What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Our leadership role in the Great Lakes Fish Health Network is generating results. Maybe not yet in terms of improving fish health, but in bringing the issue to more tables. Not a minute too soon either as new reports out of the United States are ringing alarm bells about the health and safety of eating Great Lakes fish due to PFAS “forever” chemicals. These are the new Mercury, PCB and DDTs and desperately require our attention. Articles are being written and published, webinars hosted, and presentations at bilateral councils organized with the support of the Canadian Environmental Law Association – stay tuned…

Photo of editor Lawrence Gunther with Lake Ontario commercial fishers Joanne and Kenddall Dewey

This Week’s Feature – Lake Ontario Eastern Basin Fishery Stakeholders (Part 3)

By L. Gunther

Over three weeks in the summer of 2022 I visited with a number of stakeholders involved with fishing on the eastern basin of Lake Ontario and Bay of Quinte. Stakeholders that represent commercial fishers and processors, fishery researchers, scientists and conservationists, First Nations, recreational anglers, guides and outfitters. A goal of Blue Fish Canada is to gather and convey this local, traditional and scientific knowledge so everyone understands what fishing means to people, their communities, and the ecosystem.

The Great Lakes Fisheries Commission recognizes that fishing on the Great Lakes is valued at over $9.3 billion Canadian, and represents the most valuable freshwater fishery in the world. This doesn’t even take into consideration the value of fish captured, released or harvested by recreational and sport anglers, or fish harvested by First Nations for commercial, food, social or ceremonial purposes. We also know that extreme weather and other human activities have and continue to cause significant stress on Great Lakes ecosystems and biodiversity. All agree that the Great Lakes deserve to be treated with greater respect.

The federal government has committed to protect 30% of Canada’s oceans, lands, rivers and lakes by the year 2030. So far, Canada has designated two “national marine protected areas” on the Great Lakes – lakes Huron and Superior, many others along Canada’s coastline, and recently announced $800 million to establish four large “indigenous conserved and protected areas” across northern Canada. What these conservation initiatives mean to nature and people is not widely understood. The process being used to designate and conceive these protected areas seems to still be a “work in progress”. What’s becoming evident however, is that stakeholders are growing increasingly vocal about their interest in being consulted about the location and protection of future sites.

What Blue fish is undertaking by speaking with and sharing the thoughts of Lake Ontario’s eastern basin’s stakeholders is not part of any future consultation process meant to establish a “national marine conserved area” that would include Canada’s portion of Lake Ontario’s eastern basin and Bay of Quinte. Our goal is to help make sure the public and others associated with establishing any future protected area are aware of what this largely silent ecosystem means to the cultural, social and economic sustainability of the people who live by and from the water.

Part One of these conversations introduced the topic of a Lake Ontario eastern basin “National Marine Conserved Area” by speaking with a highly regarded scientist of many years who lives on Wolfe Island just off shore from the city of Kingston. Dr. Barrie Gilbert spent much of his career researching apex predators along Canada’s west coast, but he never forgot his roots and moved back to Wolfe Island upon retirement. Dr. Gilbert now serves as a senior advisor to Nature Canada – the conservation NGO leading the charge to establish the NMCA on the east basin of Lake Ontario including Bay of Quinte. I was surprised to learn that not only is Dr. Gilbert supportive of including recreational fishing in the proposed NMCA, but it was his view that the lake had much more to offer despite past abuses. His opinion is that even though the Great Lakes have been poorly treated over the past 150 years in terms of human impacts to water quality and fish health, and that unsustainable commercial fishing negatively impacted Lake Ontario during the early 1900’s, it’s now the case that Lake Ontario’s fisheries are now vastly underutilized. You can listen to my conversation with Dr. Barrie Gilbert by linking to the below episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/lake-ontario-east-basin-proposed-protections-and-dr-barrie-gilbert/

Part Two of Blue Fish Canada’s conversations with stakeholders involved sitting down with Chief Donald Maracle of the Mohawks of Bay of Quinte. I first met Chief Maracle not long after he was first elected chief in 1993 while taking part in a week long First Nations awareness training program involving the First Nations Tyendinaga community located on Lake Ontario’s Bay of Quinte. Our conversation focused mainly on First Nations reconciliation and jurisdiction over their traditional lands and waters. However, when it came to details about commercial and subsistence fishing for food, social and ceremonial purposes, the chief suggested I speak with a specific member of his community who fishes. When I asked his thoughts about establishing an NMCA that would include his community’s traditional waters, his reaction was unfavourable to say the least; however, this could have more to do with the idea coming from outside his community and not an indigenous led process. No doubt, any hopes of merging the proposed “national marine conserved area” with an “indigenous conserved and protected area” will take considerable discussion. You can listen to my conversation with Chief Maracle by linking to the below episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/chief-donald-maracle-of-mohawks-of-bay-of-quinte/

In this Third conversation just released as a podcast I speak with Kendle and Joanne Dewey. This commercial fishing team and couple live and fish together using hoop nets and traps. Their knowledge of the history and current state of Lake Ontario’s eastern basin and Bay of Quinte is long and extensive. Fishing is a choice both made after having served as fish biologists and park interpreters for many years. After having spent an afternoon speaking with the couple in their kitchen I have little doubt that fishing is also much more than a means to generate a living – it’s their passion. Despite their concerns over steadily increasing levels of bluegreen algae and how it’s making it more difficult to fish, the two believe strongly that the potential of the fishery overall is being largely underutilized.

I asked Kendel and Joanne why the consumption of freshly caught local fish doesn’t figure into Prince Edward County’s highly popular summer tourism seen along with the numerous micro breweries, wineries, eateries, resorts and spas. They told me most of their catch is either purchased privately, or shipped to a processing plant on the shores of Lake Erie and then exported. But, it’s not like they haven’t tried to introduce fish into the local market, and suggested I speak with a young refugee from Syria that they recently helped to establish a fish processing and marketing business in the area. To learn more about how Kendle and Joanne Dewey fish sustainably, their life stories, and their thoughts on how to revive a fishery in decline, link below to listen to The Blue Fish Radio: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e381-lake-ontario-commercial-fishers-joa

Blue Fish Canada has lots more conversations to feature and people with whom to follow up. With respect to establishing any sort of protected status to Lake Ontario’s eastern basin and Bay of Quinte. People always ask me during my conversations what such status would offer the lake itself. In fact, it’s a question I have been asking of others. As near as I can say at this point, protecting the lake and bay is not meant to stop fishing. In fact, it’s meant to ensure fish and fishing will be around for many years to come by highlighting the bounty of the waters and the need to better understand what we must do or do differently to ensure its viability. Designating the area as conserved or protected, is not only meant to enhance fish habitat, fish health, and the sustainability of local fisheries, but to give tourists one more reason to visit the area. And by doing so, strengthen local fisheries and nearby communities. Just as importantly, it makes it possible for researchers to secure the funding to better understand how to maintain and strengthen the health and numbers of different local fishes. Last but certainly not least, planning and implementing such a system in partnership with local First Nations will hopefully establish a transparent, productive, equitable and sustainable shared fishery for many more generations to come.

Having personally fished the Bay of Quinte both competitively and recreationally for bass and walleye aboard boats and through the ice, and having spent many days fishing Lake Ontario’s eastern basin, I can personally attest to the quality fishing that the area offers. Being situated an over two hour drive from cities like Toronto and Ottawa make it just a bit to far to fish without staying over in a hotel or campground though, which means it doesn’t get as much fishing pressure as it might otherwise. Below are links to several related articles about fishing in the area I’ve written over the years that you can read on my Feel the Bite blog:

All Aboard “Fresh Off the Boat”
Feeling Around for Some Bay of Quinte Beauties
Ontario Bass Nation Qualifier
Late fall and Where’s the Bay of Quinte Walleye

Here is a link to a blog I wrote for Nature Canada on fishing on Lake Ontario’s eastern basin and Bay of Quinte: https://naturecanada.ca/news/blog/learn-about-lake-ontarios-fisheries-and-how-a-new-national-marine-conserved-area-will-protect-them/

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Commercial fishing deaths in Canada hit 20-year high / OHS Canada Magazine
Despite improvements in safety training and awareness, commercial fishing remains one of the most dangerous professions in Canada. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada reports that 45 workers died between 2018 and 2020, the highest three-year total in 20 years. And fishing safety has been on the board’s watchlist of important safety matters since 2010.

Fishing for answers: who gets to fish for B.C. salmon in the future? / Hope Standard
The Canadian government has shut down about 60 per cent of B.C.’s commercial fisheries since 2021.

Chinook salmon now ‘functionally extinct’ / Yahoo
Yukoners are seeing the disappearance of a way of life — family fish camps with children helping their parents and elders with the catching, skinning, drying and smoking of a winter’s food.

Stormier Seas Keep Fishers on Shore / Hakai
As climate change fuels more extreme weather, fishers in western Madagascar and around the world are facing shrinking opportunities to fish. Small-scale fisheries employ more than 110 million people globally. But as climate change dials up extreme coastal weather, it is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous for the fishers to work.

Fishing Plan Can Rebuild Long Lost Cod Stock by 2033 / FishingWire
U.S. Federal ocean regulators say a new fishing plan has a chance to rebuild the New England cod stock, which is a goal even many commercial fishermen have long regarded as far fetched. Atlantic cod were once a cornerstone of the New England economy, but the catch has plummeted after years of overfishing.

Fish:

Eating one fish from U.S. lakes or rivers likened to drinking month’s worth of contaminated water / CBS News
To find out PFAS contamination in locally caught fish, a team of researchers analyzed more than 500 samples from rivers and lakes across the United States between 2013 and 2015. The median level of PFAS in the fish was 9,500 nanograms per kilogram, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research. Nearly three quarters of the detected “forever chemicals” were PFOS, one of the most common and hazardous of the thousands of forms of PFAS. Eating just one freshwater fish equaled drinking water with PFOS at 48 parts per trillion for a month, the researchers calculated.

High levels of ‘forever chemical’ found in endangered orcas in Canada / Guardian
Southern resident killer whales off British Columbia show alarming levels of 4NP chemical used in toilet paper, study finds.

Electric barrier to keep silver, bighead carp from Great Lakes allows in other invaders / mlive.com
“Silver and bighead carp pose a huge risk to the Great Lakes, but many other species, most of which are invertebrates, can be serious invaders and we also need to prevent them from spreading either to the Mississippi River Watershed from the Great Lakes or the opposite,” said Reuben Keller, a Loyola University Chicago biologist who led the research.

Endangered Salmon Regain Access to Healthy West Coast Habitat through 20 Projects Funded by NOAA Fisheries / Fishingwire
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is one of the largest funding packages for salmon and steelhead recovery in the last decade. It promises to reopen many miles of crucial spawning and rearing habitat across the West Coast as climate change increases the urgency of recovery actions. These projects will help restore access to healthy habitat for migratory…

A fishy problem: How antidepressants may impact the health of our aquatic ecosystems / The Conversation
In the past 20 years, European nations have seen consumption rates of antidepressants more than double. Closer to home, their usage amongst Canadian youth is surging. In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, these rates are only expected to rise, particularly when considering the affordability of and need for these medications. However, many people are likely unaware of a hidden and perhaps surprising environmental cost associated with antidepressant usage. The rising use of antidepressants has led to a parallel spike in their presence in our ecosystems. Our bodies do not fully break down each pill we take and the by-products released from our bodies are often just as active as the original medication.

First-of-its-kind winter ecology study provides important clues to salmon mystery / PSF
The first winter of the salmon life cycle is crucial to survival. Despite frigid conditions, Pacific Salmon Foundation researchers investigate the critical first winter of salmon life. Focusing on factors that may lead to declines in populations including predation, competition, and climate change, scientists advance salmon knowledge to find clues in a first-of-its-kind study on winter ecology.

OCEARCH Embarks on Expedition Southbound / FishingWire
Alongside 45 collaborators from 30 research institutions, the organization will collect data to support 24 science projects that will help solve, for the first time, the life history puzzle of the white shark in the Western North Atlantic Ocean.

Can the Ancient Humpback Chub Hang On in Today’s Grand Canyon? / Sierra Club
The Humpback Chub has survived invasive predators, too-cold water, poisoning, electro-shocks, and a ginormous dam. Still, the chub persists.

Habitat:

The Pacific Ocean’s oxygen-starved ‘OMZ’ is growing, new research finds / Phys.org
Areas of low-oxygen water stretch for thousands of miles through the world’s oceans. The largest of these “oxygen minimum zones” is found along the Pacific coast of North and South America, centred off the coast of Mexico.

‘Endangered’ Lake Winnipeg gets federal support / Narwhal
The federal government is chipping in to help restore the health of the Lake Winnipeg watershed, providing $1.59 million to support projects aimed at reducing nutrient loads in the lake basin. The funding announcement was sandwiched into a week of cross-border discussions on water health, as stakeholders from three American states joined Manitobans at the 40th annual conference of the Red River Basin Commission — a non-profit supporting collaborative water management.

Scientists Sound Alarm as Ocean Temperatures Hit New Record / FishingWire
Oceans absorb about 90 percent of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, shielding land surfaces but generating huge, long-lasting marine heatwaves that are already having devastating effects on underwater life. The study, by researchers in China, the US, Italy and New Zealand, said that 2022 was “the hottest year ever recorded in the world’s oceans”.

Environmental group claims water tests at gold mine site have high arsenic levels / CBC 
An environmental group in Nova Scotia says a gold mine is responsible for high levels of arsenic in local waterways near the mine. The company says it’s a natural occurrence.

BC Hydro, Site C contractor charged over discharge into Peace River / Narwhal
Four million litres of potentially contaminated water was discharged into the fish-bearing river. The incident was not reported ‘in a timely manner,’ according to BC Hydro’s latest Site C dam report.

Indigenous:

Tŝilhqot’in Nation calls for shutdown of Alaska fishery amid concerns over interception of Canadian-bound salmon / CFNR Network
Despite Canada and Washington restricting salmon harvests in recent years, the Alaskan fishery has continued to collect large amounts of fish.

New conservation area being created in Pitt River Valley / Maple Ridge News
The Katzie First Nation are partnering with a new environmental group in a project to restore salmon runs and protect wildlife in the Pitt River Watershed.

Boating:

Faulty Weather Stations Put Us at Risk, Say Central Coast Navigators / Tyee
In the winter months, a combination of high winds and choppy seas makes for treacherous travel in the Queen Charlotte Sound, which runs from northern Vancouver Island to Haida Gwaii. Since there are no islands to shelter boats or planes, this stretch of ocean is particularly vulnerable to strong winds — which have sometimes reached up to 130 km/h. For years though, unreliable weather tracking stations have added an extra layer of difficulty for travel in the region.

Videos:

Climate Change and Habitat Loss: Fisheries at Risk / NOAA
Habitat restoration experts discuss the challenges coastal habitats face from climate change and what NOAA is doing to address them in our new video. Wetlands, coral reefs, rivers, and other habitats are all at risk due to climate change. Just like people, fish and wildlife need homes so they can thrive. Healthy habitats also protect coastal communities from storms, filter pollution from water, and support thriving tourism and fishing industries.

Webinars:

Little Program, BIG Responsibility! / ISC
Link to the January Invasive Species Center  Webinar: Little Program, BIG Responsibility! A behind-the-scenes look at how Saskatchewan manages a provincial watercraft inspection program to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Support the Cities Initiative’s $1 Billion Booster for Freshwater Health campaign / Great Lakes Cities Initiative
The Cities Initiative is working with other organizations across Canada, including the Canadian Coalition for Healthy Waters, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and Great Lakes Commission to push the federal government to invest $1 billion in a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan to improve the health of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, Lake Simcoe and other large lakes and river systems. This was a commitment made in the last federal election. As part of our campaign, the Cities Initiative is asking member cities to reinforce this message with the federal government and local federal and provincial elected officials ahead of Budget 2023. Encourage your municipal council to pass a resolution and send a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

Coming Up:

Kanietarowanenen – the Great River: Her health and the health of the future / River Institute
On February 1, 2023 at 6:15 Eastern don’t miss the in-person & Facebook LIVE event featuring Ojistoh Horn telling the story of the quest to keep the St. Lawrence River healthy, to monitor her health and the health status of the people who engage with her. It’s a discussion about ecological and planetary health. As a traditional minded Haudenosaunee woman, mother, western-based physician, having immersed herself in the understandings of the sciences including epidemiology and biostatistics, Ojistoh Horn will discuss the largest health crisis of this century. The dysregulation of the homeostasis of Iethinisthena Ohontsa – Mother Earth. Also known as Climate Change.

34th Annual Save The River Winter Environmental Conference / STR
On Saturday, January 28 this year’s Save the River conference will be held in person and virtually. In person registration is available for $60 per person and includes coffee, breakfast, and lunch. For the livestream, the registration fee is $25 and you will receive the link the day before the conference.

Invasive Species Forum Preliminary Program Available Now! / ISC
The program features experts in a variety of invasive species fields, including aquatic and terrestrial species, management strategies, community science, and more.

Special Guest Feature – B.C. ice fishers asked to carefully clean equipment to avoid spreading invasive species

The East Kootenay Invasive Species Council has message for anglers who enjoy ice fishing — invasive species management is a four season thing.

  • Make sure you remove all bits and pieces of plant matter and muddy debris as it could; be harbouring the larvae of the invasive Zebra Mussel or invasive plant seeds.
  • Check anything that was on the bottom of the lake, suspended in the water or in a weedy area before moving to a different part of the lake or another water body; and,
  • Inspect ice fishing gear (ice auger, fishing equipment, snowmobiles, sleds etc.) for attached invasive species.

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In the Jan 9, 2023 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with an editorial on a new report that assigns responsibility to anglers for spreading invasive species. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, Habitat and other news you need to know.

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther’s truck and boat at the launch.

This Week’s Feature – Tracking Invasive Species with Fishbrain

By Lawrence Gunther

Like most, my knowledge of how invasive species spread is based on two well-known sources, the first being the ballast of container ships entering the Great Lakes, and the second being the escape of Asian carp into the Mississippi River. Both stories underscore how easily we reconfigure nature by failing to anticipate what we all now know to be obvious risks. Yes, ships that take on ballast water in one part of the world and release it in another transmit life along with the water. Over 185 non-native species introduced into the Great Lakes and counting. And of course, when you introduce a foreign species of fish into an ecosystem as a means of addressing water clarity issues or excessive weed growth, and then those ponds overflow during extreme storm events, these hostage pond cleaning “solutions” will most certainly move on to find other habitat, and in this case it’s the Mississippi River all the way up to and now very likely including the Great Lakes. It’s all to easy to point fingers at the sheer stupidity or willing ignorance of those who decided to set these invasions in motion, but now we have a new culprit to add to the list and, it’s us anglers.

Alright, I’m not announcing anything that others such as the experts at the Invasive Species Centre haven’t already revealed. People are now moving invasive species around with their boats, trailers, kayaks, minnow buckets, waders and boots. Our movement from one water body to another is giving a free ride to tiny life forms, whether plant or animal, to new yet to be adulterated watersheds. A claim that’s simple enough conceptually, but how do we know the extent to which this form of conveyance is reshaping ecosystems? After all, much of what is being claimed is difficult at best to be observed with the naked eye. Well, now we have proof.

Jessica (Jit) Weir, a researcher with Ball State University, has teamed up with the folks at the Fishbrain app company to do some CSI type investigating and the results are disturbing. Fishbrain has over 14 million anglers who allow their fishing destinations to be tracked using the GPS on their smartphones. I’m not talking about their favourite fishing spots, that’s another story, but simply the lakes and rivers that they fish and when. Through a bit of clever computer programming Weir was able to draw lines between where each individual angler fished and then where they fished next several days later. She was especially interested in those anglers who live near and fish bodies of water known to host invasive species. Over 250,000 anglers unknowingly participated in the research, and over 4-million points of interest were used to connect the dots. Link below to watch my interview with Jessica Weir on Blue Fish Canada’s YouTube channel – you will be amazed by the maps she’s created using the Fishbrain data: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qjbha5GHVig.

What we learn from Weir’s research is that anglers are now definitely the ones responsible for spreading invasive species. The travel maps the data generated, and were then overlayed on digital road maps, show conclusively that the spread of invasive species from one lake or river to another correlates with the movement of anglers. Not necessarily at the granular level of the individual angler, but at the macro level where known large scale invasions have been documented. Invasions that can’t be blamed on container ships because there wasn’t any, or by rivers because these are different watersheds. And to be fair, pleasure boaters are also to blame, but let’s be honest, most pleasure boaters aren’t travelling to different lakes nearly as much as anglers.

