuse de l’environnement, facile à utiliser et redéfinit l’art de la conception de foyers modernes. ‘’Nous sommes heureux d’offrir notre soutien à Poisson Bleu Canada pour garantir que les jeunes et les chercheurs visitant le Centre d’Exploration Poisson Bleu soient au chaud et en sécurité », déclare Terry Tsarouhas, Directeur des finances et des opérations de Foyers Suprême.

Terry Tsarouhas, Directeur des finances et des opérations de Foyers Suprême et Lawrence Gunther, président Poisson Bleu Canada

À propos de Poisson Bleu Canada :
Organisme de bienfaisance canadien enregistré depuis 2012, Poisson Bleu Canada ouvrira les portes de son nouveau Centre d’Exploration Poisson Bleu en juillet 2024. La mission du Centre est de fournir à des jeunes de toutes capacités et de tout horizon, un accès direct aux connaissances traditionnelles, locales et scientifiques, et de faciliter leurs formations et renforcir leurs liens avec la nature.

À propos de Foyers Suprême :
Depuis plus de 40 ans, Foyers Suprême est un pionnier des avancées technologiques qui ont redéfini l’art de la conception de foyers modernes. Foyers Suprême s’engage avec passion à mettre en œuvre des pratiques respectueuses de l’environnement, en commençant par tous les produits répondant aux exigences d’émissions les plus strictes de l’EPA.

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: In between our weekly treks to the Blue Fish Exploration Centre as volunteers work hard to prepare the property for our launch in 2024, we found time to take part in the Lake Links conference. After several years of going virtual, this year’s annual meeting is back to in-person. The theme was “Hooked on Habitat: Sustainable Fisheries for the Future.” Well attended along with many terrific presentations, I left feeling optimistic about the growing movement to associate water quality with fish health as made obvious by Watershed Canada’s chosen theme for this years event. It recognizes that most people who choose to spend time by the water’s edge, or to purchase waterfront property, have an interest in fishing and the health and sustainability of their lake or river’s fish health. It all starts along shores where aquatic life and much of the food chain gets its start. The conference also fits well with the editorial in this issue of the Blue Fish News.

Photo of Lawrence Gunther fishing aboard his Ranger fishing boat along the shore of a Canadian shield lake

This Week’s Feature — Water Quality and Fish Health

By L. Gunther

Most would assume that water quality and fish health are intrinsically linked. As someone who has fished for decades it’s my experience that this is the case. So, why do many rank water quality as a far greater priority? Certainly, boil water advisories on over 50 First Nations Reserves is unacceptable, especially as over 40 million people receive their drinking water from the Great Lakes. But is our focus on implementing technology designed to ensure people have access to an unlimited supply of safe drinking water enough?

Canada possesses 20% of the earth’s renewable surface freshwater and 7% of its water flow. It’s evident to most that water quantity is not something Canadians need fear. At the same time, the public has been convinced that as long as we can make safe the water we drink, the state of the water itself and the animals that live there-in is less of an issue.

The importance of having access to clean and safe water was brought home for many with epic fails such as the Love Canal Tragedy, and then in 2000 when the municipal drinking water in Walkerton Ontario was contaminated with E. coli leaving seven dead and over 2,000 seriously ill.

Public response is mixed, ranging from buying into the water bottle craze, to the creation of numerous governmental committees and commissions, to support for activist organizations focused on identifying and resolving all manner of threats to water quality. Initiatives such as addressing the ability to safely swim, to minimize Bluegreen algae, to stop forever chemicals or invasive species from being introduced, and raising concern over microplastics, salinization, endocrine disruption, shoreline wetlands, etc.

In 2017, with the support of the Canadian Environmental Law Association’s Healthy Great Lakes Initiative, a water quality advocacy gap analysis was undertaken that led to support being expanded to include under-represented issues such as fish health. This included support for the creation of the Great Lakes Fish Health Network, something I’m proud to have led in its formation, and chair to this day.

