What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Thankfully, after such a long winter, boats are getting re-launched, only this year with a heightened awareness of their potential to convey invasive species. For much of Canada, boats back in the water marks the end of that difficult and often frustrating period that starts when ice fishing ends. If you have a youth fishing event planned for 2022, drop us a line so we can help get the word out and celebrate your endeavour: admin@bluefishcanada.ca

In this May 16th, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on nuclear risks to our Great Lakes fisheries and the results of a new International Joint Commission report. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, Habitat and other news you need to know.

Photo of danger radiation sign located on the shore of Lake Athabasca

Nuclear Threats to Great Lake Fisheries

The International Joint Commission recently released a significant report that clearly outlines a path forward for greater public and indigenous engagement on matters concerning nuclear power generation and decommissioning end-of-life generating stations on the shores of the Great Lakes. The report was prepared by the IJC’s Water Quality Board and covers the 38 nuclear reactors and 18 existing nuclear power stations located along the shores of the Great Lakes, including the three Ontario owned stations responsible for generating half of Ontario’s electricity. Many of these stations were built in the 1970s and are now nearing end-of-life. The report covers the decommissioning of the actual stations, the transport of spent nuclear fuel to long term storage facilities, and the creation of such storage sites. While not a technical report, it makes clear that both Canada and the U.S. have much work to do to meet these challenges, and that much of this work entails building public trust through meaningful consultations and engagement. These decisions and actions have massive potential consequences for freshwater quality that accounts for 20% of the world’s supply, and the most valuable freshwater fisheries in the world. The stakes are huge, and yet steps on how to decommission nuclear power stations and dispose of spent nuclear waste have yet to be fully developed and implemented. For more about the IJC’s recent report “Decommissioning of Nuclear Power Facilities in the Great Lakes Basin”, link below to hear Gayle Wood Canada’s Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e358-great-lakes-nuclear-power-station-d

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is another organization seeking greater understanding of Ontario residents’ views on Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The NWMO is tasked with implementing Canada’s plan for the safe long-term storage of used nuclear fuel in a manner that protects people and the environment for generations to come. The Ontario communities of Ignace and South Bruce are the two areas currently involved in the NWMO’s site selection process for a deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel. All households in Ignace and South Bruce were sent a short survey in January 2021 to assess their awareness of the project, and to understand what topics people are interested in learning more about through community studies. No doubt, public perceptions are fraught with miss-information and legitimate concerns when it comes to the long-term storage of the spent nuclear fuel that continues to pile up at Ontario’s three power stations.

The issue of disposing nuclear waste is also one that concerns those 2-million people and 13 First Nations communities that live along side the Ottawa River. In 1944 the Chalk River Laboratories opened on the banks of the Ottawa River about 200 km upstream of our nation’s capital. According to Ottawa Riverkeeper there have been major accidents at both the National Research Experimental Reactor and the National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River resulting in several persistent waste issues. The facility’s Waste Management Areas have caused contamination of the groundwater which continues to be released into freshwater streams and lakes. In 2016 the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories submitted a project proposal to build a permanent Near Surface disposal facility at the Chalk River site that would operate for 50 years and dispose of waste from both the Chalk River Laboratories site and other similar facilities. The site, to be located several hundred metres from the banks of the river, will have a capacity of roughly 1,000,000 cubic metres of waste. Once the entire mound is filled, a permanent cover will be installed to reduce exposure of the waste to rain and snow. The fact that groups like Ottawa Riverkeeper remain highly concerned about these plans, and that there is little public awareness of the waste disposal plans being proposed, is not only evidence of pour planning and communications, but undermines public confidence in the way these facilities are being managed.

Even as plans for the disposal and decommissioning of current nuclear power stations gets underway, plans to meet our current and growing electricity demands now include exploring the feasibility of “Small Modular Reactors” and even smaller “Micro Modular Reactors”. Small and Micro modular reactors have a smaller footprint than traditional reactors, but in no way can be compared to portable generators used on construction sites or to provide off-grid power for RVs, cabins and fish camps. These modular reactors are designed to be assembled easily, produce at most 300MW, and come complete with sufficient nuclear fuel to last approximately 20 years after which they would be decommissioned. SMRs are being positioned as a clean technology to address climate change and are being promoted as an essential component of Canada’s emissions reduction plans. Having spent considerable time in Canada’s Arctic, where diesel powered generators are used to meet the electrical demands of communities, I understand why such technology would have its appeal given the lack of sun during winter months and the unpredictability of wind.

At the other end of the spectrum there’s the mining of the actual fuel used to power nuclear stations big and small. Canada was once a world leader in the mining of such fuel and would continue to be such if demand for uranium hadn’t dropped off. One need only visit northern Saskatchewan for evidence of once booming uranium mining operations such as the Gunnar mine site located on the north shore of Athabasca Lake. This mine and others made up the sole industry that prompted development of communities such as Uranium City, once home to over 5,000 people prior to the closure of the Gunnar Mine site. Literally over night, residents of the community, now jobless, packed up their vehicles and drove the 100 kilometers south across the frozen lake to start over. The shuttering of the mines and departure of the miners and their families left behind over 80 abandoned uranium mine sites featuring slag heaps and waste ponds that continue to release dangerous levels of radioactive contamination to this day. Link below to hear a resident of Uranium City discuss his life and his family’s exodus on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/reflections-on-growing-up-on-the-north-s_1

What the IJC report made obvious is that Canada requires stronger nuclear related policies that provide clear and strong guidelines on how nuclear waste and uranium mines should be managed to bring Canada more in line with international norms. Should Canada choose to restore its position as an international leader in nuclear power, it will also need to adopt more comprehensive regulations to properly evaluate and monitor all manner of proposed developments. Decommissioned power stations and temporary waste collection sites must also be re-assessed to ensure they are safe from climate change driven weather events. The last thing we need are more signs being posted such as those found on Lake Athabasca warning the public to keep clear due to dangerous radiation. Signage like this requires a half-life of 250,000 years.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Manitoba Wildlife Federation supports upcoming changes to the province’s fishing regs / Outdoor Canada
The Manitoba Wildlife Federation says it’s completely on board with a suite of upcoming changes to the province’s recreational fishing regulations. The changes will affect fishing licences and seasons, possession limits, size restrictions, the harvest and use of live bait, ice-hut rules, and regulation enforcement.

New Ontario Bait Strategy
New rules, effective January 1, 2022, make it illegal to bring baitfish or leeches, whether live or dead, into a Bait Management Zone (BMZ). Persons coming into Ontario in areas where BMZs abut the border of the province must ensure they are not bringing these commodities with them. Non-resident anglers are required to purchase their baitfish and leeches from within the Bait Management Zone they are going to be using it in. They are required to retain a legible receipt and must be able to immediately produce if asked by a Conservation Officer. The bait must be used within two weeks of purchase.  Visit the website for more information on the new bait regulations.

Lee Livesay Relies on Baitfuel to Win Bassmaster Central Open / Fishing Wire
BaitFuel products have undergone extensive scientific research and testing to ensure the mix of bite-inducing ingredients is fully optimized for maximum performance in both BaitFuel Gel and BaitFuel integrated soft plastics. BaitFuel is supercharged with F.A.S.T. (Fish Active Scent Technology), water-based technology that releases scent easily and mimics the smell and taste of actual prey.

Video: The Science behind Bait Fuel / Bait Fuel
Using a revolutionary manufacturing process to supercharge traditional soft plastic baits, Dr. Bruce Tufts and his researchers came up with the ultimate fish attracting scent now marketed as BaitFuel.

Added measures return to protect B.C.’s southern resident killer whales / Salmon Arm Observer
The federal government is once again putting measures in place to protect southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. The southern Gulf Island salmon fishing closure will last from the first southern resident sighting until the end of October.

Fish:

Life Cycle of Atlantic Salmon / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Atlantic salmon make an epic migration in their lives, swimming thousands of miles across the North Atlantic. Typically, adults will spend two winters at sea before migrating back to their natal rivers to spawn. Unlike Pacific salmon, which always die after spawning, Atlantic salmon often survive spawning and may migrate back out to sea with the chance of returning to spawn again. Female repeat spawners are an important dynamic to the species survival since these older fish are more fertile and produce larger eggs with a better chance of survival.

Invasive species found in St. Lawrence River / Watertown News
A small population of the Eurasian tench has been found in the St. Lawrence River by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. The discovery has hooked the interest of both river officials and north country anglers.

Ontario’s feral goldfish population is exploding and climate change may be to blame / CBC News
Researchers at the University of Toronto believe this scenario is repeating itself hundreds of times in suburban storm ponds all over the province. Originally built to reduce neighbourhood flooding and relieve pressure on Ontario’s city sewer systems, these pools have become ground zero for what Nicholas Mandrak calls “super invaders.”

Millions of tonnes of dead animals: the growing scandal of fish waste / Guardian
Dumped at sea, lost on land or left to rot in shops and fridges, the global catch of fish is being wasted like never before – hurting not only the oceans but the nutrition of billions of people. Can it be reversed?

Big Bar landslide response information bulletin May 9 2022 / Fisheries and Oceans Canada
The first salmon fry releases of the 2021 Big Bar conservation enhancement program have begun.

Habitat:

Last habitat of endangered Atlantic whitefish saved from logging / National Observer
Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables announced the decision Monday, citing the species’ precarious state as the reason for an indefinite hold on logging plans near Minamkeak Lake that include three sections of Crown land.

Canada dumps billions of litres of raw sewage into natural waterways annually. How can we stop? / CBC News
Every year, cities across Canada dump billions of litres of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and oceans. Uytae Lee looks into how we got into this mess and how can get out of it.

The ocean’s biggest garbage pile is full of floating life / New York Times
Researchers found that small sea creatures exist in equal number with pieces of plastic in parts of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which could have implications for cleaning up ocean pollution.

Feds appear to cover-up inconvenient salmon lice science / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
In 2012, a federal inquiry found that salmon farms in the Discovery Islands may pose a risk to wild sockeye salmon and should be removed by September 30, 2020, (or sooner if evidence arises) unless DFO can show they are of minimal risk. On September 28, 2020, DFO held a press conference concluding that 9 pathogen risk assessments showed salmon farms pose minimal risk to sockeye salmon. Evidence pieced together by Watershed Watch Stan Proboszcz suggests DFO may have covered-up some of its own research that concludes sea lice can harm sockeye.

Why a federal salmon study that found viruses at B.C. fish farms took 10 years to be released / Globe and Mail
For ten years, Kristi Miller-Saunders could not fully disclose the results of her study that showed a virus spreading among fish-farmed salmon in British Columbia. The federal Fisheries Department in the government of Stephen Harper would not release the 2012 report into open-net fish farms, a position that continued with the Trudeau government. In March, the federal Information Commissioner ordered the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to release the information that found pathogens among open-net fish farms in the province. The commissioner ruled that suppressing publication of the document was not justified. The study found that fish-farmed salmon suffered from jaundice and anemia because of the highly contagious Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV). This virus is associated with organ failure in chinook although it is not considered harmful to humans.

Years of regulation may have reduced invasive species risks in the Great Lakes, study says / Great Lakes Now
The study, released by McGill University and the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, looked at the bi-national regulation of ballast water. According to the study, this practice has actually reduced the risk of an invasion by 85% since 2008.

Nature Canada leads campaign to designate PEC as a National Marine Conservation Area / Cottage Life
Along the shore of Prince Edward County (PEC), the waters of Lake Ontario serve as a hotspot for bird watchers, nature lovers, and adventure seekers. But without safegaurds, this may not last. Lake Ontario is one of the least protected of North America’s Great Lakes, making it vulnerable to land development, runoff pollution, and invasive species. According to Nature Canada If the area is designated a NMCA, it’ll prevent extractive and destructive practices from disturbing the ecosystem, such as bottom trawling, lake bed mining, oil and gas extraction, and dumping. What it won’t change is how cottagers use the area. The waters will still be open to recreational use, including swimming, paddling, surfing, motorboats, and even commercial fishing.

The Queen Conch’s Gambit / Hakai
The first and only queen conch hatchery and nursery run by local fishers is poised for duplication across the Caribbean—but even if conch farming can help ease overfishing, can it survive in warming, storm-lashed seas?

In Graphic Detail: The Right Whales Aren’t All Right / Hakai
More than 80 percent of right whales have been entangled at least once. The ropes and floats hamper swimming and sap the energy available for growth, leaving the whales smaller, on average, than 40 years ago. The odds of survival look increasingly grim for the North Atlantic right whale, one of the world’s most endangered large whales. The population, estimated at just 336 animals in October 2021, is the smallest it’s been in two decades.

Open-net fish farm closures delayed / CTV
The promise to phase out B.C.’s open-net fish farms by this summer has hit another speed bump, as the industry pushes back once again in court. Marine-biologist Alexandra Morton explains the next steps to Gloria Macarenko.

Bridgewater opposes logging in home of critically endangered fish / CBC News
The Nova Scotian town of Bridgewater water utility is opposing an application to log on Crown land inside the Petite Riviere watershed, citing fears that the proposed harvest poses a risk to its water supply and the remaining population of critically endangered Atlantic whitefish.

P.E.I. environment minister confirms Canada Games project damaged spawning grounds / Salt Wire
Environment Minister Steven Myers confirmed construction of upgrades at the Mark Arendz Ski Park in Brookvale caused damage to salmon spawning grounds in a West River tributary.

It’s past time Canada banned dumping of ship scrubber discharge into our waters / The Province
“Scrubbers dump acidic sulphur, heavy metals and other chemicals into the ocean at levels that exceed thresholds set for protecting local marine life. Transport Canada has the authority to ban them.”

We should be concerned about aquaculture projects in Newfoundland / Salt Wire
“People from the area should have a last look at the bay as they knew it and get ready for big aquaculture.”

Concerns raised about possibility of invasive fish disease in B.C. waters / Nelson Star
Whirling disease has decreased fish populations by 90 per cent in certain regions.

How Teck Resources’ coal mines threaten fish from B.C. to Idaho / Narwhal
Selenium from a string of Teck Resources’ mines in southeastern B.C. is projected to contaminate the transboundary watershed connecting Canada to the U.S. for centuries to come.

Indigenous:

Bringing the salmon home initiative / Toronto Star
The three governments of these First Nations have banded together with the government of Canada and British Columbia to form the Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative.

First Nations hold floating protest to demand end to salmon farming in B.C. / CTV
Dozens of Indigenous protesters and their allies took to the water in Tofino Harbour on Saturday to demand that the federal government refuse to renew salmon farm licences on the B.C. coast next month.

NEW FUNDING FROM BC – A STRONG STEP TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE LEGACY / Makeway
BC Province announced a $30 million investment in partnerships that empower local leaders to secure a sustainable future for their watersheds and the communities that depend on them. Of this funding, MakeWay and Watersheds BC (a project on MakeWay’s shared platform) will steward $15 million specifically to support Indigenous-led projects for watershed health. We will work hard to administer this funding in ways that reflect the recommendations of the Indigenous Leaders Advisory Council, and in collaboration with Indigenous partners, to shape a thoughtful process for deploying funds. From restoring rivers and streams and protecting salmon habitat, to fostering future generations of watershed stewards, this work will help pave the way towards a model of watershed security that is rooted in long-term resilience, local values, and Indigenous rights and title.

This fishing captain is combining Inuit knowledge with scientific expertise to fight climate change in the Far North / Globe and Mail
Using a traditional spear and modern ice sensors, Inuk fishing captain Joey Angnatok is part of a global effort to monitor the effects of climate change in the Far North. When he’s not fishing, he operates his 60-footer as a marine research vessel, working with scientists to collect data that help with long-term tracking of sea ice and wildlife trends. He also hops on his snowmobile to do ice reconnaissance with his harpoon.

Industry:

Recreational Fishing World Reconvenes at ICAST in July / NPAA
Celebrating its 65th year the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades – better / MPAA known as ICAST – heads to Orlando, Fla., and the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) from July 19-22 for the planet’s largest sportfishing trade…

Scientists and Local Champions:

Watersheds Canada Seeks New Executive Director
We are looking for an individual who can champion our vision that all Canadians are engaged and caring for clean, healthy lakes and rivers that sustain humans and wildlife for years to come. By joining Watersheds Canada, they are joining a close-knit family made of dedicated staff that are excited to support the new Executive Director in leading the organization to new successes.

Remembering Ray Scott, A True Friend to All Anglers / NPAA
Ray helped make dreams come true for many! Ray, the founder of the Bass Angler Sportsmen’s Society, B.A.S.S., and the father of modern-day conservation.

Alan Graham honoured with top salmon award / ASF
The 2022 T.B. ‘Happy’ Fraser Award was recently presented to Alan R. Graham. The award is the Atlantic Salmon Federation Canada’s top honour, given out since 1975. It recognizes sustained and substantial contributions to conservation, protection, and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and wild rivers.

Coming Up:

World Fish Migration Day – Connecting fish, rivers and people
Help celebrate World Fish Migration Day on May 21. It’s a truly global celebration to raise awareness of the importance of free flowing rivers and migratory fish.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Talk about lines in the water, Blue Fish Canada is busy reeling in partnerships to support youth new to fishing. Not that winter puts a freeze to our outdoor youth activities, but summer truly is when the bite is the best. We have also been busy rounding up advocates to take a minute to tell us about their successes – lots to take inspiration from in deed! So, when you’re finished getting your boats, canoes and kayaks out of storage and readied for fishing, take a minute, put your feet up, and read the latest Blue Fish News….

Photo of 3rd generation muskie guide Jeff Garnsey and Editor Lawrence Gunther holding an Upper St. Lawrence River 44” Spotted Muskie

In the April 25, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a terrific story about diverse advocates pooling resources to save vital Upper St. Lawrence Muskie spawning habitat. 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 our readers comes from the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (GLFC) and their work to control Sea Lamprey in the Great Lakes.

This Week’s Feature – A Win for St. Lawrence River Muskie Spawning Habitat

By Lawrence Gunther

Here’s a truly amazing story about diverse stakeholders coming together to protect vital Muskie spawning habitat. It starts with The Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper John Peach, who also serves as the Executive Director of Save The River, when he discovered plans by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to build a new facility in Blind Bay on the south shore of the Upper St. Lawrence River. The chosen site is one of the few remaining prime spawning sites used by muskie in the 1000 Islands. It’s also adjacent to a Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT) preserve that is home to numerous species of fish and birds. John knew he had to act and quickly if he was to protect this vital habitat from serious degradation. What happened next is remarkable.

The Blind Bay Wetlands is connected to Sand Bay at the northern tip of Chippewa Bay. It’s part of the largest shoreline shallow water ecosystem in St. Lawrence County. It’s also designated by New York State as significant habitat. One might wonder why the site was even under consideration.

Jeff Garnsey is a 3rd generation Muskie guide on the St. Lawrence and Chair of Save The River’s board of directors. In a Blue Fish Radio podcast, we recorded in 2018 while trolling for Muskie aboard his 1953 ChrisCraft, Jeff expressed concern about the steady decrease of St. Lawrence River Muskie over recent decades. He stressed that taking action to protect shoreline wetlands through measures such as Plan 2014 are vital to restoring muskie numbers along with 53 other fish species that can be found in the Upper St. Lawrence River. Link below to hear my conversation with Jeff Garnsey and John Peach on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e264-survival-of-upper-st-lawrence-river

According to Dr. John Farrell, professor of Environmental Science and Director of the Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS), the decline of Muskie worsened following the emergence of a highly transmissible virus that first showed up early in 2000. Research conducted by TIBS identified invasive Roundhead Goby, now common forage for many of the river’s predators, are serving as vectors for the virus. Link below to hear Dr. John Farrell and Dr. Anna Conklyn discuss how the virus is impacting Upper St. Lawrence River Muskie on the Blue Fish Radio Show:
https://bluefishradio.com/goby-virus-causing-decline-in-st-lawrence-river-muskie/

In addition to Upper St. Lawrence muskie experiencing an on-going virus outbreak, and the loss of habitat due to shoreline wetlands being left high-and-dry, many of the river’s remaining wetlands are being taken over by an invasive hybrid cattail infamous for obstructing natural water flow, crowding out native plant species, and degrading conditions for native fish and wildlife. In an effort to push back on this invasive wetland plant, the Thousand Island Land Trust, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, implemented a series of interconnected potholes and channels in 12 hectares of dense cattail mat located in the bay next to Blind Bay. Several culverts were also replaced to enhance water flow. The restoration work saw noticeable wetland improvements of benefit to both fish and birds.

Those familiar with the wetland and river understood that blocking development of the proposed USCBP facility in Blind Bay was critical. According to the Thousand Island Land Trust’s Executive director Jake Tibbles, “the cumulative environmental consequences of habitat fragmentation, edge encroachment, migration barriers such as perimeter fencing, noise and light pollution, and wetland degradation would have lasting impacts that reach far beyond Blind Bay.” Jake understood all to well what such a development would mean for their recent restoration work in the adjacent conserved and enhanced wetlands.

The advocacy efforts objecting to the commercial development of Blind Bay quickly grew over the first few months of 2022. Before long, thousands of letters had been written, news coverage was prolific, and numerous organizations got behind the movement to save Blind Bay. All this despite what construction and operation of such a facility would mean to the local economy. Advocates aren’t against such a facility being built in the area, just not in the middle of sensitive and vital wetlands.

Blue Fish Radio is pleased to introduce you to four of the advocates behind the push to end the development of Blind Bay. Each tells their portion of the story, and then together explore what needs to come next. Their collaboration represents an amazing model of what can be accomplished when diverse advocates unite.

Guests include:
John Peach, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Executive Director of Save the River
Jeff Garnsey 3rd generation Muskie guide and Chair of Save The River
Dr. John Farrell, Professor of Aquatic and Fisheries Science & Director, Thousand Islands Biological Station
Jake Tibbles Executive Director Thousand Island Land Trust

Link below to watch this engaging and informative tale of strength, determination and grass-roots advocacy on the Blue Fish Canada YouTube channel:

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Childhood Memories of Bullhead Fishing / Thousand Islands life.com
A bullhead is a primitive looking fish, armed with fins that are capped with very sharp horns, one on each side on top of the head. Fishing for bullheads is a ritual, an almost sacred ceremony.

Fishing participation in US dips after 2020 boom / Angling International
It’s common knowledge that in 2020 the COVID pandemic sparked the single largest increase in fishing participation. Newcomers and returnees took advantage of the perfect opportunity to isolate – and the tackle industry boomed. According to license sales data from state agencies numbers grew approximately 14% in 2020, the largest single year increase in 30 years of tracking. License sales in 2021 did however decline by 6%. For tackle sales, the outcome was increased sales by nearly 50% in 2020. Figures for 2021 are not yet available.

Stratford pond to be restored with help from 3 levels of government / CBC News
Three levels of government are pitching in to restore Kelly’s Pond, once a popular fishing spot in Stratford, P.E.I.

British fishermen feared pro-Brexit campaigners would betray them—and they did / Hakai Magazine
Fishermen overwhelmingly supported Brexit, and it came back to bite them.

“Climate Change at the Water’s Edge”: Understanding the Impacts of Black Mangroves on Juvenile Shrimp / NOAA
The COVID-19 pandemic has had global impacts to human health, safety, and livelihoods, including to Pacific Islands fisheries. Pacific Islands fishermen share how the pandemic affected their livelihoods and how they adapted.

An homage to the fish kiss—a playful way of showing affection to our fishy friends / Outdoor Canada
Some anglers say it’s a sign of respect, a thank you of sorts to the fish for putting up a good fight. Others suggest it’s to bring themselves good luck the next time they head out on the water. Then there’s the camp that maintains it’s just a way of saying goodbye to the fish and wishing it well. Still others contend it helps take away the sting of getting hooked. Whatever the case, kissing a fish before letting it go signifies the angler, in one way or another, is showing admiration for the finned creature.

Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation to resume popular Youth Conservation Camp / Outdoor Canada
There will be one camp for girls from July 15 to 21, and another for boys running July 22 to 29. Open to youths aged 12 to 15, the program was created to provide hands-on education about a wide range of outdoor skills. Some of them have a good idea of hunting, fishing, conservation, but basically, we’re opening up the door to turn them into leaders.

Ottawa Fish School is OPEN! / Ottawa River Musky Factory
The Ottawa River Musky Factory in conjunction with Dovercourt Community Centre and Blue Fish Canada will again be offering a FISH SCHOOL! Monday to Thursday kids will get four hours of fishing instruction and fishing at Dows Lake or another downtown location. On Fridays the school moves to Petrie Island for some boat fishing. The objective is to teach kids to be self sufficient with fishing equipment and to be great stewards of our waters and the outdoors. Every student will receive a quality Shimano rod, reel, line, and tackle kit as well as information and shoreline clean up kits from Blue Fish Canada.

Let Us Help Support and Promote Your Youth Fishing Initiative! / Blue Fish Canada
Are you running or thinking about offering a youth fishing initiative this summer? We can help. Blue Fish Canada can provide stewardship training material and help promote your initiative. Check out our resources and contact us for more details.

Fish:

Canada ignored warnings of virus infecting farmed and wild salmon / Guardian
Canada was warned in 2012 by its own scientists that a virus was infecting both farmed and wild salmon, but successive governments ignored the expert advice.

Why a federal salmon study that found viruses at B.C. fish farms took 10 years to be released / Globe and Mail
The federal Fisheries Department in the government of Stephen Harper would not release the 2012 report into open-net fish farms, a position that continued with the Trudeau government.

DFO enacts new regulations aimed at depleted fish stocks / CBC News
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has enacted new regulations that bind its minister to rebuilding Canada’s depleted fish stocks and ensuring healthy ones stay that way, a move that comes weeks after it closed down two East Coast fisheries in the name of sustainability.