I know many of you are probably experiencing the hair on the back of your necks standing up just thinking about “big brother” tracking your movements. I agree, it’s unnerving, but name me a social media tool that isn’t tracking your movement and then passing on the details to others who are using the data for one purpose or another. The fact is, most of us risk manage our privacy only to a degree since most of us are curious how business and researchers are going to use the data to improve our lives, or in this case, safeguard native life and nature itself. It’s why I also asked Nate Roman, Partnership Manager with Fishbrain to be part of the interview to discuss how and when researchers like Weir are permitted to come in the back door and snoop around the Fishbrain database. Hey, if keeping others from knowing where you are is important to you, good luck because just about everything we do now leaves a digital trail. You would have to walk everywhere and leave your phone and credit cards at home if you wanted to be completely untraceable, and now with cameras popping up everywhere make sure you cover your face too. We cover this all in the interview, but that’s not what this editorial is about.

Look, these new rules being rolled out about checking, draining, and rinsing your boat and trailer before leaving the boat launch weren’t dreamed up by some overly fastidious clean freak. This is for real – just as real as the Asian carp about to transform Great Lake ecosystems yet again. It’s now us that are the problem. No wonder that cottage lake associations are becoming increasingly aggressive about closing public boat launches or finding other ways to deter outsiders from accessing their lakes.

Face facts, 80% of us live in urban areas, and many of us fish both local and rural bodies of water. Many of us are the same people calling for stronger measures to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes. It just makes sense that we would also hold ourselves to this same level of commitment to prevent the spread of any potentially destructive life form from invading new habitat. So, before you get sidetracked on whether or not Fishbrain should be opening up their data to researchers, remember this, it’s by studying catch logs that we regulate fisheries, so why shouldn’t we be safeguarding these same fisheries by examining our collective movements? Better we get 100% on board with measures to prevent our spreading invasive species, than to have the door slammed in our faces by angry cottage associations or local governments looking to protect the interests of their residents.

The report Weir produced using Fishbrain data is a wake-up call for anglers who like to travel to different bodies of water. It’s up to us now to take this seriously, or it will be us who people blame in ten or twenty years for ruining all those lakes and rivers that we drive to on the weekends.

And then what, people who live in the country will become the next wave of spreaders as they too transport invasive species still further into the wilderness? Where will it stop – it’s now in our hands…

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Winter Fish Fest 2023 / CFN
Canadian Fishing Network is teaming up with Angler’s Atlas to run the Winter Fish Fest using the My Catch app in addition to offering a Facebook option. Log on (or create an account on Angler’s Atlas, read the full rules, download the latest version of the MyCatch mobile app (available for iOS and Android), and submit each fish using the MyCatch mobile app.

Clam Outdoors Trap Attack / Clam
The Clam Outdoors Trap Attack Virtual Ice Fishing Tournament, hosted through the FishDonkey App, is back Jan 21-22! The Trap Attack is meant to give ice anglers an opportunity to get out on the ice and compete for a chance to win some amazing prizes. Last year over 600 anglers participated in the tournament all across the United States and Canada.

Gord Pyzer’s 50 all-time greatest Canadian fishing hot spots / Outdoor Canada
To commemorate Outdoor Canada’s golden anniversary, the Magazine’s long-time fishing editor Gord Pyzer shares his 50 favourite places across the land to wet a line.

Union critical of Ottawa’s plan to buy back Pacific salmon licences / CTV
The union representing British Columbia fishermen says a plan by the federal government to buy back commercial salmon fishing licences is underfunded, lacks transparency and doesn’t address the investments made by harvesters.

What challenges—and successes—will the next 50 years bring for hunters and anglers? That’s up to us / Outdoor Canada
What will the next 50 years bring? It’s unlikely crystal balls have improved any in the last half-century, but it’s a question worth pondering. After all, tomorrow’s hunting and fishing opportunities will almost certainly be determined by the choices we make, or avoid, today. Things of seemingly small consequence now may eventually prove to be critically important, setting us up for new conservation successes. Or failures. That’s the lesson history teaches, for those willing to learn.

Fish:

John Palmore leads project to deter carp with sound / Virginia Tech
How do you stop an army of carp from invading the Great Lakes? Two Virginia Tech researchers are joining an effort to put up a defensive barrier made of sound waves.

B.C. salmon returns and fisheries 2022 season recap / Watershed Watch
Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s senior fisheries advisor, Greg Taylor, provides an update on salmon returns and fisheries in 2022.

Is road salt hurting salmon? UBC and volunteers are investigating / Weather Network
With Pacific salmon population numbers dwindling, could road salt be contributing to the decline? The University of British Columbia has teamed up with volunteer groups to find out definitively.

Why it’s time to put sustainable fish on the menu / Forbes
Nearly a third of all monitored global fish stocks are overfished, and almost two-thirds (60 per cent) are being fished to the maximum sustainable yield.

Green light for $100 million fish farm on former Gold River pulp mill site / Business Examiner
The Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has granted an Aquaculture Permit for Gold River Aquafarms, which has plans to develop a $100 million land-based steelhead fish farm.

Habitat:

Canada made big promises at COP15. Will it follow through? / Narwhal
196 countries set new global targets to stop the biodiversity crisis. The test now is to put words into action.

Cop15 in Montreal: did the summit deliver for the natural world? / Guardian
This past Monday, the Convention on Biological Diversity concluded in Montreal, Quebec with a global commitment to protect 30 percent of land and sea by 2030, while respecting Indigenous rights. The United States, the only country besides the Vatican that isn’t a member of the convention, made a similar 30 by 30 pledge and is about to ban the buying and selling of shark fins. While many people applauded the final text around Indigenous territories, language in other sections from consumption to plastic was watered down. (The Guardian)

How microplastic kills plankton. / The Slate Group
Plastic has become so pervasive that even tiny plankton are ingesting it. And since marine creatures from fish to whales eat plankton, plastic is harming species all the way up the food chain. New research shows that sea urchin larvae don’t even have to eat plastic to die from developmental problems; they just have to be reared in waters containing it.

Scientists: atmospheric carbon might turn lakes more acidic / Castanet
The Great Lakes have endured a lot the past century, from supersized algae blobs to invasive mussels and bloodsucking sea lamprey that nearly wiped out fish populations.

Climate change: rivers and lakes need better protection, says report / Phys
The effects of climate change are increasingly affecting rivers and lakes and threatening the ecological balance in these waters. Adaptation measures are needed. However, in order to implement them in a targeted manner, more knowledge is needed about the complex interactions in aquatic ecosystems.

PFAS Are Everywhere / Siera Club
Some of the most hazardous chemicals to human health and the environment are in just about everything we purchase and consume, whether it’s personal-care products, food packaging, cookware, or clothes. Known as PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are commonly used to make surfaces nonstick and resistant to water and grease. PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, do not naturally degrade. They are found in the blood of 99 percent of Americans. And there’s no way to remove them from our bodies.

Indigenous:

Behind the long wait for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas / Narwhal
Canada needs to protect more land. There’s 500,000 square kilometres in proposed Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas. So what’s the holdup?

Tribes seek U.S. help to curb Canadian mining threats to Northwestern states / Bonner County Daily Bee
Indigenous leaders from the Northwest renewed their call this week for the federal government to pressure Canada to stop additional mining activity in British Columbia, which they say contaminates waters and threatens Native American ways of life in Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

Industry:

EFTTA Board member: Angling could become a dying activity if we don’t lobby the EU / Angling International
European Fishing Tackle Trade Association member Gerard Bakkenes is under no illusions as to the importance of lobbying for the future of recreational fishing. EFTTA, which is based in Brussels and represents the industry at the highest echelons of the EU, has this week reiterated its resolve to fight for the sport. And Bakkenes (left) has told Angling International: “Without lobbying angling could become a dying activity. It is crucial to the survival of the sport.

Boating:

Brunswick Launches New Electric Boat Brand / Brunswick Marine
Veer is an all-new boat brand designed to support electric propulsion and appeal to the next generation of boaters.

Books:

“Managing to Zero – The Thompson Steelhead Travesty”
Read author Bob Hooton’s latest book “Managing to Zero – The Thompson Steelhead Travesty”. Once a fishing bucket list experience that brought anglers to B.C. from around the world, Their slow but now surely immanent demise has been excruciating to witness. Bob Hooton, a retired fish biologist, explores how such a world-famous fish has been reduced to the point of near extinction, and the politics responsible for this preventable disaster. You can order your copy now from Amazon.

Podcasts:

Blue Fish Radio: IGFA’s new youth fishing program is coming to Canada
In this episode of Blue Fish Radio, producer/host Lawrence Gunther talks to Lisa Morse (above left), Education Programs Manager with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). With Lisa’s support, Blue Fish Canada is the first Canadian partner chosen to help deliver IGFA’s Passports to Fishing program for youth, their families and mentors. Lawrence and Lisa discuss this exciting youth program—which includes education on conservation, stewardship and safety, as well as angling skills—and the importance of growing interest in sport fishing.
To listen to the episode now, press PLAY below. To download this podcast to your device, go to the Blue Fish Radio home page. Play episode IGFA Global Partners Deliver Youth Programming

Videos:

PFAS Are Everywhere. We Need Systems Change to Fix That. / Sierra Club
This year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that there is virtually no safe level of PFAS in drinking water. Even so, the federal government has still not established limits for PFAS in water, food, or consumer products, leaving states to set their own. Some organizations look to Denmark’s PFAS threshold: no more than 20 parts per million in paper foodware. Fortunately, there is momentum for change in the US. Some states have banned PFAS in products such as food packaging, cosmetics, textiles, and carpets. And thanks to a raft of new studies, we now know a lot more about what products are safer than others.

Coming Up:

Little Program, BIG Responsibility!
Overland transportation of watercraft between waterbodies is one of the most notorious pathways responsible for the accidental spread of harmful aquatic invasive species across North America. Saskatchewan’s mandatory Watercraft Inspection Stations are fundamental to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. On Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023 join the Saskatchewan Aquatic Invasive Species team to learn about the “6 W’s” of watercraft inspection and get a behind the scenes look at how Saskatchewan manages it’s watercraft inspection program.

Registration is Now Open for 2023 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
This year’s Invasive Species Forum theme is Invasive Species Action in a Changing Climate. The February 7-9 Forum presents the opportunity to learn from a variety of dedicated sessions including Ecosystem Resilience; Vectors, Pathways, & Threats; Indigenous Communities; and more.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Have you heard our new addition to the Blue Fish Radio Show line-up? Starting last week we are now releasing live audio from the Canadian Fishing Network Monday Night Live featuring Blue Fish Canada’s President Lawrence Gunther discussing the latest fish and fishing news with CFN host Scottie Martin. Lawrence is a regular contributor since March 2020 on the weekly CFN program streamed over Facebook and Youtube. Download The Blue Fish Radio Show on any of the podcast streaming services, and if you like this new weekly feature along with our biweekly interviews with people making a difference for fish and fishing, leave us a ranking and 5-stars on Apple Podcast or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. It’s through these rankings that others learn about the show.

Editor Lawrence Gunther broadcasting from his home studio

In the December 19, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we start by exploring just what it means to become a steward of nature and the future of fishing, and why this now needs to include being a champion for biodiversity and resilience. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Guest Feature chosen to inform and inspire our readers is a curated list of draft research and implementation priorities recently released by the Great Lakes Executive Committee.

This Week’s Feature – Champions for Biodiversity and Resilience

By L. Gunther

I want to share with you my own close call with a severe windstorm that crashed through eastern Ontario on May 21, 2022. I and a friend were minutes away from launching my Ranger boat on the Ottawa River when the storm struck. None of our weather apps predicted the storm despite its incredible size and strength. We learned later that storm tracking computers had never been programmed to recognise this form of fast-moving storm now referred to as a derecho.

The storm hit hard. No fewer than 11 people died in-around Ottawa that day including an angler on the river within a kilometer of where we were about to launch. The loss of human life and the destruction of property was both unprecedented and tragic, as it was when four months later hurricane Fiona would slam into eastern Canada. These storms brought home for me how important it is that we strengthen nature’s resilience in addition to mitigating climate change.

Scientific studies report that the variety of life on the planet, including plants, invertebrates, and ocean species are declining at rates not seen in human history. An intergovernmental scientific panel forecasts that a million species are in danger of extinction. In response, during the biodiversity conference in Montreal, Canada announced it would spend $800 million to develop four new Indigenous protected areas as part of its international commitment to protect 30% of its oceans, land, rivers, and lakes by the year 2030. That’s terrific news, and represents another step towards reconciliation, but what about the other 70% of Canada?

Ten years ago, with the support of a few close friends, I founded the charity Blue Fish Canada to ensure the “future of fish and fishing”. The goal was and remains to this day to inform and inspire people, young and old, to form personal connections to nature through fishing. More importantly, to do so by following science-based sustainable fishing best practices, and by becoming stewards of nature through citizen science.

Looking back, one of the most inspiring guests ever featured on The Blue Fish Radio Show was Alexandra Morton. Her dedication to wild salmon on Canada’s west coast truly exemplifies what it means to advocate on behalf of nature’s biodiversity and the need to ensure it’s resilience. A true Canadian hero! Link below to hear Alexandra Morton in conversation with Editor Lawrence Gunther on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.outdoorcanada.ca/blue-fish-radio-renegade-biologist-alexandra-morton-reflects-on-her-decades-of-fighting-for-wild-salmon/

For over 150 years anglers in North America have been championing conservation measures. The waterkeeper movement itself was founded by three anglers fishing on the Hudson River who witnessed a fish kill, took water samples, and successfully sued the company responsible for releasing noxious chemicals into the river. It made sense therefore, that Blue Fish Canada documents, celebrates and promotes our conservation values, and to implement programs that pass on this tradition to youth as part of their learning to fish experience.

Growing up I spent considerable time at my family’s pond learning how ecosystems function. This included the natural reproduction of the brook trout we introduced into the pond not long after it was formed to take advantage of a year-round natural spring. I witnessed how the trout cope with acid rain, ozone depletion, invasive species, and even my own fishing pressure. The trout demonstrated tremendous resilience, but it was nature that sealed their fate in the end by slowly filling back in that pond through erosion and decomposition. There’s one thing those trout never had to contend with though, and that’s unusual and repeated extreme weather-related threats to their existence and habitat. Weather related events that local outdoor enthusiasts and Indigenous knowledgekeepers alike describe as going far beyond what can be explained as natural phenomena.

Politics and opinions aside, it’s more important than ever that we as anglers continue to be conservation-minded in all we do. This includes documenting what we have through measurements, catch-logs, water quality observations, and the early identification of changes to fish and their habitat. Establishing baseline data is crucial to documenting change so effort and resources can be secured and assigned to mitigate such changes and strengthen resilience. Blue Fish Canada is now championing several habitat enhancement initiatives and long-term fishery studies.

Ensuring Canada’s tremendous biodiversity is resilient is an absolute imperative. Canada has more nature than any other country with our longest coastline, largest contiguous forest, and a stake in the world’s biggest freshwater basin. Strengthening nature’s resilience is essential to sustaining our biodiversity. Given our incredible size and small population, making sure nature is resilient is going to take all of us working together.

The new year will see Blue Fish Canada expand our youth programs at dedicated research and exploration sites geared to supporting long-term fish habitat enhancement and research. Youth will take part in implementing fish conservation measures and a long-term evaluation of the effectiveness of these interventions. Sites include both urban and rural locations in Ontario and Quebec, with plans for expansion into more provinces in the works.

If you are already finding ways to strengthen the health of your favorite watersheds and the ecosystems they support, terrific. If you are still looking for opportunities or want to do more, reach out and Blue Fish Canada will be pleased to include you as a volunteer, or, make a one-time or monthly charitable donation through our secure on-line donation service provided by Canada Helps and receive a tax receipt.

To date, the work of Blue Fish Canada has been paid for with donations from anglers, conservationists, and grants from private foundations. More recently, celebrities like Canadian country music star and outdoor TV host Bret Kissel have stepped up and become long term supporters. We are thankful for the recognition of the work Blue Fish Canada is receiving. However, addressing threats to Canada’s biodiversity and the growing need to strengthen nature’s resilience is essential. Now is the time to support Blue Fish Canada.

All the best to you and yours over the Holidays. Remember, if you ever need a little bit of “me time” and you’ve already blown through your collection of gift cards and spending money, download one of the 65 episodes of “Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther”, or any of the 375 episodes of “The Blue Fish Radio Show” – new episodes of both podcasts drop every two weeks. And remember, if there’s a story that needs telling, reach out and let Blue Fish Canada help make that happen.

Yours in conservation,
Lawrence Gunther

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

COVID-19 reduced recreational fishing effort during the black bass spawning season, resulting in increases in black bass reproductive success and annual recruitment / Fisheries Research
During two non-pandemic years (2019 and 2022) the hook-wounding rates from recreational angling observed among nesting male largemouth bass (LMB), and nesting male smallmouth bass (SMB), were quite high, but typical of those observed in the lake being monitored over the last 20 years. 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 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.

Ottawa aims to reduce size of salmon fishing industry by buying licences / Global
The federal government is offering to buy Pacific salmon commercial fishing licences from those looking to get out of the declining industry as it tries to protect the fish that remain. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has earmarked $123 million for the voluntary retirement program and two future initiatives that will dispose of derelict vessels and allow Indigenous communal commercial licence holders to switch to another species. The funding is part of a nearly $650-million Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative announced last year. Jeff Grout, a salmon resource manager with Fisheries, says about 1,300 licences are eligible for the program, which will buy them at market rate and take them out of circulation.

Arctic char from Nunavut finds a market in Thunder Bay, Ont. / CBC
Eat the Fish is part of a project called Lake to Plate, and co-owner Paul Drombolis says the partners in the effort include the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Laval University and Project Nunavut. The Arctic char is caught in a lake nearly 2,000 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. It’s flash frozen on sight, and then shipped south.

Teaching 100,000 youth around the world to fish / IGFA
In 2018, the International Game Fish Association set an ambitious goal of teaching 100,000 youth around the world how to fish ethically. In June 2022, the 100,000th child was taught during our IGFA Day celebrations. Although the initiative is complete, the work will continue around the world to establish future generations of ethical anglers.

Unearthing the Original Mediterranean Diet / Hakai
Archaeologist Dimitra Mylona’s odyssey to reveal the Mediterranean Sea’s lost bounty. When Greek archaeologists applied the same methodology to coastal sites in the Aegean and even in many inland locations, fish bones were uncovered by the hundreds or thousands in nearly every location. Fish were clearly an important part of the ancient Greek diet: a vast underestimation of the importance of the sea as a source of food had taken place.

“Dollar Dog” features in International Fly Fishing Festival / ASF
The story of a four-legged Cape Breton salmon guide is an official selection in the 2023 International Fly Fishing Film Festival. The ASF x Orvis production, produced by filmmaker Tim Myers and ASF’s Nova Scotia program director Dierdre Green tells the story of Ella, a golden retriever mix from Cape Breton who walks alone every day to Dollar Pool on the Margaree River where she watches people fish and points to where salmon are laying. The short documentary features legendary Margaree Guide Robert Chiasson and Ella’s family, telling the story of their remarkable pooch.

Fish:

Herrings are swimming back to the Salish Sea / Crosscut
The fish almost disappeared from Howe Sound in the mid-1970s. Now, the Squamish Nation and citizen scientists are welcoming them home. The spectacle of herring spawn—adult fish returning to these shores to blanket tens of thousands of eggs with a milky, turquoise cloud of seminal fluid known as milt—is over in a matter of days. Some of the eggs, glommed onto vegetation such as rockweed, will be fertilized, and if the waves that wash across them are gentle and predators stay away, larval fish will emerge. To me, the clear bubble-like eggs the size of millet that Williams searches for seem too minuscule to be of much consequence in Átl’ḵa7tsem. But to Williams and the four other citizen scientists who make up the core herring search team, knowing where these eggs land and flourish enables them to put a finger to the pulse of a waterway that environmentalists once declared dead. The ghosts of resource extraction surround us: two pulp mills that choked the sound with logs and bleaching agents like chlorine dioxide, chemical plants that leached mercury, underwater dump sites from dredged sediment and a beachfront copper mine that was once the biggest source of toxic metals in North America’s waterways.

Concerns feds reversing promise to end B.C. fish farms by 2025 / Narwhal
“They’re not talking about a transition from open-net salmon farms anymore,” says Stan Proboszcz of Watershed Watch. “They’re talking about just producing a plan by 2025, to transition existing open nets into some other open-net form, that may or may not reduce interactions with wild fish.”

Miramichi smallmouth efforts lifted up in New York / ASF
The Atlantic Salmon Federation remains committed to eradicating illegally introduced smallmouth bass from the Miramichi watershed. In September, ASF successfully treated Lake Brook and a portion of the SW Miramichi River to remove these invasive fish. However, ASF was unable to treat Miramichi Lake with a rotenone project as planned. ASF is working on finishing the job in 2023, and at their annual fund-raiser in New York, ASF raised over $400,000 to begin strategizing for next year and to complete the project.