While some advocate for extending rights to rivers to exist free from harm, others have focused their efforts on creating programs that provide ways for the public to take positive steps to improve water quality. One of these initiatives, born in 2015, is Water Rangers.

Water Rangers came about when founder Kat Kavanagh won the Aqua-hacking competition and used the prize money to launch an app designed to capture and report water quality data across Canada. The app recognizes that understanding water quality means gathering baseline data and then measuring against this data to identify issues before they become problems. Water Rangers now inform and inspire thousands across the country to engage in citizen science by utilizing their testing methodology and equipment, and to report findings to an open-source database. Link below to listen to a new episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show featuring Kat Kavanagh speaking about the work of Water Rangers and what’s coming up: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e410-kat-kavanagh-from-water-rangers-on-

To my delight, Water Rangers now includes fish health as an indicator in their water quality testing methodology — a significant milestone in water quality activism. It’s not the first conservation NGO that Blue Fish Canada has influenced, collaborated with and formed long term partnerships with, while staying true to our original mandate of informing and inspiring youth and others interested in fishing to include sustainable one-health connections with nature while expanding their stewardship responsibilities. These organizations understand that Blue Fish Canada supports sustainable recreational and subsistence fishing, despite what some may think about non-indigenous people recreating and foraging in this way, and yet, they still choose to accept our offer and guidance. They acknowledge that recreational fishing is essential to expanding their reach by including the over six-million Canadians who fish, have fished, and who plan to fish again. More than that, they have chosen to expand their definition of clean water to include fish health as a crucial variable.

Improving water quality in ways that lead to strengthening and maintaining fish health is not something that can be accomplished by one organization alone. Finding ways to collaborate or inspire other organizations to recognize and prioritize fish health is a big part of what Blue Fish Canada does. We most certainly can’t take all the credit, but for over ten years now we have been working hard to fill and close the void that separates environmental NGOs from stakeholders representing recreational fishing.

Blue Fish Canada will continue to inform and inspire local champions, First Nations Leaders, scientists, conservationists, the fishing and boating industries, angling organizations, and others to include sound water stewardship policies and actions. It’s what we do as made evident in our name – “Blue”. It takes safe, stable and supportive water quality to ensure fresh and saltwater fishes can live in environments that allow fishes to achieve strong physical health, successful reproduction, and to live free from inordinate stress. And, so that people of all backgrounds can maintain their connection with nature through the selective and sustainable harvest of fishes.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Petition seeks to ban salmon fishing in Ganraska River in Port Hope, Ont. – Peterborough / Globalnews.ca
More than 12,000 signatures have been added to an online petition this month seeking more stringent regulations for fishing in the Ganaraska River, which runs through the heart of Port Hope, Ont. Launched on Oct. 3 by Sean Carthew, the online petition calls for a shutdown of fishing from the Corbett’s Dam to the Robertson Street Bridge (also known as the CN bridge). The section is a popular spot for anglers and tourists during the annual salmon run as thousands of fish swim upstream from Lake Ontario.

Fishing Is Good for Men’s Mental Health, British Study Finds / Men’s Journal
The results found that those who took part in angling more regularly were almost 17 percent less likely to report being diagnosed with mental health conditions compared to those who take part in the hobby less regularly. And those who fished more frequently saw an even greater positive impact on their mental health.

Salmon at stake in new sport fishery fight / National Observer
A program created to sustain B.C.’s $8.3-billion sport fishing industry amid widespread fishing closures is under fire from environmentalists and some First Nations concerned it is harming threatened wild chinook salmon. Unlike previous rules that let anglers keep whatever fish they caught during an opening, the so-called “mark-selective fishery” program only lets them keep hatchery-raised chinook. Wild fish must be released so they can spawn, passing on their ecologically important genetic diversity and sustaining future runs.

Record coho salmon caught in Lake Superior / Star Tribune
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources certified a state record in the capture of a 10-pound, 14-ounce coho salmon from Lake Superior in St. Louis County. The 29-inch fish breaks the state record set in 1970, and was weighed at a grocery store in Duluth.