Study Reveals That Great White Sharks Occasionally Hunt in Pairs / FishingWire
When people think of social predators, most probably picture a pack of wolves hunting in an organized, cooperative group. But social behavior can be much simpler than that. An animal may simply decide to stay in close proximity to another individual because it has learned that if its “colleague” locates some prey, its own chances of getting a meal increase.

B.C. conservation group moves thousands of salmon that will produce millions of eggs / CTV
Members of the Mill Bay Conservation Society, 50 kilometres north of Victoria, have taken the fish into their own hands — literally.

Scientists are predicting another year of low chum and Chinook returns on the Yukon River / KYUK
Last week, Alaskan and Canadian biologists and salmon managers met to share their forecasts and management recommendations for Yukon River chum and Chinook salmon. It’s looking like another year of low returns.

Hums, growls and farts: fish sound the alert / Cortes Currents
Fish have plenty to say and we need to make more of an effort to listen to them and understand what they’re talking about, researchers say.

Epic forecast for Bristol Bay salmon has fishing industry worried it will be too much to handle / Seattle Times
Experts predict that a record 75 million fish will return to Bristol Bay rivers this summer, with 60 million available for harvest.

Fish behavior is affected by microplastics in water / Sciworthy
Microplastics and nanoplastics affect gut bacteria and neurotransmitter levels in discus fish, potentially explaining changes in fish behavior.

A two-year project to benefit the Pugnose Shiner in the Quinte watershed is winding down  Watersheds Canada
The Pugnose Shiner is a small fish in the minnow family that is found in Southern Ontario including near the Quinte watershed. It is assessed as “threatened” by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) and listed as such under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1. It is very vulnerable to declining habitat quality.

Habitat:

The Great Lakes Before the 1972 Water Quality Agreement / IJC
Over the past two centuries, western settlement and the Industrial Revolution dramatically changed the water quality of the Great Lakes. New economic activities and cultural centers were spawned, while the lakes saw new (and often unwanted) species and pollution from industry, agriculture and cities. The 1972 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement provided a path forward for Canada and the United States to jointly address these issues. The two nations have made much progress in the years since. April 15 marked the 50th anniversary of the Agreement’s signing.

Phase 2 Begins for Expedited Review of Lake Ontario’s Plan 2014 / IJC
Plan 2014 is a set of rules that regulate the rate of outflow from Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River through a dam on the upper St. Lawrence, with the goal of moderating extreme water levels while allowing more natural variation in those levels. The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board can override Plan 2014’s set rules and adjust the outflow when water levels reach extremes. The Expedited Review of Plan 2014, the outflow management plan for Lake Ontario, has moved to a second and more expansive phase. The focus is now on the workings of the plan and possible changes.

Decommissioning of Nuclear Power Facilities in the Great Lakes Basin / IJC
There are 38 nuclear reactors at 18 generating stations at 15 sites on the shores of the Great Lakes in Canada and the United States. Nuclear power plants have a finite, 20- to 60-year lifespan. The board’s report highlights four areas where decommissioning rules can be improved to better protect the Great Lakes, including: public engagement and transparency, radioactive waste storage, transporting spent nuclear fuel, and the cleanup and monitoring of residual contamination.

Sea lions trapped in fish farm near Tofino expected to move on after pens emptied / Victoria News
Industry watchdog Clayoquot Action criticizes pinniped raid as another reason to eliminate open pens.

Work to protect juvenile salmon in Fraser River’s north arm a success: conservationists / Global News
A 30-metre breach cut into the Fraser River’s North Arm Jetty is already helping young fish avoid being pushed out into the Strait of Georgia too early, conservationists say.

Logging proposed next to the last habitat for the endangered Atlantic whitefish / National Observer
The Petite Rivière watershed in southwestern Nova Scotia is home to the world’s only remaining population of Atlantic whitefish. It’s also where a new forestry cutblock on Crown land is proposed.

DO OFFSHORE WIND TURBINES IMPACT FISHING? / FishingWire
Wind is the fastest growing energy source in the U.S., providing 42 percent of the country’s new energy in 2020. So far, most of that has come from land-based wind turbines. But, faster and steadier offshore wind speeds offer more potential. And as the cost of efficiently harnessing offshore wind has plummeted, that potential has soared.

This Canadian river is now legally a person. It’s not the only one / National
From the Amazon to the Klamath, granting rivers legal rights is part of Indigenous-led efforts to protect them.

Dead rivers, polluted oceans: industry adds to world’s mounting water crisis, report warns / Phys
A new report paints a picture of a planet with deep problems, ranging from dwindling supplies of groundwater to oceans overloaded with microplastics, lakes choked with algae and waterways contaminated by mineral mining booms.

Fifth vessel joins 2022 Pan-Pacific winter high seas expedition / Cordova Times
A fifth vessel has joined the fleet for the 2022 Pan-Pacific Winter High Seas Expedition to learn more about the lives of salmon during the marine phase of their life history during winter in the North Pacific Ocean.

Find out more about the impacts of invasive species / Invasive Species Centre
An invasive species is an organism that causes, or is likely to cause, ecological, economic, or social harm in a new environment. Invasive species reduce the diversity of plant and animal species and can put native species at risk. They do this by crowding-out native species or competing for resources like light, water, and nutrients, preying on native species, or acting as carriers for diseases or parasites that could spread to native species.

Feds to establish Canada water agency; just one of many investments in water resources / Welland Tribune
The federal government will spend $43.5 million over five years to establish a Canada water agency that will co-ordinate the more than 20 federal groups, departments and agencies that currently help to regulate freshwater in the country.

Canada in deepwater: behind the Bay du Nord approval / Narwhal
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault greenlit Newfoundland’s first deepwater oil and gas development project. Questions remain about how that decision was made.

An ocean of noise: how sonic pollution is hurting marine life / Guardian
Today’s oceans are a tumult of engine roar, artificial sonar and seismic blasts that make it impossible for marine creatures to hunt or communicate. We could make it stop, so why don’t we?

Engineered log jams restore natural river flow, fish spawning in Pacific Northwest / Medill Reports Chicago
The log jams allow sediment and wood to accumulate and create new areas on the floodplain, which over time will become established with vegetation and trees. The deadwood and debris also slow the water flow.

Damming research: study finds beavers might not be all bad for trout streams / Duluth News Tribune
University of Minnesota Duluth researchers found cooler water and higher stream flows with beaver dams in place.

New Global Forecasts of Marine Heatwaves Foretell Ecological and Economic Impacts / NOAA
Researchers have developed global forecasts that can provide up to a year’s advance notice of marine heatwaves—sudden and pronounced increases in ocean temperatures that can dramatically affect ocean ecosystems.

Indigenous:

First Nations-led initiative seeks to protect Okanagan Lake / Kelowna Capital News
A coalition of First Nations, government, and academics have been working to address the cumulative impacts threatening the long-term viability of Okanagan Lake.

Rebuilding fisheries and wild fish stocks for coastal First Nations would be reconciliation in action / Globe and Mail
Canada’s coastal fisheries and ecosystems have been pushed to the brink, just as climate change and other stressors continue to strain ecosystems, write Christine Smith-Martin and Marilyn Slett.

Report offers First Nations a blueprint for reclaiming mining sovereignty / Tyee
B.C.’s mining laws are ‘outdated’ and ‘colonial’ and violate DRIPA, says the First Nations Energy and Mining Council.

Boating:

Learn how to properly clean, drain, and dry your boat / Ontario.Ca
In Ontario, new watercraft regulations came into effect under the Ontario Invasive Species Act on January 1, 2022. These updates mean it is now mandatory to take reasonable measures to ensure the removal of any aquatic plants, animals or, algae from the watercraft when transporting it over land. Learn the law on what you need to do before moving your boat between water bodies. Read the guidelines outlined by the Government of Ontario.

Ready for the Worst: Boating Accidents and Beyond / InTheBite
Most people are not aware of what to do when something “bad” happens on the water, whether that is a collision, missing diver, prop strike, hard grounding, the list goes on.

Podcasts:

The fight to save Interior Fraser steelhead / The Adipose
Aaron Hill of Watershed Watch Salmon Society and Jesse Zeman of the BC Wildlife Federation speak to The Adipose about the dire state of Interior Fraser steelhead and next steps.

Videos:

Learn all about Africa’s Great Lakes / ACARE
Ever wondered what makes the African Great Lakes so great? Or how many millions of people depend on them for their welfare and livelihoods? Learn all in under 3 lil’ animated minutes in this video from the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education

Webinars:

On April 29th Report on Decommissioning Nuclear Power Facilities in the Great Lakes Basin / IJC
The Great Lakes Water Quality Board of the International Joint Commission (IJC) invites you to participate in a webinar about the board’s newly-published report on decommissioning nuclear power facilities in the Great Lakes.

50 Year Celebration of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement / Michigan Sea Grant 
View the webinar celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Canada / U.S. water quality agreement.

Invasive Species – Lake Ontario’s Most Un-Wanted / Lake Ontario Partnership
The recording of a one-hour webinar on Invasive Species in Lake Ontario as part of the Let’s Talk Lake Ontario webinar series! Learn more about invasive species in Lake Ontario, why they’re a problem, and how Canada and the U.S. are taking steps to prevent their introduction and spread in the Basin.

Scientists and Local Champions:

It’s Our 25th Anniversary! / Alberta Conservation Association
Our Fisheries Program has created many new opportunities for anglers in Alberta. Aside from the millions of trout that have flowed into Alberta’s lakes through our stocking program over the years, we’ve been involved in restoring old fisheries, battling invasive species, creating trophy trout lakes through our aeration program, monitoring native trout, and much more.

Josie Osborne on leading B.C.’s newest ministry / The Narwhal
Josie Osborne is the new B.C. Minister of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship. In an interview with a Narwhal reporter the Minister says the new Ministry has, “four specific actions that the new ministry is leading on and one that we’re supporting the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation on. It really characterizes the collaboration that we need to do, the work we need to do to gather with First Nations on strategies and programs for things like protecting and revitalizing wild salmon, advancing more sustainable water management and addressing cumulative impacts on the land base.”

Coming Up:

St. Lawrence River Strategy Planning Exercise Invite – May 17 / River Institute
The River Institute has partnered with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne to help develop ‘The St. Lawrence River Strategy for a beautiful and healthy St. Lawrence River. The aim of the River Strategy is to develop a shared vision for change and a common agenda for restoring and preserving the entire Upper St. Lawrence River (spanning from Kingston (CA)/Cape Vincent (U.S.) to Lake St. Francis). We envision the River Strategy will result in a centralized hub where individuals or groups engaged in research, remediation and restoration, community projects or events can find access to information and foster partnerships on initiatives with shared goals. This is an open invitation to those interested in the St. Lawrence River to join our workshop. We hope to bring together participants from all sectors including scientists, community members, and groups from both sides of the river.

Special Guest Feature – CREWS TO REMOVE HARMFUL INVASIVE SEA LAMPREYS

Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (GLFC)

Sea lampreys, native to the Atlantic Ocean, are invasive to the Great Lakes. They entered the basin through shipping canals and were first seen in Lake Erie in November 1921. Sea lampreys spawn in streams once and then die. Their offspring live as harmless larvae in river bottoms for several years before the larvae transform into parasitic adults and migrate to open lake. In the lake, sea lampreys spend about 18 months feeding on fishes’ body fluids using a large suction-cup mouth filled with sharp, horn-shaped teeth surrounding a razor sharp rasping tongue. Each sea lamprey is capable of killing up to 40 pounds (18kg) of fish.

Sea lampreys prey upon a wide variety of Lake Erie fishes including lake trout, salmon, steelhead, smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, whitefish, burbot, and even sturgeon. Within a few decades of their arrival in Lake Erie, sea lampreys had colonized all areas of the Great Lakes basin and caused major economic losses. They also contributed to significant ecosystem disruption.

In 1986, a control program for sea lamprey began in Lake Erie. The sea lamprey control program is a highly coordinated effort between the United States and Canada. The program was established by the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries of 1954, a treaty between the two nations. Since 1958, the program has used the lampricide TFM to control sea lamprey in the Great Lakes. TFM does not pose a risk to human health or the environment when applied at concentrations necessary to control larval sea lampreys.

The Lake Erie fishery is incredibly productive and valuable to the people of the United States and Canada. Fishing is the lifeblood of Lake Erie communities, big and small. The Lake Erie fishery and ecosystem is dependent on sea lamprey control, and because of sea lamprey control, fishery agencies have a valuable fishery to manage. Thanks to aggressive sea lamprey control during the past decade, Lake Erie sea lamprey populations are now at the lowest level since the program began in 1986.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Requests for partnership support from community youth organizations keep coming in, and that makes us happy. Four new invasive species videos are now up on our YouTube channel, and many more public awareness initiatives continue to be rolled out. Our leadership on the Great Lakes Fish Health Network has resulted in two experts from Queens University and the Canadian Environmental Law Association being assigned to study the judicial ramifications of Fish Consumption Advisories, which should prove quite helpful in our advisory role on a proposed National Marine Conserved Area for the east basin of Lake Ontario. So more-or-less, just another typical month at Blue Fish Canada HQ.

In the April 11, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with an initial exploration of what a National Marine Conserved Area could mean for the east basin of Lake Ontario, including a new Blue Fish Radio episode with a highly regarded scientist living on Wolfe Island. 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 offers conclusions reached by the Canadian Environmental Law Association regarding the judicial strength of Indigenous Conserved and Protected Areas.

This Week’s Feature – Lake Ontario’s fisheries and a New National Marine Conserved Area

It should come as no surprise to those who follow the Blue Fish News that a National Marine Conserved Area (NMCA) is now being proposed for the east basin of Lake Ontario, an area that would include the Bay of Quinte located in Prince Edward County. The organization leading the charge is Nature Canada. Should it be approved, the NMCA would become the third such NMCA established in Canadian waters of the Great Lakes, the other two being Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area near Thunder Bay, and Fathom Five National Marine Park on Lake Huron. All of these are under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada. For today, let’s explore what we know about why this new NMCA candidate is being proposed, and what it could mean for fish health and fishing.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) coordinates fisheries research, controls the invasive sea lamprey, and facilitates cooperative fishery management among the state, provincial, tribal, and federal agencies. According to the GLFC the value of the Great Lakes fisheries overall is approximately $8,750,000,000 CAD. Of this total, approximately $250,000,000 consists of commercial fishing. Together, these fisheries represent the most valuable freshwater fisheries in the world.

The GLFC estimates that $8,500,000,000 is what recreational anglers and tribal and First Nations fishers spend annually to go fishing on the Great Lakes. What we don’t know is the value of the fish being captured, released or harvested by these anglers and fishers. The value of commercial catches are relatively simple to assess since commercial catches are reported and their market values can be easily determined. This is not the case with indigenous and recreational fisheries since neither are required to report their catches. We can’t even be certain how many of the 1.4 million licensed Ontario recreational anglers fish the great lakes since licenses provide province-wide access. And let’s not forget Ontarians under 18 and over 65 who fish recreationally without a license.

Knowing the true value of Great Lakes Fisheries by combining the $8,750,000,000 value reported by the GLFC with the yet unknown value of all fishes captured by indigenous fishers and recreational anglers would most certainly provide far greater social, economic and political emphasis to safeguard these fisheries. And, what I mean by safeguard applies to both the fishes and access to these fishes by not only indigenous fishers who already possess such rights, or licensed commercial fishers, but by recreational anglers who make up the vast majority of those who fish the Great Lakes.

Some of Lake Ontario’s main fish species include Chinook, Coho and Atlantic Salmon, Rainbow, Brown and Lake Trout, Northern Pike, Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Walleye, Muskie, Channel Catfish and Common Carp. The largest salmon ever caught by an angler in Lake Ontario is 21.4 kg. and the largest Lake Trout weighed 23.5 kg. Channel Catfish can way as much as 20 kg. and Common Carp as much as 25 kg. Although currently protected, Lake Sturgeon on Lake Ontario can weigh as much as 150 kg. The next largest fish species in Lake Ontario are Muskie weighing as much as 30 kg. The point being, any one of these fish represents significant value when compared with wild caught fish for sale in supermarkets, and much much more in terms of what anglers are willing to pay to catch-and-release trophy fish.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2015 recreational fishing survey data, about 2/3 of an estimated 170 million fish caught annually in Canada are released by approximately 3.5 million licensed recreational anglers between the ages of 18 and 65. If you were to add to this fish caught by kids under 18 and retired folks, the numbers of anglers and fish caught most certainly would go up.

It’s clear that the relationship between the different people, their communities, and the health of Great Lakes fisheries is both historic and significant. This applies to all the Great Lakes, but probably to Lake Ontario the most. Why, because even though Lake Ontario is the smallest of all the Great Lakes, it’s the only Great Lake where the fishing overall is improving. More, Lake Ontario is also the home waters of over 9-million of the 34-million people who reside in the Great Lakes basin.

Unfortunately, Lake Ontario is also the “sink hole” for all the Great Lakes in that everything flows through Lake Ontario. According to the University of Wisconsin’s Sea Grant Institute, Lake Ontario is the most polluted out of the five Great Lakes. For the fishes it means they are subjected to all the chemicals, plastics, waste and other pollutants that end up in Lake Ontario before being shuttled down the St. Lawrence River and dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. International shipping and other sources have also introduced over 185 various invasive species into the lake that further stress native fishes. The outcome of these environmental and health impacts are fishes that are Experiencing sub-par lives in terms of stress, reproduction, habitat, food security, disease, endocrine disruption, and lifespan. The health of People and other life forms that depend on Lake Ontario’s fishes are also being impacted.

Almost all fishes in Lake Ontario are now, have been, or should have assigned fish consumption advisories (FCAs). These FCAs are science-based precautions that warn consumers of which fishes should be avoided or consumed in a limited amount due to bioaccumulated toxins.

Many of these toxins can be traced back to four “Areas of concern” (AOCs) in Lake Ontario’s Canadian waters. These include Hamilton Harbor, Toronto and region, Port Hope Harbor, and the Bay of Quinte. The toxins came about mainly from prior industrial practices, and while are often sighted as the reason for assigning FCAs, they aren’t always the source of the problem.

There are many other contaminants that are now flowing through the Great Lakes. They can be traced back to countless sources that continue to release toxins in the manufacturing of hundreds of everyday products made with highly toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS. Also being mixed into the Great Lakes are thousands of other chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, chloride (road salt), rubber compounds from tires, heavy metals, human and animal waste, and micro-plastics. All of these substances impact fishes regardless of where they reside downstream in the Great Lakes. Thus, successful remediation of an AOC does not necessarily result in waters that are toxic free.

So some may ask, how can an NMCA improve the health of Lake Ontario fishes located within the perimeter of an NMCA, and what would this mean for fishing? According to Dr. Barrie Gilbert, A key advisor to Nature Canada, the NGO leading the push to have the east basin of Lake Ontario designated as Canada’s third NMCA in its Great Lakes waters, fishes found within an NMCA are more likely to be studied by scientists and that’s a good thing. The NMCA itself may have other non-fish related reasons for being established, such as to preserve historic shipwrecks, to protect vital fish habitat such as spawning beds or shoreline wetlands, to attract visitors to the area, and to highlight the important socio-economic and cultural role fishes serve nearby communities. However, when it comes to fishing it’s Dr. Gilbert’s opinion the NMCA being proposed has nothing to do with reducing fishing pressure. In fact, it’s his opinion that the true potential of Lake Ontario to provide people with high quality seafood is nowhere near close to being tapped, and that an NMCA would increase public awareness of this truly bountiful fishing resource. To learn more about what Dr. Barrie Gilbert has to say about the introduction of an NMCA in the Canadian waters located in Lake Ontario’s East Basin, link below to listen to The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/lake-ontario-east-basin-proposed-protections-and-dr-barrie-gilbert/

There’s so much more to explore and discuss about this proposal. A scientific review still needs to be performed, local and traditional knowledge collected, and meaningful consultations with stakeholders conducted. Lessons learned and best practices also need to be gathered from those involved and affected by the two other NMCAs on Canada’s waters on the Great Lakes. The “Committee of Advisors” to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission has already made their views known about NMCAs in general, and will no doubt have more to contribute to the discussion, as will Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Natural Resources. Time pressures aren’t an issue at this point, but Canada’s meeting its 30% protection goals by 2030 isn’t that far down the road, so Parks Canada will soon be feeling the heat. Reconciliation is also a priority, and it’s through these sorts of collaborative initiatives that people of all backgrounds are brought together in a spirit of cooperation, mutual recognition, and shared responsibility.

Blue Fish Canada started digging in on the topic of NMCAs some time back. We’ve also been monitoring the movement towards Indigenous Conserved and Protected Areas. Fishers and anglers all share similar values when it comes to safeguarding fish health and sustainable fishing. This includes adoption of conservation measures when called for by evidence-based science. All this to say, implementing any new restrictions on fishing would need to be well justified given the important social, economic and cultural significance fishes and fishing represent. What is needed are improvements to fish habitat, a strategy that would end the need for FCAs, improved harvesting insights and cooperation, and continual advancements in sustainable fishing tactics that both safeguard fish stocks and improve fish welfare. So, let the discussions begin.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Multi-Species Madness 2022 – REGISTER NOW / CFN
The Canadian Fishing Network Fish Off is proud to announce that we are collaborating with Angler’s Atlas and co-hosting Multi-Species Madness 2022. The tournament is a Provincial based individual tournament. Manitoba – July 1-10, 2022, Ontario – July 23 – August 1, 2022, Saskatchewan – August 27 – September 5, 2022, Alberta – TBD.

FREE Alberta Fishing Education Program / ACA
Want to break into fishing this summer or expand your fishing horizons? This course offers a comprehensive fishing education experience, all from the comfort of your home!

My Wild Alberta Ice Safety Tips / ACA
Although many of us are eager to find a spot on the water and get the summer fishing season started, ice is thinning across the province. Be particularly careful at this time of year if you are planning to drop a fishing line or two.

To save Alberta’s bull trout, is it time to stop fishing for them? / Outdoor Canada
The bull trout is Alberta’s provincial fish emblem. As one of nature’s masterpieces, a species whose ecology is totally tied to the streams that drain from the Rocky Mountain’s eastern slopes, it deserves to be. But it’s also now classified as a species at risk. That’s why it was so inspiring to discover that at least one small population had recovered from past abuse.

DFO shuts down herring and mackerel fisheries on the East Coast / CBC
The news comes after decades of declining stocks.

Herring fishery collapsing on Canada’s Pacific coast / Watershed Sentinel
The herring fishery on the West coast of North America has collapsed after decades of overfishing and mismanagement.

Wood Lake kokanee limit drops, could be closed / Castanet
The province of British Columbia is reducing the daily kokanee harvest limit in Wood Lake from five to three fish per angler.

Fish:

Salmon fry return to Victoria’s Bowker Creek for first time in nearly a century / CBC News
Thanks to the efforts of volunteer streamkeepers, salmon fry have been sighted in Victoria’s Bowker Creek for the first time in nearly 100 years.

Second step of trout spawning restoration project continues thanks to thick ice / Watersheds Canada
Cold winter nights in January made conditions perfect for the further restoration of a historic trout spawning bed on Diamond Lake in the Madawaska Valley. The Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Outdoor Fund donated critical funds to restore the trout spawning bed. The project was possible because of Diamond Lake property owners and volunteers, Madawaska Fish and Game Club, Watersheds Canada, Bathurst Burgess Drummond and Elmsley Fire/Rescue Station, Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF) Pembroke, and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) – Zone F. Learn how the community came together to restore this spawning bed!

CANADIAN FEDERAL BUDGET PROVIDES FULL FUNDING FOR GREAT LAKES FISHERY TREATY / GLFC
The Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Fishery Commission today applauded the Canadian government for including full funding to implement the 1954 Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries, a treaty between the two nations. Under the treaty, Canada and the United States agree to fund the Commission consistent with a funding formula. For several years, Canada had been under funding the Commission; such underfunding has undermined Great Lakes science, cross-border cooperation, and control of the invasive, destructive sea lamprey. With today’s Canadian budget, the two nations are now funding the Commission at the agreed-to level with the goal of protecting and improving the $7 billion Great Lakes fishery.

Fish can do math, researchers say / Earth Sky
Researchers at the University of Bonn announced on April 1, 2022, that they’ve taught fish to do math. Their study involved cichlids (a popular, colorful aquarium fish) and stingrays (mostly found in oceans). The new research showed that both fish species were able to perform simple addition and subtraction of the number 1, in the number range up to 5.

Sea lice are becoming more resistant to pesticides. Salmon are suffering / Narwhal
B.C.’s salmon farmers, already losing an uphill battle to win the support of British Columbians and federal politicians, are falling victim to a much tinier nemesis: sea lice. A new paper shows that sea lice are becoming resistant to pesticides used by the salmon aquaculture industry.

Supersized Goldfish Could Become Superinvaders / Scientific American
Just west of Toronto last summer, startled biologists counted more than 20,000 goldfish in a single urban stormwater pond the size of two basketball courts. And the fish, probably descended from dumped pets, were not only thriving numerically—some had grown into three-pound behemoths.

Fourth-graders say goodbye to salmon for Salmon in the Classroom / Kitsap Sun
The program is celebrating its 45th year of teaching elementary school students in the Central Kitsap School District about the salmon lifecycle.

The pandemic that closed the U.S./Canadian border to people may have opened it to the invasive sea lamprey / Great Lakes Echo
In recent years, U.S. and Canadian crews jointly treat lakes and streams to kill the invaders, which can feed on and destroy 100 million pounds of Great Lakes fish each year. But the pandemic border crossing crackdown meant that treatment programs were much harder to complete.

Yukon River residents ask the feds to take over salmon management from the state / KYUK
“What we’re experiencing now is not working. We need something different,” Bruce Ervin of Fairbanks said while testifying at the Federal Subsistence Board meeting.