Thousands of salmon return to spawning grounds after channel dug around Coldwater River logjam / CBC
One year after the floods of November 2021 left coho salmon stranded behind a logjam in the Coldwater River, recovery efforts have cleared the way for 2,000 of the fish to swim upstream to their spawning grounds.

Berlin’s giant AquaDom hotel aquarium containing 1,500 fish explodes / BBC
A giant aquarium containing a million litres of water in the lobby of the Radisson Blu in Berlin has burst, flooding the hotel and nearby streets. The “AquaDom” – home to 1,500 fish – is 15.85m high (52 ft) and was described as the largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium in the world.

Endangered salmon are left to flounder as Canada hosts COP15 / National Observer
Ottawa has “abandoned” endangered salmon and steelhead trout despite its biodiversity promises, says Watershed Watch, B.C. Wildlife Federation and the B.C. Federation of Fly Fishers. More than 40 salmon populations have been assessed as endangered or threatened, but only one is legally protected under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

ASF researchers have big year in Greenland / ASF
The ASF flagship research program, tagging and tracking Atlantic salmon in the North Atlantic, achieved a breakthrough this year in Greenland, where salmon from more than 2,000 rivers in North America and Europe migrate to feed and grow. The ASF crew, working with local fishermen and scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, caught and tagged 215 adult salmon with satellite and acoustic tags. It was the fourth and most successful year of this current five-year program. The satellite tags are tethered to the backs of the fish and programmed to release in early May. They will float to the surface and connect with passing satellites to transmit data on depth, water temperature, and position. The acoustic tags are implanted in the stomach of the salmon and have batteries that can last up to two years. They emit soundwaves that are detected by receivers placed along known migration routes home from Greenland. The data captured identifies the unique fish and when it passed by. This work at Greenland compliments ASF’s long-term research on juvenile and adult salmon leaving their home rivers, detailing for the first time in history the exact route and timing of their homeward migration.

Tacoutche Tesse, the Northwest’s great ghost river — Part 3: saving wild salmon versus the net pen industry / Salish Current
“The dominos are beginning to fall,” according to Stan Proboszcz, senior scientist at B.C.’s Watershed Watch Salmon Society. Alexandra Morton put it even more bluntly: “I think this industry is in its last days.”

Many myths about the N.L. salmon aquaculture industry / SaltWire
“The history of the NL salmon aquaculture industry is a dark one, with many bad decisions made by both DFO and the province to help the industry get established.”

Progress is possible: Cowichan River Reaches Tipping Point! / Salmon Steward Magazine
In 2003, the Cowichan River reached a tipping point. After weeks of drought conditions, salmon had to be trucked upstream to reach their spawning grounds. After reaching a low of 500 Chinook in 2009, over the last four years the average annual return has increased to more than 23,000. The resurgence is due in part to Cowichan Watershed Board’s successful local governance model where collaboration and shared action guides the way, discussed at PSF’s Pacific Action Dialogues as we work First Nation Fisheries Council of B.C. to develop a framework for collaborative action.

‘A cry for help’: Yukon River Chinook salmon take priority in high-level talks on Parliament Hill / Yukon News
Cheyenne Bradley explains how her ancestors relied on Chinook salmon to help them survive in fish camps along the Yukon River. Now she refrains from harvesting that species for the benefit of the fish and the people who rely on it.

Habitat:

There’s Something in the Water / Ohio Sea Grant
Lake Erie is a vital resource to Ohio, supplying drinking water, recreational opportunities and employment to millions of people. The lake is weathering its fair share of problems, from harmful algal blooms to industrial pollution, but it also faces new potential threats to its health. One of those threats is quickly gaining more attention from scientists, and it’s also one that residents can play a large role in addressing: contamination from pharmaceutical products. There’s not a lot of research on the long-term impacts of pharmaceuticals at very low concentrations. Pharmaceutical compounds are treating diseases at pretty high concentrations, but when hundreds of different compounds are all together, we don’t know how they interact with each other. In small animals and invertebrates some impacts even at very low concentrations are observed, where some of the animals might develop tumors or behavior problems.

B.C. vows to reverse ‘short-term thinking’ with pledge to protect 30% of province by 2030 / Narwhal
Advocates say Premier David Eby’s conservation mandate is an ‘important step’ in the fight against biodiversity loss in B.C., which is home to nearly 700 globally imperilled species.

B.C. to add protections for ‘high profile’ endangered species / Narwhal
With plants and animals rapidly disappearing, B.C. and the feds are close to a new agreement to protect nature. But some environmentalists question just how strong protections will be.

Rethinking the Resilience of Salt Marshes / Hakai
The painstakingly slow recovery of an Oregon marsh raises new worries about how delicate these ecosystems can be. The discovery that salt marshes can be so slow to re-establish suggests some may be less resilient than scientists tend to think—a grim finding in a world where sea level rise is threatening to gradually drown coastal marshes around the world.

Wild Salmon Watersheds up and running / ASF
Atlantic Salmon Federation’s new Wild Salmon Watersheds program has advanced from concept to pilot stage. Memorandums of understanding have been signed by ASF and groups in three places; the Nepisiguit River in New Brunswick, the Margaree and Cheticamp rivers in Nova Scotia, and the Terra Nova River on the island of Newfoundland. Working with local partners like the Nepisiguit Salmon Association ASF will help build a long-term plan for conservation action and deliver the money and expertise required to execute. As a facilitator, ASF will connect these local groups at annual conferences where best practices are shared. Learn more or nominate your river for the Wild Salmon Watersheds program by contacting Kris Hunter – khunter@asf.ca.

2022 Status of U.S. Marine and Great Lakes Ecosystems Released / National Centers for Environmental Information
The website provides a holistic view of important ecosystem data and has been newly expanded to the Great Lakes in 2022. New indicators such as the number of days an ecosystem experiences a marine heatwave and changes in the distribution of species have also been added. For the first time, the National Marine Ecosystem Status website includes indicators for each of the Great Lakes as well as the Great Lakes Region as a whole. Each lake has distinctive basin features, circulation, and ecology. In total, 13 ecosystem indicators are available for the Great Lakes, including lake ice cover and coastal population. The indicators show that the Great Lakes ecosystems are stable with the exception of increasing intensity of marine heatwaves, frequency of billion-dollar disasters, and value of the coastal tourism sector. The indicators were developed in partnership with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, and the data used on the website comes from a collection of NOAA, state-level, and international resources.

What Is “Urbanized Knowledge Syndrome”? / Hakai
Survey research suggests people who live in highly built landscapes tend to think more simply about coastal environments. It represents a broad trend “urbanized knowledge syndrome”—a pattern of linear, homogenized thinking about coastal ecosystems that grows worse with increasing urban development. It suggests that as coastal environments become more built up, people lose their appreciation and understanding of the complexity of the natural world.

Indigenous:

Trudeau announces $800M for Indigenous-led conservation initiatives / CBC
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced $800 million in funding for large Indigenous-led conservation projects covering almost a million square kilometres of land. The prime minister made the announcement in Montréal, which is hosting the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, also known as COP15. The four projects in Ontario, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and British Columbia that will be funded starting next year are meant to conserve land and protect coastal and inland waterways. Trudeau said the initiative will help Canada reach its target of conserving 25 per cent of Canada’s land and waters by 2025, rising to 30 per cent by 2030. The project is being funded with the help of Project Finance for Permanence, PFP, a funding model that channels contributions from Indigenous communities, all levels of government and the philanthropic community to provide long-term protection for land and water. In the Great Bear Sea on B.C’s coast, the initiative will support a group representing 17 First Nations working to protect the Northern Shelf Bioregion, which includes a number of islands, rocky shorelines and deep fjords. In the Northwest Territories, funding will be directed to a partnership of 30 Indigenous groups working to protect boreal forests, rivers and other lands. The third region being protected is in Qikiqtani, the northernmost region of Nunavut, home to sensitive habitats for marine mammals, birds and fish. In Ontario’s far north, the initiative will fund conservation and protection activities in western James Bay, southern Hudson Bay and the Hudson Bay lowlands.

Michigan, native tribes reach new Great Lakes fishing deal / Vancouver Is Awesome
The tentative deal involves contentious issues for groups wanting shares of a valuable resource as populations of some species — particularly whitefish and salmon — have fallen over the past two decades. A proposed order submitted to a federal judge would extend for 24 years a system overseeing commercial and sport fishing in areas of lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior covered by an 1836 treaty. Those sections of the lakes are entirely within the U.S. and under Michigan’s jurisdiction. The agreement, like its predecessors, sets zones where tribal fishing crews can operate and areas where commercial fishing is off limits. It deals with topics such as catch limits, and which gear tribal operations can use. Particularly controversial is tribes’ use of large-mesh gill nets, an effective tool that hangs in the water column like a wall. Critics say they indiscriminately catch and kill too many fish. The new deal let tribes use the nets in more places, with restrictions on depth in the water they’re placed, the times of year they’re used and how much netting is deployed.

Podcasts:

Blue Fish News now Live on The Blue Fish Radio Show!
In addition to our usual biweekly Blue Fish Radio Show special guest features, you can now listen to Blue Fish Canada President Lawrence Gunther discuss all the latest fishing and fish news with Canadian Fishing Network Scottie Martin every week.

Webinars:

Life on the edge: Wildlife and change in the Hudson Bay Lowlands / OMNRF
Access the recording of the seminar featuring Glen Brown presenting on wildlife and change in the Hudson Bay Lowlands. For more detailed information about the content of the presentation, feel free to contact Glen Brown from Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Coming Up:

Registration is Now Open for 2023 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
This year’s Invasive Species Forum theme is Invasive Species Action in a Changing Climate. The February 7-9 Forum presents the opportunity to learn from a variety of dedicated sessions including Ecosystem Resilience; Vectors, Pathways, & Threats; Indigenous Communities; and more.

SAVE THE DATE: Great Lakes Day 2023 / Great Lakes Commission
Save the date for Great Lakes Day, including the annual Great Lakes Day Congressional Breakfast Reception, to be hosted by the Great Lakes Commission and Northeast-Midwest Institute on March 9, 2023. The Breakfast Reception includes dialogue on Great Lakes priorities by regional leaders and members of Congress who play a critical role in shaping Great Lakes policies.

Special Guest Feature – Great Lakes Binational Draft Priorities for Science and Action(2023-2025) / Great Lakes Executive Committee

The following are some of the draft priorities being considered for further research and implementation by the binational Great Lakes Executive Committee. Public comments are still being sought:

  • Conduct monitoring and surveillance in Great Lakes environmental media to track trends of Chemicals of Mutual Concern and other priority chemicals, enhance these efforts through the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative, communicate results, and implement strategies to reduce Chemicals of Mutual Concern.
  • Recognizing that fish consumption is the major Great Lakes route of exposure for bioaccumulative CMCs, U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions will provide fish consumption advisories and raise awareness about the risks to minimize potential impacts to human health, including vulnerable populations.
  • Improve our understanding of factors affecting nuisance and harmful algae growth in the Great Lakes, particularly in nearshore areas.
  • Improve tracking and reporting on phosphorus loads to Lake Erie and the extent of harmful algal blooms and improve hypoxia assessment methods.
  • Develop and evaluate early AIS detection technologies and methods, including eDNA and genetic barcoding, and research and develop technologies and methods for control and eradication of AIS. Prevent introductions of new invasive species into the Great Lakes, including silver carp, bighead carp, and black carp, and other species identified through risk screening and assessment.
  • Enhance early detection for invasive carps and for other high-risk aquatic invasive species.
  • Conduct response actions to prevent the establishment of grass carp and other high-risk species in the Great Lakes.
  • Identify gaps in current AIS policies and regulations and reduce the risk of pathways into and within the Great Lakes basin.
  • Assess coastal environments, with a binational focus on coastal wetlands through the U.S. Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program and the Canadian Coastal Baseline Habitat Survey to support protection and restoration efforts and other actions that increase resiliency of native species and their coastal habitat.
  • Through existing programs, including Canada’s Nature Fund and the U.S. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, implement actions to protect and restore the resilience of native species and their habitats with a focus on activities that restore and maintain natural hydrology and water quality.
  • Produce and share climate information with the Great Lakes community, including regularly issuing the binational Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook report and the Annual Climate Trends and Impacts Summary for the Great Lakes Basin.
  • Increase understanding and consideration of opportunities to integrate Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in collaboration with Tribes, First Nations, and Métis, with a focus on updating, as appropriate, the Guidance Document on Traditional Ecological Knowledge Pursuant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and explore conducting educational opportunities on TEK.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Want to know what donating and volunteering in support of Blue Fish Canada can mean, read our year-end report. And after you read the report we are certain you will want to Become a Donor and/or Volunteer with Blue Fish Canada. Drawing mental, spiritual, social and physical wellbeing from nature means giving back to make sure nature itself is well – it’s called “one health”. Help us to give back and make sure fish and fish habitat remain strong and resilient.

Featured Blue Fish Radio guest Tom Rowland

In the December 5, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with an exploration of evolving fish handling best practices, including a podcast featuring TV host, podcaster, tournament angler and guide Tom Rowland. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Guest Feature is chosen to inform and inspire our readers’ concerns.

This Week’s Feature – Catch – Care – Release

By Lawrence Gunther

The practice of returning caught fish back to the water alive is a very recent development; however, when you consider the big picture, deriving enjoyment from fishing began long before this conservation ethic came into practice. For sure, fishing goes back many thousands of years. In fact, it may be one of the first predator-prey relationships involving humans where we weren’t the prey. There is however, growing evidence that using more “sporting” methods of catching fish date back at least 3,000 years according to paintings discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs. Images of people fishing with long supple rods appear alongside people depicted hauling in nets filled with fish. If fishing was regarded solely as a harvesting activity, then what was the person doing with the fishing pole?

It was in the 1980s that bass fishing tournaments first began the practice of releasing fish alive after the weigh-in on shore. Until then all fishing tournaments, and pretty much all forms of fishing in general, included harvesting one’s catch. The concept of releasing fish alive was promoted as a conservation measure.

Many anglers still prefer to keep a daily limit of fish and that the fish selected for harvest represent the largest of their catch that day. Still others prefer to keep just enough to provide for a fresh meal. In either case, both often voluntarily suspend fishing once their harvest goals are met.

Whether you enjoy fishing and return all you catch alive, or you prefer to harvest fish for food, most jurisdictions mandate daily harvest limits. The increased use of slot sizes has also made releasing fish a part of the selective harvesting process.

Most anglers know that the largest fishes are the ones that are responsible for the majority of the successful spawning, and choose instead to let these fish go, even if a slot size limit isn’t in affect. Fish consumption guidelines also often recommend returning the larger older fishes, suggesting instead to harvest younger smaller fishes that have absorbed fewer toxins from their environment. All this to say, anglers have become increasingly selective about how and when they harvest fish.

Among certain cultures or countries, it’s mandatory to keep every fish caught. This is partly due to the act of fishing being regarded by some as an act of cruelty, making it necessary to limit the number of fish caught by recreational anglers. Restricting catch-and-release can also be regarded as a means of eliminating post-release mortality, allowing for more accurate tracking of the number of fish being removed from an ecosystem.

Often hybrid models exist that limit the harvest of a certain species, while allowing other fishes in the same ecosystem to be harvested without limits or requirements. And still the harvest of other fishes is sometimes encouraged, or the removal of a species altogether, as a means of re-establishing balance in ecosystems.

My point in describing the many variations of harvesting by recreational anglers is to justify why it’s necessary as anglers to be prepared to apply both catch-and-release best practices, and the sustainable and humane harvesting of fishes. Simply focusing on efficiency in harvesting, or the act of releasing fish as the only two modes of fishing no longer take into consideration the many forms of sound conservation.

Our fishing ethic now extends beyond deciding whether to keep or release fish, to how we choose and use fishing gear. We now select equipment that is both sporting, in that fish have a chance of escaping or avoiding capture, and at the same time ensuring fish aren’t overly exhausted leaving them vulnerable to predation when released. There are still those times when we choose gear that makes escape almost impossible, such as during competitions or when fishing for food, but even these choices are often made within mandated parameters that limit our tackle options such as the number of hooks we can use at any one time. When our goal is to catch and release fish by causing the least amount of stress or injury, we select gear that also has a much higher chance of fish coming off during the capture process, or gear that gives fish more chance of avoiding being caught altogether. Gear limitations such as single barbless hooks, one-to-one ratio reels, artificial baits only, or restrictions on the use of nets, gaffs or spears after a fish is hooked. Even strict limits on hook design are being implemented when fishing for certain species of fishes such as limiting anglers to using non-offset circle hooks when fishing for billfish. Limits on how we handle fish after being caught such as lifting fish into the boat, and even lifting fish out of the water are also growing in popularity. While some of these self-imposed choices may seem excessively restrictive when first being championed, at some point they can become moral imperatives such as prohibitions on catching or keeping any fish hooked anywhere other than in the mouth – what is now referred to as “snagging”.

As mentioned, sorting out the ethics of recreational fishing is still relatively new. Many who fish today may have personally experienced the transition from fishing solely to fill a personal harvest limit, to the goal of releasing all fish in good health, and everything in between. It’s no wonder that the intersections between the two forms of angling are still being sorted out.

The state of Florida in the United States offers some of the best sport fishing in the world year-round. Numerous guides, outfitters and fishing resorts operate 365 days a year throughout much of the lower parts of Florida. To better manage the impacts recreational catch-and-release fishing is having on fish populations, an increasing number of rules and best practices are emerging. Everything from the use of descending devices to assist fishes to return to the depths from where they were caught, to fish handling guidelines designed to minimize fishes from experiencing exhaustion and then falling prey to sharks and other predators post-release.

Mr. Tom Rowland is a Florida based executive producer of three TV fishing shows, host of a highly popular podcast, and a former guide and competitive professional angler. I reached out to Tom to learn more about the best practices now in use in Florida, the fishes they are intended to benefit, and why. We discussed how best to teach and enforce new fish handling rules, and what it has meant for both the fishes and the fishing business. Link below to hear my conversation with Tom Rowland on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/catch-care-release-with-tom-rowland/.

Florida anglers and their guests aren’t the only people evolving their fish handling skills. Sturgeon fishers on Canada’s west coast continue to introduce new best practices designed to ensure the future of their highly profitable and popular catch-and-release sturgeon fishery. Salmon fishers on Canada’s east coast also have numerous practices that are either expected or mandated by their Atlantic salmon anglers. Across Canada social media tools like Facebook, and angler apps like My Catch are promoting catch-photograph-release fishing for fun and during tournaments. And researchers too are benefitting by anglers who volunteer to serve as citizen scientists by catching, tagging, and releasing fish in the name of science.

So much has changed in the world of recreational fishing in the past four decades, and so much more change is still to come as people learn from other anglers and the research of fish biologists. The charity Blue Fish Canada is constantly documenting these best practices to share with our partner organizations like Canadian Fishing Network, Earth Rangers, and the International Game Fish Association, to name a few. Link below to access Blue Fish Canada species-specific fish handling best practices developed with input from expert anglers and verified by our science advisors: https://bluefishcanada.ca/resources/blue-fish-sustainable-fishing-tips/

Underscoring the necessity to continually nuance our recreational fishing practices are the exponential advancements in fishing technology that now continually improve our efficiency on the water. But probably the biggest influence behind the evolution of recreational fishing is the desire among anglers themselves to become ever stronger stewards of the resource. There is growing awareness that the health we derive from fishing is predicated on the health of the fishes and their ecosystems. It’s what many involved with animal husbandry refer to as a “one health” relationship. Growing awareness and understanding of indigenous people’s food, social and ceremonial relationship with food harvested from nature, and traditional indigenous knowledge and values are also influencing broader social norms.

For millennia most all cultures around the world have sourced their protein from seafood. What hasn’t been part of our collective experience are the many advancements in harvesting technology, that when combined with alterations to seasonal patterns brought about by increasingly extreme weather, requires that we mitigate in many ways our real and potential impacts on nature. This includes measures to improve the resilience of Canada’s fish stocks and the habitat upon which they depend. To this end, Blue Fish Canada is also implementing and evaluating the long-term benefits of a number of habitat and resource enhancement strategies in collaboration with a broad cross-section of stakeholders. However, research of this nature requires resources, both financial and human, so please consider becoming a Blue Fish Canada volunteer and/or making a donation. Link below to explore your charitable donation options: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Historic Management Procedure for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna / FishingWire
The 2022 annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas takes landmark decision to adopt the first management procedure for Atlantic bluefin tuna. There is also a new bycatch mitigation measures for sea turtles.