The Legal Fishery Sparking Arrests and Violence / Hakai
Canada has spent nearly 25 years ignoring its own Supreme Court—and Indigenous fishers on the East Coast are suffering the consequences. Ultimately, DFO appears determined to continue to manage fishing with commercial licenses. In a statement, the department said: “Conservation is our highest priority and we are working with First Nations to advance their Supreme Court–affirmed treaty right to fish.” The statement continued that the “willing buyer–willing seller [approach] creates predictability in the fishery and allows all harvesters to adequately plan and prepare for fishing seasons, and ensures conservation by not increasing fishing effort.”

B.A.S.S. Creates Committee And Institutes Technology Reviews For 2024 Elite Series Season / FishingWire
B.A.S.S. officials announced that, while they will continue allowing the use of forward-facing and live sonar during the 2024 Elite Series season, the organization is creating a committee of representatives from across the company to continuously monitor the use of live sonar, listen to angler feedback and gauge the technology’s impact on competition, fan experience and bass populations. As part of the monitoring, the committee will review data gathered internally to evaluate live sonar’s impact throughout the coming season.

Alberta’s aeration systems are currently operational in numerous lakes across Alberta / ACA
The Alberta Conservation Authority aerates 22 stocked Alberta lakes throughout the province to provide angling opportunities that wouldn’t naturally exist. These magnificent pieces of equipment help maintain oxygen levels for stocked trout to survive year-round. Aerators alter ice conditions, creating turbulent open water and unstable thin ice conditions. It’s best to follow posted signage and respect safety fencing near winter aerators from mid-October through April.


The incredible tale of the Ottawa River muskie that travelled more than 110 kilometres / Outdoor Canada
Ottawa River Muskie guide Lisa Goodier said she could tell immediately from the stout fight the fish was putting up, that it was a good-sized muskie. So she was thrilled to slide the net under a personal best fish for her guest, measuring 51 inches in length and 22 inches around the girth. But then she noticed something unusual: A floy tag sticking out of the fish. It turns out the muskie—a female—had been originally tagged by the Quebec fisheries folks, which isn’t surprising given the Ottawa River is the boundary between Ontario and Quebec. What was a source of amazement, however, was the fact the fish was originally caught in 2011, in the Lake of Two Mountains, which is the delta where the Ottawa River spills into the St. Lawrence River, not far from Montreal.

Fish health and water quality / Water Rangers
Understanding fish health is complex! Assessing water quality is an easy and effective way to indirectly determine the health and well being of fish species. However, water quality testing alone isn’t a measure of fish health. Blue Fish Canada is helping to bring together experts and Indigenous knowledge to develop an understanding of impacts affecting fish. Anglers play a key role in gathering data and making important observations.

Opinions differ on how to rejuvenate B.C.’s beleaguered salmon / Outdoor Canada
B.C.’s Phillips River is one of the few places where a hatchery has actually helped recover a Pacific salmon population. Returns of chinook increased from less than 500 fish in the early 2000s to consistent runs of 2,000-plus over the past decade, prompting the Gillard Pass Fisheries Association to end its hatchery program on the river in 2019. The very fact the runs have returned and the hatchery is no longer needed represents hope for salmon recovery on the B.C. coast. To mimic this success, however, a fundamental shift is needed in how most of the province’s hatcheries now operate.

A Major Rebuilding Milestone: 50th Fish Stock Rebuilt / NOAA
Snohomish coho salmon was declared overfished in 2018 and has now been rebuilt to a sustainable level, making it the 50th rebuilt fish stock under the U.S. Magnuson-Stevens Act.

B.C. volunteers race to rescue stranded salmon in Fraser Canyon by hand / Global News
Xwísten (Bridge River Indian Band) Chief Ina Williams could not thank the group of volunteers enough for their hard work.