White House seeks course change in salmon recovery / Post Register
The Biden administration reiterated Monday its determination to change course on the decades-long, $17 billion effort to recover wild salmon in the Snake and Columbia rivers. Administration officials said they were asked by the tribes to better fund salmon recovery; to give tribes and states a larger role in the effort; and to expand anadromous fish recovery to the upper Columbia and Snake rivers, where large hydroelectric dams drove fish to extinction in the mid 1900s.

P.E.I. dairy farm fined $50k for 2020 fish kill / CBC News
The operators of the farm responsible for a fish kill in Prince Edward Island in 2020 have pleaded guilty to an offense under the Fisheries Act and have been fined $50,000.

Researchers return from open-ocean Pacific salmon study / CTV
After spending more than a month at sea studying Pacific salmon, scientists and crew aboard the Sir John Franklin Coast Guard vessel returned to Victoria last week. The ship was one of four participating in the 2022 International Year of the Salmon Pan-Pacific Winter High Seas Expedition, which was the largest-ever research expedition to study salmon and their ecosystems in the North Pacific Ocean.

As salmon die on the high seas, scientists suspect climate change / Washington Post
A research expedition involving American, Canadian and Russian scientists is trying to understand salmon booms and busts in the ‘black box’ of the high seas.

Habitat:

Five reasons to love (and protect) freshwater mussels / Revelator
These aquatic heroes do so much to keep freshwater ecosystems healthy — and we’re killing them off at a record pace.

Week-long sewage spill a health, environmental danger, expert says / Winnipeg Free Press
Nearly 52 million litres of diluted sewage spilled into Winnipeg waters over the past week, raising concerns about human health and the environment.

Scientists take rare look under Great Lakes’ frozen surfaces / Associated Press
More than a dozen crews from U.S. and Canadian universities and government agencies ventured onto the frozen Great Lakes to gather samples and data. The field studies over the past few weeks — a collective effort known as the “Winter Grab” — were intended to boost knowledge of what happens in the five lakes when they’re covered partially or completely with ice.

Visually stunning investigation into the Elliot Creek landslide / Hakai
No one saw the massive landslide in a remote British Columbia valley in late 2020, but it was detected by seismic instruments as far away as Australia. In a few seconds, 50 million tonnes of rock—roughly equal in weight to 150 Empire State Buildings—dropped from a sheer mountainside. Then it hit Elliot Lake. The resulting “hazard cascade”—a landslide followed by a 70-meter-high tsunami and a raging debris flow—was a rare event that has attracted the attention of researchers around the world. It has also turned out to be a lingering cultural catastrophe for the local Homalco First Nation.

The Anemone in the Coal Mine / Hakai Magazine
Native to salt marshes on North America’s Atlantic coast, starlet sea anemones aren’t much bigger than a grain of rice. They look like “a tube with a bunch of spaghetti at the top,”. The starlet sea anemone shows just how extensive the effects of common pollutants can be.

Ducks Unlimited Canada releases comprehensive report to guide future restoration efforts in the Fraser River Estuary / Ducks Unlimited Canada
Factors influencing the persistence of created tidal marshes is focus of new DUC-led study.

Regulations targeting ships are ‘reducing invasive species in Great Lakes / Sault Ste. Marie News
A new McGill study shows that a bi-national regulation targeting ships entering the Great Lakes since the mid-2000s has been remarkably effective in reducing a large proportion of the invasive species in the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem.

Putting the Deep Sea on Display / Hakai
Aquarists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have spent years learning how to keep deep-sea animals alive in captivity for a new exhibit. In doing so, they’ve gleaned insights about life in the abyss and our connection to it.

Changing Oceanographic Conditions and Environmental Justice Concerns in the Northeast Shelf Two / NOAA
New reports show the Northeast continental shelf marine ecosystems are experiencing notable ocean warming and changes in oceanography. The reports include new indicators that evaluate environmental justice concerns.

Invading sea lions take over B.C. fish farm / CBC News
Hungry, hungry sea lions broke into a salmon farm near Tofino, British Columbia, and helped themselves to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Over two dozen sea lions have breached the salmon pen barriers, and finding methods for keeping future sea lion invasions at bay remains an ongoing challenge.

Single-day record of Bigg’s killer whales spotted in Salish Sea / Daily Chronicle
Whale watchers in western Washington and British Columbia spotted a new single-day record of at least 72 Bigg’s killer whales throughout the Salish Sea.

Indigenous:

North Island First Nations tell DFO they will control fisheries in traditional waters / Vancouver Island Free Daily
GNN councilor Darryl Coon said it is time for GNN’s chief and council to take the “monumental step to take back what’s rightfully ours, the waters of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territories. He confirmed that this means they will control the licensing of the finfish industry within all of their traditional territories.

Alliance against open-net fish farms calls for feds to follow through on phasing out commitment / Castlegar News
First Nations and fishing organizations renew the call for feds to move away from the current fish farm structure.

Why BC’s Site C dam ‘mega trial’ isn’t happening right now / Narwhal
Does the $16 billion Site C dam project infringe on Treaty 8 Rights? That was set to be the key question in a BC Supreme Court “mega trial” due to begin last month. Instead, West Moberly First Nations and public utility BC Hydro have pressed pause to negotiate. Site C, a project shrouded in secrecy that’s ballooned in cost to become the most expensive hydro project in Canada’s history, is being pushed forward by the BC government despite lingering concerns about the stability of the dam and other geotechnical issues.

First Nations step up pressure to phase out fish farms / Business in Vancouver
First Nations opposed to salmon farming in B.C. are stepping up pressure on the federal government to live up to its promise to phase out open-net salmon farms in B.C.

Industry:

North American Model of Wildlife Conservation / Keep Canada Fishing
Keep Canada Fishing has partnered with Shimano Canada to dive into Canada’s fishing legacy. The series will look at the history of conservation in North America — it’s successes and failures — and how the future of fishing could be at peril. To start, the series goes over the North American Model of Conservation.

Podcasts:

Lake Ontario East Basin Proposed Protections and Dr Barrie Gilbert / Blue Fish Radio
Dr. Barrie Gilbert is a world renowned expert on animal behavior and advisor to Nature Canada, the NGO championing a new National Marine Conserved Area for Lake Ontario’s East Basin. On this episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show Barrie explains that the NMCA would bring additional needed scientific research to the area, improve safeguards for fish habitat, and shine a light on the vastly under-utilized and bountiful fisheries in the area.

Videos:

Link to the film “The Last Guide” on CBC GEM
This documentary celebrates the life of local legend Frank Kuiack, Algonquin Park’s last fishing guide. Blue Fish Radio was pleased to be able to provide  supporting audio content from a conversation editor Lawrence Gunther had with Frank several years prior to his passing.

Watch this video on the invisible migration! / SkeenaWild
Every spring, hundreds of millions of tiny wild salmon smolts begin an incredible journey. These young fish swim as far as 600 km down the Skeena River to the sanctuary of the Skeena’s saltwater estuary.

Why the Boreal Forest Matters for Salmon / SkeenaWild
We’re all connected. From the trees of the Boreal Forest to the rivers that hold populations of salmon that feed bears, birds, and humans alike. SkeenaWild Board Trustee, Dr. Jack Stanford, explains how keeping the boreal & its watersheds intact matters for all of us.

Webinars:

Fishing for compliments: Optimizing creel analysis with complimentary data
Listen to the recording of the March 31, 2022 seminar about protocols used to estimate angler activity and fish harvest. These haven’t changed much over the last 20 years. Efforts to modernize protocols and optimize the analysis of creel data across our inland and Great lakes has led to new opportunities. But first, we need to ask, why are we conducting creels in the first place?

Scientists and Local Champions:

Become a Volunteer Water Steward / ISAP
The Invasive Species Awareness Program is gearing up for our second season of the Water Steward Program, a volunteer-oriented initiative which focuses on educating boaters on AIS prevention! This is a “train-the-trainer” program, where volunteers are equipped with the knowledge and tools to teach others how to Clean, Drain, and Dry a watercraft, in addition to organizing important “boater engagement events” at local boat launches. If you are a passionate conservationist living or recreating within the Durham, Haliburton, Kawartha, and Pine Ridge regions of Ontario, and would like to help prevent the spread of AIS, please volunteer.

Coming Up:

The 10th annual Ocean Tracking Network Symposium will take place November 7-10, 2022 / OCN
Ocean Tracking Network is excited to once again bring together researchers from around the world to collaborate, develop strategies and seek new opportunities to understand the movements of aquatic animals in changing environments. The event will be held in-person in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, with select sessions streamed live for a virtual audience.

Special Guest Feature – Establishing Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas: The Jurisdictional Spectrum / CELA

A blog exploring the legal perspectives on Indigenous Conserved and Protected Areas can be found on the Canadian Environmental Law Association’s website. The author reaches the following conclusion:

“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.”

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: You may have noticed that the last three issues of the Blue Fish News have all included editorials focussing on invasive species. Blue Fish Canada is pleased to partner with the Invasive Species Centre on the production of these editorials and a number of informative videos, audio PSAs, accessible braille / large print documents, and more. While all this is going on, we also organized an interactive exhibit at the Toronto Sportsman Show where editor and President of Blue Fish Canada Lawrence Gunther provided four presentations on the Great Outdoor Canada Stage. Just wait until you find out what we have in store for April!

In the March 28, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on Grass Carp and their threat to the Great Lakes. 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 explains why fish in Canada often experience “winter kills”.

This Week’s Feature – Grass Carp and the Great Lakes

By Lawrence Gunther

Media reports of yet another invasive fish, plant, mollusk or other life forms are being reported ever more frequently. Like the pandemic, people are growing weary and beginning to tune out, throw caution to the wind, and get back to what we love to do, fish. But is this really the time to step back and let things sort themselves out that seem beyond our control? Not when it comes to Grass Carp it isn’t. These invaders are coming and it’s up to all of us to stop them in their tracks.

At present there are no established populations of Asian carps in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. However, evidence of reproducing Grass Carp has been found in two U.S. tributaries of Lake Erie, and Grass Carp are now being found in the Great Lakes in small numbers. Of all four species of Asian carps, Grass Carp now represent the most immediate threat to the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes.

Grass Carp are a true menace to native fish species that depend on aquatic plants for habitat, food and nursery sites. Grass Carp can grow up to 1.5 meters in length, weigh as much as 45 kilos, and consume up to 40% of their weight in weeds each day. Ten Grass Carp can easily consume 50% of one hectare of aquatic vegetation. Worse, Grass Carp only digest about half of the plant matter they consume, expelling the rest back into the water resulting in degraded water quality such as turbidity. Predation by native fish species can’t be counted on as a deterrent since Grass Carp quickly outgrow the gape (mouth) size of most all potential native predators. In short, they are extremely difficult to control once established.

While Grass Carp represent one species of Asian carp that have most certainly earned the invasive label, don’t forget about Silver, Bighead and Black carps, three other species of Asian carps that feed at the base of food webs – setting in motion food chain collapses such as those experienced along the entire Mississippi River and its tributaries. The transformation of these watersheds is so profound that Asian carps now make up 90% of the biomass in some areas. Learning how to identify Asian carps and what to do when one is sighted is therefore every angler’s responsibility.

How to Identify Grass Carp: Grass Carp have large scales, and their eyes are in line with their mouths They have a short dorsal fin and a short anal fin with no spine. Unlike Common Carp, Grass Carp possess no whiskers or barbels at the corners of their mouth. Common Carp also have a much longer dorsal fin, and a sucker shaped mouth. Link here to learn more about Grass Carp identification and some commonly confused species.

What to Do: If you should encounter Grass Carp in Ontario waters, take lots of photos, note your location and report it to the Invading Species Hotline at: 1-800-563-7711. They’ll help you to determine whether it really is a Grass Carp. To take a more proactive approach use EDDMapS, an app for reporting invasive species. The app also allows map data to be downloaded to support off-line use. Remember, never release Grass Carp alive.

More Information: to learn more about invasive Grass Carp Visit Asian Carp Canada at www.AsianCarp.ca, and for more about invasive species visit the Invasive Species Centre at www.InvasiveSpeciesCentre.org. For more Blue Fish Canada stewardship tips visit Blue Fish Canada at: www.BlueFishCanada.ca.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Live-Imaging Sonar Research on Fishing Pressure / Crappie Now
Whether you love it or hate it live-imaging sonar is here to stay and will likely get better and better in the years to come. There are several live-imaging sonar (LIS) products on the market now, but the Garmin LiveScope™ started the craze. Ever since it hit the market in 2018, crappie anglers everywhere have been debating pros and cons of the advanced technology. Some are concerned it will adversely impact fish populations and have even suggested tighter regulations – or at least “self-imposed” limits by anglers – as a result. Now, fisheries biologists with the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) have conducted a first-of-its-kind study of the effectiveness of LIS. According to the KDWP, the data collected demonstrated that while LIS may improve angler catch and size of crappie by casual weekend anglers, overall differences were statistically minimal. And maybe more importantly, the data suggests an overall low risk of long-term damage to crappie populations as a result of LIS.

Anglers need a unified voice to protect salmon / CBC News
Gord Follett writes about the widening rift between salmon anglers and the results of a recent study on catch and release of Atlantic salmon. In 2018 the Nova Scotia government undertook research on catch-and-release fishing. The results of this three-year study proved that, yes indeed, this widely accepted conservation practice works 96 per cent of the time when waters are 18C and cooler.

B.C. fishing guide catches massive white sturgeon / Field & Stream
Yves Bisson, a well-known sturgeon guide, recently landed one of the biggest fish he’s ever laid eyes on while fishing the Fraser River. The massive fish was tagged as part of a conservation project. The angler estimates it was about 100 years old

Lake Erie Committee Sets Yellow Perch and Walleye Allowable Catches for 2022 / GLFC
Lake Erie fishery managers from Michigan, New York, Ohio, Ontario and Pennsylvania—meeting as the binational Lake Erie Committee (LEC) – agreed to a total allowable catch (TAC) for 2022 of 14.533 million walleye and 7.185 million pounds of yellow perch. Guided by the Walleye Management Plan the LEC set a 2022 lake wide walleye TAC of 14.533 million fish, an 18% increase over the 2021 TAC of 12.284 million fish. The increased TAC reflects continued strong recruitment and high population levels over the last several years. Under the 2022 TAC, Ohio will be entitled to 7.428 million fish, Ontario 6.258 million fish, and Michigan 0.847 million fish. Jurisdictions in eastern Lake Erie are outside of the TAC area, but harvest limits are set consistent with lake wide objectives.

New Youth Fly Fishing Programs – Building the next generation of ethical fly anglers / IGFA
The IGFA currently offers a variety of youth angling education programs, however, this will be the first hands-on program that focuses specifically on fly fishing. The IGFA’s youth angling education programs have existed for several decades, and in just over the past four years they have reached nearly 100,000 children around the world.

Canadian groups ask Governor Dunleavy to stop Alaskan harvest of BC salmon / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
A coalition of Canadian conservation organizations has written Alaskan Governor Mike Dunleavy, asking him to stop Alaska’s harvest of B.C. wild salmon. The coalition says that while commercial fishing was nearly non-existent in B.C. last summer, Alaskan fleets just across the border logged over 3,000 boat-days and harvested over 650,000 Canadian-origin sockeye.

How we became fishermen: An exploration of the evidence so far / Safina Center
Anthropologists believe that our dynamic diet coupled with foraging for aquatic and marine foods is causally responsible for our widespread geographic expansion. With the earliest record of marine food use in humans, through remains of stone and obsidian tools, dated at 125,000 years ago on Red Sea coast of Eritrea. It is thought that this foraging behaviour enabled humans to migrate from one end of Africa to the other and eventually into southwestern Asia.

A sustainable fishery is good for the economy and the ocean / SaltWire
Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans writes about her goal of sustainable and prosperous fisheries.

Coastal Job Fly Fishing guide / Hakai
Triston Chaney helps visitors find the best fish – and dodge hungry bears – in Alaska’s Bristol Bay area.

High seas treaty talks fail to reach a deal / Phys.Org
United Nations member states have been in talks since 2018 to develop a treaty to protect the resources of the high seas, but the final scheduled round of negotiations came and went last week with no deal reached. It’s now up to the United Nations General Assembly to green-light further discussions.

Tackling the Challenges of Global Seafood Traceability Programs / NOAA
In the fight to ensure that our seafood is safe, legally caught, and accurately labeled, traceability is a critical tool to ensure that information is accessible throughout the global seafood supply chain. A recent workshop brought together practitioners, technical experts, and fisheries officials from across the globe to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the design, management, and implementation of seafood traceability programs.

Play with Your Food and Cook It! / The Upwhel
There’s a bit of a crisis in some countries around the world—kids aren’t eating fish and other seafood. In a world of climate change, seafood can have a lower carbon footprint than other protein, including soybeans, and is healthier than livestock meats in general.

Canadian anglers need to be extra vigilant about invasive grass carp. Here’s why / Outdoor Canada
If you fish around the Great Lakes you need to be on high alert. Even if you spend most of your time fishing on inland waters, like Lake Simcoe or one of the Kawartha or Muskoka Lakes, you can’t let down your guard. As a matter of fact, you can’t get too comfortable anywhere across Canada—on Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba or Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan—even if the Great Lakes are ground zero today. There is a clear and present danger to these lakes—lakes that support a thriving fishing industry worth more than $7 billion a year and more than 75,000 jobs.

Fish:

Kokanee population ‘collapsed’ in Kootenay Lake but unlikely to disappear / ToDayInBC
High predator abundance of Gerrard rainbow and bull trout are still the accepted culprits, says the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Aging fleet, broken parts force DFO to cancel northern cod stock assessment / CBC News
Mechanical issues on a Coast Guard survey ship has forced DFO to cancel the assessment of Newfoundland and Labrador’s northern cod stock for this year. The department said it had to make changes to data collection in 2021 due to offshore weather and the condition of its research vessels. 30 years after the cod moratorium, DFO said they also won’t be able to do a full assessment on the Newfoundland’s capelin stock.

Salmon on the High Seas: Unlocking the Mystery of Salmon in the North Pacific / NOAA
NOAA scientist, Laurie Wietkamp, discusses a research survey on Pacific salmon in an effort spanning the entire North Pacific Ocean. The goal is to unravel a mystery: What determines whether salmon that migrate across the North Pacific come back alive?

Traces of DNA Can Accurately Assess Fish in the Ocean / NOAA
New research shows traces of DNA that fish species leave behind in the water can reveal the abundance and distribution of fish over large areas of the ocean as accurately as conventional fisheries survey methods.

Pacific herring spawn spectacle surfaces along West Coast / Surrey Now Leader
A natural wonder that peaks in March, the herring spawn is a herald of spring, eagerly anticipated and celebrated by humans and wildlife alike.

Meet the invasive ‘vampire fish’ that lives in the Great Lakes / Weather Network
Last summer, Marc Gaden, communications director for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, told The Weather Network that sea lampreys possess a “trifecta of perfect invasion capabilities” in the Great Lakes – almost unlimited food availability, practically unlimited spawning grounds, and no natural predators.

Species at risk ‘simply not protected’ on P.E.I., says new report / CBC News
In 23 years under the Wildlife Conservation Act, not one species at risk on Prince Edward Island has been protected.

Researchers create tool to help protect native freshwater fish from hybridizing with non-natives / Phys
Oregon State University researchers have created a tool to assess the risk of hybridization among native and non-native fish, a development that could aid natural resource managers trying to protect threatened or endangered freshwater fish species.

Habitat:

Coming soon to a backyard or forest near you: the invasive Asian jumping worm / CBC
First discovered in the Windsor area as far back as 2014, the worms were found last summer in other Ontario communities, including Wheatley, St. Catharines, Dundas and the Greater Toronto Area. They’ve also been discovered in New Brunswick, in the Fredericton-Oromocto area.

When COVID-19 travel restrictions drop, mussel concerns pick up on Okanagan Lake / Global News
The Invasive Mussel Defense Program wants to bolster protections for Okanagan Lake ahead of what’s expected to be a busy tourist season. “Since 2015, the (program) has prevented 137 infested watercraft from entering provincial waters by conducting more than 220,000 inspections.”

Heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles alarm climate scientists / The Guardian
Unprecedented heatwaves were recorded at both of Earth’s poles, raising red flags for scientists who fear this could be a sign of accelerated climate breakdown. Antarctica saw temperatures 40 °C higher than usual, and near the North Pole, temperatures were 30 °C above normal. (The Guardian)

Where Should Ships Go When They Die? / The Tyee
Ship breaking is what happens when ships die. It’s the process of taking apart any vessel, of any type and any size, and sorting the materials into recyclable scrap or garbage. It’s a vital industry that recycles staggering amounts of steel, but it’s also one of the most hazardous industries in the world. Which is why it might be surprising to hear that Canada doesn’t have any ship breaking regulations. That’s both a neutral and a bad thing, depending on who you talk to.

UPDATE to Opposition to the Proposed US Customs and BP Facility / Save The River
As of Friday, March 18th over 900 river residents have voiced their opposition to the proposed US Customs and Border Patrol station in Blind Bay. The construction of this new facility places at risk vital Muskie spawning habitat on the St. Lawrence River.

A massive dam under construction on Tanzania’s Rufiji River may become one of the most environmentally damaging hydroelectric projects ever built in Africa / Yale E360.
Experts warn the dam will flood a large portion of the iconic Selous Game Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and will have devastating impacts, depriving downstream villages, mangrove forests, and fisheries of the water they depend on. But rather than heed these warnings, the authoritarian Tanzanian government has stood by its own flawed environmental reviews and threatened to jail the project’s critics.

How Conservation Authorities can help Ontario to build resilience / Conservation Ontario
Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities understand the value of water and how it’s connected to what we do in our daily lives. Conservation Ontario celebrates World Water Day 2022 by releasing a new Discussion Paper that calls for us to do all we can to conserve, protect and restore nature for clean, sustainable water resources that are critical for us, the environment, and our economy.

Wild times: keeping Trudeau’s promise / Watershed Sentinel
B.C. will need to double parklands by 2030 in order to make good on Trudeau’s promise for 30 per cent of B.C. to be granted protected area status.

The Ontario natural resources report government didn’t want you to read / The Narwhal
Staff at Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry spent years pulling together an overarching report on the state of the province’s resources and ecosystems. But when it was ready, former minister John Yakabuski did not give the green light to publish it. A freedom of information request gained access to this report. Though the report’s findings span the province, its conclusions about population-heavy southern Ontario are among the most troubling. Two-thirds of the wetlands that once existed in southern Ontario are gone, for example, and decline is speeding up for those that are left. Between 2011 and 2015, 7,303 hectares of southern Ontario wetlands were lost.

Federal fisheries sees country’s future as ‘blue’ / Comox Valley Record
Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently released a report on Canadians’ vision for oceans.

Containment key to managing invasive species in Alberta lake / Troy Media
New research led by University of Alberta scientists could help contain the spread of the Chinese mystery snail, an invasive species whose discovery in a southern Alberta lake is as enigmatic as its name.

Regulator fines engineers 8 years after Mount Polley disaster in B.C. / Vancouver Sun
Three engineers have been disciplined nearly eight years after one of Canada’s worst mining catastrophes.

Preparations underway for continued work at the Big Bar landslide / My Cariboo Now
As spring approaches, work is expected to resume in the near future at the Big Bar landslide.

Indigenous:

How Indigenous guardians are reinforcing sovereignty and science / The Narwhal
Guardians along the B.C. coast are bringing back traditional practices of territorial safeguarding — and filling major knowledge and conservation gaps while they’re at it.

History-making Indigenous title case heads to B.C. Supreme Court / The Narwhal
Extensive industrial clearcutting destroyed salmon streams on an island the B.C. government says the Nuchatlaht ‘abandoned.’

Ahousaht First Nation celebrates salmon ambassadors / Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News
Ahousaht’s Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society is cheering the supporters of a voluntary stewardship fee that’s funding vital salmon restoration efforts in the region.

Tomcod, the Apoqnmatulti’k project brings Indigenous communities and scientists together to better understand one another and three food fisheries / Hakai
The state of marine species is an important consideration in Nova Scotia, where many Indigenous and coastal communities depend on fisheries. American lobster, for instance, forms the basis of the region’s most lucrative fishery, which brings in nearly CAN $700-million a year. Other fisheries, though smaller, also play an important role in the economic and cultural life of coastal communities. But historically, decisions about these species haven’t always incorporated local and Indigenous knowledge. Moreover, the question of who is able to benefit from the use of these species has at times been a point of conflict.

Horgan’s letter on fish farms causes ‘stir’ among chiefs / New West Record
While a number of First Nations in B.C. support the industry and are actively involved in it, the vast majority of First Nations in B.C. oppose open-net fish farming, says Bob Chamberlin of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance.

Industry:

NPAA Joins 44 Other Hunt Fish 30×30 Organizations / NPAA
The National Professional Anglers Association and 44 other members of the Hunt Fish 30×30 Coalition submitted formal comments to the U.S. Federal Register regarding the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas (Atlas), a key component of the Biden Administration’s 30-BY-30 program.

Blog:

Greg Taylor: Pacific salmon outlook for 2022 / Watershed Watch
Each year, Greg Taylor takes a look at the forecasts provided by DFO and makes some predictions about what commercial fishers can expect from the season ahead.

Arts:

Young people create ripples in the world of water stewardship
Ripples is an arts zine created by youth, showcasing artwork, prose, poetry, and photography that celebrates a shared love of and connection to water—all created by youth and kids between the ages of 5 and 27. Keep an eye out on March 22nd for the Zine to be published.