Manitoba’s wild-caught fisheries pursue new markets with sustainability push / Narwhal
Once dubbed the worst in the world, Manitoba’s commercial fisheries were facing millions in lost sales. But following the leadership of Indigenous fisheries, the province is eyeing a future of more sustainably caught fish — with eco-certification and a new initiative to bolster the industry.

O Canada / Craig Medred
“As if Canadian commercial fishermen didn’t have it bad enough with precipitously declining salmon runs and Alaska interceptions of Canadian-born fish, now they’ve lost Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of their sockeye, chum and pink salmon fisheries.”

California’s Slightly Less Gray Laws on White Sharks / Hakai
Starting on January 1, 2023, recreational anglers in California will face new fishing restrictions that make it illegal to use shark bait, shark lures, or shark attractants, known as chum, “within one nautical mile [1.9 kilometers] of any shoreline, pier, or jetty when a white shark is either visible or known to be present.”

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP slams Liberal government over foreign ownership of B.C. fishing licences / Prince Rupert Northern View
MP Taylor Bachrach was met with applause over the ongoing controversy surrounding the monopolization of B.C.’s fishing industry and foreign ownership.

Ask MRIP: Answering Your Questions About For-hire Data / NOAA
Saltwater anglers, for-hire captains, and other members of the recreational fishing community often ask how and why we collect recreational fishing data. They also want to know how we use that data to estimate total recreational catch. Our Ask MRIP web series answers your questions about the science and statistics that support sustainable fishing.

Fish:

The federal government is less likely to protect an at-risk fish if people like to eat it / Narwhal
When a fish is listed under the species at risk registry, federal protection measures kick in. But the vast majority of at-risk fish that are commercially valuable never get that designation, data shows. Less than one-tenth of commercially valuable fish species assessed as at risk in Canada are listed under the Species At Risk Act. That’s compared to more than 50 per cent of non-commercial fish species assessed as at risk being listed under the act.

More than 5,000 wild species are at some risk of extinction in Canada / Narwhal
More than 5,000 wild species are at some risk of extinction in Canada, according to the most comprehensive survey of the country’s biodiversity ever undertaken. The Wild Species 2020: The General Status of Species in Canada report, released Tuesday, found that one in five wild species — ranging from sea stars and slime moulds to mammals and moths — is in danger of disappearing from Canada. The at-risk wildlife includes 24 mammal species, 43 fish species, nine amphibian species, 17 reptile species, 50 bird species, 230 lichen species, 25 species of dragonflies and damselflies, 195 beetle species, 15 bee species and 188 butterfly and moth species.

As Shark Numbers Plummet, Nations Seek Ban on Devastatingly Effective Gear / FishingWire
Famed undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau had a favorite shark: the oceanic whitetip, or Carcharhinus longimanus. He said they were the most dangerous of all sharks, more so than the great white (Carcharodon carcharias). Some researchers believe the species used to be one of the world’s most abundant vertebrates longer than 6 feet (1.8 meters).

Fhit-Chips provide salmon health insight / PSF
A made-in-B.C. technology offers a new window into salmon health. A team of researchers deploys Fit-Chip technology to understand infectious disease and environmental stress in salhmon. Using cutting-edge genetic tools that can test up to 96 fish at once, researchers can rapidly draw conclusions about health, stress, and disease in salmon that we only imagined 20 years ago.

The Catcher in the Sturgeon / FishingWire
Lake Sturgeon were once found across the Midwest in strong populations and during the 1800’s were looked at as useless and left to die. This act was so common that the railway started to use dried sturgeon carcasses as fuel for their steam engines. Later, when caviar became popular, female sturgeon were highly sought after for their eggs.

Learn how the Percy Walkus Hatchery helps conserve Chinook salmon. / PSF
The Percy Walkus Hatchery is known for helping to preserve and enhance the enormous Chinook salmon that return to Wuikinuxv territory each fall. At the “egg take” Chinook eggs are collected and used for salmon enhancement efforts. Thanks to more than $600,000 in donations from generous Percy Walkus Hatchery supporters including Duncanby Fishing Lodge, Good Hope Cannery, Bridgeview Marine, and many others, hatchery team members and volunteers facilitated a successful egg take. The crew caught 81 fish – 39 females and 42 males, hand incubated nearly 300,000 eggs this year despite delayed rains and late salmon runs.

Salmon, cod and the plight of at-risk fish in Canada / Narwhal
The number of fish species at risk is increasing in Canada. If existing federal practices continue, scientists say more species and populations could face decline — and even extinction.

Will B.C. be next to ban open-net fish farms? / Vancouver Sun
A UBC study found samples taken from salmon waste from fish farms showed genetic traces of a virus that can harm wild salmon.

Habitat:

Governments are subsidizing the destruction of nature even as they promise to protect it / Narwhal
Amid a biodiversity crisis, 196 countries recently spent a week meeting in Montreal to hash out a new agreement to save nature.

Blind Bay / NYS/Watertown
Locals near Blind Bay, a small bay on the St. Lawrence River between Clayton and Alexandria Bay, have been concerned about a plan that would see U.S. Customs and Border Protection build a new, 48,000 square foot station on the very site the locals say, is a critical, rare spawning ground for muskies, keeping the ecosystem in tact. The Thousand Islands Land Trust was so worried, it actually bought the land to prevent the build.

Seagrass-associated Fish Recover Quickly From Cyclones / Coastal Review
Fish that live in the seagrass meadows of North Carolina’s Back Sound seem to recover quickly from tropical cyclones, demonstrating a capacity for resilience in the face of disruptive shocks, reports a study published last month in Plos One. The study hypothesizes that the resilience of the fish communities is tied to the integrity of the seagrass habitats that they depend on.

Federal funds will be used to restore habitat for at-risk fish species in Nottawasaga River / Simcoe.com
There’s good news for two at-risk fish species in the Nottawasaga Valley watershed.

The price of paper / Hakai
Coastal communities around the world contend with the toxic legacies of pulp and paper mills.

Predicting Winners and Losers in a Warming Arctic / NOAA
Habitat for key prey species may shrink dramatically if climate change continues on its current trajectory, new research shows.

P.E.I. gets funding to protect endangered species / CTV
Prince Edward Island’s landscape took a beating from post-tropical storm Fiona in September. Now, new funding has been dedicated to protect habitats and species on the island and across the country.

Washing away: The Arctic hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., is collapsing into the ocean / CBC
The Arctic hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., is collapsing into the ocean as it loses up to a metre of coastline each year. The people who live there are in a race against time to preserve their way of life — and their community — before it is washed away.

Widespread amounts of cocaine, painkillers found in fish habitat on Sumas Prairie after 2021 floods: study / CBC News
Fish habitat in the lower Fraser Valley was found to have an “astounding” amount of contaminants after extreme flooding last fall, according to a new study.

Feds announce another $1.2 billion for ocean cleanup and protection / Cheknews
The federal government has announced an investment of another $1.2 billion in its Ocean Protection Plan for 29 projects involving ocean safety, science and environmental safeguards.

Indigenous:

Union of BC Indian Chiefs want more federal action on fish farm closure / Peace Arch News
The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is making their choice clear for the federal government: Get the fish farms out of the water, right now.

How a B.C. First Nation said ‘no’ to fish farms / Coast Reporter
What shíshálh Nation’s rejection of finfish farms on the Sunshine Coast means and why it was through B.C. legislation as a federal transition is pending.

Boating:

Boating Immersion Stories
Help fellow Canadian Boaters by sharing your boating experiences! The Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) is looking for boaters who are interested in participating in a study regarding the importance of lifejacket wear in the event of falling overboard and accidental immersion.

Arts:

Renowned Salmon Arm wildlife artist puts her stamp on prestigious contest / Maple Ridge News
Her painting, Rapid Ascent, is the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s winner of its Salmon Conservation Stamp Art Competition for 2023-24.

Books:

“Managing to Zero – The Thompson Steelhead Travesty”
Read author Bob Hooton’s latest book “Managing to Zero – The Thompson Steelhead Travesty”. Once a fishing bucket list experience that brought anglers to B.C. from around the world, Their slow but now surely imanant demise has been excruciating to witness. Bob Hooton, a retired fish biologist, explores how such a world-famous fish has been reduced to the point of near extinction, and the politics responsible for this preventable disaster. You can order your copy now from Amazon.

Podcasts:

Recreational Fishing—Policy and Partnerships / NOAA
Recreational fishing is a key part of the social and economic fabric of our coastal communities. Explore how policy and partnership are working to ensure U.S. recreational fishing remains vibrant and sustainable for the future. On this episode of Dive in with NOAA Fisheries, we talk with Russell Dunn, the National Policy Advisor for Recreational Fisheries, and Alex Atikinson, a policy analyst with NOAA Fisheries.

Videos:

Incredible video shows endangered orca ‘superpod’ in Salish Sea / CHEKNEWS
Scientists say a strong chum run could be keeping all 73 endangered southern resident killer whales in the Salish Sea for an extended period.

Webinars:

Healing Our Connection to Water and Place through Habitat Creation / Latornell
The second event in the Latornell Re-imagining Conservation Webinar Series, Healing Our Connection to Water and Place through Habitat Creation.

Scientists and Local Champions:

THE GREAT LAKES FISHERY COMMISSION WELCOMES LONG-AWAITED CANADIAN COMMISSIONER APPOINTMENTS / GLFC
The Government of Canada appoints Dr. Robert Hecky and Mr. Earl Provost to the Commission’s Canadian Section, filling two vacancies

Coming Up:

Registration is Now Open for 2023 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
This year’s Invasive Species Forum theme is Invasive Species Action in a Changing Climate. The February 7-9 Forum presents the opportunity to learn from a variety of dedicated sessions including Ecosystem Resilience; Vectors, Pathways, & Threats; Indigenous Communities; and more.

SAVE THE DATE: Great Lakes Day 2023 / Great Lakes Commission
Save the date for Great Lakes Day, including the annual Great Lakes Day Congressional Breakfast Reception, to be hosted by the Great Lakes Commission and Northeast-Midwest Institute on March 9, 2023. The Breakfast Reception includes dialogue on Great Lakes priorities by regional leaders and members of Congress who play a critical role in shaping Great Lakes policies.

Special Guest Feature – Oceana Canada releases sixth annual Fishery Audit 2022

The audit found that less than one-third of wild fish and invertebrate stocks can be considered healthy, and most critically depleted stocks lack government plans to rebuild them. The number of healthy fisheries has decreased since 2017, with no significant improvement to many of the indicators of good fisheries science, monitoring and management.

The federal government has made significant investments, developed new policies and most importantly changed the law to improve fisheries management. But these changes have not yet led to healthier fisheries. Given rising threats from overfishing, biodiversity loss and climate change, urgent action is required to see change where it counts, on the water.

Oceana Canada is calling on Fisheries Minister Murray to address the most critical gaps in Canada’s marine fisheries science, monitoring and management by prioritizing the following actions:

  1. List all remaining critical and cautious fish stocks, including those currently classified as uncertain, under Canada’s amended Fisheries Act and make management decisions that are consistent with its rebuilding
  2. Meaningfully engage with Indigenous communities and organizations to make decisions about wild fish that are informed by Indigenous Knowledge Systems, as well as the best available science.
  3. Integrate ecosystem-level considerations into fisheries decisions, prioritizing rebuilding depleted forage fish that other species rely on as prey, and addressing vulnerabilities to climate change.
  4. Improve fisheries monitoring by counting everything caught in a fishery — including for recreational and bait purposes.

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.

As the founder and on-going president of Blue Fish Canada I’m pleased to report that 2022 witnessed our return to offering direct in-person programming. On-line program delivery will continue due to its effectiveness and cost efficiency, but in many cases actual outdoor experiences are irreplaceable for building real and lasting connections with nature. You can call what we do a hybrid delivery model, but in reality, it’s a strategy Blue Fish Canada embraced ten years ago when we were first registered as a Canadian charity. All this to say, Blue Fish Canada is growing forward!

Invasive Species: In partnership with the Invasive Species Centre, Blue Fish Canada produced a series of invasive Grass Carp and Goldfish public service advisories including videos, audio inserts, and alternative format (braille / large print) hand-outs. A social media campaign to disseminate these important messages and best-practices continues.

Podcasts: Another 28 episodes of “The Blue Fish Radio Show” and 26 episodes of “Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther” were produced. Both podcasts are now ranked top-ten in their respective categories in Canada and abroad.

Youth Fishing: Continued partnerships with Earth Rangers, CNIB, the St. Lawrence River Institute, the International Game Fish Association, Ottawa Youth Fishing School, Scouts, Girl Guides and more, extends Blue Fish Canada’s reach to a diversity of youth. Specially curated training materials ensures young anglers have the tools and inspiration to become stewards of nature and citizen scientists. Over 137 youth were directly engaged by Blue Fish Canada, and a further 300,000 families benefited from accessing Blue Fish Canada content.

Newsletter: Over 6,000 subscribers receive the biweekly Blue Fish News. A further 127,892 unique visitors accessed the News through the Blue Fish Canada website. Each issue includes a timely editorial with supporting podcast interviews, links and summaries to media reports, and a guest feature article.

Fish Health: President Lawrence Gunther continues to chair the Great Lakes Fish Health Network. Book submissions, academic articles and research papers are being produced with support from Network members and partner organizations such as the St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Sciences, Queen’s University, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the Great Lakes Network and others.

TV: Over 6,000 subscribers receive the biweekly Blue Fish News. A further 127,892 unique visitors accessed the News through the Blue Fish Canada website. Each issue includes a timely editorial with supporting podcast interviews, links and summaries to media reports, and a guest feature article.

Stakeholder Engagement: Nature Canada tasked Blue Fish Canada with facilitating dialog on the topic of fish and fishing concerning a proposed National Marine Conservation Area including the eastern basin of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte. To date, conversations have been held with seven stakeholders representing fishery researchers, commercial fishers and processors, indigenous fishers, recreational anglers and guides, and government officials. Their views and knowledge are being shared in summative reports and podcasts.

Facebook Live: Canada Fishing Network’s Monday Night Live Facebook stream includes President Lawrence Gunther’s 30-minute weekly segment featuring insightful commentary on fish and fishing in the news with the show’s host Scotty Martin.

Field Research: Working in collaboration with governments, the private sector, research organizations, shoreline property associations, indigenous communities and expert anglers, Blue Fish Canada is establishing a series of longitudinal research projects to assess measures to strengthen fish habitat and resilience throughout west Quebec and eastern Ontario. Research sites provide youth with training and opportunities to work alongside researchers.

Accessibility and Diversity: Growth in fishing participation is being driven by women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, people with disabilities and youth living primarily in urban centers. Blue Fish content and programs are inclusive, bias-free, and accessible. Guest experts reflect Canada’s diversity and include collaborations with indigenous communities.

Documentaries: Three new Lake2Plate 30-minute documentaries featuring fishing in Quebec’s Pontiac were released in 2022. A documentary short featuring President Lawrence Gunther and the work of Blue Fish Canada aired at the Ecological Society of America’s AGM and has been uploaded to the Water Ranger website. BFC provided CBC with archival content for their documentary “The last Guide”. Our documentary What Lies Below released on the BFC YouTube channel in 2021 has now been viewed over 30,000 times.

Blue Fish Certification: As outfitters, lodges, resorts, and other outdoor tourism operations recover from pandemic related impacts to their businesses, our sustainable training resources and certification programs grow in popularity. Be sure to look out for our Blue Fish logo on certified 3rd-party websites and social media, and please reward them with your business.

YouTube: Nine new videos have been uploaded to the BFC YouTube channel featuring live panel discussions produced by BFC on topics such as angler apps and fish research, and safeguarding St-Lawrence River muskie habitat. Another four invasive species PSA videos were produced and uploaded. Blue Fish Radio is also now producing more video content in addition to the audio podcasts.

Presentations / Seminars: A total of 17 in-person and live streaming presentations and seminars were provided by President Lawrence Gunther at outdoor shows like the Toronto Sportsman Show, an OceanWise evening at the Museum of Nature, schools, youth camps, science symposiums, government conferences, and conservation events.

Traditional Indigenous Knowledge: Indigenous Leaders like Chief Scot MacLeod and Chief Donald Maracle continue to share with Blue Fish Canada their traditional knowledge and values, allowing Blue Fish Canada to advance reconciliation by sharing more broadly their historic perspective and unique expertise.

Angler Champions: High profile angler experts, advocates, and influencers such as Canadian country music star and TV host Bret Kissel and Iron Maiden lead guitarist Adrian Smith lend their support to Blue Fish Canada. These champions also play a key role in amplifying the reach of our programs and the stewardship best practices and values they represent.

Science Advisors: Collecting, documenting, and sharing local and traditional knowledge is crucial. Ensuring this information and guidance is accurate rests with Blue Fish Canada’s many science advisors. Whether it be catch-and-release best practices, sustainable harvesting, or precautionary principles, we ensure all Blue Fish Canada guidance documents and program policies are factually accurate and scientifically valid.

Guest Appearances: President Lawrence Gunther featured in 11 live streaming events, expert panels, conferences, symposiums, and podcasts over the past 12 months. Recordings of many of these events are now on YouTube or available as podcasts.

Partnerships, Sponsors and Affiliates

AMI Audio and TVMaitland TowerOttawa River KeeperNature Canada
Pontiac TourismOttawa Region Walleye LeagueOutdoor Canada MagazineDoor #1
Public Fisheries AllianceSail OutdoorsRanger BoatsOceana Canada
B.C. Federation of FlyfishersKeep Canada FishingSaskatchewan Angler Research GroupShimano
Canadian Fishing NetworkMasters Production Ltd.Save the RiverOrleans Boat World
Canadian Environmental Law AssociationSt. Lawrence Institute for Environmental ResearchLowranceCanadian Sportfishing Industry Association
Mohawk Council of AkwesasneStriper CupCarp Anglers Group OntarioSalus Marine
Four Wheel Campers CanadaThe Blue Fish Radio ShowDestination Northern OntarioMuskie Canada Inc.
Now with Dave Brown TVTom Rowland PodcastEarth RangersScotty Fishing
Nature and Outdoor Tourism OntarioWatershed Watch Salmon SocietyFish’n CanadaEagleClaw
Ontario Bass NationWorld River DayGreat Lakes Fish Health NetworkCNIB
B.C. Anglers CoalitionHumanWareGreat Lakes Toxic Free NetworkWater Rangers
Anglers AtlasFishingWireWatershed Watch Salmon SocietyMuskies Canada

Social media

Facebook
www.facebook.com/BlueFishCanada
www.facebook.com/Lawrenceguntheroutdoors
www.facebook.com/whatliesbelowmovie

Twitter
@BlueFishnews
@lawrencegunther
@whatlies_below

Web
www.bluefishcanada.ca
www.bluefishradio.com
www.lawrencegunther.com
www.feelthebite.ca
www.lake2plate.com
www.ontariocarpfishing.com
www.blindfishingboat.com
www.whatliesbelow.ca

YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/@bluefishcanada5326

Summary: Blue Fish Canada continues to serve an increasingly important role in the future of water quality, fish health and recreational fishing across Canada. Using a combination of online tools, print resources and traditional storytelling is proving highly effective at engaging the next generation of recreational anglers and their mentors. While our on-line strategies continue to generate strong results, our shoreline access sites combined with fishery and habitat research and youth training ensures Blue Fish Canada programs are nature based.

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.

Yours Sincerely,
Lawrence Gunther Euteneier M.E.S. M.S.M.
director@bluefishcanada.ca
President
Blue Fish Canada

Blue Fish Radio Show Guest Highlights

Lawrence’s “Field research’’

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Snow is flying, boats are being stored, and ice fishing gear readied. A perfect time to take stock on how 2022 unfolded. Stay tuned for Blue Fish Canada’s yearly up-date and plans for 2023 – coming soon. Thanks for your support – please keep it coming – none of what we do would be possible without you.

Oceana Canada’s Science Director Dr. Robert Rangely.

In the November 21, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we explore the challenges, opportunities and commitments needed to rebuild Canada’s fish stocks, including a discussion with Dr. Robert Rangely, Science Director with Oceana Canada. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Feature chosen to inform and inspire our readers concerns the Ontario Government’s Bill 23 and its potential impacts on fish habitat.

This Week’s Feature: Rebuilding Fisheries

By Lawrence Gunther

I recently spent a day with about 140 highly intelligent and motivated people representing all aspects of marine commercial fishing organized by Oceana Canada. Even the Minister of Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans spoke to us at the end and took questions, in addition to a number of DFO officials taking part.

Like Ocean Wise, Oceana Canada is not philosophically opposed to fishing. In fact, Oceana believes that if managed properly, the ocean could supply the world’s population with sustainably harvested wild fish.