Anglers and river guardians help Kootenay fish cross rivers / National Observer
When angler Shane Westle finds a pile of river fish stranded on land, he sparks an effort to help fish travel between the Kootenay River and one of its tributaries.

A vital linchpin: celebrating the life cycle of Vancouver Island salmon / Comox Valley Record
A female salmon can lay up to 5,000 eggs, but only two may reach maturity and successfully reproduce.

Amid Western Alaska salmon crisis, data-driven strategies could reduce Chinook bycatch / Alaska Public Media
Each year, thousands of Chinook that would otherwise make their way to the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers are intercepted at sea as bycatch.

A tale of two coasts: How Canada’s approach to salmon farming differs from east to west / National Observer
In Atlantic Canada, the fish farm industry is on the precipice of a boom. Nova Scotia could see a four-fold increase in open-net pen salmon farming, and significant expansion is planned along the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s the opposite story on the other side of the country, where fish farms in British Columbia have been shutting down following decades of opposition from many First Nations, scientists and other opponents who point to research showing the farms exacerbate the spread of sea lice and pathogens that contribute to plummeting wild Pacific salmon stocks.

Genetic Breakthrough Announced in Breeding Trophy Bass / Fish Insider
Red Hills Fishery LLC, and the Center for Aquaculture Technologies recently announced a significant discovery — the identification of multiple, naturally occurring genetic indicators that predict the growth of Florida-strain largemouth bass to trophy size. Through this joint effort, Red Hills Fishery has unlocked the potential of these innate genetic markers, paving the way for the breeding of a groundbreaking line of Titan Maxx fingerlings. These fingerlings are bred from parent fish carrying a significant number of the newly discovered trophy DNA markers, ensuring the passage of these markers to their offspring.

All hail Grazer, the winner of Fat Bear Week 2023 / Popular Science
This year’s voting was packed with twists and turns. Four-time Fat Bear Week Champion 480 Otis was ousted on Friday October 6. Otis is the oldest and among the park’s most famous bears. This year, he arrived at Brooks River very skinny, but transformed into a thick bear. Otis was beaten by bear 901, a new mom and the 2022 runner up.


Lake Partner Program / FOCA
For over 25 years the Federation of Ontario Cottage Association has over 600 members for their Lake Partner Program. Volunteers  take water samples once in May if they are on the Canadian Shield, or monthly from May to October for lakes that are off the shield. Scientific analysis of the samples is conducted at the Inland Waters Section of the Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch of the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP lab). Samples are tested for total phosphorus, calcium, chloride, and water clarity. Data is released to the volunteers, the public, researchers and other scientists.

N.B. group drops attempt to eradicate invasive fish / CTV
A group that used a pesticide to rid New Brunswick’s Miramichi watershed of invasive smallmouth bass has stopped the program after years of controversy over the strategy. The group, composed of Indigenous and non-governmental organizations, said Friday it would abandon the rotenone program after its members were unable to convince the provincial government to take the lead on the project to eradicate the non-native species. As well, a number of smallmouth bass were caught outside the treatment area this summer, suggesting the fish have spread beyond the program’s target zone, said Neville Crabbe, spokesman for the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Working Group on Smallmouth Bass Eradication.

Royal Ontario Museum Visits OFAH’s Heritage Centre to Deliver Invasive Fishes ID Workshop / ISC
The Royal Ontario Museum recently held an an invasive fishes ID workshop. This included detailed information and training to properly identify invasive fish species from common native lookalikes. Check out some of the fish profiles on the Invasive Species Centre website to learn how to ID invasive fish species.

Ontario’s greenhouse sector is exploding. So is algae in Lake Erie / Narwhal
Experts say nutrient-rich water from greenhouse farms could be harming Lake Erie, but Ontario’s Environment Ministry has issued very few fines for potential algae-causing infractions since 2019

What we know about the 2023 El Niño and its effect on weather / Vox
El Niño, the warm phase of the Pacific Ocean’s temperature cycle, has already pushed temperatures around the world to levels never recorded before. Humanity this year experienced the hottest July, the hottest August, and the hottest September ever measured across the planet. The temperatures didn’t just inch past the prior records; they blew right through them. September’s heat beat the previous high by nearly a whole degree Fahrenheit. This autumn, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasted that a “strong” El Niño would persist in the northern hemisphere through March 2024, sending shock waves into weather patterns.