Podcasts:

What could British Columbia look like in 2032 if we plan for, and fund, watershed security today? / Freshwater Stream podcast
Host Danielle Paydli of the Freshwater Stream podcast posed this question to four B.C. water champions: Mayor Toni Boot from the District of Summerland; Brodie Guy, CEO of Coast Funds; Russell Myers Ross, former Chief of Yunesit’in First Nation; and Coree Tull, co-chair of the BC Watershed Security Coalition. The Freshwater Stream, a collaboration between Watershed Watch Salmon Society and the Canadian Freshwater Alliance, is a podcast about B.C.’s watersheds and the people who care about them.

Videos:

New Video Highlights Campbell Creek Dam Removal / ASF
For the first time in a century Campbell Creek flows freely. Where until recently there was a stagnant headpond and obsolete concrete dam, there is now an unobstructed channel and a streambank quickly returning to its natural state. Improved water quality, restored migratory fish access, and reinvigorated habitat are among the benefits for Campbell Creek, a tributary of the Nashwaak River, which itself flows into the Wolastoq (St. John River).

Webinars:

Let’s Talk Lake Ontario: Invasive Species – Lake Ontario’s Most Unwanted / Lake Ontario Partnership
On April 22 Join us for a one-hour webinar on Invasive Species in Lake Ontario as part of our Let’s Talk Lake Ontario webinar series! Learn more about invasive species in Lake Ontario, why they’re a problem, and how Canada and the U.S. are taking steps to prevent their introduction and spread in the Basin.

Canada’s Pollution? Where? What? How to Find Out? / Watersheds Sentinel
As we work to protect our environments, it is essential that we know what pollutants are already affecting our communities and what pollutants are likely to arrive along with new industrial projects. This information is available from the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) through data it collects on emissions from most major pollution sources in Canada. In this webinar we take a look at what information is there and how to use it. Our presenters are all experienced environmental advocates who have used the NPRI to organize and mobilize.

New Invasive Species & Watercraft Regulations / FOCA
On March 9, 2022 – the Federation of Ontario Cottage Associations was joined by Jeremy Downe of the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry for a lunch-and-learn webinar to discuss changes to the Invasive Species Act, including new regulations on the movement of watercraft that came into effect on January 1st, 2022.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Manitoba Wildlife Federation applauds province’s choice for new chief conservation officer / Outdoor Canada
Earl Simmons was appointed by Manitoba as their new chief conservation officer, and one of the first things Simmons did was to issue a directive allowing for plain-clothes conservation officers and unmarked vehicles. According to Heald, this will help tackle the ongoing problem of road hunting, as well as the illegal underground trade in fish and game. Being able to blend in will help COs stop more wildlife offences in the act of being committed, he says.

Career Opportunity: Nova Scotia Program Director / ASF
The Regional Program Director for Nova Scotia is a diverse role that serves as the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s point person for wild Atlantic salmon conservation and restoration in NS. Primary activities include leading the development and implementation of conservation activities in Nova Scotia, as well as carrying out evidence-based advocacy and community engagement.

Coming Up:

Muskie Odyssey / Muskies Canada!
Muskie Odyssey is back and in person at the Hamilton Convention Center on April 2nd, 2022. Doors open at 8:30 and the event runs until 5pm, The Odyssey team invites you to come check out everything we have to offer – Speakers, Convention Exhibition Hall, Auctions, and our own MCI Entertainment booth where a lot of action will be taking place.

BC Outdoors Show
On April 8-10 in Chilliwack BC, after three years of anticipation, our inaugural event the BC Outdoors Show is finally happening, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Our intention with this show has always been about bringing the industry together. We are ready to reunite in person with friends, colleagues and you!

4th Local Seafood Summit / Local Catch
We are thrilled to invite innovative, inclusive, and collaborative speakers to submit proposals for the 4th Local Seafood Summit to be held in Girdwood, Alaska on October 2-3, 2022. Proposals for the summit will be a accepted through Sunday, April 17, 2022. We encourage that presentations and sessions provide tangible learning takeaways and practical skills, tools, and strategies for summit attendees, and align with the summit theme, Building the Future of Local and Regional Seafood Systems.

Special Guest Feature – FISH KILLS MAY BE COMMON DURING SPRING THAW

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

After ice and snow cover melt on Michigan lakes early this spring, it may be more likely for people to discover dead fish or other aquatic animals. While such sights can be startling, the Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone that this is normal, since winter conditions can cause fish and other creatures such as turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish to die.

Winterkill is the most common type of fish kill. As the season changes, it can be particularly common in shallow lakes, ponds, streams and canals. These kills are localized and typically do not affect the overall health of the fish populations or fishing quality.

Shallow lakes with excess aquatic vegetation and soft bottoms are more prone to this occurrence, particularly when a deep snowpack reduces sunlight for the plants. Canals in urban areas also are quite susceptible due to the large amounts of nutrient runoff and pollution from roads and lawns and septic systems that flow into these areas, especially from large storm events.

Fish and other aquatic life typically die in late winter but may not be noticed until a month after the ice leaves lakes. That’s because the dead fish and other aquatic life are temporarily preserved by the cold water. Fish also may be affected by rapid changes in water temperature due to unseasonably warm temperatures leading to stress and, sometimes, mortality.

Fish can become easily stressed in winter due to low energy reserves because feeding is at a minimum in winter. They are then less able to handle low oxygen and temperatures swings.

Winterkill begins with distressed fish gasping for air at holes in the ice and often ends with large numbers of dead fish that bloat as the water warms. Dead fish and other aquatic life may appear fuzzy because of secondary infection by fungus, but the fungus was not the cause of death. The fish actually suffocated from a lack of dissolved oxygen from decaying plants and other dead aquatic animals under the ice.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Beginning March 17 and lasting four days, Lawrence Gunther will be live on the Outdoor Canada seminar stage at the Toronto Sportsman Show. Drop by booth 2723 and get caught up on the latest local, traditional and scientific sustainable fishing knowledge.

In this March 14 2022 Blue Fish Canada News we begin with an editorial meant to clarify confusion over invasive, non-native and native species. 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 are tips for removing invasive species from your boat and trailer at the launch.

This Week’s Feature – Native, Non-Native, and Invasive – Which is What?

As individuals, it’s important that we understand the various ways we commonly assess the value or impact of different species on the environment. There is growing awareness that invasive species pose serious threats to our beloved fisheries, but what we don’t fully appreciate is that preventing these impacts from occurring is not necessarily BEYOND our control. Take for instance the movement of fish and other species not technically considered invasive, but when these non-native species show up, the consequences for native species can be significant. No doubt, changes are occurring all the time, but under chaotic conditions, the rate of change intensifies. So let’s all get on the same page with respect to understanding how are attitudes and behaviors towards native, non-native and invasive species are impacting the fisheries we love so much before our great country turns into one giant smorgasbord. 

Walk into any aquarium store and pick from a wide variety of legal but potentially invasive species available for purchase. What doesn’t come with your new aquarium pet are instructions on what to do should your interest in their upkeep dwindle. Thankfully, increasingly more aquarium stores offer credit for returned fish, but what none offer are instructions on how to humanely euthanize unwanted aquarium guests. The result is a “pandemic” of invasive aquarium pets being sighted in lakes and rivers across Canada. Everything from the simple Goldfish to Red Ear Turtles. Simple pets turned wild resulting in massive ecological changes.  

Lamprey are another much misunderstood species thanks to the inadvertent introduction of Sea Lamprey into the Great Lakes following completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959. Prior to the entry of these big fellas, four other much smaller native lamprey species were existing quite “nicely” alongside other fish species for millennia. In fact, lamprey were a main food source of people for centuries. So before you go throwing shade on First Nations groups who are looking to restore native lamprey species, you might first take a few minutes to educate yourselves on how native lamprey species fit into the evolution of North American ecosystems. Only then will you understand why we actively control the spread of only the Sea Lamprey capable of killing most native predatory fish species in the Great Lakes. So what exactly is the definition of “native species”?

A native species is one that has evolved along side other species in an ecosystem. But one angler’s native species is another’s invasive species. Such is the case throughout much of North America. You would be surprised to learn just how many native fish species have been transported to other habitats where they now flourish and dominate, and have become accepted as non-native species. To list just a few, there are Brown Trout brought to North America from Europe in the mid-1860s. Brook Trout are in fact not trout but part of the char family, and are native to Eastern Canada only. That is until their aggressive and intentional spread across much of Canada starting in the 1880s. Rainbow Trout, on the other hand, a native fish species that evolved in a limited area of western Canada, were first introduced into the Great Lakes in the 1890s, and can now be found just about everywhere. 

Like the Common Carp, these three iconic trout species proliferated throughout North America thanks to human intervention. So why are Common Carp still considered a “trash fish” by many, when Brown, Rainbow and Brook Trout are revered? I’m making this point because it showcases how perceptions can cloud our opinions, not because I’m looking to either degrade trout or raise people’s opinions of carp. So this begs the question, when does a fish species cross over from being non-native to native, if not technically, in our commonly held opinions?

In the case of Pacific Coho and Chinook Salmon being introduced into the Great Lakes in the 1960s, their “rock star” status was instantaneous. The reverence anglers have for these iconic salmon species on Canada’s west coast was quick to take route in Ontario. So much so, that efforts to ensure their successful naturalization became the common call of anglers and non-anglers alike. As soon as these salmon began to migrate up Ontario rivers, calls to introduce fish ladders and to remove orphan dams followed. 

Almost without exception, upper stretches of tributaries that emptied into the Great Lakes were thrown open to Coho and Chinook Salmon as if these watersheds had been nothing more than barren virgin waters just waiting to be inhabited. That is, with the exception of the Isaac Walton Fishing Club that continues to this day to resist the removal of a dam on the Credit River in Georgetown. This 100-year-old dam represents the last barrier defending other non-native fish species that made the Upper Forks of the Credit River home about one hundred years earlier – Brown and Brooke Trout. The Club recognized that water bodies have a limited biomass carrying capacity, and that if you bring in a much larger more aggressive species, there’s going to be losers. 

Speaking of dominant sport fish, consider the Smallmouth Bass. This little champ is viewed by many, pound-for-pound, as one of the most ferocious fighting freshwater fish in North America. While they may not hold the public’s high regard like Coho and Chinook Salmon, Smallmouth Bass have a devoted following. So much so, their steady and surprisingly widespread invasion is said to be primarily due to five-gallon buckets in the hands of angling devotees. 

The spread of Smallmouth Bass throughout Atlantic Canada is blamed for holding back the restoration of native Atlantic Salmon. The presents of Smallmouth is judged as so incredibly damaging that lakes are being drained and rivers poisoned in order to break their hold. But are those responsible for their spread any more criminals than those officials who introduced Common Carp into Lake Ontario 150 years earlier as an acceptable replacement to the extirpated Atlantic Salmon? I’m not making excuses for those who choose to relocate these fish, but I think our flip-flopping on what constitutes acceptable fish management practices hasn’t helped. 

So when is a non-native fish considered “native”? The answer may annoy some, but never. However, that’s not going to slow down what’s coming. 

Due to climate change, fish species are on the move. Fish more commonly found in warmer southerly waters are creeping north. These often-toothy newcomers are taking advantage of warming ocean temperatures to expand their range. And it’s not just predators either. Even forage fish are shifting north, and their vastly inferior fat content compared to the less aggressive cold water prey fish that put more effort into storing body fat than hunting year round, means native predators such as Pacific salmon species looking for their next meal are often left feeling somehow empty of the calories they require to complete the epic migrations they normally execute with the support of their former nutritious food base. Somehow that 1,000 km swim upriver just doesn’t seem possible anymore. 

Arctic Char along Nunavut’s Baffin Island were once prized for their bright pink flesh, a result of their feeding largely on krill. Now, with the arrival of a far less colourful baitfish, the flesh of Arctic Char is now grey. This one visual indication of perceived value has placed Arctic Char on the “Junk heap” in market terms, putting an end to the once highly valued commercial fishing quotas once prized by Inuit fishers. To be frank, their pink flesh was about the only thing these char had going for them other than their exotic Arctic range. Like their cousin the Lake Trout, Arctic Char have a less than subtle flavour that many find unpalatable, but, I digress. 

The lesson here is that like Canada as a whole, we are a nation known for our diversity and mobility. Just like people, fish species seem to move around with newcomers arriving all the time. While climate change related migration may be difficult to stop, fishery biologists, First Nation communities, and others are beginning to take steps to un-do the havoc imposed on native fish species by the introduction of non-native species. 

Attitudes about tampering with natures balance to “improve” the fishing experience are shifting. Instead of putting a priority on bigger, faster growing, tastier fish, species protection now focusses on those native species that evolved over centuries. Not because they have some sort of moral right over other species, but because these native species represent diversity. 

No longer is it considered prudent to put all our fish eggs in one basket. If our ecosystems are going to stand a chance against shifting weather patterns and other ecological challenges brought about by climate change, it’s better to have a variety of strengths possessed by different fish that have evolved separately from each other over time. 

Scientists and others believe that by respecting distinct subsets of a specific fish species, we can avoid ending up with a single “monoculture” type species, which is the exact opposite of how fin-fish aquaculture operations now function. Protecting the DNA diversity within wild fish species at the sub-species level is just as important as protecting the species itself. Again, to ensure a variety of DNA strains exist that have already adapted to different environmental conditions. Besides, who wants to spend time and money travelling across Canada just to catch the same old fish everywhere you go? 

So where does that leave Canada? Does it make sense to make the removal of non-native species a priority? Or can we simply agree that moving fish and other species into new habitat is just wrong. 

The new eco-tourism angling trend these days is the experience of capturing unique native fish species. Offering such bucket list opportunities is helping to create new sustainable tourism jobs in remote and northern areas of Canada. Regions that have been “burnt” by the boom-bust cycle of resource extraction type industries like forestry and mining. It all sounds great, but before you heap shame on fishery managers of past, a lot of the decisions taken to introduce non-native species had little to do with eco-tourism, and everything to do with ensuring food security for growing and food insecure populations. 

While I’m not saying that harvesting fish for food is wrong, I’m simply suggesting that food security shouldn’t be addressed by promises of shiny new fish species such as Splake, a hybrid fish species created in hatcheries by crossing Lake Trout with Brook Trout. Instead, let’s rely on managing fishing pressure on wild fish stocks, and if that’s not enough, I’m sorry, but turning Canada’s lakes and rivers into giant pseudo aquaculture operations should no longer be an option. 

Conservation should be our priority, and not playing at being God by mixing and matching fish with different habitats. This applies to fishery managers and individuals alike. Time to respect those that came first, instead of simply shoving them aside as if they were last year’s fashions.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

My Catch Ontario Fishing Challenge / Angler Atlas
The My Catch Ontario Ice Fishing Challenge wrapped up February 28 with over 3,000 fish entered by anglers across the province! Over 500 participants competed for over $8,000 in cash prizes, as well as local bragging rights. The Township of Chapleau was crowned the 2022 Ice Fishing Capital of Ontario with 161 fish caught and 39 residents participating in the event. Dubreuilville came in second with 18 residents catching 372 fish. In third place is the town of Wawa, with 45 residents catching 193 fish. 

Greg Marino of Sioux Lookout landed the longest fish of the event, with a 112.4 cm Northern Pike.  The longest lake trout was won by Steve Dumonski of Sioux Lookout with his 103 cm catch.  The longest Walleye came in at 76.2 cm, landed by Chris Hayes.  The longest Brook (Speckled) Trout at a respectable 53.5 cm was pulled in by Darren Smith. The longest Yellow Perch measured up at 37.5 cm, reeled in by Nathan Monk of Nipigon.  And rounding it all out, Tyler Soulliere of Espanola won the diversity prize catching 18 different species of fish during the event.

The International Game Fish Association Expands Record Categories with new species / IGFA

New freshwater Species added to the angling record keeping duties of the IGFA include:

Barbel Barus barbus – 44 cm
Bass, spotted Micropterus punctualtus – 34 cm
Buffalo, bigmouth Ictiobus cyrprinellus – 48 cm
Buffalo, smallmouth Ictiobus bubalus – 50 cm
Catfish, flathead Pylodictis olivaris – 75 cm
Gar, longnose Lepisosteus osseus – 77 cm
Huchen hucho – 72 cm
Inconnu Stenodus leucichtys – 64 cm
Muskellunge, tiger Esox masquinongy x Esox Lucius – 57 cm
Pellona, Amazon Pellona castelnaeana – 37 cm
Tambaqui Colossoma macropomum – 53 cm
Trout, tiger Salmo trutta x Salvelinus fontinalis – 43 cm

Clever Whales and the Violent Fight for Fish on the Line / Hakai
As I coiled rope on the deck of a commercial fishing boat in the western Gulf of Alaska, I felt the sudden thud of a revolver reverberate in my chest. I wheeled around as a crewmate fired more bullets; a round of buckshot followed, from a shotgun held by my captain. I’d known their anger was growing as sperm whales ate our catch but hadn’t expected they would vent their frustrations with live ammunition. I looked out and saw a sperm whale crest the surface for air around 20 meters away, seemingly unfazed by the heavy fire.

Trout Unlimited Cane Rod Raffle / TUC
Support the conservation of cold-water resources and share the sport of fly fishing! Trout Unlimited Canada Northern Lights Fly Fishers has a bamboo fly rod up for raffle. This custom rod has a retail value of $1,500. Draw Date: June 1, 2022

Fish:

New Hope for Billfish in the Pacific
With nearly fifty years experience working to conserve large open-ocean predators, Wild Oceans (formerly the National Coalition for Marine Conservation) …

Fundamental Growth Limitations Found in Antarctic Fish
Antarctic fish have adapted over millennia to survive in the freezing temperatures of the Southern Ocean. 

Smallmouth Bass Caught at the Edge of Yellowstone National Park / GARDINER 
An angler caught a smallmouth bass on Feb. 19 while fishing on the Gardner River. 

Addressing Native Freshwater Fish Hybridization with Non-Natives
Oregon State University researchers have created a tool to assess the risk of hybridization among native and non-native fish.

Fall in Love with New Seafood this Year / NOAA
Whether you’ve made, broken, or forgone New Year’s resolutions this year, we have a tasty proposal: resolve to try some new seafood! Seafood is a healthy, nutrient-dense source of protein. Some fish are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart and can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish (particularly fatty fish) per week.

Wild fish stocks squandered to feed farmed salmon, study finds / The Guardian
Shoppers’ appetite for salmon is causing millions of tonnes of nutritious mackerel, sardines and anchovies to be wasted as fish feed, according to new research.

New research sheds light on salmon survival in open ocean / Campbell River Mirror
A recent study examines the relationship between environmental conditions, pathogens, and gene expression in wild salmon.

‘Grunts, growls and hums’: B.C. researchers help compile online database of fish sounds / CBC News
Cataloguing fish sounds will allow for a better understanding of marine ecosystems, researchers say.

Lady killers: declining female sockeye in the Fraser River / FISHBIO
Monitoring data has revealed a concerning trend: the proportion of females in many spawning populations in the watershed has been declining over the past 30 years.

Aquaculture salmon detected in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Maine rivers
Two aquaculture-origin Atlantic salmon were among seven adult fish collected on Nova Scotia’s Gaspereau River this year for breeding at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Coldbrook Biodiversity Facility, a hatchery where populations of critically endangered inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon are maintained. DFO scientists reported the information at a recent update on salmon recovery efforts. 

Habitat:

30×30 Beginning to Unfold Across the U.S.
American sportfishing Association Government Affairs Vice President Mike Leonard has your March video update. This month’s episode is all about 30×30. 

Regional organizations release annual joint priorities for the Great Lakes / ISC
To celebrate Great Lakes Day events, a binational coalition of regional agencies, legislators, local communities, tribes, and business, maritime and environmental groups released shared priorities for restoring the Great Lakes and supporting the region’s economy.

Extreme weather could help invasive green crab crawl along Vancouver Island, B.C. coast / ISC
The European green crab is present all the way up the west coast, but that invasion has been going on for over two decades, said Tom Therriault, a research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Nature Conservancy hopes to keep round goby out of Lake Champlain / ISC 
The Nature Conservancy in New York is calling on the state to close one of the locks along the Champlain Canal, west of the Mohawk River, until a permanent solution is realized to prevent the invasive Round Goby species from traveling to the lake.

UN agrees to create global plastic pollution treaty / CBC News
The United Nations approved a landmark agreement to create the world’s first ever global plastic pollution treaty on Wednesday, describing it as the most significant environmental deal since the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Enviros call on Canada to strengthen our rules after genetically modified aquarium fish escapes into the Brazilian wild / National Observer
As one of the first countries to approve the sale of the Glofish in the early 2000s and the first to produce genetically engineered salmon, environmentalists say Canada needs to take a long, hard look at its regulations around genetically modified animals.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joins NCC in protecting P.E.I. land / CBC News
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was a partner in a recent land acquisition by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in western P.E.I. NCC purchased 68 hectares of salt marsh, freshwater wetland, and forest along the Percival River.

British Columbia’s gold rush threatens wilderness and salmon / Outdoor Life
“Proposed mega gold mines in British Columbia are setting the region’s wilderness history and its mining future on a collision course.”

Catching crabs in a suffocating sea / Tyee
Climate change is creating ‘dead zones’ on the west coast. Researchers and crabbers are working together to find solutions.

St. Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia fish farm application filed as community vows to show its opposition / SaltWire
Canadian Salmon Farms Ltd. has taken the next step in the application process to develop four finfish aquaculture sites in St. Mary’s Bay.

Canada fisheries minister reiterates commitment to removing salmon farming net pens in B.C. as industry begs for clarity / IntraFish
The status of 79 remaining salmon farming licenses in British Columbia set to expire in June remains up in the air.

Indigenous:

‘It’s for our survival’ — Indigenous women lead conservation efforts in Canada / National Observer
In Canada, Indigenous women are leading the charge to preserve biodiversity and fight climate change by heading up important new conservation initiatives.

Feds float $11.8 million for Indigenous commercial fishing ventures on West Coast / National Observer
The funds will support new businesses, training opportunities and increased access to fisheries for 31 Indigenous commercial fishing companies involving 117 First Nations across B.C.

A 30-Year-Long Fishing Dispute Fizzles Out / Hakai
Indigenous people and their ancestors have been netting salmon and digging clams in the island-studded Salish Sea for at least 10,000 years. These long-time residents of what are now Washington State and British Columbia—multiple communities represented by dozens of languages and a long, branching, sometimes-overlapping history—forged alliances among families to allot access to the rich fishing grounds. The arrival of Western colonial powers, however, froze those boundaries and undermined the ability of Indigenous peoples to govern those fishing territories and their natural resources.

Industry:

International Game Fish Association names five angling greats to the 2022 class of the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame / IGFA
This year’s inductees include IGFA World Record holders and light tackle aficionados Pam Basco and Enrico Capozzi; renowned angling historian and advocate Mike Farrior; iconic B.A.S.S. leader and industry pioneer Helen Sevier; and legendary lure designer and innovator Joe Yee. Elected unanimously by the IGFA Board of Trustees, the 2022 class will join 136 legendary anglers, scientists, conservationists, writers and fishing industry leaders whose contributions to sport fishing are forever preserved and celebrated in the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame.

NAISMA seeks new Executive Director  / ISP
The North American Invasive Species Management Association is seeking a new Executive Director.

Boating:

ePropulsion, a global leader and market challenger in marine electric propulsion systems and services, has announced record sales / EPripulsion
Sales revenue increased 200% year-on-year in 2021, with over 15,000 units sold across the globe. The company estimates a further 100% growth rate in 2022 as more boat owners look to switch to more sustainable boating and convert to electric propulsion systems. 

Podcasts: 

New Episode of the “Fish of the Week” Podcast
Put on your shades and learn about one of North America’s most colorful fish, the Longear Sunfish. 

My Catch Panel on Virtual Tournaments and Fisheries Research / The Blue Fish Radio Show
This podcast is a recording of a panel discussion I organized with the St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Science featuring virtual fishing tournament organizers, Fish biology researchers, and the inventor of the My Catch app. The five presentations take the first 30 minutes, and is followed by a live Q/A session with the over 280 webinar participants who caught one of the two Facebook streams or YouTube stream. We drilled down on topics such as confidentiality, data protection, and how the app facilitates both fisheries research and tournament coordination. 

Videos:

Please share freely / Blue Fish Canada Stewardship Tips:

Stop the Spread of Invasive Aquarium Species 

Four Angler Tips to Stop the Spread of Invasive Species 

Webinars:

Webinar March 22 water security, collaboration between Indigenous & non-Indigenous scientists / Canadian Freshwater Alliance
On World Water Day March 22 Canadian Freshwater alliance is hosting a talk on how a new project from Clearwater River Dënë Nation showcases how experts in Dënësułinë knowledge systems are working alongside experts in Northern social, ecological and interdisciplinary science systems to create powerful relationships that allow science to be more effective in developing community-led water security solutions.

Webinar Recording: 

New Invasive Species and Waterfront Regulations in Ontario  / FOCA

Scientists and Local Champions:

Become an ISAP Ambassador / Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program
Are you, or someone you know in high school, college, or university, part of an environmental or eco-club, or have thought about starting one? Well, Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program (ISAP) wants to help! We are looking for Ambassadors for our new volunteer program – the ISAP Ambassadors, or ISAPA for short! Register now to be part of this exciting opportunity.

Call to Action:

Tell MPs factory fish farms aren’t above the law / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
As of March 1st, factory fish farms must abide by rules requiring them to keep their parasite levels below three salmon lice per farmed fish. This rule was created by the federal government as an attempt to protect vulnerable wild juvenile salmon as they migrate past the farms and their harmful parasites. 

Right now, parasites are out of control at many factory farms. Some farms can have upwards of 16 parasites per farm fish. Obviously, these farms are unable to control the spread of parasites and are now endangering juvenile wild salmon during their outmigration. 