The following three priorities shaped the discussions during the Symposium:

  1. Potential for rebuilding abundance in Canada’s oceans in the next decade.
  2. Growth opportunities for food security, income, and livelihoods in coastal communities.
  3. Required changes to ocean governance and investment over the next five years.

My reason for attending the Symposium, in addition to satisfying my curiosity, was to learn what lessons could be applied to recreational fisheries. Turns out commercial fishing could take a lesson from the recreational fishing handbook, and I pointed this out during A Q/A session with panelists, touching off an interesting little debate – more on that to come.

We heard from indigenous representatives who shared advice on moving forward together using a “two eye” perspective, or in other words, by drawing on both science-based best practices, and indigenous traditional knowledge and values. We listened to a lot of scientists discuss research that examined environmental, social and governance issues associated with commercial fisheries, and we heard from representatives from the fishing industry itself, including those promoting community supported fisheries that link artisanal fishers directly with consumers.

My general sense is that Canada is on the right track in terms of rebuilding marine fisheries, even if we have been a bit slow to get started. Unfortunately, not much has changed in terms of how we regard ocean fishes as distinct “crops” that continue to make a handful of people a lot of money.

Having participated in the North Atlantic cod fishery prior to the moratorium coming into affect throughout Atlantic Canada in 1992, I understand all too well just how important fishes like cod are to people trying to make a living. It worked for those who chose to migrate to North America over 500 years ago, and continued to do so for many subsequent generations. The environment, society and the governance of the people and the fish stocks never seemed to be an issue for much of this time. The question of indigenous participation in commercial fisheries is another matter that I really don’t know that much about other than barriers to accessing fisheries evolved to become problematic. What I did witness on Canada’s east coast however, was the use of significant technological advancements that led to significant impacts to fish stocks. It was my sharing this observation that touched off a lively debate among the panelists.

My question to the panelists was: “Why do we blame solely the large-scale factory trawlers for the depletion of the cod stocks off North America’s north Atlantic coast? No doubt, these large-scale fish harvesting and processing machines were to blame for much of the collapse, but it was also my experience that even independent artisanal fishers were constantly upgrading their boats and fishing technologies to maximize efficiencies?”. Nothing that could compete with the mega factory off-shore trawlers that exemplified “economy-of-scale” fishing, but modifications to smaller in-shore vessels that exponentially improved their catch-to-effort performance. In short, I wanted to know why more research isn’t being conducted on how to scale back fishing pressure, instead of trying to discover a social engineering solution to the problem.

There were those who felt that the solution was to turn back time to when many of these technical innovations such as sonar, GPS, machine driven winches, nylon nets and lines, on-board freezers, etc. became the norm. Others argued that fishing technologies designed to maximise economy of scale fishing is essential to minimise time on the water and the expenditure of fossil fuels. To me, I think about all the restrictions I need to know when I go fishing recreationally or when competing in tournaments, and wonder why commercial fishers aren’t being required to “dial it back” as well?

Recreational angling, whether with a guide, on your own, or in a tournament, functions within a broad scope of rules that limit how much fishing pressure we are permitted to apply. Things like how many hooks we can have tied on our lines at any one time, how many lines we are allowed to use at once, the types of baits we are allowed to use, whether we are allowed to set lines and then leave, or if we can use nets to do more than trap a fish already hooked, or whether we are allowed to use fish attractants like chum, lights at night or sounds. This is all on top of increasingly complex rules governing what size fish we are allowed to harvest, when and where we are allowed to fish, and how many fish of any one species we are allowed to have in our possession.

Fishing tournament organizers expand on recreational fishing regulations with many more restrictions meant to ensure that each angler has no unfair advantage over their competitors before and during the competition. Things like the size of our motors on our boats, a ban on soliciting information from locals on where to fish, and now in some cases, what types of electronics are allowed on board. In short, rules, both legal and situational, meant to ensure recreational fishing is both sustainable and equitable.

The concept of sustainability is only recently become an important consideration to those who manage and participate in commercial fisheries. The principle of equitable access is also an issue, and in many cases, has been deliberately undermined. When you have one man who owns virtually all the commercial fishing boats on Canada’s West Coast, and now much of the processing capacity as well, what’s fair about that?

I’ve personally witnessed one of his large saining vessels force hundreds of recreational, guide and First Nations small watercraft from the water in order to deploy their nets. They simply deploy their net by circling the school of migrating salmon without regard for other vessels that need to quickly move away to avoid being caught up in the “set”. To make matters worse, they then leave with the fish without even stopping to buy gas or lunch. It can take days for the next school of migrating salmon to replenish the local waters, and that’s never guaranteed.

It’s not just western Canada where you see this type of domination of a fishery by one person or corporation. Iceland’s Atlantic salmon fishery is one, the menhaden fishery off the U.S. East Coast is another. However, it’s not the issue of equitable access that’s causing fish stocks to decline, it’s the lack of regulations meant to ensure the sustainability of our fish stocks by limiting the way these resources are harvested.

One example of achieving sustainability by restricting the application of technology is the Bluefin tuna fishery on Canada’s East Coast. Bluefin tuna can be caught using rods and reels equipped with a single hook, a “tended line” with a single hook attached directly to a fishing vessel, and in certain limited situations, the use of Trap net/weirs that fish swim in to but then can’t find their way back out. Unfortunately, Bluefin can also be legally harvested as bycatch by off-shore vessels that use Pelagic longlines used to harvest swordfish and other tunas. These longlines are a mainline suspended by floats equipped with 600 to 1100 baited hooks on a line measuring from 50 to 90 kilometers in length. Incredible commercial fishing technology for sure. Fortunately, all Bluefin tuna caught are tallied each day in order that set quotas can be respected.

Some argue that the problem lies with DFO being responsible for both managing fishery sustainability, and the commercial success of the industry. That managing these two areas of responsibility presents a conflict of interest resulting from DFO placing more emphasis on helping Canadian commercial fishing businesses to succeed by ignoring the harvest limits recommended by their own scientists. These critics point out the long list of fish stocks being over-exploited, such as the crash of the North Atlantic cod stock off the east coast of both Canada and the United States. Thankfully, both nations have since strengthened their respective rules that now put fish stock sustainability ahead of corporate profits.

Personally, I’m not convinced that focussing DFO to manage fishing pressure exclusively is the answer. In the end, no matter what the department’s other responsibilities might include, they still need to consult with stakeholders when formulating and implementing harvesting regulations. Forcing DFO to forgo their role in promoting Canadian fishery businesses would simply hand responsibility over to some other department that would do much the same.

Unfortunately, large companies have had an advantage in past that allowed them to focus lobbying efforts to influence those in power responsible for making the rules. This wasn’t the case with small-scale entrepreneurs or what many now refer to as artisanal fishers. It’s not so easy to consult thousands of independent and diverse commercial and indigenous fishers who may or may not belong to national associations. It’s much more convenient and intoxicating to sit down with a handful of powerful ultra-rich industrial magnates to politely portion out the windfall. It’s this history of excluding local and indigenous commercial fishers that concerns many who presented at the Oceana Canada symposium.

So once again, there’s no one answer that will rebuild the abundance of Canada’s marine ecosystems. Yes, we need to reduce the level of fishing pressure, and yes, we need to make sure those who want to be part of our commercial fisheries can do so. Regardless, large players in the commercial fishing industry will argue that putting limits on the use of harvesting technologies will price Canada out of the market. Other than boutique-style markets, we won’t be able to compete internationally on price if we don’t employ the same economy of scale approaches used by our competition. But aren’t these same people the ones responsible for the overfishing and excess fishing capacity the world now finds itself in? There you go, another piece to the puzzle, ensuring fair and competitive competition, which I’m happy to say Canada is also now working on addressing.

The most recent round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization saw Canada successfully put forward a limited number of proposals to ensure small scale commercial fisheries are protected and sustainable. More work to do indeed, but it seems we are moving in the right direction, with that one nagging exception — the lack of restrictions on fishing technologies to manage fishing pressure.

Hey, if placing restrictions on the use and application of certain fishing innovations is considered fair when regulating recreational fishing, why not apply restrictions to commercial fishers regardless of their routes or the pray being pursued. It has nothing to do with who’s doing the fishing, it’s about the tools in hand and their unimaginable destructive potential – a relatively new power that reaches well beyond the prior experience of all humans.

If you want to know more about what came out of the Rebuilding Abundance symposium, listen to my conversation with Oceana Canada’s Senior Science Director Dr. Robert Rangeley. Dr. Rangeley and I took time not long after the symposium concluded to discuss the points raised concerning the three identified priorities, and the applicability to recreational fishing. We also discussed why it makes sense to invite recreational anglers to join the table when fish stock research reports are being presented and harvest limits set – especially when the fishes in question are of interest to both recreational and commercial fishers. This inclusion already took place on Canada’s West Coast when it became apparent that the economic contribution of recreational fishing far outweighed the contribution of commercial fishing. Link below to hear Dr. Robert Rangeley on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/rebuilding-abundance-with-oceana-canada/.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Are Canada fisheries officials failing to protect their most iconic fish? / Sport Fishing Mag
An environmental report says Fisheries and Oceans Canada lacks staff to adequately enforce the nation’s laws to protect over a dozen species, including Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, bluefin tuna and Atlantic cod.

Canadian operation uncovers illegal fishing in North Pacific / SeafoodSource
As part of Operation North Pacific Guard Canadian fishery officers flew 29 patrols over 247 hours, and covered a total of 44,200 nautical miles. The multinational maritime surveillance mission uncovered a number of violations on the high seas such as sharks being caught and kept , and noted a large number of vessels with improper identification.

Fishermen take federal government to court over right to sell Class B licences again / Global
Donald Publicover, 71, wants the ability to sell or transfer his Class B fishing licence to ensure the financial stability of his family.

After record haul, Bristol Bay sockeye harvest forecast to drop next year / Seattle Times
2022’s record harvest was 104 per cent higher than the 20-year average. These fish, as well as smaller numbers of other salmon, were collectively worth more than $351M.

Record Smallmouth Bass Caught On Lake Erie! / WFN
Gregg Gallagher’s goal during a last-minute fishing trip with his son on Lake Erie was to “catch a giant smallmouth bass, 7 pounds or better.” The huge smallmouth caught Nov. 3 was not only a personal-best for Gallagher, it was likely the largest smallie ever caught in a Great Lake, pending certification, incredibly weighing in at more than 10 pounds. The behemoth broke the 68-year-old smallmouth record for the province of Ontario, Canada.

Ask MRIP: Answering Your Questions About For-hire Data / NOAA
Saltwater anglers, for-hire captains, and other members of the recreational fishing community often ask how and why the NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program collects recreational fishing data. They also want to know how the MRIP uses that data to estimate total recreational catch. Our Ask MRIP web series answers your questions about the science and statistics that support sustainable fishing.

Menhaden Harvest Increase Approved As Anglers Petition To Close Chesapeake Bay Fishery / FishingWire
East Coast fishery managers have approved increasing commercial harvests of Atlantic menhaden from Maine to Florida. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which regulates near-shore harvests of migratory fish, voted Wednesday to set a new ceiling on the coastwide menhaden catch of 233,550 metric tons, a 20 percent increase over the current quota.

Salmon’s Arctic Expansion Has Communities Worried / Hakai
Inuvialuit fishers are adapting to rising numbers of Pacific salmon in the western Canadian Arctic, but fears remain about impacts on native species.

Learning More about “Dark” Fishing Vessels’ Activities at Sea / FishingWire
Fishing vessels can “go dark” by turning off Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders that broadcast their location to satellites and terrestrial receivers. What they do during those invisible hours has long been a mystery. New research funded in part by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement analyzes where, when, and potentially why vessels disable their AIS broadcasts systems.

A complex case of murders on the high seas haunts a Canadian investigator / Walrus
When video of a grisly shooting on a fishing boat circulated online, one determined investigator went on a quest for justice

New Ocean Order / Craig Medred
The salmon fishing industries of Alaska and Russia look poised to continue as the big beneficiaries of global warming with Canada and the U.S. West Coast the big losers.

Fish:

Canada proposes 62 fish stocks for sustainability protection / CBC
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has proposed adding 62 stocks to a regulatory list that binds the minister to rebuild them if they become depleted. Regulations that went into effect earlier this year as part of the Fisheries Act created a list of so-called prescribed fish stocks. In April the first batch of 30 was added.

We Saved These Tuna. We Can Save Some Sharks Too / Sierra Club
The data on tuna goes back the farthest. The first international tuna data-collection agreement was signed in 1949, between the United States and Costa Rica, just as motorized fishing boats and power block winches began to drastically increase the volume of fish that a single fishing vessel could bring in. Today there are five Tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) in which member nations try to hammer out catch limits, data collection, monitoring, and best practices for fishing.

Scientists Call for Setting Limits and a Possible Moratorium on Fishing in Antarctica / Phys.Org
This week, an international group of 10 scientists is calling for protective limits on fishing in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, reporting in the journal Science that current levels of fishing, combined with climate change, are taking a concerning toll on a diverse ecosystem of global importance.

Welcoming Herring Home / Hakai
In Howe Sound, British Columbia, a new generation of stewards is keeping careful tabs on the comeback efforts of a tiny fish with big cultural value.

Washington won’t renew leases for Puget Sound fish farms / Global
The Washington state Department of Natural Resources said Monday it will not renew a fish-farming company’s last remaining leases on net pens in Puget Sound.

Will aquaculture solve our seafood problems? Not likely, say these UBC researchers / VanIsle News
“Aquaculture has a role to play but we shouldn’t give up on our wild fish, and that means rebuilding and conserving them. We need aquaculture, we just need to manage it wisely, and not oversell its potential.”

Will Lab-Grown Fish Save Alaska’s Wild Salmon Stocks? / KDLG.Org
Although wild salmon remains one of Alaska’s most lucrative seafood industries, it’s also one of the state’s most vulnerable, as climate change and population growth increase pressure on the world’s oceans. As it looks more and more likely that demand will eventually outstrip the productivity of salmon and other wild seafood stocks, researchers have turned to another method for producing protein from fish by culturing it in a lab.

Habitat:

The real reason global fish stocks are declining — and what you can do about it / Discover
Although the oceans are already changing, advocates say it’s not too late to do some serious damage control. This includes halting the decline of global fishing stocks.

The World’s Biggest Marine Reserve Seems to be Doing it’s Job / National Geographic
Fishing boats around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawai’i are catching more tuna than they used to, suggesting local populations are growing again.

A deeper dive into the marine protected network plan on Canada’s West Coast / National Observer
There’s much to celebrate in the proposed plan to create a string of marine protected areas stretching Canada’s West Coast from northern Vancouver Island to Alaska, experts say. But the lack of information on specific protection measures for the BC Northern Shelf MPA Network means the blueprint to preserve sensitive ocean ecosystems risks becoming a string of “paper parks” — legally designated areas that don’t actually have effective conservation or stewardship measures.

Pristine alpine lake contaminated by dust from mountaintop B.C. coal mines, study shows / Vancouver Sun
New Alberta government research has found windblown dust from mountaintop removal coal mines in B.C. has polluted a pristine alpine lake to the point where its as contaminated as lakes downwind from the oilsands.

Ottawa considers crackdown on cruise ship industry for using B.C. coastal waters as ‘a toilet bowl’ / West Coast Now
Each year cruise ships dump tens of millions of tonnes of concentrated acidic sulphates, metals, and other toxins dumped into B.C. waters.

Indigenous:

How the Kenney Dam broke the Nechako River / Tyee
First Nations want B.C. and Rio Tinto Alcan to save the river. Is it too late?

West Coast First Nations, feds reach tentative understanding on vast offshore region / Salmon Arm Observer
Off the west coast of Vancouver Island is an area spanning 133,019 square kilometres characterized by deep sea hydrothermal vents and seamounts surrounded by vibrant coastal ecosystems. Identified by authorities as the ‘Offshore Pacific Area of Interest’ and also known as Tang.ɢwan-ḥačxʷiqak-Tsig̱is, it’s future has been the focus of intense, groundbreaking discussions between West Coast Indigenous peoples and the federal government, discussions that may have hit a milestone.

Salmon’s Arctic expansion has communities worried / Hakai
Inuvialuit fishers are adapting to rising numbers of Pacific salmon in the western Canadian Arctic, but fears remain about impacts on native species.

Industry:

New awards added to recognize outstanding achievements in the worlds of freshwater and fly angling. / IGFA
Named after the individual that many consider the biggest influencer in the history of fly fishing, the newly announced IGFA Joe Brooks Fly Fishing Award acknowledges anglers who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the world of fly fishing. There are few names if any, that carry more weight in the world of recreational angling, especially freshwater angling, than Johnny Morris. The newly announced IGFA Johnny Morris Freshwater Angling Award will acknowledge anglers who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the world of freshwater angling.

Boating:

ePropulsion Expands Electric Inboard Motor Line-Up With New I-Series / FishingWire
Available in 10KW, 20KW and 40KW input power, the I-Series electric inboard motors are ideal for leisure marine and commercial applications on small and medium size boats. All products in the I-Series have been designed for ease of use and space-saving. The models have a compact design that integrates the motor, gearbox, motor controller, system control unit and cooling system into a small area that requires 60% less space than a typical combustion engine. The I-10, I-20 and I-40 are also 65% lighter than a typical combustion engine and feature an easy-to-maintain, high-performance and durable lithium iron phosphate battery.

Arts:

Kids Art Contest / PSF
The Pacific Salmon Foundation’s 2nd Annual Kids Salmon Art Contest is accepting salmon themed entries until December 5. Award winning entries will receive a prize pack worth up to $150 each! AND each submission from a classroom/ on behalf of a school, either individual or class, will be entered to win one of three $1000 cash prizes towards Pacific salmon education and resources for your classroom or school.

Guy Harvey Foundation Renews Support for The Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest / FishingWire
White Bear Lake, MN – Wildlife Forever is excited to announce The Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest has partnered with the Guy Harvey Foundation for the 2022-2023 contest. The partnership will continue to spotlight the Guy Harvey Shark Award, featuring four critical shark species. Art eligible for the Guy Harvey Shark Award must depict a Mako, White, Bull, or Tiger Shark, and include a written component relevant to the chosen species. The Fish Art Contest is open to youth Kindergarten – 12th grade from anywhere in the world.

Books:

Subscribe here to Alberta’s 2023 Discover Guide! / ACA
The 2023 Annual Alberta Discover Guide is coming in January – sign up today for this FREE guide and get it delivered. Over 790 conservation sites for hunting and angling including sites from Ducks Unlimited Canada and Alberta Fish & Game Association.

Special Issue of Fisheries Shines Spotlight on Citizen Science / NOAA
A special issue of Fisheries magazine highlights citizen science and other nontraditional data sources in fisheries science and management. This issue includes papers, project information, and discussions based on a symposium held at the 2020 American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting. Access to the special issue is free for the next 2 months.

Special holiday Subscription Rate for Outdoor Canada magazine / Outdoor Canada
A one-year subscription includes 6 issues per year, featuring Canada’s only national fishing and hunting magazine. First subscription: $19.95, each additional subscription $14.95.

Podcasts:

Rebuilding Abundance With Oceana Canada / Blue Fish Radio
Oceana Canada believes that if managed properly, the ocean could sustainably supply the world’s population with sustainably harvested wild fish. Ensuring Canada is doing its part is their mandate and the theme of their recent symposium “ Rebuilding Abundance”. Over 140 experts and stakeholders met to discuss Canada’s potential, opportunities and needed investments. An invitation and professional Curiosity about how all this might apply to recreational fisheries led to my attending, and a subsequent conversation with Oceana’s Science Director Dr. Robert Rangeley. Check out this episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show to hear Dr. Rangeley discuss what we learned and what needs to come next.

Videos:

White Shark Necropsy / Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark
Check out “White Shark Necropsy October 2022” filmed near Halifax N.S.” by Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Nature Inspirations Awards – Fishing for Success / Canadian Museum of Nature
These annual awards, now in their ninth year, recognize individuals, businesses, and not-for-profits that show leadership, innovation and creative approaches to sustainability in order to connect Canadians with nature and the natural world. One of the eight 2022 winners is “Fishing for Success”, a community social enterprise in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland for its program that introduces women and girls to sustainable fishing practices.

Special Feature – The Ontario government’s “More Homes Built Faster” Bill 23

Bill 23 is the Ontario government’s plan to immediately build 1.5 million new homes by 2031 by bringing in changes to ten provincial Acts relevant to the protection of freshwater and shorelines. Blue Fish Canada provided the following submission to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“As a registered charity dedicated to the future of fish and fishing, Blue Fish Canada is concerned that Bill 23 may result in the destruction of important fish habitat. Shoreline wetlands are crucial to fish during spawning and development, and provide a source of prey for adult fish. Should these shoreline wetlands be impacted, entire eco systems may be put at risk. Such impacts to the Great Lakes alone can cause harm to the $8.5 billion freshwater fishery and the food and income upon which many people are dependent. Please modify this bill to ensure important wetlands are preserved to ensure the future of fish and fishing in Ontario. The 1.4 million Ontario fishing license holders and their children and grandparents will thank you.”