Invasive, mutant version of crayfish discovered in Burlington waters / Toronto Sun
An invasive species of self-replicating crayfish — believed to have been created in captivity — has been found in Ontario waters. The prohibited marbled crayfish, also known as marmokrebs, was discovered for the first time in the wild in Canada earlier this year in a Burlington-area pond, according to an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry statement released Aug. 4. This version of crayfish is a mutant with the ability to reproduce quickly and is capable of cloning itself, which means only one could be responsible for starting a new population. One marbled crayfish has the ability to produce hundreds of offspring every time they reproduce, “without the need for sperm or a fertilized egg,” according to the MNRF.

Sponging Up Plastic Pollution / Hakai
Scientists have developed synthetic sponges capable of extracting microplastics and nanoplastics from contaminated water.

Municipalities looking to build ‘sponge cities’ for extreme rain events / Global News
“Sponge parks” in Montreal are designed to catch and absorb rainwater and keep it from flowing into overburdened sewers during extreme rain events.

Interim Code of Practice for Repair, maintenance and construction of docks / DFO
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has posted the interim Code of Practice for Repair, maintenance and construction of docks, moorings and boathouses on Talk Fish Habitat, and it is now open for comment. An analysis and review of feedback received will be required before this interim Code of Practice, and the interim Standard and Codes of Practice released August 10, 2023, are published as final. Accordingly, comments and feedback are welcome until November 30, 2023.

The Myth of Water Abundance in Ontario / Water Canada Magazine
A new study out of the University of Waterloo challenges the myth of water abundance in the Great Lakes watershed. In their review, they found high or moderate water risks in at least half of 38 sub-watersheds. The study revealed that issues like seasonal low flows, groundwater stress and degrading water quality are prevalent, but risks also take the form of regulatory uncertainty, access issues, and conflicts amidst competing water-using groups.

‘Unprecedented’ marine heat wave hits Canada’s East Coast this summer / CBC
The Atlantic Ocean off Canada’s East Coast experienced an “unprecedented” marine heat wave this summer. Surface temperatures reached record highs across the region — including a huge weeklong spike off Newfoundland that averaged 6.7 degrees above normal.

Cost of Canada’s new flagship ocean science vessel jumps to $1.28B / CBC
The budget for Canada’s new flagship ocean research ship increased 28 per cent this year jumping from $995 million to $1.28 billion. Construction of the offshore oceanographic science vessel is underway at the Seaspan Shipyards in North Vancouver, B.C., as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

War of the whales / West Coast Now
A group of giant humpbacks faced off against a pod of orcas in an epic clash recently in Georgia Strait. As required by law, the tour boat shut off its engines when the whales were spotted and stayed away from them, said Milia. But the fighting whales “got really, really close to the boat, which is also really rare.”


What will it take to make traditional foods thrive again? / Narwhal
Skeena River sockeye have declined 75% since 1913. Woodland caribou have declined by more than half in the past century. But with the right resources, First Nations are bringing ancestral foods back from the brink. The ongoing impacts of colonization are colliding with the dangers of climate change, as communities grapple with floods and wildfires destroying or cutting off access to food while biodiversity continues to plummet. Facing increasingly urgent crises, Indigenous communities and scientists are looking to historic and modern technologies to ramp up local food production and restore access to traditional foods.

For generations, killer whales and First Nations People hunted whales together / The Conversation
For generations, the Thaua people worked with killer whales to hunt large whales in the water of Twofold Bay, on the southern coast of New South Wales. Killer whales would herd their giant prey into shallower waters where hunters could spear them. Humans would get the meat, but the killer whales wanted a delicacy – the tongue. Europeans then began capitalising on this longstanding partnership.