We are exactly four months away from June 30th, when almost all factory farm licences expire. We know the industry is nervous about this upcoming deadline, we see their propaganda ramping up. These next few months will be pivotal in the fight to get factory fish farms off the B.C. coast and away from migrating wild salmon.

Our federal government promised to get factory fish farms out, and while they’ve taken some action, removing farms from the Discovery Islands, they’re not done yet. We need to keep reminding them to keep their promises and defend wild salmon from fish farms and their parasites and diseases. 

Please take action. Our MPs need to hear from us on this. Send them a quick email.

Coming Up:

Have Your Say Lake of the Woods Anglers / NDMNRF
Ontario is seeking the public’s input on the management of the recreational walleye fishery on Lake of the Woods through virtual roundtable sessions on March 22, 2022 at 7 pm EST, 6 pm CST. 

BC Outdoors Show
On April 8-10 in Chilliwack BC, after three years of anticipation, our inaugural event the BC Outdoors Show is finally happening, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Our intention with this show has always been about bringing the industry together. We are ready to reunite in person with friends, colleagues and you!

Toronto Sportsman Show
On March 17-20 at the Toronto International Centre, the Toronto Sportsman Show is back! Check out seminars taking place on two stages, hundreds of outdoor exhibiters, and plenty to excite people of all ages. 

4th Local Seafood Summit / Local Catch
We are thrilled to invite innovative, inclusive, and collaborative speakers to submit proposals for the 4th Local Seafood Summit to be held in Girdwood, Alaska on October 2-3, 2022. Proposals for the summit will be a accepted through Sunday, April 17, 2022. We encourage that presentations and sessions provide tangible learning takeaways and practical skills, tools, and strategies for summit attendees, and align with the summit theme, Building the Future of Local and Regional Seafood Systems.

Special Guest Feature – How to Remove Aquatic Species from Your Boat / Mercury

Just a few extra steps right after you pull your boat out of the water can help ensure that you don’t take any aquatic invasive species – or eggs or seeds – to another body of water.

  • Once the boat is on the trailer, pull it to the nearest possible out-of-the-way spot. A slight incline is preferred to facilitate more complete drainage.
  • Remove the drain plug and make sure there is nothing preventing the bilge water from flowing freely.
  • Lower all engines or outdrives to allow the water in the coolant passages to drain.
  • Remove the plugs from all livewells and baitwells and let them drain completely.
  • Starting at the rear of the boat, do a visual inspection for organic matter and remove it with your hands. Don’t forget the trailer, outdrive, swim platform, boarding ladders, transducers and anything else that tends to collect debris. You should also remove any mud or sediment you might have picked up as it can harbor seeds, eggs or tiny creatures.
  • Continue the process down one side of the boat, paying special attention to the trailer rollers or bunks, as well as the axles, rims, brake lines and other hardware. A boat hook can help reach potential AIS material that is not easily accessible by hand. Repeat the process on the opposite side of the boat and trailer.
  • Next, check the interior of the boat for any organic matter. Fishing tackle, tow ropes and the like can easily pull AIS material into the boat, and they can just as easily set it free in the next body of water you visit.
  • Inspect the exterior of the boat from several angles to check for anything you might have missed the first time.
  • If you’ve got a trolling motor, thoroughly inspect and decontaminate it as well.

Finally, raise your engines or drives back up to the normal traveling position and you’re ready for the drive home. 

As the boat owner, it’s ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your vessel is clean and free of any potential AIS material before you leave the immediate area of the waterway.

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Concerned about invasive species? Want to know what scientists are recommending as best practices to stop the spread? This is the week to dive in an educate yourself about a whole lot of new things anglers need to know. On February 28th, the Invasive Species Centre kicks off a week of campaigning, and Blue Fish Canada is pleased to be a partner in this important communication initiative – “Don’t Let It Loose” – doesn’t get simpler than that!

In this February 28th, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with a focus on what you as anglers can do to stop the spread of invasive species and disease. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest news and calls-to-action such as those issued by Skeena Wild, Save The River, and Oceana Canada. Our closing Special Guest Feature comes from the Invasive Species Centre as we kick off Invasive Species Awareness Week!

This Week’s Feature – Stop the Spread of Invasive Species

By Lawrence Gunther

It may seem like a lost cause when you hear about another new invasive species entering your favorite river, lake, or inshore fishery. After all, how likely is it that an invasive species can be removed once it’s let loose? There’s also the mega “home wreckers” like ocean-going cargo ship bilge water and aquaculture operation fish pen failures that are totally outside of our control. All this may be true, but that doesn’t mean anglers should drop their guard. The fact is, it takes very little to set in motion the undoing of thousands of years of evolution, and it’s often the act of a single person that starts the dominoes to fall

Some of you are probably questioning my claim that any one of you could cause an ecosystem to either change or fail. In fact, there are multiple ways that we can unintentionally transport a prohibited or non-native species of plant or animal to its new “forever” home. Spreading disease is also much simpler than we once thought. Things like kayak paddles, boat bilges and livewells, landing nets, and even fishing waders can serve as conveyers for the next invasive species or disease outbreak.

Bans on felt-soled waders and wading boots have been controversial. The original research results on felt soles, according to some, was circumstantial. However, we now know that felt can trap 100% of the whirling disease spores to which it was exposed, while rubber soles on boots and waders trapped none. However, that doesn’t mean felt is the only way live didymo cells can be transferred. Leather boot tops and neoprene waders can also convey disease.

Its crucial that anglers clean, inspect, and dry all equipment. That includes waders, boots, fishing rods, and gear boxes that have come into contact with the stream or lake. When shore fishing or wading, follow these four steps every time you pack up at the end of a fishing trip to be sure that unintended hitchhikers are left behind.

  • Remove any visible plants, fish or animals from your gear and boots.
  • Wash off mud and dirt since it too may contain a hitchhiker.
  • Examine your gear closely for even small plant fragments as they may contain a root, seed, egg, or larva.
  • Do all this where you were fishing before you head home.

Without doubt, live bait is a highly effective method for catching fish. It is also now evident that many non-native species of baitfish and other bait including some species of worms can cause significant upheaval when introduced into new territory. Non-native baitfish can grow and compete with the native fish populations. They can also harm native fish communities by spreading disease. Movement of baitfish from one water body to another by unknowing anglers is thought to be the primary mechanism by which viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), a serious fish disease, has spread from the Great Lakes to inland waters. Follow these four best practices when using live bait:

  • Only use bait purchased from a certified dealer of disease-free bait.
  • Don’t move bait or other fish from one water body to another.
  • Dump unused bait on land at least 30 meters from the water.
  • Use baitfish only in waters where their use is permitted.

Boats, kayaks, canoes and even the trailers that we use to transport our fishing craft are capable of conveying potentially invasive species and disease. Lake-by-lake anglers and other weekend-boaters are slowly spreading guests unwanted by both property owners and nature itself. Practice proper etiquette when visiting water bodies and help make sure the welcome mat stays out. Follow these five sustainable boating tips to avoid transporting invasive species and disease.

  • Clean your boat and gear before leaving the water by removing mud, vegetation, mussels, or anything suspicious from your boat, motor, trailer or fishing equipment.
  • Drain before you leave the launch all water from your boat by pulling the plug on your transom and livewells.
  • Dry your boat for 2-7 days in sunlight or clean your boat from top to bottom with hot water over 50°C or pressurized water over 250 psi before traveling to a new waterbody.
  • Avoid running the engine through invasive aquatic plants to prevent cutting or pulling loose plants and increasing their likelihood of spreading.
  • Never possess, transport or release a prohibited invasive species.

We are all travelling more as we pursue our bucket list destinations and experiences. Further weekend outdoor adventures made possible through new efficient mobility innovations have become the norm. Not even the absence of roads can stop us from reaching our destinations. Along with this ability comes responsibility. Follow the above 14 tips to make sure you arrive free of potentially catastrophic instruments of change and destruction. Small, even things invisible to the eye, can cause untold chaos, we all know that now. By adopting these best practices, the risk of your latest adventure destination becoming ground zero for the next invasive outbreak will be mitigated. It’s what we need to do to conserve nature, and to ensure our grandchildren will have the opportunity to connect with nature as it was meant to be.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

Why female perch are so much bigger and more aggressive in winter / Outdoor Canada
The female members of most Canadian freshwater fish contribute as much as one-third of their body weight into the production of eggs. And while a pound of eggs has approximately 1300 calories of energy, it takes many more to produce them. “That is the primary reason why ice anglers catch more females than males,”. “Females are more active and hungrier all winter long. With males, it’s not even close.

Ontario Fish Stocking Data / NDMNRF
The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (NDMNRF) stocks approximately 8 million fish into more than 1,200 Ontario waterbodies every year. Fish stocking data is used to inform management decisions and production planning, but it is also available to the public to see where lakes are stocked throughout the province. Visit Fish On-Line for more.

The Science on Why Bass Are Getting Harder to Catch / Outdoor Life
The bass-fishing community promotes the idea of catch-and-release fishing. Today, live-release rates are at 85 to 95 percent among bass anglers, and fish are as abundant as ever in most waters. So…why aren’t you catching more of them?

Fish:

Photo of B.C. sturgeon with smaller sturgeon in mouth / CBC News
A photo taken in British Columbia of a Fraser River sturgeon with a smaller sturgeon in its mouth could be an incident of cannibalism or a simple mishap. One biologist noted that the food supply in the river is low these days, so the two fish may have been eating near one another, and the bigger fish could have accidentally slurped up the other.

‘Dead river flowing’ / Capital Daily
BC’s Jordan River was once brimming with salmon, until three industries changed it forever. No one thing is responsible for virtually killing the river and wiping out its salmon. It was decades of industrial activity—a combination of power generation, mining, and forestry—that contaminated the water and devastated prime habitat.

100,000 dead fishleft floating / The Guardian
Following a mishap with the drag net of the world’s second-largest fishing vessel off the coast of France, 100,000 fish were left dead and floating on the surface.

Steelhead Escape Hatchery / AP News
In Washington State, 249,770 steelhead smolt escape a fish hatchery and head for the Snake River.

Orcas taught each other to steal fish from humans: study / CTV News
It appears even killer whales don’t always feel like putting in the effort to hunt for their own food. According to a new study, a group of orcas have been teaching each other to steal fish from human fishing nets.

North Atlantic Mako Sharks Are Endangered — Now What? / The Revelater
With their pointed snouts, slender gill slits, cobalt-blue skin, flashing metallic sides and white bellies, North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks are a stunning sight. They’re deadly fast, too, reaching speeds up to 45 miles per hour — the fastest sharks in the ocean. As apex predators, they evolved in a niche that helped maintain ecological balance by controlling prey populations. Through a diet of big, meaty fish like tuna and swordfish, makos can grow to 13 feet in length and live up to 30 years. This heavily exploited species just got a temporary reprieve, but new protections come with a ticking clock.

Nation’s Oldest Public Marine Aquarium Continues 150 Year Legacy / NOAA
In celebration of the Woods Hole fisheries lab 150th anniversary, we are highlighting some of the things that make the Woods Hole fisheries lab and the village a special place. One of them is the Woods Hole Science Aquarium.

Kootenay Lake Kokanee Recovery Update Shows Low Survival Rate / Toronto Star
Low survival rate of kokanee spawning salmon in Kootenay Lake has continued, according to the fall totals in the 2021 provincial count.

Parks Canada Reintroduces Threatened Fish into Hidden Creek / Rocky Mountain Outlook
With westslope cutthroat populations declining across their historical range, Parks Canada is leading the way in Alberta to improve habitat and reintroduce the threatened species in Banff National Park.

Fish on the Brink: Where Did All the Mackerel Go? / Walrus
A fish famous for its abundance has become harder to find in many Atlantic communities.

Habitat:

Global study finds the extent of pharmaceutical pollution in the world’s rivers / ScienceDaily
A new study looking at the presence of pharmaceuticals in the world’s rivers found concentrations at potentially toxic levels in more than a quarter of the locations studied.

Study will look at impact of climate change on Pacific salmon / Victoria Times Colonist
The Canadian Coast Guard’s Sir John Franklin left Victoria to join an international high seas scientific expedition charged with learning how climate change is affecting declining populations of wild Pacific salmon.

Cost of damage caused by invasive species is 10 times that of preventing or controlling them
The 2022 Invasive Species Forum focussed on “Action, Innovation, and Outreach”, the sharing of information, and advances in prevention. Over 50 experts from across the globe took part. Session recordings are available on the Invasive Species Centre YouTube channel.

Rogue wave off BC coast sets record / EarthSky
Scientists said this month they’ve now verified the most extreme rogue wave on record. The wave struck off the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, on November 17, 2020. It was 58 feet (17.6 m) high. It didn’t cause damage to any ships or land. Just one lonely buoy – floating in the open sea – recorded the event. The scientists said a rogue wave such as this should only occur once in 1,300 years!

Indigenous:

How a warming Lake Superior is affecting one Anishinaabe fisherman / Narwhal
Respect for water was as much a part of Phillip Solomon’s fishing education as sawing through thick winter ice. The Anishinaabe fisherman can see how rising temperatures are changing Gitchigumi and the fish his community relies on.

The last of the untamed: Wedzin Kwa and the Wet’suwet’en fight to save her / Ricochet
For millennia the clans of the Wet’suwet’en have depended on the river and the sustenance it provides — in particular, the different species of salmon that traverse this inland channel and its tributaries to spawn through most of the year.

DFO closes herring spawn on kelp fishery at Central Coast against Heiltsuk Nation wishes / Vancouver Island Daily
‘We are extremely troubled by this decision’: Heiltsuk Chief on herring spawn on kelp harvest closure. The nation was notified last week by DFO the SOK harvest can only be for First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries.

Industry:

CANADIAN ANGLER HALL OF FAME NAMES THIS YEAR’S INDUCTEE / Outdoor Magazine
Roger Cannon, who retired as president of Normark Canada in 2008, is this year’s inductee into the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame. Last year, the Hall of Fame honour went to the late Walter (Oster) Ostapchuk, the long-time chairman and CEO of the Canadian National Sportsmen’s Shows. inductees include Bob Izumi, Dave Mercer, Angelo Viola, Pete Bowman and Outdoor Canada’s fishing editor, Gord Pyzer.

Boating:

Mercury Marine Announces Bold New Vision / NPAA
Mercury Marine has announced its Avator™ electric outboard concept, representing Mercury’s next step in marine innovation, advanced technology, and engineering.

Arts:

“Ripples,” a youth arts zine / World Water Day
Calling all youth between the ages of 5 and 25. Submit your visual and written work that celebrate a shared love of and connection to water. Deadline for submissions is March 5th, 2022.

Webinars:

“Non-native earthworms in Canada: Entering the second wave of invasion”
On March 1 at 2pm learn why most of the earthworms that we have in Canada are relatively recent arrivals – European species have been arriving since the earliest days of overseas colonization and we are now entering a second wave of invasion by species from Asia. Non-native earthworms are highly influential ecosystem engineers that fundamentally change the habitats that they invade. With no practical means of control, it is important to understand how earthworms spread, what they change when they arrive, and how we can learn to manage and live with these new invaded ecosystems.

Learn how to take action against Phragmites australis
This March 2nd presentation provides background information on Canada’s worst invasive plant, why it is such a concern, and control methods used in sensitive habitats. It will also highlight successful control programs underway throughout Ontario and plans for implementing a province-wide control program.

Third Annual Water Research Roundup / POLIS Water Sustainability Project
On March 8th A panel of emerging researchers will discuss their work on topics related to freshwater management and governance, including hydrologic changes on social and ecological systems, community-based monitoring, and Indigenous laws and ways of knowing.

Seafood to Institution / Local Catch Network
The webinar includes stakeholders actively involved in shifting institutional food purchasing toward local and regional producers, as well as, seafood businesses who’ve successfully partnered with institutions. Attendees will gain an greater understanding of how institutions are thinking about food purchasing, learn about successes and challenges related to moving seafood into institutions, and discuss opportunities to build relationships with folks involved with seafood-to-institutional efforts.

Save The River Winter Conference
Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper recently held their Winter Conference featuring a number of excellent presentations. The Upper St. Lawrendce Riverkeeper John Peach and his team out-did themselves once again with a quality program featuring:

Marc Yaggi: A Global Perspective On Our Innate Relationship With Water
Scott Schlueter: History and Population Dynamics of Sturgeon Species
Lauren Eggleston: Unionid Refuge Invasive Species Research Project Update
Abraham Francis: Akwesasne Cultural Integrity & Connection to the St. Lawrence River
Kennedy Bucci: The Effects of Microplastics in Freshwater Ecosystems

Citizen Scientists Needed:

Seeking Focus Group Participants / Alberta Conservation Association
Do you hunt, fish, farm, ranch, camp, drive OHVs or recreate in the Eastern Slopes? If so, we’d love to hear from you! The Alberta Conservation Association is creating messaging about native trout in the area and want to learn more about how you interact with the land and waters of the Eastern Slopes. Receive an Honorarium ($25 gift card to Cabela’s.) Eligibility: Must be 18+ and use the land in Eastern Slopes region. Dates: CHOOSE (held virtually on Zoom)

Thursday March 10, 6-7 pm OR
Thursday March 17, 6-7 pm
To Sign up call 403-700-5949 or email jasminereimer@habituscollective.ca.

Call-to-Action:

Calling on Fisheries Minister Murray / Oceana Canada
On March 1st join the call to Fisheries Minister Murray to strengthen the Fisheries Act regulations. Let Minister @JoyceMurray and @FishOceansCAN no you care about healthy oceans full of fish so you and future generations of marine recreational anglers can sustainably harvest fish stocks whether planted or wild. “We need you to create a #StrongerFisheriesAct to rebuild depleted wild fish populations in Canada.”

Time to stand up to the Alaskan commercial fishing fleets that are pummeling B.C.-bound salmon / SkeenaWild
B.C fisheries have been closed to help recover endangered salmon runs, yet it has been business as usual for the Alaskan fishing industry. A 200+ page report by independent researchers found that Alaskan fishers now catch the lion’s share of many B.C. salmon populations, and the trend has been getting worse. Last year, for example, Alaskan commercial fishers caught over 650,000 Canadian-bound sockeye salmon (470,000 of which were Skeena-bound) while our fishers were tied up at the dock, sport fisheries were closed and Indigenous communities were not meeting their food needs. The Alaskans do not track how many Canadian chum, pink, or coho they catch, but the number could be in the millions.

The researchers also confirmed that, unlike B.C. fishers, the Alaskans aren’t keeping track of the steelhead and chinook they discard as bycatch. But based on the snippets of data the researchers were able to piece together, we are talking about tens of thousands of fish per year. Worse, the Alaskan fishers are not making any effort to return the fish to water alive, as Canadian fishers are required to do with their non-target catch. Unfortunately, the Canadian government has very little leverage against Alaska when it comes to salmon. What’s happening is perfectly legal under the Canada-US Pacific Salmon Treaty. Support Skeena Wild to raise funds for things like website design, video production, and advertising, to get the word out to as many people as possible about the fait of Canada’s fish as they pass through Alaska’s territorial waters.

Your Voice Is Needed! / Save The River
The Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper, John Peach, encourages you to contact U.S. Customs and Border Protections to share your objection to a facility proposed to build a new US Customs and Border Protection Facility in the Blind Bay area at Fisher’s Landing, Town of Orleans, NY. Blind Bay is a key spawning area for muskellunge and many other fish species in the St. Lawrence River.” Letters can be emailed to BPAMNEPA@cbp.dhs.gov. All public comments must be sent by March 10.

Special Guest Feature – February 28 kicks off “Invasive Species Awareness Week” (ISAW)

ISAW provides resources for learning and sparks discussion on invasive species issues. Whether you’re an environmentalist, an educator, or just want to know more, you can get involved by liking and sharing/retweeting posts created by participating organizations, or creating your own posts, using the hashtag #InvSpWk during ISAW.

Each day of ISAW will focus on a different aspect of invasive species, so there is something new to learn all week!

  • Pathways of Spread – February 28-
  • Community Champions – March 1
  • Prevention and Reporting – March 2
  • Invasive Species and Biodiversity – March 3
  • Learning About Invasive Species – March 4

Together, our actions can help raise awareness about the importance of preventing the spread of invasive species. In the spirit of education and discussion, from February 28th to March 4th, 2022, let’s get #InvSpWk trending!

On behalf of the Canadian ISAW partner group, thank you for everything you do to protect our land and water from invasive species.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: On top of ice fishing adventures to trial and refine the best sustainable fishing tackle and techniques, there’s lots happening. We produce biweekly Blue Fish Radio and Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther podcasts as well as edit this biweekly Blue Fish Newsletter and editorial, enjoyed by over 6,000 of you. Don’t forget each Monday evening we are live on Canadian Fishing Network’s Facebook Live, and every second week we have a ten-minute environmental segment on AMI TV across Canada. But it’s still not enough. That’s why we are pleased to announce our new partnership with the Invasive Species Centre on a new “Don’t Let it Loose” initiative. Our role is to engage anglers to become champions for keeping invasive species out of Canada’s rivers and oceans. There’s more invasive species prevention work we can’t talk about just yet, and the same goes for three – possibly four – exciting new youth fishing partnerships being planned for 2022. We can tell you that the Great Lakes Fish Health Network that Blue Fish Canada’s President Lawrence Gunther chairs, has just launched a judicial review of fish consumption advisories meant to help sort out the contradictory messaging from different levels of government concerning the same actual chemicals and schools of fish. And on a brighter note, we are just about to release a new Lake2Plate documentary featuring more of Quebec’s Pontiac region. Oh yes, let’s not forget about the Toronto Sportsman Show coming up in March. Just a few more reasons why the Blue Fish Canada charity is deserving of your volunteer time – or maybe a donation?

In the February 14th, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with a focus on Lake Nipissing’s Nation-to-Nation fisheries management challenges and changes. 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 letter sent to Canada’s DFO Minister from BC’s Public Fishery Alliance.

This Week’s Feature – Lake Nipissing’s Nation-to-Nation Fishery Challenges and Changes

By Lawrence Gunther

You may recall from an earlier editorial that Blue Fish Canada submitted input during the government of Ontario’s public consultation on proposed regulation changes to Lake Nipissing’s recreational fishery in mid-2021. The consultation document issued by the government included explanations behind the proposed restrictions to walleye, northern pike and muskie fisheries, and the opening up of the bass fisheries, which were all straight forward enough with one small omission; they did not mention the First Nation commercial fishing taking place on the lake for several of these same species. The absence of information about the FN fishery got me looking around for more information about the FN fishery, and I found plenty on Nipissing First Nation’s (NFN) website.

While comprehensive, the information made available on the NFN website also lacked any meaningful reference to the recreational fisheries other than that their commercial fishery was timed to take place during the same period as recreational fishing seasons. Confirmation indeed that the NFN was aware of the recreational fishery, but still no evidence that these two fisheries were being co-managed in a mutually respectful way. I kept digging.

I should say up front that judicial rulings in Canada have already sorted out definitively that First Nations fisheries take priority over recreational fisheries. This means that if additional conservation measures are required to protect or rebuild a fish stock, FN fishers will still be fishing when recreational fishers are side-lined. If still stronger conservation measures are required, these same judicial rulings state that all fisheries can be restricted or halted altogether. I’m not going to get into the politics of government agents halting FN fisheries, as that’s not applicable in the case of Lake Nipissing, or at least not now. All this to say, from the perspective of both FN and recreational fishers, we are not all created equally. Never-the-less, Lake Nipissing is an example that mutually respectful fisheries are, indeed, achievable.

Based on what I’ve learned over the past six months, Lake Nipissing is evolving as a positive example of how FN and recreational fisheries can be managed in ways that respect the rights of both. Achieving mutually respectful fisheries among FN fishers and recreational anglers began in earnest in 2016 when Nipissing First Nation signed a deal with the Ontario government. Link below to read the latest iteration of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): https://www.nfn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/2020-21-MOU-Update-Report.pdf

To learn more about how this jurisdictional recognition and cooperation agreement came about, I spoke with Kimberley Tremblay from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (NDMNRF). Kim serves as the Management Biologist for Lake Nipissing, and along with the rest of her team, are responsible for setting recreational fishing regulations, working with NFN on the collection and sharing of fish stock data, and for monitoring and safeguarding the general health of the Lake’s overall ecosystem. Link below to read the Lake Nipissing Management Plan: https://www.ontario.ca/page/lake-nipissing-fisheries-management-plan

I asked Kim why, if we are all fishing the same lake for more-or-less the same fish, stakeholders aren’t brought together at one table to sort out who gets what. Not a fair question I know, given the historical and judicial rights of FN fishers to manage their own commercial and “food, social and ceremonial” fisheries, whereas recreational fishing is still considered a “privilege” under the law, but I wanted to know who had the backs of anglers if they weren’t actually at the table where stock sharing is being discussed. What I learned is that our fishing fates are in the hands of the NDMNRF. By extension, this also goes for the many guide and tourism related businesses around the lake that depend on a fishery that has a perceived value to recreational anglers.

Kim and I also discussed the new regulations for sport fish on the lake including why a retention bass season is now in effect almost year-round, why the retention of a single muskie was raised to a minimum of 54 inches, why the NDMNRF went to a slot size for no more than two walleye, and why very large northern pike must now be released. Regretfully, our time ran out before we could dive into perch. Link below to listen to my conversation with Kim Tremblay on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e354-lake-nipissing-recreational-and-com

With so many anglers pointing fingers at FN fishers on the lake, I reached out to Chief Scott McLeod of Nipissing First Nation. I prefaced our conversation by asking “Are there any topics that are off limits?”. To my surprise Chief McLeod responded, “there are no questions you can ask that I can’t answer.” But before I got into my list of questions, I asked Chief McLeod to provide a short history of the Algonquin people that make up the two communities on Lake Nipissing and the key events that transpired following the arrival of settlers. It’s good to know this history since it’s not something that I learned in my high school in Georgetown Ontario.