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Blue Fish Canada continues to add to it’s inventory of unique lakes and rivers ideal for conducting research and providing training. Should you know of a lake, river or ocean coastline of specific interest to fish and fishing, and in need of some “special attention”, drop us a line and we’ll add it to our list of waterbodies to assess using our criteria developed with input from expert anglers, traditional knowledge keepers, and scientists. Send an email to comms@BlueFishCanada.ca.

Dr. Chris Harvey Clark

In the November 7, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we ask the question, “When will fish and their habitat get added to the list for building climate change resilience?” With record hurricanes slamming into Atlantic Canada and Florida in the past couple months, impacts on fish deserve our attention. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, Habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing special guest feature chosen to inform and inspire our readers explains just how invasive species entered the Great Lakes and what’s being done about it.

This Week’s Feature – Impacts of Hurricanes, Droughts, Heatwaves and Floods on Fishes

By Lawrence Gunther

Storms and other severe weather-related extreme events are occurring in ways that are more than worrying. And yet, there are still some who believe much, if not all of these extreme events are part of the earth’s natural cycle. Without doubt, there’s evidence of regular 11-year fluctuations in our weather, but we know that has more to do with solar activity on the sun’s surface than it does with what’s taking place here on earth.

Yes, there are earth’s own internal rumblings that can trigger volcanic eruptions that can alter weather due to ash blocking out the sun. We also are growing increasingly aware of the threat asteroids pose to life on earth, leading to considerable effort and expense to develop asteroid detection and diversion technologies. So, given all what we know about various forces that affect the weather, thanks in large part to science, isn’t it time to take a closer look at weather-related impacts on fish health and habitat?

Let’s please skip over the debate about the cause behind more intense hurricanes, floods, drought, heatwaves, lightening, wind and cold. Instead, consider how these extreme weather-related events are impacting things in addition to us and the people and things we hold dear. Only then can we set our opinions and emotions aside and begin to prepare for such events on top of our usual response and recovery reactions.

Just several years ago the focus was solely on mitigating climate change. We limited our interest to speculating on potential impacts using computer simulations. To have suggested then that we also consider how to prepare for such events was perceived by many as giving up hope that we can stop earth’s climate from changing. Or worse, to continue to allow the behaviors and policies that led to where we are now. Still worse, spending money on resilience was seen as diverting money away from important initiatives such as investing in renewable energy.

Turns out many of the climate change computer modelling predictions are starting to come true. It’s time enough that we expand our response to include building resilience on top of mitigating climate change itself. So, what does this mean for nature?

A third priority now needs to be added to our preparations for climate change. On top of mitigating climate change and building resilience to protect our built environments, we must also now include measures to strengthen nature.

Based on what we just witnessed with seven of the eight billion snow crabs in the north-east Pacific Ocean being wiped out, and two of the most destructive hurricanes — Fiona and Ian – slamming into North America, to assume that nature can recover and adapt on its own seems like a huge gamble. Do we really want to keep taking a wait-and-see approach?

I reached out to friends in Florida after Hurricane Ian struck to hear from expert anglers and guides about what the storm meant to fish and their habitat. I was politely told that my request would need to wait as it was all hands-on deck to help with recovery, and that discussions about the impacts on nature would need to wait. Not to be deterred, I reached out to my friend Dr. Chris Harvey Clark at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia several weeks after hurricane Fiona struck. I know Chris is always underwater with a camera and gauges documenting marine life off Canada’s east coast. He himself had narrowly missed the worst of hurricane Fiona on his seaside home. Chris had a lot of observations to share, but it was also clear that much more research is required. Unlike toppled trees, massive forest fires and floods, the extent of destruction unleashed below the surface of our rivers, lakes and oceans can’t easily be seen or measured. You can listen to my conversation with Dr. Harvey Clark on The Blue Fish Radio Show by using the link: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e372-extreme-weather-impacts-on-fishes-a.

I know some may question my call to do more to document and respond to the impacts of extreme weather on fishes and their habitat. Believe it or not, I also track what happens to farm animals during and following extreme weather events. Until only recently, mainstream media covering extreme weather events has focused primarily on reporting human loss and the impacts to our homes and communities. The catastrophic loss of farm animals and their plight after experiencing extreme weather events is now only beginning to be reported. If farm animals can barely attract media coverage, What will it take to include fishes?

We need to start raising awareness and concern about climate change impacts on fishes and their habitat among those who reside in urban spaces. Even those who spend considerable time in the outdoors need access to the observations of others and the findings of scientists to confirm what they too are observing. Only then will society as a whole become more attuned to the incredible impacts climate change is having on fishes and nature as a whole.

As anglers, conservationists, stewards, and scientists, we can assist with raising awareness of the impacts of climate change. Thanks in large part to you, the public was made aware of salmon struggling in excessively warm and low rivers on both Canada’s east and west coasts this past summer. Keep engaging your local media by reporting your observations. Increasing awareness is essential if those responsible for setting research priorities and implementing resilience strategies will begin to include fish and fish habitat in their research and spending decisions.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

A Catch of a Lifetime Caught in the Toronto Harbour / Toronto Star
As a longtime angler and fishing guide in Toronto, Sampson has been fishing in the harbour almost his entire life and knows what to expect from the local waters. Around this time of year, he knows to look for Northern Pike. But when he hooked into something big just off of Billy Bishop Airport, Sampson’s knees buckled instantly — it was a 43-inch muskie.

I hated Fishing, Then Fishing Changed My Life / Wallstreet Journal
My son Jesse and I learned to fish in the past couple of years—I mean, fishing-fishing, really fishing, the more involved stuff, patience and technique, not (yet) the wizardry of a fly rod but pretty much everything else. We have caught big ones and small ones, and we have lost big and small ones too. Most important, we are now able to bore anyone on earth with a 20-minute story about fishing, which is a true sign we’ve arrived as fishermen.

Major League Fishing Announces Scoring Change for 2023 Bass Pro Tour / NPAA
Major League Fishing (MLF), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today a scoring change for the 2023 Bass Pro Tour. The extremely popular catch, weigh, immediate-release format will remain, however scoring will change. New Scoring Will Retain Catch, Weigh, Immediate-Release Format While Counting Angler’s Five Heaviest Bass Per Day

Can You Catch More Fish When the Water Is Spinning? / NOAA
Eddies are slow-moving swirls of water, or circular ocean currents, that can be tens to hundreds of miles across. New study sheds light on how fish use these spinning water masses as habitat.

Female Fishing Participation on the Rise / Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing
The sports of fishing and boating flourished during the worst years of the pandemic due to lack of school and professional sports, concerts and other activities involving crowds. People flocked to fishing and boating as a way to participate in a sport with lower risks of infection and to bond with family or friends to experience the outdoors together. The sport of fishing is now challenged with how to keep these new participants. The good news is, according to the report, 99 percent of participants plan to continue fishing this year.

Female Fishing Participation on the Rise / Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation
Women now account for 37 percent of anglers in the U.S., the highest level on record according to the Special Report on Fishing announced at ICAST 2022 by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) in collaboration with the Outdoor Foundation. 19.4 million women went fishing in 2021, an 8% increase in fishing outings since 2019. 1.6 million female participants were first timers. The total number of fishing outings for females in 2021 was 288 million.

Record 25 nations participate in FIPSED Black Bass World Championship! / NPAA
The bass fishing world descended upon South Carolina’s famed Lake Murray for the XVI Black Bass World Championship. The host community of Capital City Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board (CCLMC) put together a bass fishing tournament like none before! Teams from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estwatini, Germany, Italy, Japan, Laos, Mexico, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe competed.

Fish:

Environmental groups shock salmon to study them humanely / CBC
Two environmentalist groups recently teamed up to study Atlantic salmon in the Shediac Bay watershed — and they used a backpack that pumps electricity into the water to do it without harming the fish.

Huge sunfish makes rare appearance in cold north Vancouver Island waters / CHEK
The Mola tecta, a semi-tropical sunfish, had been misidentified until seven years ago and is rarely seen in the northern hemisphere.

Salmon activist says government should aid communities, remove fish farms from water / My Powell River Now
Alexandra Morton says she feels the way forward is to learn what communities that benefit from the farms need and remove the farms.

Goldstream salmon run should hit targets / Goldstream News Gazette
The mass salmon die-offs that plagued rivers on the mainland likely won’t be seen in Greater Victoria rivers, thanks to the rain and a boost in water supply from nearby water sources.

Parasites, yum / VanIsle News
If you haven’t heard about the most common parasite that likes to live in your dinner, it’s sea lice, writes Van Isle news staff.

The broken promise of salmon hatcheries / News-Review
“Salmon hatcheries have existed in Oregon since the late 1800s. They have never lived up to their promise, yet we have become addicted to them.”

What DFO says about Cooke Aquaculture’s plan to farm millions of salmon in N.S. bay / CBC News
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has released its review of Cooke Aquaculture’s proposed Atlantic salmon farm expansion at Liverpool Bay, highlighting potential impacts on lobster and wild salmon.

Why volunteers scoop thousands of fish out of Alberta irrigation canals each year / CBC
Every year, volunteer groups organize rescues to save fish stranded in Alberta irrigation canals when they’re drained for the winter.

How Genetic Pollution Could Change Nature as We Know It / Nature Canada
Genetic engineered organisms as pollution is a relatively new concept. Simply put, genetic engineering is when humans use laboratory techniques to directly alter the DNA of an organism. In the darkest scenario, genetic pollution could weaken a wild species, and along with all the other threats, put it at risk of extinction.

Pandemic negatively impacted invasive species control in Great Lake waters / Manitoulin Expositor
“When COVID-19 hit in 2020, it caused a 75 percent lapse in control treatments on all the lakes,” said Marc Gaden, communications director and legislative liaison with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC). “In 2021 all the stakeholders involved we got back to limited controls but there was still another 25 percent less in lamprey control treatments.” “We are back to normal in terms of lamprey control treatments in 2022, but we are seeing the survivors (lamprey) of the 2020 season,” said Mr. Gaden. “If you have a 75 percent cut in lamprey control treatments you would expect to see a significant number of lamprey come back to the lakes. We now have the data that proves this, and the number of lampreys being found in nets shows an increase in lamprey numbers. We are also hearing lots of reports of anglers catching fish with many scars on them caused by lamprey.”

Ship Noise Sends Beluga Whales Scrambling out of the Way / Hakai
A new tracking study shows just how far belugas will go to avoid noise pollution. By tracking the movements of both whales and ships, researchers can show in unprecedented detail how beluga whales react to ship noise—for instance, by turning and swimming away until the hazard has passed.

Habitat:

Reducing climate-driven flood risk can be done in ways to also help nature recover / Forbes
Due to rising risk on top of current vulnerabilities, keeping communities safe from flooding will need to be a major priority of governments over the next few decades. Nature-based solutions can reduce risk for people while restoring ecosystems needed to help reverse the global decline of wildlife.

‘Swamp as sacred space’: Save wetlands to save ourselves, say experts / CBC Radio
Our relationship with wetlands is nothing if not troubled; swamps, bogs, and marshes have long been cast as wastelands, paved over to make way for agriculture and human development.

‘The party is over’: Ottawa to crack down on destruction of endangered species’ habitats / CTV News
Ottawa has a warning for Canada’s provinces and municipalities: there will be no more tolerance for the destruction of habitats containing endangered species.

Over-Heating Waters Threatening Newfoundland’s Atlantic Salmon / Globe&Mail
Anglers say the water in the Gander River has been noticeably balmy, part of a warming trend. In temperatures above 23 C, Atlantic salmon can become stressed, and anything beyond 28 C can be lethal

Natural nutrient enrichment 8 million years ago caused today’s largest ocean ‘dead zone‘ / Phys.org
Oxygen-starved ocean “dead zones,” where fish and animals cannot survive, have been expanding in the open ocean and coastal waters for several decades as a result of human agricultural and industrial activity.

We Don’t Deserve Beavers / Sierra Club
Meddlesome beavers are cleaning up Superfund sites.

Beavers Are the Ultimate Ecosystem Engineers / Sierra Club
The aquatic rodents have rebounded, and they’re reshaping watersheds for the better.

Beavers Are Firefighters Who Work for Free / Sierra Club
Is it time to rethink beaver relocation bans?

Coastal GasLink blasts a creek near a Wet’suwet’en camp / Narwhal
Questions and concerns about salmon, steelhead and the health of the river remain unaddressed as TC Energy continues construction of its gas pipeline.

Doug Ford is gutting Ontario conservation authorities / Narwhal
In a massive overhaul of urban development planning, the Ontario government looks to take power away from the agencies that help prevent flooding — again. The legislation will repeal 36 specific regulations that allow conservation authorities to directly oversee the development process. If passed, it would mean Ontario’s conservation authorities will no longer be able to consider “pollution” and “conservation of land” when weighing whether they will allow development.

Indigenous:

DFO, 4 Mi’kmaw First Nations in Nova Scotia renew moderate livelihood ‘understanding’ / CBC
Mi’kmaw can now fish a total of 3,500 traps during the 2022-2023 commercial lobster season.

Katzie First Nation sues B.C. Hydro, province over Alouette Dam / CBC
The Katzie First Nation has filed a lawsuit alleging that the B.C. government and B.C. Hydro have failed to meet legal obligations related to the construction and operation of the Alouette Dam.

Native Guardians: Canada’s First Nations Move to Protect Their Lands / Yale E360
Canada’s Indigenous communities are making remarkable progress in setting aside vast tracts of their lands for conservation. Faced with mounting impacts from climate change and a push for resource development, First Nations and Inuit peoples are protecting tens of millions of acres — a scale that conservationists say is unprecedented. They are also partnering with scientists on research that can help them protect their lands and their traditional way of life.

Industry:

Update on the Clean Earth Challenge / FishingWire
All summer long Johnson Outdoors employees around the globe participated in the Clean Earth Challenge with the National Wildlife Federation. From the coast of the Mediterranean in France to the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, they rolled up their sleeves and rolled out trash bags to keep wildlife safe.

Boating:

Yamaha Rightwaters™ Conservation Efforts Gain Recognition for Innovation / BUSINESS WIRE
Soundings Trade Only recognized Yamaha as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative companies in the marine industry for the Yamaha Rightwaters sustainability program. The announcement was made during a special online presentation of The Most Innovative Company awards ceremony honoring forward-thinking companies.

Books:

“Any Fish, Any Water: Photography by Jason Arnold” / FishingWire
Any Fish, Any Water is Jason Arnold’s latest project featuring 219 pages of vivid underwater photography showcasing vibrant portraits of fish, marine life, and fishing landscapes. Additionally, the book presents stories and conservation endeavors from well-known leaders in the fishing industry such as professional angler Scott Martin and television host Rick Murphy.

Am I helping? A biologist’s search for self-worth in a world on fire / National Observer
I could never shake the nagging feeling that I was standing on the sidelines, watching idly as ecosystems around me fell like dominoes, writes fisheries biologist Auston Chhor.

Podcasts:

Blue Fish Radio: Canadian country music star Brett Kissel on living an outdoor life / Outdoor Canada Magazine
In this episode of Blue Fish Radio, producer/host Lawrence Gunther, talks to musician Brett Kissel, winner of 22 Canadian Country Music Awards who’s also landed 15 songs in the top 10, including three #1s. Kissel is also a dedicated angler and hunter, and producer and host of Sportsman Canada TV’s show Backwoods Backstage. Listen in to Lawrence and Brett’s wide-ranging conversation, as they talk family, fishing, hunting, conservation and the future of our outdoor pursuits.

Webinars:

St. Lawrence River Institute 2-Day Science Symposium
Catch all the presentations during the St. Lawrence River Institute’s annual science symposium.

Lake Links 2022 / Watersheds Canada
Watch the webinar recordings from Lake Links 2022 showcasing how lake associations have recognized threats on their lakes and rivers, and what steps they have taken to address them.

Wild Animal Sanctuaries: The New Face of Humane Education / Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy
In this webinar, Dr. Lori Marino talks with guests about the creative ways they are focusing on wildlife in their humane education programs, and how sanctuaries – including the coming Whale Sanctuary in Nova Scotia – are playing an essential role in driving education and cultural change.

Coming Up:

Don’t miss out! Tuesday 11/8 Webinar on Lake Superior / IJC
The International Joint Commission wants your input on issues affecting the water quality of Lake Superior and the St. Marys River.

Healing Our Connection to Water and Place through Habitat Creation / Latornell
On November 9th, at 10:00 AM – 12 PM don’t miss the 2nd. Webinar offered by Latornell called Healing Our Connection to Water and Place through Habitat Creation that highlights two Indigenous-led projects to recreate natural spaces along the St. Lawrence River and the St. Clair Rivers.

Special Guest Feature – Ballast water management is reducing the flow of invasive species into the Great Lakes

By Anthony Ricciardi, Professor of Biology, Redpath Museum & Bieler School of Environment, McGill University

Over the past two centuries, established populations of nearly 190 non-native species of invertebrates, fishes, plants and microbes have been discovered in the Great Lakes basin. They were introduced through several sources and pathways including canals, pet release, bait bucket dumping, aquaculture escapes and — most notably — ballast water discharge from transoceanic ships.

From 1959 to 2006, one new invader was discovered established in the Great Lakes basin every six to seven months, on average. Nearly two-thirds of these species were delivered in ballast water. They include invaders that have reduced native biodiversity, impaired fisheries and caused other ecological and socioeconomic impacts in the Great Lakes.

In 1993, Canada and the United States attempted to control ballast-water invasions by requiring inbound ships to exchange their freshwater ballast with saltwater before entering the Great Lakes. The logic behind this regulation was that freshwater organisms in the ballast tanks would either be purged or killed by exposure to saltwater, and any marine organisms taken up haphazardly during the process would be unable to reproduce in the Great Lakes. The regulation’s effectiveness was undermined by inbound vessels that were not required to undergo ballast water exchange because they declared they had no pumpable ballast on board, although there was residual water in their “empty” tanks. In fact, such vessels, which comprised the majority of ships entering the seaway, carried an average 47 tonnes of residual water and 15 tonnes of sediment in their ballast tanks and contained diverse living freshwater invertebrates.

After visiting a Great Lakes port to offload their cargo, these unregulated ships would pump in water to replace the lost weight. Then they would visit another port to take on new cargo and discharge the water, now contaminated with organisms. Several invaders were introduced to the Great Lakes by this pathway.

To address this issue, a procedure called saltwater flushing was developed. Ship-board experiments showed that flushing ballast tanks with seawater to the point where tank salinities reached oceanic concentrations substantially reduced the abundance and diversity of organisms in the tanks. Since 2008, new invasions recorded in the Great Lakes basin declined by 85 per cent. The frequency of invasion is now at the lowest rate ever recorded in the basin.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Some of you may recall Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden featuring on our official podcast The Blue Fish Radio Show. Adrian spoke about his book “Monsters of Rivers and Rock” and his world-wide fishing experiences. He’s one of several giants in the music industry who not only loves fishing, but finds time to support the work of Blue Fish Canada – including getting the word out about the importance of fishing sustainably and being a steward of the resource! Last week Adrian was in town with Iron Maiden to play a sold-out show in Ottawa, the location of Blue Fish Canada’s headquarters. As promised, Adrian reached out to editor Lawrence Gunther to take him up on his offer to spend a day fishing for muskie on the Ottawa River, one of Canada’s premier wild muskie fisheries. Joining the two aboard Lawrence’s Ranger 1880 Angler was John Anderson, a Blue Fish Canada Angler Expert volunteer and resident muskie guide. Not only was Adrian able to check another item off his bucket list — twice with the capture and release of two 47”-plus muskie, he learned all about the challenges that go into maintaining a world-class muskie fishery. Let’s just say this won’t be the last you hear from Blue Fish Canada giant Adrian Smith!

Click on the link to listen to Adrian Smith in conversation with editor Lawrence Gunther on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.outdoorcanada.ca/blue-fish-radio-why-iron-maiden-guitarist-adrian-smith-loves-fishing-so-much/

Photo of Iron Maiden lead guitarist Adrian Smith holding a 47-inch Ottawa River muskie

In the October 24, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we report on the B.C. Public Fishery Alliance 2-day awareness raising campaign that brought MPs on the water to show first-hand the state of B.C public fisheries. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Guest Feature details ways you can influence the course of future Great Lakes fish health research and bilateral actions by offering guidance to the International Joint Commission.