Costa Sunglasses Pioneers First Recorded Billfish Research Tagging Mission Completed On Fly / FishingWire
Focused on conservation and driven by its community-based ethos, Costa Sunglasses is announcing the Marlin Fly Project, the first recorded billfish research mission solely using fly tackle. In partnership with the locals of San Carlos, Mexico, The Billfish Foundation (TBF) and International Game Fish Association (IGFA), the Marlin Fly Project team successfully deployed 15 satellite tags in two days to better understand and protect this understudied billfish species. For more about the IGFA Great Marlin Race, read the Blue Fish News Guest Feature below…


Coastal Job: Hovercraft Operator / Hakai
Ian Cragg pilots and navigates hovercraft as a first officer for the Canadian Coast Guard out of the hovercraft base near Vancouver, British Columbia, answering search-and-rescue calls across the province. A lot of people get in trouble in areas that can’t be accessed by conventional means. British Columbia’s geography is unique: a lot of mudflats, a lot of beaches. We recently did a call approximately 70 kilometers away in under an hour; it would have been impossible to get emergency equipment there so quickly with a normal boat, which would top out at about 28 kilometers per hour.

Mussel scare prompts Okanagan Water Board to call for out-of-province boat ban / Vernon Morning Star
The Okanagan Basin Water Board wants to temporarily ban out-of-province boats following the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussel larvae in an Idaho river in the U.S.


Kat Kavanagh is the founder and Executive Director of Water Rangers, a Canadian NGO focussed on equipping and inspiring youth and others to test, document and share data on the state of Canada’s rivers and lakes. For the past year Kat and Blue fish Radio president Lawrence Gunther have been planning and implementing a collaboration to integrate quantitative fish health data into the Water Ranger program, and after a successful summer of trialing Water Ranger’s methodology and equipment with young fishing enthusiasts by Blue Fish Canada, the results are in. Listen to Kat Kavanagh in conversation with Lawrence Gunther on The Blue Fish Radio show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e410-kat-kavanagh-from-water-rangers-on-


Inland lakes monitoring in Ontario / MNRF
Results of this long-term monitoring program supply province-wide information on the state of Ontario’s inland aquatic ecosystems and fish species to inform policy development and resource management decisions. For each lake surveyed, staff collect detailed information about fish species and fish communities, physical and chemical water characteristics, aquatic invasive species, and fishing effort. The webinar explores how Ontario’s MNRF monitors the current and changing state of fisheries across Ontario’s inland lakes.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation to launch new series of instructional fishing workshops / Outdoor Canada
To help newcomers to Canada learn the fundamentals of fishing and conservation, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation is planning to launch a new series of instructional workshops and online presentations.

Special Guest Feature — Annual IGFA Great Marlin Race Crowns Remarkable Journey in Billfish Conservation

Each year, the International Game Fish Association Great Marlin Race is an unprecedented billfish research and conservation initiative that allows recreational anglers, armed with cutting-edge satellite tag technology, to become citizen scientists and deploy tags on the billfish they catch. A collaboration between the IGFA and the lab of Dr. Barbara Block at Stanford University, the tags transmit invaluable information to researchers who analyze and disseminate the data. Since the launch of the tagging program in 2011, nearly 600 satellite tags have been deployed on billfish around the world, making it the largest program of its kind.

This year, a total of 59 satellite tags were deployed across five billfish species during 23 global tagging events. The victorious tag was deployed by the crew of Waste Knot. Demonstrating an extraordinary journey, the tagged blue marlin, traveled an impressive straight-line distance of 4,149 nautical miles (nm) from the US East Coast to the coast of Brazil.

The incredible journey recorded by the tagged blue marlin ranks as the 5th longest in the program’s history and the 3rd longest for a blue marlin. More importantly, the remarkable distances travelled by the fish being studied are not just numbers but represent the critical data contributing to the understanding of billfish behavior, life history, and migratory patterns, integral to their conservation and the health of the ocean.

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