Following Chief McLeod’s very illuminating historic summary, I started in with my questions. Topics ranged from spearing spring spawning walleye, advancements in technology that can easily lead to overfishing, what FN people think about catch-and-release fishing, and more. Link to hear my conversation with Chief Scott McLeod on The Blue fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/chief-scott-mcleod-and-nipissing-first-nation-fisheries/

A nation-to-nation working relationship has been made possible by both nations agreeing to collect, share and reference real data to ensure their respective fisheries and the ecosystem as a whole are respected and sustainable. The agreement between the government of Ontario and Nipissing First Nation has been and continues to be a learning path for many, but I wonder if these important lessons and breakthroughs are being widely shared?

Many other FN communities and recreational anglers are fishing from the same waters across Canada. With so much change being driven by the push to achieve self-governance, establishing “indigenous conserved and protected areas” to address past injustices, and ensuring all FN communities can bring about social and economic sustainability no matter how rural, remote or northern, the access to fisheries enjoyed by the over six-million recreational anglers in Canada now seem to be viewed as somewhat inconsequential. This, in spite of the important contribution recreational fishing adds to the social and economic sustainability of communities. Concerns over changes to our climate and the mitigation discussions now taking place between government, FN and environmental groups to address impacts to nature, and it’s understandable that anglers are feeling increasingly anxious about being left out of the loop.

It’s my hope that the polarisation of issues and divisions between FN communities and recreational anglers can be repaired so that truly mutually respectful fishing can take place. Prior to the arrival of settlers, we are learning that indigenous communities had comprehensive systems in place for managing access and harvest pressures. Since then, the balance of power shifted considerably, leading to the emergence of a totally different system for controlling access. The question now is how do we move forward and build mutually respectful fisheries that take into consideration the relatively recent introduction of fishing innovations and the need to mitigate climate change.

We are told the Lake Nipissing Walleye population is recovering since its near demise first reported in 2013. FN fishers and recreational anglers are both still fishing, so something must be going right. This editorial and the two podcasts I recorded offer a glimpse into what it took to bring this recovery about, but it’s just that, a glimpse by one outsider who decided to take a closer look. It shouldn’t be that difficult.

All stakeholders should have representatives at the table where stock sharing decisions are being decided so that stronger and long-lasting agreements can be achieved. Right now, it’s limited to First Nations and government. It needs to include anglers, the tourism sector, and conservation groups. By opening up negotiations, all stakeholders will have deeper understandings of the issues, concerns and issues being proposed so long-lasting solutions can be achieved. I’m not suggesting we start afresh, just that we move forward together by making sure none of us lose sight of the people and history that make up who we are – advice passed on to me by a First Nation elder.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News

Fishing:

PRESIDENTIAL WOMEN’S WORLD VIRTUAL FISHING CHALLENGE / Preschallenge.com
The organizers of the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation have announced the formation of a new event: the Presidential Women’s World Virtual Fishing Challenge. This virtual format event is slated for Feb. 1 – March 31, 2022. It is open to women anglers around the world, with no age limit. Scoring will take place using the CaptApp application, which verifies catches using video and geo-location.

Beauval, Sask. man fined $14,500 for breaching wildlife, fisheries laws / Global News
A 36-year-old man from Beauval, Sask. has been fined $14,500 after pleading guilty to multiple wildlife and fisheries offences last month.

4 Fishing Etiquette Tips / FishingWire
One of the biggest pet peeves for many freshwater anglers is when they are having a good day fishing from a boat in a quiet spot on the lake or river and another angler comes along, pulls up right beside them and starts casting in the same area without asking first.

Research Shows That Coral Reef Fish are Overfished / FishingWire
A new study led by scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science has found concrete evidence that more than 85 percent of the grouper and snapper studied are overfished as a direct result of increasing human demand for seafood. The research team analyzed 30 years of population data for 15 coral reef fish species central to South Florida’s commercial and recreational fisheries using their length-based risk analysis (LBRA) framework. They found that three out of the five grouper species, all eight snapper species, and two grunts analyzed were below the 40 percent minimum spawning potential. The study, “Length-based risk analysis of management options for the southern Florida U.S. multispecies coral reef fish fishery,” published in the journal Fisheries Research.

Two B.C. spots ranked among best fishing areas in Canada / DailyHive
B.C. is known for its great outdoors, and now two areas in the province have been ranked on a list of the best fishing destinations in Canada.

Minister Murray makes some mad, pleases many more / ComoxValley News
There will be far fewer boats fishing for herring this spring on the waters off Vancouver Island. Herring are important food for salmon, sea birds, marine mammals and other fish.

Fish:

Kootenay Lake kokanee spawning numbers a growing concern / Castlegar News
The latest kokanee spawning numbers in Kootenay Lake indicate a growing concern for anglers and conservationists.

Basking Shark Findings Blow Assumptions Out of the Water / WesternU News
If basking sharks were like Canadians, their migration habits might be easily explained. But instead of lounging in warm waters near Ireland, they spent much of their time in water that was deeper – and much colder – than if they’d stayed closer to Ireland.

The Great Splake Debate / Main-Gov.
Splake are a hatchery hybrid cross between a male brook trout and female lake trout. This hybrid is not produced outside of the hatchery environment because the two parent species spawn in completely different habitats. Splake are genetically stable, and are technically capable of reproducing, but successful wild reproduction is extremely rare, if not practically nonexistent, and has never been documented in Maine. Splake tend to be faster growing than both of its parent species and tend to live longer than brook trout. These qualities make this hybrid trout an effective tool for fish biologists and can create a trout fishery where other native cold water species are unlikely to thrive.

Recovering Threatened and Endangered Species Report to Congress 2019–2020 / NOAA
This report summarizes efforts to recover all domestic species under NOAA Fisheries’ jurisdiction. It highlights progress made toward recovery of nine critically endangered species identified in the Species in the Spotlight initiative.

Research Reveals Link Between Warming Waters and Fish Abundance / FishingWire
A long-term study in the Southern Ocean reveals a clear correlation between warming waters, decreased sea ice, and reduced abundance of Antarctic silverfish. These small, abundant fish are important prey for penguins, seals, and other regional marine life, in a role similar to that played by anchovies or sardines in more temperate waters. The study was published in the February 3rd issue of Communications Biology, an open-access journal from Nature Portfolio.<

Research Priorities Identified for Threatened Sharks / Combio
A new paper in the journal Conservation Science and Practice, led by Arizona State University Faculty Research Associate David Shiffman, has identified 35 research priorities that scientists can use to shape their research on threatened shark species.

Really, parasites are allowed on fish we eat? / NorthIsle News
Stan Proboszcz, Science Advisor with Watershed Watch Salmon Society, published a chart highlighting the high parasite levels at a few of the factory fish farms in the North Isle. The sea lice are so big compared to the salmon; it would be like having a chicken chewing on your leg.

Global Study Sheds Light on the Valuable Benefits of Shellfish and Seaweed Aquaculture / NOAA
Shellfish and seaweed farms provide sustainable seafood and can improve the surrounding environment. Farmed oysters, mussels, and other bivalve shellfish are some of the most environmentally sustainable sources of animal protein. Seaweed aquaculture also provides many benefits to both people and the ocean environment.

“How much fish does a seal need?” / Marine Mammal Research News
Two long-term studies quantify the prey requirements of pinnipeds, and help predict the effects of nutritional stress.

Decline in Reported Severity of Ocean Acidification Impacts on Fish Behavior / Labroots
As humans fill the atmosphere with excess carbon dioxide, much of it gets absorbed by the oceans, causing acidification. Researchers implemented a meta-analysis that examined studies conducted between 2009 and 2019, all of which focused on how ocean acidity levels were affecting fish life and behaviors—in total, reviewing about 91 different studies from a range of journals. Researchers noted that while studies published early in their time window noted drastic correlations between ocean acidity and negative effects on fish behavior, those correlations quickly fizzled out.

Habitat:

A B.C. mine proposal is dead, two decades and $30 million later / The Narwhal
Pacific Booker Minerals is being told for the second time its proposed Morrison mine is a no-go for sensitive salmon habitat in northwest B.C. — leaving some wondering why the province’s environmental assessment process is so inefficient.

Burnaby creek hit hard by sewage pollution / Burnaby Now
“People in this region pay a lot of money in taxes to various levels of government. Upgrading our infrastructure so we are not literally polluting local water systems needs to be priority.”

Scientists Race to Gather Winter Data on Warming Great Lakes / New York Post
Lake scientists have long considered winter a season when aquatic activity slows. Most do their field studies at other times of year. But researchers now think more is going on in the bitter depths than previously believed — including activity influenced by climate change. To learn more, teams will venture onto the frozen surfaces of all five lakes this month to collect water samples and other information from below the ice.

Conservationists pan N.S. Aquaculture Decision / ASF
In December the Aquaculture Review Board (ARB) held hearings on a proposed boundary expansion at Cooke Aquaculture’s Rattling Beach site in Nova Scotia. The company has been operating outside the boundaries of its lease for over a decade. On Monday the board decided in favour of Cooke, drawing immediate criticism, including from the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Phase 1 of Plan 2014’s Expedited Review Now Complete / IJC
The Report provides new insights for International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board. After two years of record-breaking water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, the International Joint Commission (IJC) chose in February 2020 to order an immediate and thorough review of the outflow management plan for the lake. The project, called the Expedited Review of Plan 2014, includes two phases. The first phase, now complete, focused on providing information quickly enough to aid the response to any near-term recurrence of extreme high water events. The second phase, just beginning, will provide for a more sweeping analysis of the outflow regimen known as Plan 2014.

Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Turns 50 / IJC
There is much to reflect on as the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement marks its 50th anniversary in 2022. But what is the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, exactly, and what is the IJC’s role?

Scientists make final bid to stop Port of Vancouver’s terminal expansion / The Narwhal
The port promises it can mitigate the impacts of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion on endangered species like Chinook salmon and southern resident killer whales. But in a recent letter to Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, scientists argue the port’s final plan still impacts more than 100 species of concern in the heart of the Fraser River estuary.

The impact of extreme heat on coastal ecosystems is dramatic. / Hakai
Extreme heat in the world’s oceans passed the “point of no return” in 2014 and has become the new normal, according to research. Scientists analyzed sea surface temperatures over the last 150 years, which have risen because of global heating. They found that extreme temperatures occurring just two percent of the time a century ago have occurred at least 50 percent of the time across the global ocean since 2014. In some hotspots, extreme temperatures occur 90 percent of the time, severely affecting wildlife.

Teck is fighting Montana pollution rules it doesn’t have to follow. Why? Look to B.C. / Narwhal
Teck Resources operates some of the biggest coal mines in the country in the Elk Valley and B.C.’s rules allow enormous amounts of selenium pollution to enter the province’s rivers and waterways. But new rules in Montana, which experiences the downstream impacts of Teck’s operations, have the company on the defensive.

Can kelp help? Investors eye sustainable harvest from seaweed / Financial Times, CNN
Seaweed farming is definitely having a moment. It’s largely a labor-intensive endeavor in most parts of the world, but a prototype “sea combine” can help with harvesting.

Great Lakes Congressional Lakes Week events / GLC
The Great Lakes Commission, in collaboration with regional partners, will host a series of topical sessions on Great Lakes priorities throughout the week of February 28 through March 4 featuring remarks from senior administration officials and members of Congress. These sessions will last approximately 45 minutes and are planned to begin at 9 a.m. ET daily.

Logging in Watersheds Among Stressors for Declining Pacific Salmon According to Experts / Cheknews
Decades of clear-cut logging in BC have disrupted the landscape’s natural mechanisms for mitigating floods and landslides, impacting salmon habitat and leading to declines across the Pacific Coast.

Still No Penalties for Coastal GasLink Environmental Violations / Thyee
The gas pipeline being built to supply LNG Canada in Kitimat keeps having repeated violations, including pouring sediment into our local rivers, streams and wetlands, yet no accountability.

Ocean’s largest dead zones mapped by MIT scientists / EcoWatch
There are two mysterious zones in the Pacific Ocean where marine life cannot survive. Two MIT scientists recently succeeded in making the most detailed atlas to date of these important oceanic regions, revealing crucial new facts about them in the process.

US plays catch up with Canada to quiet ships for endangered orcas / TradeWinds
Canada’s ECHO Program setting the benchmark for protection of southern resident killer whales, with the US said to be five years behind in its efforts.

Ducks Unlimited Canada surpasses one million acres conserved in Ontario / Global News
Since 1974, DUC has completed more than 5,000 conservation projects in Ontario, altogether conserving one million acres of natural habitats—specifically, wetlands and their next-door natural spaces like grasslands and forests. Together, these habitats help make up functioning ecosystems and they’re making life better for wildlife and communities.

Mining companies to relinquish thousands of claims in Yukon’s Peel watershed / HighNorth News
The Yukon government has struck agreements with seven companies, which, in turn, have forgone 5,031 claims — the majority of outstanding pre-existing claims located in protected areas.

Duncan looks to restore fish-rearing habitat / Cowichan Valley Citizen
City applies for federal grant to help rejuvenate Fish Gut Alley, once important spawning and rearing habitat for wild salmon.

Epic floods in Pacific Northwest revive a long-running dispute over how to manage a river / Mother Jones
Farmers in Washington State and British Columbia want to dredge the Nooksack River. Native communities and scientists say that will doom the endangered Chinook salmon.

Salty level of Okanagan Lake water intensifies / Vernon Morning Star
Increased trend still far short of endangering water quality, aquatic life.

Indigenous:

Saik’uz and Stellat’en to appeal Rio Tinto ruling / Prince George Daily News
The Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations announced Monday that they will proceed with an appeal to the British Columbia Court of Appeal in their effort to hold Rio Tinto Alcan responsible for its impact on the Nechako River and its fisheries.

Saving fish habitat today, using ancient First Nation fish-catching technology / CHEK NEWS
Several Vancouver Island First Nations have teamed up with an estuary conservation group to prevent Canada geese from destroying important fish habitats.

Malahat Nation working to remove ‘ghost gear’ from Salish Sea / Castlegar News
Malahat Nation is getting help with its cleanup efforts in the Salish Sea, which they hope will include the removal of “ghost gear.”

First Nations are buying land to create urban reserves. But is it ‘land back’? / CBC News
Indigenous people represent the fastest-growing population in Canada, and more and more of them are moving to urban areas. One advocate says urban reserves are a great way for First Nations to expand their reach and strengthen self-sufficiency, but that they don’t undo historical wrongs. The Land Back movement is less predicated on acquiring more land and more focused on the responsibilities that municipal, provincial, territorial and federal governments have to make up for what their predecessors stole from Indigenous communities.

Two years after B.C. passed its own UNDRIP act, has anything changed? / Narwhal
The northwest coast Gitxaała Nation has filed a legal challenge against B.C. for failing to align its Indigenous Rights legislation with provincial mining laws; Gitanyow hereditary chiefs in northwest B.C. independently announced the creation of a new protected area; and the Nuxalk Nation on B.C’s central coast issued an eviction notice to an exploration company.

A way of life disappears along the Yukon River with the decline of the salmon / Yukon News
It looks as if the devastating outlook for Yukon River salmon will continue.

Industry:

Shimano Records 45% Sales Increase in 2021
Shimano, Inc. reported sales in 2021 increased 44.6 percent from the previous year to ¥546,515 million. Operating income increased 79.3%.

The AMFF Honors Johnny Morris
Philanthropist, visionary, educator, and pioneer Johnny Morris will receive the American Museum of Fly Fishing’s 2021 Heritage Award.

IGFA Announces 2022 Tommy Gifford Award Winners / IGFA
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) announced its 2022 Tommy Gifford Award winners in recognition of their significant contributions to recreational angling as captains, guides or crew. This year’s recipients include Florida Keys stalwart Captain Alex Adler; famed Baja skipper Captain Jesus Araiza; Caribbean offshore pioneer Captain Atlee Evans; Australian big-game legend Billy Fairbairn; and New Zealand blue water innovator Captain John Going.

Boating:

Back to Basics Boating Terms / Yamaha Outboards
Nautical jargon fills the air during boat show season and, if you are relatively new to boating, it can be like trying to understand a foreign language. Here’s a brief overview of some of the most common terms in the boating vernacular to assist in building your nautical-speak vocabulary.

Does everyone on board know how to call for help? / CPSS
To operate a Marine Radio, it is required by law to have the Restricted Operator Certificate. Register with the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron to take the course.

Podcasts:

American Sportfishing Association Launches Podcast / ASA Fishing
The Politics of Fish podcast will explore the people, organizations and issues that impact the sportfishing industry in an engaging and informative way. This new American Sportfishing Association initiative is designed to strengthen our voice and expand our reach. Released on a biweekly basis, each episode features an exclusive interview with a leader in the sportfishing community as we unpack critical recreational fishing policy issues.

European green crab firmly established on Vancouver Island’s west coast / John Ryan
On a single day in December, technicians from the Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, and Ucluelet First Nations and the Coastal Restoration Society trapped more than 10,000 of the invasive crabs near Tofino. The same group has collected more than 107,000 green crabs since mid-November. But south of Vancouver Island, in Washington’s Puget Sound, state biologists think it’s still possible to keep the crustacean’s numbers low in the Salish Sea.

Videos:

Watch The Full ‘Mighty Waters’ Film Now / FishingWire
The American Museum of Fly Fishing has partnered with Simms, Costa, Shannon Vandivier and his team at Cold Collaborative to create a film that tells the extraordinary story of Ansil Saunders, a legendary Bimini bonefish guide. Martin Luther King Jr. found a friend in Saunders. Just four days before his assassination, Dr. King was sitting in Ansil’s boat, sharing psalms and working on “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”—his final speech.

Can octopuses form bonds with each other—or with humans? / Hakai

Webinars:

Webinar: Shoreline Stabilization and Fish Habitat / DFO
The DFO’s Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program (FFHPP) is looking for feedback on the details of specific classes of works and conditions being considered for inclusion into a proposed Prescribed Works and Waters Regulation. Watch the technical session that explores these classes in greater detail.

Webinar: Marine Sanctuaries / Wednesday Feb. 16 at 1:00 p.m. EST / NOAA
Science and natural resource management with Dr. Steve Gittings, Chief Scientist, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. NOAA conducts, sponsors, and facilitates research that is fundamental to understanding natural and cultural resources in marine sanctuaries. This research is driven by management needs and focused on improved understanding, assessment, evaluation, protection, and restoration of its trust resources.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Canadian ecologist Jeffrey Hutchings dies at 63 / CTV News
Canadian ecologist and fisheries scientist Jeffrey Hutchings was known for criticizing political interference in scientific advice on declining fish populations — particularly the northern cod. Hutchings passed away , he was 63.

Coming Up:

Get your tickets now for the Toronto Sportsmen Show taking place March 17-20, at The International Centre!

Trusted in Ontario for over 70 years, this is the place to get excited, inspired, and outfitted for the great outdoors. With an expanded selection of products from fishing and hunting to boating, powersports and more – there is something for everyone!

ICAST 2022 Registration Is Open
Anglers are more than your target audience, they’re your people — that’s how you know which products they’ll want next.

Special Guest Feature – Letter from the Public Fisher Alliance to Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard (February 2022)

Dear Minister Murray,

In recent years, at critical times of the fishing season, the Department of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard (DFO) has denied the Public Fishery opportunities for retention of Chinook salmon in important Southern B.C. tidal and in-river fisheries. This, despite the Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB) demonstrating the absence of Fraser River stocks of concern in their very modest fisheries proposals. Additionally, between April 1st and July 31st there has been no retention permitted of plentiful U.S. origin adipose fin clipped hatchery Chinook. These actions have had devastating effects on the Public Fishery, both financially and socially.

Many hard-working Canadians in the public fishery and related businesses are now without a job and the fishing service infrastructure that supports angling is collapsing. The COVID-19 pandemic has simply magnified these social and economic impacts.

An SFAB salmon technical working group produced multiple Chinook retention proposals in collaboration with your department’s salmon stock assessment and fisheries management staff using up-to-date DFO stock data. The purpose was to allow very modest access to the retention of hatchery Chinook and other Chinook stocks that are not of concern. The proposals were assessed by DFO review to be very low risk or no risk at all to stocks of concern. They offered an important lifeline to the Public Salmon Fishery to avoid further harm, and importantly did not jeopardize the recovery of Fraser River Chinook stocks of concern, yet they have all been rejected.

Recently, DFO’s specific concerns with the latest SFAB proposal have been disclosed. With your department’s salmon management team now indicating these important early season opportunities will not be discussed, it would appear the Public Fishery is set for another year without relief. However, there are clearly solutions to these concerns that would allow the reopening of very modest Chinook retention fisheries in critically important areas where stocks of concern are not present, and/or the abundance of hatchery Chinook is sufficiently high.

We firmly believe there are additional solutions, which could, for example, include reductions in fishing times and areas, hatchery only fisheries and size limit adjustments to the original proposals. These added management actions would result in even more protection for stocks of concern. Therefore, we urge that you direct your department to work together with the SFAB, particularly at the upcoming February 11th SFAB Main Board meeting, to explore ways these desperately needed openings can be approved. We particularly want to focus on the period from April 1st to May 31st this year, where there is a documented unique window of opportunity when stocks of concern are not present, while hatchery marked Chinook are prevalent in high numbers.

As very significant work and discussion has already taken place on this issue, and with April 1st being less than two months away, this is obviously a time sensitive matter that needs urgent attention and should be easy to complete. Many organizations that rely on these Chinook openings respectfully seek your support in ensuring that the required consultations take place as soon as possible. Be assured we are committed to working respectfully with your department and First Nations toward conservation of this precious resource, the recovery of stocks of concern and preserving opportunities for all Canadians.

Yours in conservation,

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In the January 31st, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a report on what anglers can expect from fishing app manufacturers. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, water quality and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Guest Feature selected to inform and inspire our readers offers tips on why and how to use VHF radios.

This Week’s Feature – Secret Spots and Angler Apps

Blue Fish Canada recently organized and co-hosted a panel discussion on angler apps that was viewed live by over 280 interested anglers. The one-hour program included short presentations from five panelists from across Canada, and 30-minutes of Q&A with audience members. The panelists included the founder of the My Catch angler app, two of Canada’s top virtual angler tournament organizers, and two leading scientists who are drawing on data collected by the My Catch app. You can watch a recording of the live presentation on Blue Fish Canada’s YouTube channel: Anglers & Scientists: Panel Discussion.

A crucial part of the presentation occurred when panelists discussed what data is being collected and who exactly has access to the data afterwards. What we learned is that it depends. As anglers, are you satisfied with how your closely guarded fishing hotspots are being kept secret? You decide.

I’m not claiming to be an expert about angler apps on the market, but it would seem they all share at least one common attribute – they all collect geo-spatial data specific to your fishing activity. They know where you fish (GPS), and how much time you spent actually fishing. If you are recording your fish catches in real time, it goes without saying that data exists representing when and where you caught each and every fish you record – one fish over here, and ten fish somewhere else. These apps are designed to track and store this data for a number of reasons.

In the case of tournaments, organizers of the event need to know that the fish your submitting during the competition were actually caught during the competition on approved water bodies. In the case of tracking fishing pressure or fish abundance, researchers need to know where and how many fish are being caught on specific bodies of water, and if possible, roughly whereabouts these fish are or are not being caught. For a researcher or conservationist interested in tracking sightings of invasive species, it helps to know exactly where invasive species are caught or sighted. Now, if your someone interested in knowing where a highly revered angler goes to catch their “trophy” fish, it’s highly unlikely that a fishing app operator or any of those involved with organizing fishing tournaments, monitoring fish stocks, or tracking invasive species, are going to hand over this type of data – and that assumes they even have access to this level of granularity. Everyone knows that aiding an angler to “poach” another angler’s spot is absolutely not cool.

What is cool, is making available data that can win you a tournament. Or, contributing to data that will aid researchers and angling organizations to advocate for strong angler access to a specific body of water. And, when it comes to invasive species, we all want to know the current state of our favorite river or lake. All this depends on data that needs recreational anglers and indigenous fishers to collect. For now, researchers and fishery regulators have only sample netting, creel surveys, and eye-witness reports to go by.

I recently asked a representative of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission if they could break down their estimated $8-billion annual value of fishing on the Great Lakes. They have no problem providing exact data when it comes to the $250-million worth of fish caught each year commercially, but when it comes to explaining how the remaining $7,750,000 dollar value assigned to recreational anglers and indigenous fishers breaks down, the only thing they could say is that this amount is what anglers and fishers spend each year to fish on the Great Lakes. They have no clear idea of the number, size and species of fish recreational anglers and indigenous fishers catch, return or harvest each year. They admitted, that knowing the true value of fish being caught by non-commercial fishers would seriously dwarf the value of Great Lakes commercial fisheries. Can you imagine what this knowledge could mean in terms of the importance that would be assigned to recreational and indigenous fisheries – it would be immense.

Anglers now have the tools needed to put fishing on the map once and for all. We finally have a means to demonstrate conclusively what we all already know – fishing is big – really big. Never mind fishing license sales, or that one time each year you let the person conducting a creel survey know how the fishing was that day, angler apps can capture this data each and every time you go fishing. It’s data that would tell us the number, species and size of fish being caught on a body of water – both returned alive and harvested. Data that could be used to assign an actual economic value to the fish we return and harvest.

All this to say, fears over people finding out where you caught an impressively huge fish pale in comparison to what we as citizen scientists can bring to the table using these sorts of automated fish capture tracking devices. Yes, it can be used to manage fishing pressure, but isn’t that vastly better than people making “precautionary” decisions about your ability to fish certain waters based on unsubstantiated assumptions?