This Week’s Feature – Pacific Salmon and Public Fishing Access Advocacy

By Lawrence Gunther

Unfortunately, BC’s recreational anglers, fishing guides, outfitters and lodges are losing hope that a marked selective salmon fishery might someday become reality. Further fueling their despair is and ever-growing list of both key Pacific salmon fisheries and public waters being declared off-limits for reasons that confound anglers and scientists alike. Breaking through this logjam remains the goal of the Public Fishery Alliance (PFA), and the purpose of their two-day awareness raising event held for government and elected officials this past August. Here’s a brief overview of the issues discussed.

According to Tom Davis, an angler of many years and hats, and Chris Bos, a local fish hatchery champion, much of the folly is the result of SRKW (southern resident killer whale) exclusion regulations that prohibit fishing for Chinook and other fishes. Additionally, vast stretches of ocean are now no-go zones. Waters impacted include all of the southern gulf islands, Pender/Saturna Island, the Swiftsure Bank at the western entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait, and more. We now have vast expanses of ocean where no recreational fishing, boating and whale watching are permitted. According to Tom. Chris and others, the fishing prohibitions and exclusion zones seem over-the-top when factoring in research findings concerning Chinook abundance and marine sound levels.

Whale observation studies suggests the frequency of appearances by SRKW pods in many of the exclusion zones their time spent in any one zone is well under 10% of the season. Link below to listen to my conversation with Tom Davis, Director with the Public Fishery Alliance, and Chris Bos, Chair of the south Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition, on this new episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e370-public-fishery-alliance-conducts-re

Another significant deterrent to public anglers and boaters alike are the number and complexity of regulations intended to enforce fishing restrictions and exclusion zone boundaries. The opaque rules result in anglers becoming increasingly fearful of dropping a line over fears of having misinterpreted the regulations and incurring large fines.

Guests taking part in the PFA’s on-water tour were shocked by just how few sport fishing boats were in the area despite it being a perfect August day. The observers covered about 50 square kms of water, and only saw a handful of other boats fishing during what is normally the peak time for late summer angling. Even areas open for fishing near Sidney showed very little angling activity. No wonder the PFA believes the future of public fishing is being subjected to “death by a thousand cuts”.

Many of these new exclusion zones were initially listed as Chinook non-retention restricted areas. Alternate protections proposed by the PFA such as implementing a marked selective fishery to allow anglers to harvest only hatchery salmon, designed in concert with regional DFO officials and then re-jigged to include even tougher restrictions, still led to their hopes being dashed without reference to sound science-based precautions.

Declared restrictions are intended to provide sanctuary to chinook stocks of concern. In reality, many of the fishing zones impacted have been proven to be frequented by at-risk chinook stocks during only very brief periods of time throughout the fishing season. Such evidence bolsters the PFA’s position that a number of these exclusionary zones should be open to the retention of at least one easily identifiable hatchery chinook throughout the summer.

Science has proven that noise reduction is crucial for SRKW health, a conclusion that the PFA in no way disputes. What the PFA does challenge however, is why recreational fishing boats and large ships are being found to be equally culpable. The type and volume of noise emanating from fishing boats is miniscule in comparison to what container ships and ferries emit.

A study conducted for the Port of Vancouver to assess marine traffic noise in the Salish sea assigned 0.6% of noise as coming from fishing boats, 0.6% from whale watching boats, and 2.8% from recreational boating. The main contributors of marine sound are ferries, that are responsible for 66.9%, and commercial shipping for most of the rest. In other words, the three boating sectors that are most disadvantaged by SRKW exclusionary regulations and their associated closures to fishing are responsible for 4% of the noise. What’s wrong with this picture?

The PFA has a proposal to address noise impacts on SRKWs from recreational fishing boats as well. They call it the “moving avoidance bubble”. The idea being SRKW pods would be protected by a moving exclusion zone that angling, sight-seeing and recreational boats would be required to respect. It’s a low-tech system that could be applied to the whole BC coast for any whale or orca population.

Whale avoidance bubble:

On the initial sighting of whales, anglers and boats shall:

  1. Stop fishing, turn off their sounders and slowly move away from the whales to an agreed-to distance. Once the whales have left the area, fishing can be resumed.
  2. If anglers and boaters are unable to move away because the whales suddenly appear close by, they will stop fishing and turn off their motors and depth sounders until the whales move away.
  3. The angling and recreational boating public, in conjunction with the government of Canada, will develop educational material, and actively promote whale protocols while assisting with on water compliance, including reporting vessel owners who do not comply to DFO enforcement.

Once again, the PFA’s proposals were rejected out-of-hand. The PFA believes DFO’s unwillingness to consider the proposal had to do more with maintaining public trust in their embargoes than nuancing SRKW protection measures.

Successive years of fishing embargoes are raising concern over the future of BC’s marine public fisheries. In the end, if you own a boat and/or related fishing business and have been unable to fish or earn income from your boat/business, it’s unlikely that you will continue to own such valuable assets if there’s no where to fish.

The marine public fishery on Canada’s west coast is valued at $10 billion annually, that’s a lot of money being earned and spent locally. It’s an economic component of the economy that can’t easily be subsidised. But it can be lost, and once gone, it’s unlikely there will be people left with sufficiently deep pockets to bring back recreational fishing.

At the same time this significant economic contributor is brought to its knees, commercial fishing licenses are now being bought back, further deconstructing key components of BC’s economy. For what purpose has yet to be made clear.

What is also causing many public fishers and those associated with the sport fishing sector concern are the number of “Indigenous Conserved and Protected Areas” (ICPAs) being proposed that would cover many of the same public waters where fishing is now being stifled. Such undefined proposals have on-lookers worried that access to public fisheries may be curtailed in future. There’s also the issue that the implementation of ICPAs may follow a path similar to how old-growth forestry rights are being assumed by First Nation (FN) communities. In short, the future of salmon and SRKW pods may not be guaranteed by simply replacing current science-based harvest and conservation measures, as flawed as they are, with harvesting practices governed solely using traditional indigenous knowledge and values. It’s not FN traditional knowledge and values that are the issue, it’s the application of modern innovations that have given all people the capacity to harvest at unsustainable levels, a newly found destructive power that people everywhere are only now beginning to understand.

Knowing that all fish harvesters everywhere are experiencing the same challenge of regulating and moderating fishing pressure, it makes sense therefore that all parties work together and share the resources along with the science and values needed to assure their future. This includes the hard-earned knowledge gained through experience with commercial fish and forest harvesting technologies and their destructive forces when not applied judiciously. Forestry practices are just as much a key component of fish stock recovery as managing fish harvesting since habitat loss has been identified as a major contributor to the collapse of fish stocks throughout B.C.

In the meantime, we have a public fishery on life support, and no one seems to notice, at least until now. Thanks to the advocacy work of the PFA, politicians and government decision makers are learning to appreciate the nuances associated with protecting both wild Pacific salmon, and the right of public, FN and commercial fishers to harvest marked hatchery fish. And just as importantly, that all three stakeholders are equally committed to safeguarding and rebuilding Chinook fish stocks for fishers, killer whales, and the ecosystem as a whole. If you want proof, link below to listen to this recently released episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show featuring Peter Krahn with an update on his selective salmon fishing ‘’River Trap’’ mobile weir technology now being trialed by three FN communities: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e371-river-trap-up-date

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Fish trap demonstration in Chilliwack geared to better salmon spawning success / Chilliwack Progress
Retired engineer Peter Krahn set out three years ago to design a fish trap platform that would permit the release of non-targeted fish, helping them to reach their spawning grounds at the “highest level of fitness.” Elected officials, DFO reps, fishing reps gathered at Island 22 to see Krawn’s selective fishing River Trap system in action.

Catch-and-Release Fishing May Cause Temperature Spikes in Sharks / FishingWire
New research from marine scientists raises potential red flags for sharks that are caught and released by anglers. The team has discovered that the ocean’s iconic predators typically spike temperatures after they have been caught, which may have physiological and behavioural impacts.

Murder at Sea / Hakai
When a grainy video of a grisly mass shooting on the high seas surfaced, one determined detective and a host of NGOs went on a quest for justice.

I swam with the salmon — they taught me about dignity and strength / National Observer
Campbell River can host upwards of a million returning pink salmon in a banner year and is an ideal place to appreciate the fundamental role the iconic fish play in B.C.’s marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems.

Fish:

Ancient Mystery of European Eel Migration Unraveled / FishingWire
Having suffered a 95% decline in numbers returning to Europe’s rivers since the 1980s, the European Eel is now a critically endangered species.

Record year for sockeye salmon returning to Okanagan / iNFOnews
A record-setting half a million sockeye salmon are expected to return to Okanagan waterways this month to spawn, testament to years of work to rescue the devastated salmon ecosystem by the Okanagan Nation Alliance and its partners.

New Research Rewrites the Evolutionary Story of Gills / FishingWire
Surprising new research released by the University of British Columbia and published in Nature is adding a new, early chapter to the evolutionary story of gills.

Why volunteers scoop thousands of fish out of Alberta irrigation canals each year / CBC
Every year, volunteer groups organize rescues to save fish stranded in Alberta irrigation canals when they’re drained for the winter.

Visiting Fundy’s endangered Atlantic salmon / National Parks Traveler
It’s actually a good sign that the endangered Atlantic salmon eluded me as I snorkelled starfish-style through a river pool known as Black Hole in Fundy National Park.

Environment commissioner warns Canada failing to protect commercially valuable fish / Canadian Press
The audit looked at nine fish, five of which have significant commercial value. In all five cases, Fisheries and Oceans Canada didn’t list those five as being species at risk.

Hydro dams and stranded fish – B.C. can do better / Watershed Sentinel
Every year in B.C., thousands of fish die in mass-stranding events. Solutions do exist, but public pressure is needed.

Urgent Action on Climate Change Needed to Rebuild Fish Stocks in Canada and Beyond / CTV
“If we don’t mitigate climate change, we will continue to see a decrease in these fish stocks.” A new study from the University of British Columbia shows that urgent action on climate change is needed to rebuild fish stocks across Canada. While reducing fishing by an average of 25 per cent would allow stocks to rebuild even with a higher degree of warming, “managing fishing activity can’t be the only strategy.”

Landmark Study of Atlantic White Shark Movements Published / FishingWire
In a new peer-reviewed paper published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Marine Science, OCEARCH and its collaborative research team, for the first time, provide a comprehensive analysis of the movements and migrations of white sharks in the western North Atlantic, over multiple years and life stages. Using an unprecedented dataset from a combination of animal tracking technologies, this landmark study analyzed the movement patterns of 48 white sharks tagged at different locations along the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic coasts. “By collecting vital data for understanding the ecology and life history of white sharks in the western North Atlantic, we have identified this population’s critical habitats, and the linkages between these habitats, as the animals grow and thrive. The team’s findings show this population of white sharks makes predictable annual migrations between the northern and southern parts of their range, which stretches from Newfoundland to the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat:

What DFO says about Cooke Aquaculture’s plan to farm millions of salmon in N.S. bay / CBC
Here’s what DFO says about Cooke Aquaculture’s plan to farm nearly two-million salmon in Liverpool Bay Nova Scotia.

Billions of snow crabs disappear in Alaska / Weather Network
Alaska snow crabs saw a population decline of 7 billion crabs over the past few years, prompting the closure of their commercial harvest.

Ocean is getting hotter faster / Hakai
The ocean is getting hotter faster, affecting marine life, contributing to sea level rise, and increasing the number of extreme weather events. Even with ambitious action, a new study suggests we can expect ocean temperatures to double by the end of the century. (The Guardian)

Gray Whale Numbers Continue Decline / NOAA
Gray whales migrating along the West Coast of North America continued to decline in number over the last 2 years. The population is now down 38 percent from its peak in 2015 and 2016, as researchers probe the underlying reasons.

P.E.I. watershed groups prepare for climate change by counting bugs / CBC
Watershed groups on P.E.I. are monitoring their rivers and streams for bugs that are food for Atlantic salmon, as they prepare for the impacts of climate change that will change those waterways as habitat for fish.

Mining regulations: tracking where B.C. falls short / Narwhal
B.C.’s mining association has called the province a “leading” and “world-class mining jurisdiction.” But when it comes to mining regulations, there are a few examples where B.C. is lagging behind the rest of the world.

Coastal GasLink Warned More Than 50 Times Over Environmental Violations During Pipeline Construction / CBC
In an email to CBC News, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said it had issued a total of 51 warnings, 16 orders, and levied two fines – penalties of more than $240,000 “for repeated non-compliance” – since construction on the pipeline started in 2019. Many of the warnings relate to the failure to protect sensitive waterways and wetlands from sediment and erosion that can harm fish habitat and water quality, a violation of the project’s environmental assessment certificate.

Arctic Lakes Are Vanishing a Century Earlier Than Predicted / Yale Environment 360
Arctic lakes are drying out nearly a century earlier than projected, depriving the region of a critical source of fresh water, according to new research.

Dangerous Viruses Can Survive in Fresh Water by Clinging to Plastic Waste, Study Finds
Viruses are able to survive in fresh water by clinging to microscopic pieces of plastic, posing a potential threat to public health, according to a new study. But what does this mean for fish health?

Satellite Images Show Disappearance of Iconic Canadian Glacier / Yale Environment 360
The Peyto Glacier in Canada’s Banff National Park has shrunk by around 70 percent over the last half-century, a dramatic change highlighted in newly released satellite imagery from NASA.

Joint Canada-U.S. Deep-Sea Coral Seamount Survey / NOAA
On September 6, an international team of researchers assembled to survey deep-sea coral and sponge habitats on seamounts 300 miles offshore of the U.S.-Canada border in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

Indigenous:

The Precarious Position of Treaty-less Tribes / Hakai
What a five-year fight over a few dozen clams shows about the inconsistent rights of Indigenous tribes.

B.C. First Nations seek action on sturgeon deaths, after court blamed declines on dam / Canadian Press
Three British Columbia First Nations want the provincial and federal governments to live up to a nine-month-old court decision that said there is “overwhelming” evidence a dam on the Nechako River is killing endangered sturgeon. They are highlighting the ruling after scientists asked the public in September for help in solving the mysterious deaths of 11 adult sturgeon found in the Nechako River in central B.C. The Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship said the fish showed no visible external injuries and their deaths were not caused by disease, chemical exposure, angling or gillnet fisheries.

Industry:

Yamaha Rightwaters Helps Center for Coastal Studies Repower Marine Mammal Rescue Boat / BusinessWire
Yamaha Rightwaters™ continues its support of the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass., by helping the marine rescue organization repower a boat with new 300-horsepower outboards. The F300s will power the twin-engine Ibis, a whale disentanglement vessel used to assist with several research and rescue programs in the Cape Cod Bay area.

Boating:

The Risk Doesn’t Outweigh the Reward / Yamaha Outboards
Whether it’s a slick calm evening for the perfect kayak trip down the river, the sun is shining for a family lake day, or the wind is blowing to make the bass crush a spinnerbait – the weather plays a key role in us enjoying the outdoors.

Arts:

Pumpkin Carving Stencils for Ocean Lovers / NOAA
Wow your neighbors with our eerie-sistibly fa-boo-lous ocean-inspired jack-o’-lantern stencils.

Podcasts:

New science shows what bass do (and which ones survive) after being caught and released / Outdoor Canada
In this episode of Blue Fish Radio, producer/host Lawrence Gunther, talks to Dr. Steven Cooke, a Carleton University biologist, avid angler and prominent researcher in fish ecology, physiology and conservation. A frequent guest on Blue Fish Radio, Dr. Cooke returns to share his latest fascinating research about smallmouth and largemouth bass. In particular, where they go and what they do after being caught and released, best practices for hook removal and more.

Videos:

Bass in Opinicon: A Troubling Trajectory Calls for a New Management Strategy / QUBS
In this Queen’s University Biology Station video Dr. Dave Philips addresses the costs and benefits of prohibiting angling for black bass during their spawning and extended parental care periods. New experimental data are helping us focus on how protection of bass reproductive success can have positive impacts on wild populations and identify a new management approach that will provide innovative conservation for bass populations into the future.

Webinars:

Have your say on DFO’s Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation Strategy / ASF
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is currently seeking public input, through an online survey, on the development of their Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation Strategy. Join the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) for an informative webinar to help make your submission as strong and informed as possible.

Creel Optimization / Science Insights seminar
Science Insights presents Dak de Kerckhove on creel optimization.

Coming Up:

Rebuilding Abundance Symposium / Oceana Canada
On October 26 at the Ottawa Westin hotel join the conversation with world leading oceans and fishery experts, Indigenous and fishing industry leaders, policy-makers and journalists from across Canada to identify a shared vision for abundant oceans and fisheries.

Northern Ontario Tourism Summit / NOTO
On November 21-23, grow Northern Ontario’s tourism industry by joining industry peers and colleagues in our shared pursuit of excellence and success in Thunder Bay, Ontario at the 7th Northern Ontario Tourism Summit. If you own a tourism business, work in or for the industry, are involved in economic development, workforce development, investment attraction or supply the tourism industry, you should seriously consider attending this Summit.

2023 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
Call for Abstracts and Award Nominations Now Open. The annual Invasive Species Forum will be held on February 7-9, 2023. The theme is Invasive Species Action in a Changing Climate.

Special Guest Feature – The International Joint Commission needs your input on restoring, protecting and enhancing the Great Lakes

Complete the online survey

The IJC prepared a survey where you can provide your input on the governments’ 2022 Progress Report and the water quality in each Great Lake.

Participate in a webinar – Register for the evening webinar event that corresponds with the watershed you are interested in discussing:

Submit a written comment
Submit your written input via email by December 23, 2022.

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.

In the October 10, 2022, Thanksgiving issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with an exploration of why being thankful doesn’t seem to be enough for people who poach and cheat. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Guest Feature chosen to inform and inspire our readers is an extract from the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address.

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: On National Reconciliation Day Blue Fish Radio released a new podcast featuring Chief Donald Maracle of the Mohawks of Bay of Quinte. I first met Chief Maracle in 1994 not long after he was first elected chief while attending a five-day awareness raising program on the Tyendinaga reserve. Some 28 years later and its sad to say that not a lot has changed, other than people are starting to listen. During my conversation with Chief Maracle he speaks about his community’s traditional and current connection with the fish of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte, and how racism and the unwillingness of settlers to share nature’s resources has now led to a need for reconciliation. Link below to listen to my conversation with Chief Maracle recorded in his office this past August: https://bluefishradio.com/chief-donald-maracle-of-mohawks-of-bay-of-quinte/

Photo of Chief Donald Maracle of the Mohawks of Bay of Quinte

This Week’s Feature – Poaching and Cheating

While compiling the Blue Fish News this week I came across several stories in the news / social media that casts doubt over whether it’s possible to ensure everyone is fishing by the rules. One of these stories concerns people illegally harvesting rockfish, a category of fishes found along B.C.’s coast said to be easily over-exploited if not carefully regulated. The other story concerns a team of competition anglers caught cheating by adding lead to the five walleye they brought to the scales. The stories have many questioning the morality of people who fish, and the reliability of the safeguards in place meant to catch those who break the rules. However, I think we need to explore the reasons why people poach or cheat before we conclude that systems in place to catch poachers and cheaters are flawed.

Let’s examine first why people poach. Taking more fish or a specific species of fish than what you’re legally entitled to, can upset others over concern about their being sufficient fish to meet everyone’s needs now and in future. Thus, poaching is just as much about putting a fish stock at risk, as it is about stealing from other anglers. How poaching is defined in law is another matter.

Indigenous fishers engaged in harvesting fish were often, and in many cases still are, perceived by non-indigenous people as poachers. It didn’t help when government officials and the media labeled indigenous harvesters as poachers prior to the courts having reached such a verdict. We now understand that indigenous fishers engaging in ancient harvesting rights that existed long before we showed up and began imposing our laws is itself an injustice. However, even the most commonly held norms governing poaching can be rendered benign under certain circumstances.

Not long after the USSR collapsed in 1991 the economic system across much of the world’s largest country ground to a halt. For many Russians and others it meant no longer receiving a pay cheque. This led to rivers and lakes across Siberia that could be reached by road being fished hard. The people doing the fishing were concerned with feeding their families and communities, and earning money. It didn’t take more than a year before these rivers and lakes had been pretty much “fished out”. Not that every last fish had been caught, but that the effort to catch fish versus the return no longer justified the effort. People did what they had to do to survive and keep the lights on.

Poaching fish during times of food insecurity is not uncommon, and was something experts in North America were monitoring when COVID-19 caused many to lose their jobs and grocery store shelves to be emptied. Fortunately, it never came to that. A dramatic jump in fishing license sales did occur, but this had more to do with people looking for safe inexpensive activities to do outdoors than feeding their families.