If you want to know why a leading software entrepreneur decided to make developing the world’s most popular fishing app his next project, listen to my conversation with Johan Attby, founder and CEO of Fishbrain. Johan has raised $70 million in investment capital, employs over 125 full time staff, and has earned the trust of over 14-million anglers who have subscribed to the Fishbrain angler app. Link below to hear Johan Attby on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e352-the-fishbrain-angler-app.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

How a new app warns anglers about dangerous ice conditions / Outdoor Canada
Developed by Winnipeg’s NextGen Environmental Research Inc., the Ice Time app uses radar satellite imagery, unmanned drones and acoustic remote-sensing technology to make detailed maps of ice as it forms, strengthens and subsequently weakens on some of Canada’s most popular winter fisheries. This allows anglers to use their smart phone, tablet or home computer to see whether the ice is white, spongy and weak, or black, solid and strong.

Winter Fish Fest 2022 – RULES & REGISTRATION / CFN
Beginning February 1, 2022, take part in the free Canadian Fishing Network “Winter Fish Fest” organized by the Canadian Fishing Network. Goals include: promoting multi-species fishing in Canada, promote different bodies of water and fishing opportunities within Canada, teach kids how to fish and promote the sport to youth, support children’s charities, show how different types of fishing can be done even if you don’t own or have access to a full-fledge gas motored boat, and build a fishing community through CFN Fish Off online tournaments.

Towns compete for the title of “Ice Fishing Capital of Ontario / Anglers Atlas
An estimated $13,600 in prizes with more still to come! Twenty-two towns already signed up. Sign up today! Begins Feb 1.

Ontario Establishes Bait Management Zones / NDmNRF
The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF) announced that Ontario has established four Bait Management Zones (BMZs) to protect our lakes and rivers from invasive species and fish diseases. Effective January 1, 2022, baitfish or leeches (whether live or dead) must not be transported into or out of a BMZ.

IF YOU FISH FOR BIG TOOTHY CRITTERS, YOU NEED THIS RELEASE TOOL / Outdoor Canada
To ensure a quick and safe release, use the finest hook cutters, by far, made by Knipex. Keep them in the boat to snip off the hooks after landing a big fish. This is especially important with muskies, since recent studies suggest they suffer from an over 30 per cent post-release mortality rate when handled in warm water. You can do it with one hand while you carefully control the fish with your other hand. Winter-time Lake Trout are delicate, so you want to get the hook out fast and the fish back into the water as quickly as possible. Snipping off hooks so effortlessly is safer for the angler as well, since you spend so little time with your hand close to both the fish and lure.

Hundreds denied fishing benefits in a move called unfair / Haida Gwaii Observer
More than 500 local fish harvesters have been denied Employment Insurance benefits for 2021, prompting Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Taylor Bachrach to call for action from the federal government.

Warming Ocean and Booming Squid Create New Fishing Opportunities in the Northwest / NOAA
Market squid have multiplied off the West Coast over the past two decades. They have increased especially from San Francisco north into Oregon and Washington in conjunction with warmer ocean waters in recent years, new research shows.

Fish:

Open letter to Minister Murray and Premier Horgan / Smithers Interior News
“The Skeena angling community is extremely concerned that the iconic Skeena River Steelhead could follow the tragic downward spiral that devastated Interior Fraser River Steelhead stocks.”

How desert rainbowfish survive in Australia’s arid lands / Cosmos
A trip into central Australia involves packing your 4WD to the brim with survival gear, water and food. Yet fish have managed to persist in that parched landscape for thousands of years.

Holy Mackerel, Where’d You Go? / Hakai
A beloved fish with a rich history has become hard to find—will it rise again? A 2021 assessment by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) found that spawning-age stock was at the lowest level ever recorded, prompting a flurry of management measures, from a 50 percent reduction in quota for commercial harvesters to a catch limit on the recreational fishery—a first for a fishery that once had no maximum catch.

Look who’s talking now: the fishes / Cornell Chronicle
A new Cornell study finds that fish are far more likely to communicate with sound than generally thought – and some fish have been doing this for at least 155 million years.

The Oldest Living Aquarium Fish / FishingWire
Meet Methuselah, the fish that likes to eat fresh figs, get belly rubs and is believed to be the oldest fish in the world. Methuselah is a 4-foot-long (1.2-meter), 40-pound (18.1-kilogram) Australian lungfish that was brought to the San Francisco museum in 1938 from Australia. A primitive species with lungs and gills, Australian lungfish are believed to be the evolutionary link between fish and amphibians.

Salmon science expedition launching / Times Colonist
The largest scientific expedition ever launched to study salmon in the North Pacific during the winter is getting under way.

U.S. and Canadian Officials Focus on Risk Reduction and Protection Measures for Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales / NOAA
A recent meeting among U.S. and Canadian officials explored the conservation and protection of North Atlantic right whales. These collaborative, biannual meetings are critical to pressing forward to meet mutual goals.

Climate Change Is Shifting Tiger Shark Populations Northward / NOAA
A NOAA Fisheries study shows that tiger sharks are migrating into northern latitudes earlier and expanding their movements further north due to ocean warming. These changes leave them more vulnerable to fishing.

Habitat:

Insurmountable: The battle to bring a salmon run home / Canadian Geographic
In November 2018, 85,000 cubic meters of rock—equivalent to 750 double-decker buses—sheared off a cliff and blocked the Fraser River in British Columbia, a river that threads throughout the province and is central to its natural and cultural histories, especially in regards to salmon and all that are sustained by this keystone species. Efforts to restore the passage have faced a series of challenges—forest fires, floods, and, of course, a pandemic—but this past July around 79,000 salmon passed by the slide without having to be transported, bringing the salmon home.

How can B.C. share fish with Alaska? / Squamish Chief
By 2100, nearly half of the world’s shared fish stocks are expected to shift to neighbouring countries or international waters, says a new University of British Columbia study.

Debris from fishing and oyster farms lurks underwater, endangering sea life / Castanet
Abandoned oyster and other aquaculture farms off the west coast of Vancouver Island are a toxic and ¬tangled mess — and death traps to salmon, herring, marine mammals and myriad sea life.

Climate Change Puts Fish Stocks on the Move
Climate change will force 45% of the fish stocks that cross through two or more exclusive economic zones to shift. By 2030, 85% of the world’s EEZs will have seen a change in the amount of their transboundary catch that exceeds normal yearly variation.

Study Shows Peril of Europe’s Most Valuable Marine Species / Phys.Org
Over one quarter of Europe’s 20 most highly-fished marine species will be under extreme pressure by 2100 if nothing is done to simultaneously halt climate change, overfishing, and mercury pollution, according to a new UBC study.

Fish farms closure forces B.C. salmon processing plant out of business / National Observer
One of the largest farmed salmon producers operating in B.C. says it’s permanently closing its processing plant in Surrey, B.C., because of a federal government decision to phase out some fish farms.

Global conservation goals are insufficient to avoid mass extinction event / Globe and Mail
While protecting habitat is essential for conserving nature as a general principle, the report highlights the growing body of evidence that suggests that multiple, interlocking threats to global biodiversity need to be tackled in a more comprehensive and internationally collaborative way to rescue the planet from a human-caused mass extinction over the coming decades.

The next source of trouble for Great Lakes fish populations might be tires Great Lakes Now
Researchers in Ontario have discovered 6PPD-quinone in two Toronto waterways, the Don River and Highland Creek, both of which empty into Lake Ontario. 6PPD-quinone – is a breakdown product of another chemical added to car tires to prolong life. It was running off from road surfaces into creeks during rainstorms.

New salmon farm proposals for B.C. coast raise questions about Ottawa’s promised 2025 phase-out / Narwhal
A raft of proposals to expand open-net pen salmon farms on the B.C. coast, including a plan for a new salmon farm off the north-east coast of Vancouver Island, is raising questions about whether fish farming will really be phased out in the province or whether companies will find ways, such as partnerships with First Nations, to circumvent federal Liberal government pledges to remove open-net pen salmon farms from B.C. waters by 2025.

Being Frank: salmon recovery will take more than money / Sequim Gazette
The U.S. has never experienced so much political will and funding on the table for salmon habitat restoration and climate resilience. The Biden administration is working hard to pay the price for salmon recovery. The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill is just an example.

Canada is leaving communities in the dark about the risks and costs of climate disasters in Canada
A new report finds the federal government isn’t doing enough to act on or disclose detailed information about the growing hazards of a warming climate, including extreme temperatures, flood, fires, landslides and drought.

Great Lakes ice predictions / GLERL
The Great Lakes annual winter freeze got a slow start this winter, with ice coverage well below average according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). However, the recent deep-freeze has improved predictions for maximum ice coverage (estimated recently at only 12.3% of the lakes’ total surfaces) to something closer to the annual average. Find out how much that is, and what current predictions suggest, in the Jan.19/22 GLERL blog.

Why Imperial Metals surrendered its mining rights in B.C.’s Skagit headwaters
After the mining company accepted $24 million from a coalition of groups in exchange for releasing mineral claims to the province of B.C., conservationists and First Nations are celebrating the end of potential exploration in an area known as the Doughnut Hole, an anomaly of unprotected land about half the size of the city of Vancouver that is completely encircled by Manning and Skagit provincial parks

Indigenous:

The biggest land use plan in the world: how Nunavut is putting mining and conservation on the map / Narwhal
In the works for 15 years, the territory’s plan will plot the future of 21 per cent of Canada’s land mass. And it’s almost ready — hopefully. the Nunavut land use plan, which will create a framework for the future of the territory, determining which types of development can happen and where, and outlining where environmental protection is a priority above all. Across Canada, land use plans tend to be developed on a regional basis, rather than province or territory-wide — making Nunavut’s all the more sprawling.

B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ over Alaskan salmon interceptions / Business in Vancouver
A B.C. First Nation is calling on the Canadian government to take action over reports Alaskan fishers are intercepting B.C.-bound salmon.

‘Dead’ derelict boats pulled from Goose Spit K’omoks First Nation harbour / My Comox Valley Now
The Dead Boat Disposal Society, an organization that removes sunken ships from the sea, will be removing 18 individual boats in the waters off Goose Spit.

Experts weigh in on why diversity matters in creating ‘authentic’ tourism experiences / Northern Ontario Business
Kevin Eshkawkogan has experienced first-hand how diversity in tourism can bring big rewards. In his 20 years in the tourism industry, the President and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) has seen growth in the demand for authentic, Indigenous-led experiences. Before the onset of the pandemic, Indigenous tourism contributed more than $600 million to the Canadian GDP, with the industry supporting 600 businesses and 13,000 jobs.

Industry:

Northern Ontario Tourism Spring Training Week is coming up soon! / Destination Northern Ontario
On April 12 – 14, 2022, join Destination Northern Ontario and Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario for an up-to-date look at our industry and ‘just in time’ information sessions that can help you as you launch into the busy spring and summer tourism season. The event will be delivered virtually and registration is FREE to all industry partners.

Arts:

Submit Ice Fishing Artwork for a Chance to Win Ice Fishing Gear in Alberta! / ACA
Entering is simple: have your child or another family member draw an ice fishing picture, fill out the form, and upload a photo of their artwork or a photo of them holding their artwork by February 4. Whether it is toddler scribbles or a masterpiece, we want to see it! 50 ice fishing prize packs are up for grabs!

Podcasts and Videos:

The Fishing Forward Podcast / Coastal Routes
The Coastal Routes Radio team is very excited to announce a *new* podcast for commercial fishermen! Join us in our debut of The Fishing Forward Podcast, a project of the Northeast Center of Occupational Health and Safety (NEC) with the Coastal Routes Radio team at the University of Guelph with collaboration from a large suite of partners.

The Freshwater Stream
In the first episode of season two, host Danielle Paydli talks to Watershed Watch’s Lina Azeez about the recent extreme flooding in B.C. and how we can best prepare ourselves to handle more of the same.

Webinars:

The Best of Two Worlds: Lessons for sustainability from Indigenous ecological knowledge and western science
From January 26 – February 23, 2022 every Wednesdays at 4:00pm, learn from western and Indigenous environmental professionals’ approaches to stewardship of the environment. Speakers (in order of weekly appearance) are Norman Yan; Susan Chiblow; Neil Hutchinson, Richard Nesbitt, Brenda Parlee & Caroline Coburn; David Pearson; and Henry Lickers. Learn more and register here: 2022 Invasive Species Forum
February 1-3, 2022 – The theme of the virtual forum is “Action, Innovation, and Outreach featuring speakers from around the world.

Calls to Action:

Fishery and conservation groups call for listing of endangered Interior Fraser River Steelhead under Canada’s Species at Risk Act / Watershed Watch
Fifteen fishery and conservation groups have written to Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister, Steven Guilbeault, and to Fisheries Minister, Joyce Murray, requesting they place endangered Interior Fraser River steelhead on Schedule 1 of Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Interior Fraser River steelhead were the object of a scandal in 2018 when bureaucrats at Fisheries and Oceans Canada unilaterally altered the conclusions of a multi-author scientific report the federal cabinet relied on in their controversial decision not to protect Fraser River steelhead under SARA.

Link to House of Commons e-petition

National Tick Awareness and Behaviour Study – Hunters, Trappers, and Anglers Questionnaire Survey
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is conducting a study concerning prevention strategies and awareness of ticks and tick-borne illness. Part of this study involves a survey of anglers, hunters, and trappers to gain specific perspectives and information on the level of awareness of tick-borne diseases that affect humans and/or hunting dogs. The findings will ultimately be used to inform and develop future tick awareness campaigns.

Coming Up:

Toronto Sportsman Show
Get your tickets now for the Toronto Sportsmen Show taking place March 17-20, at The International Centre! Trusted in Ontario for over 70 years, this is the place to get excited, inspired, and outfitted for the great outdoors. With an expanded selection of products from fishing and hunting to boating, powersports and more – there is something for everyone!

Special Guest Feature – How to Use a VHF Radio

Mercury Dockline

We all have cellphones these days, and they help us stay in touch with the wider world. Yet, cell service can often be unreliable on the water. Especially for those who head deep into the backcountry or far out into a bay or ocean, phones simply can’t always be counted on in case of an emergency. Plus, cellphones are at risk of drops to the deck and water damage, so even if you stay within cell range you should include a backup form of communication in your boating safety plan. For that, a VHF radio is the hands-down most reliable way to call for assistance when you’re on a boat.

Using a VHF is very simple. Turn the radio on, tune the radio to the appropriate channel (see below), turn the squelch knob up until you hear constant static, then turn it down to the point where the static stops. Hold the microphone 2-3 inches from your mouth and depress the transmit button, wait a second, then speak slowly and clearly.

Choosing the Proper VHF Channel:

Channel 16 is used to call the Canadian Coast Guard for help. It’s against the law to use channel 16 for “superfluous communication,” general calls or when your boat is on land.

Channel 16 and channel 9 can be used to establish initial communications with other boats before switching to a different channel like channels 68, 69, 71 and 72 – used For general communication between any boats.

Channels 1, 7, 11, 18, 19, 63, 67, 79 and 80 – Working channels for commercial vessels only.

W1 through W10 – For receiving weather broadcasts.

Channel 13 – For “bridge-to-bridge” navigational communication between two vessels.

Choosing the Best VHF Radio:

All marine VHF radios are built to certain specifications, so even inexpensive models offer the same baseline performance. More expensive models add perks such as built-in hailers, channel scanning abilities, wireless microphones and more.

Digital Selective Calling: Fixed-mount marine VHF radios have something called Digital Selective Calling (DSC) built in. To make DSC ready to use (called “active” DSC), you need to register your radio, get a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number and program that number into your radio. With active DSC, you can press an emergency SOS button on the face of the radio, and it will immediately send a distress signal, including your identity and GPS location, to the U.S. Coast Guard. For this to work, however, your radio must either have integrated GPS or be wired to your chartplotter as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remember, the Coast Guard is always monitoring channel 16. If you ever have an emergency out on the water, your marine VHF radio will be the fastest, most reliable way to call for help.

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The January 17, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News begins with a focus on the role angler apps play in organizing virtual fishing tournaments and the collection of vital data essential to fisheries research. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, water quality and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Guest Feature selected to inform and inspire our readers comes from the International Joint Commission and concerns their latest Great Lakes survey results.

This Week’s Feature – Angling Data Vital to Fishery Sustainability

Scientists across Canada are recognizing the value of angler participation in fisheries research beyond tagging fish caught during tournaments. As COVID-19 drove many tournament organizers to move to a virtual format, angler app developers and tournament organizers have also been quick to step forward with the tools and rules that expand the status of anglers to include citizen scientist. The My Catch app developed by Angler Atlas is now being used across Canada to facilitate the collection of crucial fisheries related data, while taking virtual fishing tournaments to the next level.

On January 26 at 7pm eastern time, Blue Fish Canada in partnership with the St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Research and the Canadian Fishing Network will host a panel discussion involving researchers, tournament organizers, and the founder of Canada’s Angler Atlas “My Catch” app. The goal is to share examples of how anglers are advancing fisheries research across Canada and making virtual tournaments a resounding success. Questions such as privacy, data security, virtual tournament flexibility, personal catch logs, regulatory enhancement, science-based fisheries management, app adoption and long-term use, intuitive design, and areas for improvement will be discussed. Comments from the viewing audience will also be addressed.

The science and politics of regulatory development by government officials is driven in part by fisheries research and creel surveys. Stakeholder input is also now commonly sought. Unfortunately, with so many.

Whereas commercial fishers are obliged to report their catches to comply with harvest quotas, recreational angling regulators and indigenous fisheries managers have insufficient data upon which to base their decisions. The Great Lakes is an example of where gaps in knowledge exist.

The Great Lakes Fisheries Commission can accurately report the number, total weight and value of fish harvested commercially each year, but have little economic data to assess the true value of the exponentially higher value recreational and indigenous fisheries that take place on the lakes. This data gap means policy makers, politicians, and indigenous leaders are being denied essential data required to provide these fisheries with the respect they deserve.

At an estimated $8 billion, the Great Lakes are the most valuable freshwater fishery in the world. Only $250 million accounts for commercial fishing – the balance being an estimation of what recreational anglers and indigenous fishers pay to fish. The number, size, species and value of fish being caught, released and harvested by non-commercial anglers and fishers is largely unknown.

As momentum builds to establish “protected areas” as part of both Canada’s and the U.S. commitments to protect 30% of nature by the year 2030, decisions will be taken that will impact angler access. With so much territory about to be protected, there is little chance that science-based precautions will inform the majority of these decisions, and a much greater likelihood that protections will be applied unnecessarily. More data is needed to ensure decisions that define the relationship between anglers, fishers and fish is mutually respectful. We all want to fish, and we all expect that fisheries will be managed in ways that assure their future.

Recreational anglers and indigenous fishers working with researchers will not only ensure science-based decisions regarding resource access are the rule, and will introduce a new level of transparency on why such decisions are taken. For this to occur, we can’t depend on the government alone to do the job. Our relationship with the resource means we also need to step up and find ways to give back. Making available data specific to each and everyone’s fishing efforts is one such way. Adopting the use of automated reporting tools such as the My Catch app can make this a reality. Not sharing means not knowing, and while that may have worked in the past, fishing pressure and changing variables such as climate change means we need to become much better at managing the resource. The challenge now is to convince government agencies that we are serious about helping and that our data matters.

On Wednesday January 26th at 7pm, Blue Fish Canada, the River Rapport, and the Canadian Fishing Network will co-host a panel discussion on the use of My Catch, a Canadian founded fishing app, and its use in informing scientific research by engaging anglers both directly, and indirectly through virtual fishing tournaments.

Panelists will include:

  • Sean Simmons (Founder and President of MyCatch and Angler’s Atlas);
  • Christopher Somers (Professor of Biology from the University of Regina);
  • Trevor Avery (Marine Biologist from Acadia University;
  • Jeff Wilson (co-founder of Miramichi Striper Cup); and,
  • Scottie Martin (Host of the Canadian Fishing Network).

The event will be co-hosted by Lawrence Gunther from Blue Fish Canada, and Yanik Rozon from the St. Lawrence River Institute. There will be plenty of time for questions from the viewing audience at the end.

This panelist discussion can be watched on Facebook live through the St. Lawrence River Institute’s Facebook page and the Canadian Fishing Network Facebook page: https://fb.me/e/4qSDHjQ6l as well as through Blue Fish Canada’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChyOTm97FTAlvx2Wp8DRgSA

A recording of the event will be released later as a podcast on The Blue Fish Radio Show.

All are welcome to join the discussion on January 26 at 7: p.m. eastern to learn how angler apps are reshaping the world of fisheries research and virtual tournaments. Have your say on how data should be collected, secured and shared. Together we can move the goal posts on fisheries management – a positive step that will help ensure the future of fish and fishing, and the prevention of unnecessary fishery access barriers.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Winter Fish Fest 2022 – RULES & REGISTRATION
Beginning February 1, 2022, take part in the free Canadian Fishing Network “Winter Fish Fest”. Goals include: promoting multi-species fishing in Canada, promote different bodies of water and fishing opportunities within Canada, teach kids how to fish and promote the sport to youth, support children’s charities, show how different types of fishing can be done even if you don’t own or have access to a full-fledge gas motored boat, and build a fishing community through CFN Fish Off online tournaments.

Ice Fishing: Prepare, Stay Safe, and Fish Sustainably / Blue Fish Canada
A great day on the water, hard or soft, depends on the health of both anglers and the resource. Plan and prepare to get the most out of your day ice fishing. One health means both the health and welfare of you and the fish you pursue are a priority. Follow these Blue Fish Canada tips developed using the latest science and input from expert anglers.

New Bait Regulations / Ontario’s Invasive Species Program
New rules came into effect on January 1st, 2021 for Ontario anglers who use live bait. As part of Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy, these rules will help reduce the spread of invasive species through the use and movement of bait in Ontario.

The new rules include:

  • Establishing four Bait Management Zones (BMZs) to limit the movement of baitfish and leeches in Ontario
  • Restricting the transportation of baitfish or leeches, whether live or dead, into or out of a BMZ with some limited exceptions
  • Anglers fishing outside their home BMZ must purchase baitfish and leeches locally, retain a receipt and use or dispose of their bait within two weeks from when they were purchased
  • Harvesting of baitfish and leeches by anglers may only occur in their home BMZ

Angling Techniques Target Fish With Different “Personalities” / Hakai Magazine
Ecologist Alexander Wilson spent most of the summer of 2014 floating in a boat on Canada’s Opinicon Lake in eastern Ontario. Over the course of about six weeks, the Deakin University researcher landed 200 of the lake’s bass. While he is a recreational angler, this particular fishing effort wasn’t for fun. It was for science. He wanted to find out how recreational fishing might drive evolution by changing the genetic makeup of fish communities.

How Microfishing Took the Angling World by (Very Small) Storm / Hakai Magazine
In the world of competitive sportfishing, the name Arostegui is royalty. Martini Arostegui has held more than 200 fishing records, the first, a longnose gar, when he was six years old; his parents, Roberta and Martin, have together logged close to 650 records of their own. The Arosteguis, who half-jokingly describe themselves as the “ugly fish” people, are legendary for pursuing not only standard game fish–grouper, bass, trout–but also a litany of finned curiosities unlikely to appear in Field & Stream. They specialize in catching the largest members of smallish species: a Midas cichlid near Miami, Florida, that tipped the scales at just over a kilogram, a white piranha in Brazil that weighed no more than a pineapple.

Alaskan commercial fishery ‘plundering’ threatened B.C. salmon / National Observer
A new study by Watershed Watch and SkeenaWild has found commercial fishers in southeast Alaska are netting large numbers of threatened B.C. salmon while most of Canada’s Pacific fleet is shorebound to save plummeting stocks.

How Marine Protected Areas Can Pay for Their Own Protection / Hakai Magazine
Protecting an MPA from poachers is daunting and expensive. It requires round-the-clock monitoring–by drones, satellites, or something else – and at-sea patrols by law enforcement. Paying for all of this is a challenge, with funding provided through philanthropy, by the government, or users fees from tourism activities like diving. The area right next to a marine protected area is a prime fishing spot–and researchers think fishermen will pay to access it.

Fish:

Ocean Tracking Network is searching for its next scientific director / Dalhousie University
The Faculty of Science at Dalhousie University invites applications for an appointment with tenure at the rank of associate or full professor of biology to serve as the new scientific director of OTN.

Photos show ridiculously large goldfish taking over Canadian harbour after release into the wild / National Post
Have you ever wondered what happens when an unwanted pet goldfish gets released into the wild? It turns out it grows and grows until it becomes a comically large version of its former self. Invasive goldfish are a “big problem,” Fisheries and Oceans Canada wrote in a Facebook post last week. “In large numbers, goldfish can destroy aquatic habitats by tearing up aquatic plants for food and clouding the waters, which means less sunlight and less food for our native species. They can also thrive on toxic blue-green algae and may even aid in toxic algal growth.”

Can a Goldfish Drive a Car? / FishingWire
​A goldfish has successfully driven a robotic car in new research from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. While it almost sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, it was an actual experiment to explore animal behavior

Can We Really Be Friends with an Octopus / Hakai?
When octopuses are social, are they reaching out or simply reacting? Watching each arm work and explore almost independently, trying to figure things out. “I think there’s a tendency to anthropomorphize them too much—to give them too many mammalian and human traits and emotions. They are very smart animals that display a certain level of critical thinking, but at the end of the day, they are so fundamentally different from us.”

Good ocean conditions could be good news for salmon, NOAA says / KUOW
Salmon and steelhead heading out to sea have lucked into some of the best ocean conditions in decades.

Fate of salmon restoration project among concerns with proposed gold mine / CBC News
More than 270 people or groups submitted comments on Nova Scotia’s proposed Beaver Dam gold mine as part of the environmental assessment process. The open-pit mine at Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy mine in Moose River, N.S. The company wants to develop another gold mine northwest of Sheet Harbour.