Never-the-less, the rationale fueling the rockfish poaching issue in B.C. is being attributed to COVID-19, but not because the people doing the poaching are food insecure. The poachers are said to be taking advantage of a perceived or actual reduction in enforcement activity brought about by the pandemic, blunting the deterrent affect that enforcement personnel on the water are intended to represent. It’s not hard to find both unwitting and willing buyers of freshly poached fish, but why have these poachers decided to do what they do? To explore this further, let’s examine the second story in the news about the tournament anglers caught cheating.

There has always been and always will be people who cheat at games. It’s why we have rules and people in place to enforce the rules. But what motivates such people? Is it greed, envy, narcissism, revenge, ideology, or simply the thrill of not being caught?

The two tournament anglers featured in the second story were caught just prior to their being awarded a trophy and cheque worth about $35,000 Canadian. That’s a lot of money and could explain greed as the motivating force. However, fishing tournament competitors must first pay a considerable entry fee. They also need to have access to a well-equipped fishing boat and the means to transport their boat to and from the water – an investment that can easily top $200,000 once you add in the cost of tackle. Maybe the two anglers had recently lost their jobs, or had medical bills that were mounting, or some other compelling financial reason. However, whether it’s greed or a financial crisis that drove them to cheat, one might question the math used to justify their actions. It’s a lot of money to spend to steal a much smaller amount of money.

Maybe envy was behind their decision to cheat. The desire to be the winning team holding the trophy and giant cheque on stage at the end. To be recognized, finally, as the winners. To receive the respect of their fellow anglers. Now we are tipping into narcissism. But, these two competitors had never been widely regarded as top-shelf anglers, so it’s not like they were desperate to maintain their reputations and the support of sponsors. No, these were two men who had likely never experienced such adulation, and never really knew intimately what they were missing. It’s doubtful that envy and narcissism were their primary motivations.

Let’s consider revenge then. Could it be that the two caught cheating were simply trying to prevent others from winning the trophy and cheque? Had they grown tired and frustrated due to others always being the winners? The fact is fishing tournaments are generally made up of those few who routinely finish near or at the top, and all the rest who seldom if ever earn a cheque. Tournament payouts often award cheques to the top-ten finishers, the rest of the competitors are generally referred to as “donors” – the people whose entry fees are split among the winners. These are Anglers who also buy the same boats, trucks and tackle, who pay the same entry fees time-and-time-again, but who seldom if ever receive a cheque. When such upsets do happen there’s a general but unspoken understanding that luck rather than skill had more to do with the surprise finish. Hardly the type of adulation people crave, and even less likely to cause any serious grief among top competitors.

One can never rule out ideology. People against fishing from an ideological perspective can be motivated to disrupt activities that they find to be morally reprehensible. In their minds stopping an injustice to animals justifies the means.

We often hear about those opposed to farming animals disguising themselves as farm laborers in order to witness farm animals being neglected or abused, and then releasing graphic videos to the public with the goal of bringing down the farming operation. If ideology was the motivation of the two anglers, and their goal was to disrupt the tournament, one would think they would have by now have made their reasons known. No, their actions aren’t some form of anti-fishing protest, even if it does tarnish the image of tournament anglers and fishing as a whole.

Before we explore the last possible motivation behind why some people choose to cheat, people unfamiliar with tournament fishing should know that cheating during fishing tournaments, much like in every sport, is an issue and always will be. It’s why there are tournament directors. It’s why tournament organizers spend countless hours drafting and revising tournament rules, and then subject competitors prior to the event to obligatory meetings to read out the rules that can easily last several hours. The goal is to deter people from trying to cheat and to explain how unlikely it is that they will succeed if they try.

Many organizers of tournaments where large cheques are being dispensed also employ deterrents such as “marshals” that travel with angler(s) in their boats throughout the event to monitor for cheating. Mandatory polygraphs for top place finishers prior to the trophies and cheques being awarded is another.

So why is it people cheat? I’m reminded of a study about shoplifters I read years ago. The researchers found that the vast majority of shoplifters have with them sufficient funds to pay for the articles being stolen. The explanation given for juvenile shoplifters is that it’s a “cry for help”. However, it seems unlikely that two adults would pose as professional tournament anglers to steal likely have other under-lying issues.

Face facts, there will always be those who feel that the rules don’t apply to them. This includes alcoholics who insist on driving drunk even though they know the consequences of being caught. These are the “killers” Mothers Against Drunk Drivers are still trying to get off the road.

Could it be that people who steal do it for the thrill? Maybe legitimately winning a fishing tournament isn’t enough, and what they crave is the rush of winning a tournament by cheating. A double dose of adrenaline.

Cheaters and poachers don’t just cheat or poach once, the act itself becomes like a drug, they crave it. And after being caught, which is pretty much inevitable, such people simply move on to find new victims and systems to exploit.

In the end, cheaters and poachers will always live among us, making it necessary to always have deterrents and the systems to catch and punish such people. Add to this the power of social media, and maybe fewer cheaters will risk all to satisfy their unusual desires. So watch out for those few bad apples, and otherwise, be thankful that we have the systems and rules in place to deal with such people. Not so much as the “glass being half empty”, but something else to be thankful for.

The Latest Fishing, fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Pandemic Poaching Sets Rockfish Conservation Effort Back Years / Hakai
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, another scourge has been rampant around southwestern British Columbia’s Galiano Island: illegal fishing. In the past two years, suspected poaching incidents increased dramatically in three marine reserves near the island, which are designed to protect rockfish.

Cheating scandal rocks fishing world after lead weights found in winning catch / CBC
With tens of thousands in prize money and the integrity of anglers hanging on the line, a walleye fishing tournament in Ohio turned ugly after an apparent cheating scandal was uncovered.

Signs of sockeye poaching abound, though Fraser remains off limits / Vancouver Sun
Watershed Watch’s fisheries advisor Greg Taylor weighs in on numerous reports of illegal salmon fishing, sales and dumping on the Fraser River.

B.C. man developing less harmful way to harvest salmon selectively / Cowichan Valley Citizen
Elected officials, DFO, fishing reps met at Chilliwack boat launch to see demo of the new technology.

Believe the Hype: Anglers Weigh in on Live Sonar / FishingWire
No fishing technology in recent memory has created more conversation on social media and message boards than live sonar. And this online chatter has proven itself on the water, because no fishing technology has changed the sport more dramatically overnight than MEGA Live Imaging™ (although strong arguments also can be made that both Spot-Lock® and MEGA 360 Imaging™ are equally valuable tools-more on that later).

After decades of dwindling runs, sockeye salmon return to Yukon fishing village in droves / CBC
On the heels of the Yukon River’s lowest chinook salmon run, Fisheries and Oceans Canada predicts that more than 25,000 sockeye will return to the Yukon’s Klukshu River to spawn. The fishery is open to recreational and First Nations anglers, and it’s shaping up to be the best in two decades. (CBC)

N.L. extending fishery guardian program by 4 weeks, after years of pleading by anglers / CBC
A little over a week after salmon anglers in Newfoundland and Labrador resumed their annual call to keep fishery guardians on salmon rivers longer, the federal government has extended the program by four weeks.

Fraser River sockeye closed to Island fishers, as U.S. fleet nets B.C. bound fish / CHEK
According to Unifor, as many as 800 coastal fishers are now going home empty handed.

How to Get Started With Fly-Fishing / Sierra Club
Tips for beginners, why to take it up, and the best gear to start.

Halibut Obsession Chasing: white gold in the Pacific Ocean / BC Outdoors
For some people, recreational sport fishing is a hobby; for others, it is a passion; and for some of us, it is our livelihoods as professional sport fishing guides and lodge owners and operators.

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture Report 2022 / OceanWise
The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022, by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, was recently released. This report can guide the work of policymakers, fisheries managers and scientists.

Salmon fishers in B.C. face decision of whether to quit industry via federal licence buyback plan / CBC
The federal government is introducing a buyback program for commercial licences by the end of this year, but those in the industry say more information about the divisive plan is long overdue.

Fish:

Thousands of salmon dead due to heat / CTV
B.C.’s sunny, dry weather is leading to major drought conditions in parts of the province, causing devastating impacts for some wildlife.

Skeena Sockeye Returns Are Surging — But Big Concerns Remain / Tyee
SkeenaWild fisheries advisor Greg Taylor said it’s the biggest Skeena sockeye year he’s seen since 2000. “The Skeena is looking healthier than it has for a couple of decades, at least.” But Taylor emphasized that strong returns don’t necessarily reflect improved watershed health, but may be the result of environmental changes in the ocean. He said an unusual three straight La Niña years have created the coolest sea surface temperatures the B.C. coast has seen in a decade.

What Is Killing the White Sturgeon of the Nechako River? / Tyee
There were no obvious net scars. No hooking injuries. Or wounds. And so the race is on to figure out what is killing the endangered Nechako white sturgeon in suddenly large numbers. And to find out whether those deaths in B.C. are tied to other spikes in sturgeon losses happening across North America.

After 50 years, westslope cutthroat trout return to lake in Banff National Park / CBC News
Restoring Hidden Lake is a feat of conservation that Parks Canada experts worked on for more than a decade to achieve.

The Tale of the Trojan Trout / Sierra Club
Can the introduction of a genetically modified invader save the West’s native fish?

Researchers successfully breed ancient endangered fish found only in Nova Scotia / National Post
After decades of being endangered and on the brink of becoming extinct, there’s new hope for the Atlantic whitefish, a species that is unique to Nova Scotia,

Salute to the Sockeye festival / PSF
Celebrate the 2022 Adams River sockeye run taking place Sept. 30 to Oct. 23, 2022 at Tsútswecw Provincial Park! The Adams River sockeye run is one of the largest sockeye runs in North America. This year, millions of salmon are expected to return to the Adams.

Fish-eradication project in Miramichi has begun, opponents say / CBC
Opponents of the project to eradicate the invasive smallmouth bass from Miramichi Lake say spraying has begun, but are continuing their efforts to stop it.

Miramichi fish-eradication project paused for 2nd year / CBC
The North Shore Micmac District Council has agreed to stop any more applications of rotenone and put a pause on the smallmouth bass eradication project in Miramichi Lake this year.

River Notes / Atlantic Salmon Federation
Zoë Coates of Hogan’s Salmon Lodge in New Brunswick writes, “the effects of Hurricane Fiona were definitely seen on the Miramichi. The river rose a solid five feet and peaked on September 24th. The water now is high, dark but clean, despite full trees being observed coming down the river last weekend.” Matt Dort of Nova Scotia writes, “Hurricane Fiona left many of us with challenges and serious concerns. Respecting our rivers, it brought the rain we needed but with that, it also brought devastating winds that left many local paths to salmon pools inaccessible and alternative routes are now needed. The storm surges associated with Fiona also left me wondering how the Atlantic Salmon cope with these strong currents, waves and poor water clarity in the estuaries and harbours as they wait to enter the Northumberland Strait Rivers.”

DFO launches fish farm transition framework / Watershed Watch
DFO has launched a plan to start planning the transition plan for fish farms. (A lot of planning eh?) Stan breaks down this latest document.

Feds approve fish farm expansions despite commitment to remove / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently approved three fish farm expansions in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with no public consultation.

Nova Scotia wants public to weigh in on fish farming as industry aims to expand in East Coast waters / Canada’s National Observer
At the same time, environmental groups have called for a moratorium on aquaculture expansion, pointing to the federal government’s commitment to phase out open net-pen fish farms in B.C. waters by 2025.

Lowest Chinook salmon count on record in Yukon River sends wave of concern / Yukon News
Federal department data shows only 12,025 Chinook salmon have crossed into Canada.

The Mysterious, Vexing, and Utterly Engrossing Search for the Origin of Eels / Hakai
To save endangered eels, researchers have been working for decades to figure out where they reproduce.

Who took the Chinook? / Watershed Watch
In the Fraser, Chinook aren’t faring well with 14 of 16 populations assessed as endangered or threatened.

We’re Running Out of Seafood, Yet We Waste Billions of Pounds of It / Sierra Club
A 2015 study published in Global Environmental Change estimates that every year, almost half the seafood supply in the United States alone is lost, amounting to nearly 500 million pounds of protein waste. It’s recommended that the average person consume at least 1.7 ounces of protein per day, this lost seafood is enough to feed more than 2.7 million people for an entire year.

Habitat:

How do tides and turbines affect sea life? Fundy study hopes to find out / CBC
Harnessing power from the tides has tremendous potential, but in the Bay of Fundy, between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, developing it responsibly offers as many challenges as opportunities. Researchers hope that creating a new atlas of vital fish species that depend on the area will answer questions that could lead to more sustainable development of tidal power. The risk assessment project is researching nine marine species, including ones important for commercial fisheries, like striped bass and alewife, as well as ecologically and culturally significant species such as American eel, tomcod and white sharks.

Excitement in B.C. Indigenous communities as salmon get past Fraser slide zone / Vancouver Sun
Fisheries and Oceans Canada says 280,000 salmon have already been counted above the Big Barlide site north of Lillooet.

Canada’s first network of marine protected areas slated for B.C. / Pique Newsmagazine
The marine protected area network would stretch from Campbell River on Vancouver Island

DFO dragging out marine protection plans on West Coast, First Nations say / National Observer
For more than a decade, coastal First Nations in British Columbia have been actively involved in a marine planning process to create a network of marine protected areas. They’re ready to move forward with their plans to conserve and protect fish, other marine life, and their ecosystems, but they’re at an impasse with Canada’s federal fisheries department over proposed fishing regulations.

Impact of Ecstall River landslide to salmon runs / Global News
There are growing fears about the impact of a powerful landslide in north central B.C. that has inundated a remote tributary of the Skeena River outside Prince Rupert. The timing of the disaster could not be worse given the fate of several different salmon runs.

Restoring salmon habitat could help B.C. flooding / Narwhal
Watershed Watch’s Lina Azeez was interviewed for this piece about decisions to restrict the mighty Fraser River through extensive diking, the consequences for fish, and the opportunity to ‘build back better’.

Inside a 50-year journey to reopen the ‘lungs’ of the Squamish River / Narwhal
A company built a spit that blocked salmon from accessing crucial habitat — then it left. Decades later, the Squamish Nation, local environmentalists and the federal government have worked together to finally break open the barrier and reconnect a fractured estuary.

Sunken fishing vessel pulled from Salish Sea after ‘complex’ diving operation / CBC
A fishing boat that sank near Vancouver Island while carrying an estimated 9,460 litres of light diesel has been safely recovered, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Global ‘Stilling’: Is Climate Change Slowing the Wind? / Yale Environment 360
Climate change is impacting wind speeds. Last year, Europe experienced a six-month “wind drought,” with wind speeds slowing by 15 percent or more below the annual average, and researchers are forecasting that global wind speeds could drop by up to 10 percent by 2100. This wind “stilling” is being attributed to a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and a warming of the Earth’s poles. Scientists say the slowdown could impact wind energy production and plant distribution and growth, and might affect the Gulf Stream, which drives much of the world’s climate.

Northeast Striped Bass and Ocean Temperatures / FishingWire
Research scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their annual State of the Climate report which found that ocean heat – measured from the surface to a depth of more than 6,000 feet – was the highest on record. The study found that some areas of the North Atlantic registered from 3.6 degrees to 9 degrees warmer than average at times, conditions that have not been observed since record keeping began roughly six decades ago. According to researchers, this persistent rise in ocean water temperatures can have a major impact on marine life, particularly in terms of altering migration patterns of certain fisheries.

New study suggests climate change has pushed the planet to five tipping points / CBC Listen
A new study suggests climate change has pushed the planet to five tipping points, two of which — thawing of the boreal forest and the end of an ocean current system near Labrador — are of particular concern to Canada.

Invasive jellyfish species spotted in Ramsey Lake / CTV
For the last 70 years, Freshwater jellyfish, an invasive species from China, has been slowly making its way north. In the last few weeks, it finally arrived in Sudbury, Ont.

Indigenous:

With Old Traditions and New Tech, Young Inuit Chart Their Changing Landscape / Hakai
For generations, hunting, and the deep connection to the land it creates, has been a mainstay of Inuit culture. As the coastline changes rapidly—reshaping the marine landscape and jeopardizing the hunt—Inuit youth are charting ways to preserve the hunt, and their identity.

Establishing Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas: The Jurisdictional Spectrum / CELA
”There is no one model for the formation, management, and governance of IPCAs precisely because they must be rooted in Indigenous laws and systems of governance. However, it is always important for the Crown to commit to meaningfully working with Indigenous authorities to recognize and support the implementation of IPCAs over the long term. Given the importance of advancing reconciliation and the severity of Canada’s biodiversity crisis, it is in all of our interests to demand that they do so.”

Why is Ontario resisting Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas? / The Narwhal
Ontario reporter Emma McIntosh read three sentences from internal briefing documents and discovered Ontario’s pushback to Indigenous-led conservation efforts and land stewardship.

Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik sign declaration to protect Big Salmon River / CBC News
Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqey leaders have signed a declaration they hope will lead to the protection of the Big Salmon River watershed, which reaches from almost near Sussex down to the Bay of Fundy.

Vancouver Island First Nations seek to double the size of coastal Guardians program / Global News
Guardians, the nations say, are a 21st century form of their communities’ traditional stewardship of the lands and waters, ensuring they are protected for generations to come.

Alberni families hand net salmon in traditional First Nations food fishery / CHEK
First Nations families in Alberni have been out harvesting salmon while the food fishery window is open.

Wet’suwet’en celebrate return of salmon amidst threats to keystone species / Narwhal
When the salmon return to Wet’suwet’en territory in northwest B.C., the occasion is marked by celebration and ceremony. Protecting the waters and fish they rely on for their survival is a responsibility that goes back thousands of years.

Industry:

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson gifts $100M to help protect nature in B.C. / CBC
The commitment is part of the B.C. Parks Foundation’s launch of a multi-year campaign to protect 25 per cent of B.C.’s land and waters, in partnership with Indigenous people.

Boating:

Boat Trader Survey Results on Why Owners Are Selling / FishingWire
Boat Trader survey finds few sellers are concerned about economic uncertainty, and nearly 40% report intent to upgrade.

First marine EV charging station in Canada installed in Kingston, Ont. – Kingston / Global News
In what is likely to become a more common feature in marinas, Kingston, Ont., is the first place in Canada to install a charging station for electrically powered boats.

Recipes:

Love Seafood? Enjoy a Taste of National Marine Sanctuaries / NOAA
National marine sanctuaries are special places set aside to protect and preserve areas of the ocean and Great Lakes with great natural and cultural significance. Our friends at National Marine Sanctuaries gathered some iconic dishes found across the sanctuary system.

Podcasts:

Let’s talk wild salmon and climate change / Watershed Watch
The final episode of season 2 of The Freshwater Stream podcast speaks with Vancouver Island biologists Tim Kulchyski, Tom Rutherford and Tanis Gower about the impacts of low flows on salmon and how we can manage our watersheds to give wild salmon the best chance at survival in a changing climate.

Coming Up:

Rebuilding Abundance Symposium / Oceana Canada
On October 26 at the Ottawa Westin hotel join the conversation with world leading oceans and fishery experts, Indigenous and fishing industry leaders, policy-makers and journalists from across Canada to identify a shared vision for abundant oceans and fisheries.

Lake Links webinar
Register for the annual gathering of eastern Ontario lake association representatives Saturday, October 22, 2022. Traditionally held in person in Perth in eastern Ontario, this year’s event will be held by webinar and is focused on: “Challenges and Solutions for Lake & River Health” – How Associations have recognized threats on their lakes and rivers, and what steps they have taken to address them.

2023 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
Call for Abstracts and Award Nominations Now Open. The annual Invasive Species Forum will be held on February 7-9, 2023. The theme is Invasive Species Action in a Changing Climate.

Special Guest Feature – Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address / Greetings to the Natural World

The following is a brief extract from the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. Link here to read the entire greeting.

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people. Now our minds are one.

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms- waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water. Now our minds are one.

We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers. Now our minds are one.

Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator. Now our minds are one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the link to listen to the tour of the Antique Boat Museum on the Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e365-north-americas-largest-antique-boat

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

Click on the link to hear an update on the important conservation work underway at Save the River from John Peach and Lauren Eggleston on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e366-up-date-from-save-the-river

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

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

Click on the link to this special audio/video production of my tour of the Maitland Tower project and conversation with Philip Ling on The Blue fish Radio Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHpZIW97CQ8

Click on the link to hear my conversation with Michele Andrews from the Door #1 NGO on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e367-door-number-one-and-michele-andrews

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Habitat:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indigenous:

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

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

Industry:

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

Boating:

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

Arts:

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

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

Videos:

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

Webinars:

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

Scientists and Local Champions:

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

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

Coming Up:

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

Calls-to-Action:

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

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

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

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

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

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