‘We’re making babies’: After years in decline, Okanagan salmon are back / National Observer
“All of a sudden, fish started coming back,” recalled Tyson Marsel as he waded through the river with another fish. “It was pretty awesome … for the community and for people to see that.”

Other Fish to Fry / Hakai Magazine
As stocks of premium fish come under increasing stress from the growing human population, inventive chefs are cooking down the food chain, finding new uses for less-desirable fish. Is this the future of sustainable seafood?

Fish Fell From the Sky in Texarkana / Texas Monthly
There were a couple thunderstorms in Texerkana during and after which folks reported seeing a bunch of dead fish scattered over their yards and parking lots. One resident, Tim Brigham, told the Texarkana Gazette that it started “hailing and looked like there was about to be a tornado.” Next thing he knew, “there were fish falling.” He estimated he saw 25 to 30 falling fish.

University of Waterloo opens new research facility to explore fish stress and climate impacts / The Fish Site
The new Waterloo Aquatic Threats in Environmental Research (WATER) facility at the University of Waterloo aims to simulate and research aquatic stressors and threats so that we are better prepared to prevent current and future problems. Many environmental changes are impacting both wild and aquaculture fish. The new multimillion-dollar facility will allow researchers to bridge the gap between lab and fieldwork by studying the impact of climate-related stressors in a controlled environment.

River Herring Science in Support of Species Conservation and Ecosystem Restoration / NOAA Fisheries
Historically, river herring populations along the North American Coast were enormous, and their populations reached into hundreds of millions. Today that is not the case—river herring populations are at all-time lows as a consequence of historic dam construction, habitat loss, habitat degradation, and overfishing. A recent study by NOAA Fisheries scientists and other collaborators reviews the current scientific literature on river herring in New England and the mid-Atlantic, considering also Canada and the southeastern United States.

Great Lakes Governors Support Federal Funding To Prevent Invasive Species Spread / IJC
The governors of eight Great Lakes states sent a letter to Congress requesting full federal funding for the prevention of the spread of invasive carp in the Great Lakes.

Water:

Climate change is reducing lake ice cover faster than ever / Narwhal
Climate change is shortening the season when lakes are frozen over, and some of the Great Lakes aren’t freezing at all. The impacts will be felt year-round. In the past 25 years, the loss of ice escalated with lakes losing ice six times faster than any other period in the past 100 years.

Second year of lake fertilization project complete; data shows phytoplankton production boost / Castanet
A program that aims to boost the Upper Adams sockeye return has completed its second year, with data showing fertilizer added to Adams Lake has begun to increase the production of some nutrients needed to help salmon smolts grow stronger.

A class of their own—PFAS compounds an emerging concern / Water Canada
A class of chemicals used for more than half a century in everyday goods such as clothing, cosmetics, and consumer electronics is finding itself under global scrutiny. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, known generically as PFAS, are so tightly bound and stable they offer unmatched resistance to heat, oil, grease, and water.

‘We need to learn to do things faster’: Canada’s new environment minister talks climate — and compromise / Narwhal
From overseeing 2030 targets to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, Steven Guilbeault has been tasked with one of the largest to-do lists of the entire federal cabinet. The environment minister says he’ll act quickly, even if it means not getting exactly what he wants.

Stronger Fisheries Act regulations should be an urgent priority for Ottawa / Globe and Mail
“With strong Fisheries Act regulations, we can start rebuilding abundant fisheries for us all.”

USask researchers angling to protect fish from chemical contamination / Water Canada
The team is studying the toxicological workings and impacts of 6PPD, a chemical used in rubber tires. The oxidized form of 6PPD, 6PPD-quinone, found in waterways, has been determined by researchers in Washington State to be deadly to coho salmon at trace concentrations, and Brinkmann’s team is studying its potentially widespread ecological risk to Canadian ecosystems, specifically the impacts of 6PPD-quinone on rainbow trout, arctic char, westslope cutthroat trout, lake trout and fathead minnows in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Restoring spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and other fish species on Willow Creek / Terrace Standard
Thanks to a $125,000 grant from the Real Estate Foundation of BC and the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, SkeenaWild will restore ecological integrity and hydrological function to the stream through controlled breaching of beaver dams that are inhibiting fish passage and water flow.

Road Salt in Cities Shows Links to Saltier Water / IJC
Separate studies in Ontario and Ohio suggest that increasing urbanization over the past 40 years has been a driving factor in freshwater rivers getting saltier. More concrete roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure were treated in the winter months with road salt to prevent ice from forming.

Canadian, US Groups Help Engage Youth, Foster Great Lakes Stewardship
There are several local and national organizations that actively support opportunities for young people to engage with the Great Lakes basin ecosystem through conservation programs, including the Coastal Conservation Youth Corps (CCYC) and Great Lakes Climate Corps (GLCC).

China’s Surprisingly Robust System of Marine Protection / Hakai Magazine
China is not slouching on its marine protection efforts—domestically, at least. Researchers have discovered that China has 326 protected areas covering almost 13 percent of its territorial waters.

Oil Rigs Are a Refuge in a Dying Sea / Hakai Magazine
Our reliance on fossil fuels is harming marine ecosystems—but the platforms we use to extract oil are giving marine life new homes.

Indigenous:

First Nations document devastating low returns on B.C.’s central coast / The Narwhal
The Neekas River, north of Bella Bella, is viewed as an indicator waterway for the health of salmon. Between 1960 and 1970, an average 47,000 salmon returned. By 2010, its ten-year average return had declined to 29,000 salmon, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In 2021, just 750 salmon total returned to the Neekas. To save central coast salmon, Mike Reid, who is now fisheries manager for the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department, says First Nations need to be empowered to take more leadership over fisheries, and local management and data collection has to be strengthened. It may mean going without fish for a while, but he wants to give salmon time to recover so he can see his community become self-sufficient again.

Industry:

The 38th Annual IGFA International Auction Is Almost Here
On Saturday, January 29, 2022, guests from around the world will gather at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale to make their bids and raise money for the International Game Fish Association.

Boating:

How Fishing Line Is Made
If you have ever wondered how fishing line is made, this great animation will quickly show you how nylon, fluorocarbon is produced.

New Watercraft Regulations / Ontario’s Invasive Species Program
As of January 1st, 2022, Ontario now regulates watercraft (boats, canoes, kayaks) as a carrier of invasive species under the Invasive Species Act. Boaters are now required to take the important steps before transporting a boat or boat equipment overland.

6 Questions to Ask Your Boat Dealer / Mercury Marine
While many first-time boat buyers start by researching their new-boat purchase online, working with a dealer can be a crucial part of the process.

Arts:

GHOF Renews Support for The Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest / FishingWire
This year, the Guy Harvey Shark Award, named for the world-renowned artist, scientist, and conservationist Dr. Guy Harvey, will spotlight youth artwork featuring sharks.

Podcasts and Videos:

Podcast: Brad Fenson on The Blue Fish Radio Show
Brad Fenson has been an outdoor enthusiast and writer for over three decades. Through determination and hard work Brad continues to make his living by applying his craft. On this episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show Brad offers advice on how to build a career as an outdoor communicator, and how he’s pivoted from writing exclusively, to become a producer of multi-media content such as his new “Harvest Your Own” podcast. Join us as we discuss the philosophy of harvesting your own on Blue Fish Radio.

Video: B.C. North Coast & Skeena Fisheries Post Season Review 2021 / SkeenaWild
SkeenaWild’s Executive Director, Greg Knox, provides an overview of the 2021 North Coast & Skeena fisheries.

Special Guest Feature – Survey of Public on Protecting the Great Lakes / IJC

The International Joint Commission (IJC) Water quality Board conducted two polls in 2021: a random sample poll gathered responses from 4,550 residents within the Great Lakes basin by cell or landline phone, and an anecdotal poll collected responses from 4,674 individuals through an online survey on the board’s website. A further 500 respondents self-identified as First Nations, Métis and Tribal Nation members, or roughly 10 percent of total responses.

  • 10 percent of residents listed fishing as their primary reason for interacting with the Great Lakes, compared to over 50% of First Nations, Métis and Tribal Nation respondents;
  • Nine in 10 Great Lakes residents believe that it is important that the Great Lakes are available for leisure or recreational uses;
  • 83 percent of Great Lakes residents said they feel it is important to protect the Great Lakes’ water quality for the benefit of the fish and wildlife.
  • Nearly 60 percent of overall residents and 90 percent of First Nations, Métis and Tribal Nation members and above responded that individuals or individual households are important for protecting the health and water quality of the Great Lakes basin.

In general, while only about half of respondents feel that things are improving, the survey suggests residents are willing to pay more to protect the lakes.

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In the December 20th, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we look back on what we have learned over the past year. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, water quality and other news you need to know. Our Special Guest Resource includes a look at sustainability claims made about the sustainability of open pen salmon aquaculture and the wild salmon commercial fishery.

This Week’s Feature – Enjoy the Music!

I’ve been thinking about the year that just passed. What changed this year may not seem obvious, but I honestly believe that if we look inside the differences are clear. Yes, the year may have started with hopes for the end of the pandemic with new medical break-through treatments and vaccines, and yes, these hopes remain largely unmet as successive waves continue to sweep across Canada and the world. But even if our lives have yet to return to our pre-pandemic routines, it hasn’t stopped other more profound processes from occurring.

One of my brothers recently shared with me the travel diary he kept during a recent 60-day tandem bicycle trip that began in western Canada and ended in San Francisco. I was struck not so much by the feat itself, but by the number of positive encounters with friendly, considerate and giving people he and his wife met along their journey. I believe much of this had to do with their hearts and minds being open to not only new experiences, obviously, but meeting new people. And, that the people they met were also willing to open their lives and minds to strangers. It got me thinking about the resilience of people in the face of adversity.

As someone who has experienced gradual and now total sight loss that began at an early age, many regard me as an unusually optimistic and positive individual. They assume that I must be this way as how else could I avoid being drawn in the opposite direction and become one of those “hideous disfigured and disabled” villains who literature and the media love to portray. Like most everyone else, I’m just a man who struggles, who experiences the occasional success, who wonders if I truly deserve the good things that have happened in my life, and who often questions life’s meaning. Fortunately, I’m also someone who’s not easily distracted, and therefor capable of long stretches of listening, contemplation and analysis. Meeting others who also take time to reflect are moments I cherish.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a young singer / song writer, Brett Kissel. This amazing Canadian has produced five records, 15 top-ten songs, three number one radio hits, and has received 22 Canadian Country Music Awards and three Junos. He’s already accomplished all this and he’s only 31.

With the start of the pandemic Brett and his family moved back to Alberta from Nashville. His three kids are now enjoying wide open spaces on their farm, and Brett is finally finding the time to reconnect with the things that shaped his life – hunting, fishing, and spending time with family. This has all led to his latest record, “What is Life” and his first single from the record “Make a Life, Not a Living”. Yes, Brett too has demonstrated resilience under pressure by turning inwards to re-examine the meaning of life, and he too has reaffirmed that there’s more to life than money, possessions and fame. Link to listen to my conversation with Brett on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e350-brett-kissel-on-living-an-outdoor-l

For obvious reasons I’m not one who can jump in their truck and keep busy travelling to-and-fro in a never-ending chase to make a living. I’m also not particularly gifted in music. Thankfully, I’ve taken a page out of history and found other ways to contribute to the fabric of society, and that’s through the application of my mind in the gathering, analysis and sharing of knowledge. My storytelling is made possible through podcasts, articles, videos, documentaries, seminars, and the publication of various newsletters. I don’t do it for fame or money, but with the hope that my careful examination of the facts and my insights will be of value to others as they reflect and take decisions – large and small. I have no hidden agenda shaping my thoughts and words, and I’m not beholding to anyone.

Blind knowledge keeper and storyteller is a role that goes back way beyond the advent of print and other recording media. People who were blind and their families were supported and respected, for it was in their hands that communities put their trust to maintain the legends and lessons that were instrumental in shaping their communities and the choices they made for the betterment of all.

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of meeting a number of blind indigenous elders who had taken on the responsibility of knowledge keeper / storyteller on behalf of their communities. I’ve witnessed firsthand the respect they were shown for safeguarding the community’s history and their ability to convey this knowledge in ways that stayed loyal to the past and the imbedded lessons that these stories represent. It’s what First Nations communities call traditional knowledge.

There’s also local knowledge that rests in the hands of both indigenous and non-indigenous alike. Wisdom that comes from a compilation of first-hand experience compiled over time. Thankfully, there are many who have taken it upon themselves to accumulate and further develop this sort of geographically specific local knowledge. I very much enjoy finding these people and giving voice to their knowledge through my podcasts and videos. I also take great care when drawing on local and traditional knowledge, by comparing these findings with scientific research as I assemble evidence detailing changes underway in nature. It includes matching knowledge with both causation and outcomes. It would seem that it’s a skill that people find helpful, or so I’m told.

It’s during adversity that we make changes in our lives that are often long coming. People don’t often tinker with things that are working well. This includes our relations with one another, our connections with nature, and how our choices impact all that is important to us.

So let’s not lose hope. Let’s not slip into prolonged depression. Let’s not become mean. But let us instead open our minds and hearts to traditional, local and scientific knowledge. Let’s take this time to develop new plans on how we want things to go in future. Like Brett Kissel suggests, let’s make time to make sure we leave this world in better shape than we found it. It all starts with being open to others, and their knowledge and ways. And in the meantime, if you’re feeling a little blue, lift your spirits by listening to music like Brett Kissel’s new song “Make Life Not a Living.”

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Lake Erie Tributaries Experience Poor Fall Fishing / FishingWire
November is typically one of the most popular months for steelhead fishing on the Lake Erie tributaries, but the wet fall weather pattern that began in September continued, resulting in some challenging fishing conditions and below average angler effort.

Alberta’s Stocked and Aerated Lakes / ACA
Surface aeration may be great for trout, but the hole in the ice (polynya) and the thin ice that surrounds it are not great for people. Please be extra cautious and assess ice conditions before travelling on ice.

NOAA Recreational Fisheries Year In Review / NOAA Fisheries
The United States has the largest and most diverse recreational fisheries in the world. Each year, millions of saltwater anglers contribute tens of billions of dollars to the American economy while supporting nearly 500,000 jobs. Saltwater recreational fishing is an economic powerhouse, and engaging with anglers remains a top priority for NOAA Fisheries. We work with fishermen, states, and many other partners to safeguard and promote public access to healthy and sustainable saltwater fish stocks.

Operation Bait Bucket and New Baitfish Regulations
On January 13 the Invading Species Awareness Program presents Operation Bait Bucket program, some key aquatic invasive species, and will review what anglers need to know going into the 2022 angling season around Ontario’s new baitfish regulations.

More than 70 million sockeye salmon expected in Bristol Bay next year, potentially busting this year’s record / Anchorage Daily News
The 2021 run of 66.1 million fish was 32% above the state’s preseason forecast and the latest in a string of very strong sockeye returns in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

Muskoka named as top ice fishing place in Canada for 2022 / MuskokaRegion.Com
Muskoka has been selected as the top ice fishing destination in Canada for 2022 by an online fishing blog. FishingBooker, which bills itself as “the world’s largest online service that enables you to find and book fishing trips,” chose Muskoka ahead of seven other Canadian destinations on its blog.

Federal government announces closure of most Pacific herring fisheries / CBC News
Most commercial fisheries for Pacific herring on the West Coast have been closed with the exception of harvests by First Nations for food and ceremonial purposes. Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray says in a statement that this “cautious” approach to Pacific herring management is based on recently intensified risks to wild salmon.

Lengthy investigation leads to 66 halibut fishing charges in Nova Scotia / Canada.ca
In addition to the charges, a number of goods were seized, including: a 50 foot longline fishing boat and related fishing gear, two vehicles, a 28-foot enclosed trailer, a compact track loader,7,461 lbs of Atlantic Halibut valued at approximately $40,000 CAD, including 17 which were undersized, and $36,000 CAD cash.

Serial poacher nabbed with 250 illegally-caught crabs in Vancouver / Vancouver Is Awesome
Gabriola Island resident Scott Stanley Steer has found himself in hot water after catching crabs illegally and leading police on a high-speed chase through Vancouver’s harbour.

Judge Edelmann sentenced Steer to six months in jail and a three-year probation order. He was also handed a “lifetime fishing prohibition and a prohibition from being on any fishing vessel,” for the rest of his life.

Great Lakes regional poll results released / IJC
The International Joint Commission (IJC) Great Lakes Water Quality Board has released the results of their third annual poll, providing a snapshot of residents’ views on the importance of protecting environmental health and water quality for leisure and recreation, fish and wildlife, and the economy. Fishing made up 10% by recreational anglers, but scored the highest among the 500 First Nations members who participated in the survey.

Fish:

Why do trout and salmon have red flesh? It’s because they are what they eat / Outdoor Canada
The reason that most salmonid species (including trout and char) have red- and orange-tinged flesh is because of what they eat. And that is typically food with plenty of carotene. Yep, the same stuff that makes carrots orange. The basis of the food chain often starts with a micro-algae called Haematococcus pluvialis that contains a blood-red pigment called astaxanthin. Not surprisingly, everything that feeds on the micro-algae—such as shrimp, krill, lobsters, crayfish and even young trout and salmon—absorbs and bioaccumulates the red pigmentation.

These holiday trees can liven a salmon’s home as well as your own / HeraldNet.com
Adopt a Stream is selling hundreds of potted trees native to Western Washington, including western red cedar, Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, western hemlock and grand fir. Customers are welcome to keep the trees, Murdoch said, but many choose to return them after the holidays. Adopt A Stream plants them near a salmon stream.

‘Warrior’ sturgeon displaced by B.C. floods rescued from pump station / CBC News
Volunteers helped save several sturgeon which ended up at the Barrowtown Pump Station after the Sumas dike breached in Abbotsford, B.C., during the floods. “They had to go through a broken dike. They had to end up in a farmer’s field. They had to end up in a ditch. I’m guessing some of them literally swam across the freeway,” said Kitt.

Fish can recover from mercury pollution faster than thought – Great Lakes Now / Great Lakes Now
Mercury pollution remains a problem in many parts of the Great Lakes, but new research from Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario shows that efforts to reduce the amount of mercury going into a lake can have quick and dramatic effects on the levels of the pollutant in fish populations. Earlier studies that tracked individual fish had found that they held on to mercury in their tissues for a long time. But now they saw that the rate of change in the population allowed overall mercury levels to fall fast.

Restoration Efforts for West Coast Salmon, Steelhead / NOAA Fisheries
Nearly 30 populations of salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened or endangered in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California—largely due to habitat loss and over harvesting.

Researchers Examine White Shark Migrations in North Atlantic / Sentinel
OCEARCH and its collaborative research team in a “landmark” study have shown that this population of white sharks make predictable annual migrations between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. The sharks spend summer and fall primarily in coastal waters off Cape Cod and Atlantic Canada, feeding on seals, before heading back south to warmer winter waters off the southeast U.S. from South Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico.

Aquaculture escapees detected in rivers with endangered wild salmon / ASF
Last week ASF sounded the alarm on escaped aquaculture fish that were discovered in rivers in Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Aquaculture salmon have previously penetrated the live gene bank.

Forty Percent of North Atlantic Right Whale Population Using Gulf of Saint Lawrence as Seasonal Habitat / NOAA
Researchers have identified 187 individual North Atlantic right whales—about 40 percent of the catalogued population—in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence during the summer. They used photographs of North Atlantic right whales collected during surveys conducted between 2015 and 2019. Many of the right whales remain in the area through the summer and autumn, feeding and socializing primarily in southern parts of the Gulf. Almost all of these whales return every year—a pattern not seen elsewhere—and stay for up to 5 months.

Marineland charged with using dolphins, whales for entertainment without a licence / CBC News
Marineland, a theme park in Ontario, has been charged for using captive dolphins and whales to entertain crowds without a license from the provincial government. Local police began investigating after a US-based nonprofit filed a complaint at the end of September. Under Canada’s Criminal Code, captive cetaceans can’t be used for entertainment purposes without authorization, but Marineland has posited that the performances were educational. (CBC)

Ghost gear removal initiative brings fisheries together to save white sturgeon / Talking Energy
Altogether, teams have removed more than 4,800 feet of net from the Fraser River to protect the endangered white sturgeon.

The climate crisis could be driving the hybrid salmon population / The Independent
The hybrids of Chinook and coho salmon were discovered in the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Federal minister to provide money to fight aquatic invasive species in mountain parks / National Post
The work is also expected to support the recovery of species at risk, including westslope cutthroat trout, Athabasca rainbow trout and bull trout.

The great pacific garbage patch hosts life in the open ocean / Smithsonian Magazine
The 14 million tons of plastic entering the world’s oceans each year are a known threat to wildlife, and the latest research shows marine trash could have new consequences for marine animals. Scientists have discovered that coastal critters and plants like crabs, anemones and seaweed have found a way to survive in the open ocean by colonizing rafts of floating plastic debris. An accumulation of trash known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is acting as a new type of ecosystem, ferrying species hundreds of miles from their usual coastal habitat into the high seas.

Water:

More than 700 tonnes of ‘ghost gear’ removed from Canadian waters / CBC News
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says 739 tonnes of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear has been removed from the waters off Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts in the last two years.UNBC study finds rivers flowing more consistently near hydroelectric dams / My Prince George Now
A recent UNBC study looked at 500 rivers across North America to learn about hydropeaking in rivers with hydroelectric dams. Dery said the hydropeaking cycles are starting to diminish in intensity across North America, which he thinks will be beneficial to aquatic life, such as fish, insects, and other animals.

Tropical fish…up north? How ocean physics play a role in altering water temperature and salinity / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
A study led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists is explaining why warm and salty water along with warm water fish species, such as the deep-sea dwelling Gulf Stream flounder and Black Sea bass, were found far inshore in New England in the middle of winter 2017. How did this happen? Researchers say it is due to an intrusion of offshore water from the open ocean onto the Northeast U.S. Shelf, caused by eddies (a circular current of water) and wind.

B.C. holding out on federal conservation targets and large-scale protected areas / Narwhal
B.C. has protected 15.5 per cent of its land and 3.2 per cent of marine and coastal areas, putting it far ahead of many other provinces and territories. However, it hasn’t established any new large-scale protected areas for a decade, adding just one percentage point over that period through a series of smaller designations. Canada pledged to protect 25 per cent of land and water by 2025. Many say Indigenous protected areas are the way forward. Will the province agree?

Banned for decades, releasing oilsands tailings water is now on the horizon / CBC News
The federal government has begun developing regulations to allow oilsands operators in northern Alberta to begin releasing treated tailings water back into the environment, something that’s been prohibited for decades. Currently, companies must store any water used to extract oil during the mining process because it becomes toxic. The massive above-ground lakes are known as tailings ponds, which are harmful to wildlife and have resulted in the death of birds that land on the water.

Study Assesses Vulnerability of Coastal Habitats to Climate Change / NOAA
NOAA Fisheries and partners assessed the vulnerability of coastal habitats in the Northeast United States to climate change and the findings were recently published in PLOS ONE scientific journal. We found salt marshes, shellfish reefs, deep-sea corals, seagrasses, kelp, and intertidal habitats to be among the most vulnerable. The coastal habitats with the highest climate vulnerability are also those most often at risk from degradation. The assessment highlights the importance of prioritizing habitat protection and restoration to support resilience and adaptability to future conditions under climate change.

Indigenous:

Coastal First Nation declares protected area to preserve salmon and grizzly bear populations / CBC News
The Mamalilikulla First Nation has declared an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area in Knight Inlet north of Powell River to exert a stronger stewardship role in its traditional territory in order to protect starving grizzly bears, declining salmon populations and a unique coral reef. Roberts says the reef has also been damaged by fishing activity and they want to ensure they’re able to protect what remains. The Mamalilikulla say the IPCA declaration is intended to help it take the lead when it comes to planning and use of the area as it works to restore its traditional governance.

First Nations land dispute breaks out at open house for proposed fish farm site / Campbell River Mirror
A proposed fish farm off northern Vancouver Island has sparked controversy among First Nations communities. Two open houses were held on November 30 to provide information and answer questions about a proposed Chatham Canal fish farm as a joint venture between Tlowitsis First Nation and Grieg Seafood British Columbia Ltd. The first session, held virtually, began with remarks from Tlowitsi leader John Smith on the proposed farm and what it would mean for the nation. The new salmon farm is located in Chatham Channel, east of Minstrel Island, on what is the nation’s unceded territory, Smith said. If approved, it will join three other farms already operating in the nearby Clio Canal, which have helped the Tlowitsis Nation thrive, he added. “It was a boon to our tribe,” Smith said. “Before we got income from fish farms and forestry, we had next to nothing. “

A look at the Shuswap’s globally unique organic coho salmon and cannabis farm / Revelstoke Review
In the heart of Turtle Valley, B.C. there is a state-of-the-art agricultural operation that is the only one like it in the world.

First Nation, Métis leaders raise concerns about plans to release treated tailings into Athabasca River / Fort McMurray Today
“We have to be 100 per cent sure that it’s not going to be toxic. The decisions we make today is going to affect our future generations.”

Fish-in-Schools program faces upstream effort to expand / Yahoo!
A First Nations-run program that’s taught a generation of school children about sockeye salmon, their lifecycle and importance to the environment and Indigenous culture is hoping to restart this year stronger than ever.

Industry:

IGFA International Auction Set for Jan. 29 / IGFA
On Saturday, January 29, 2022, guests from around the world will gather at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale to bid on various items.

How Global Disruptions Are Affecting The Fishing Industry / FishingWire
Worldwide supply chain disruptions continue to present major challenges for the fishing tackle industry. Lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic combined with increased consumer demand have strained the supply chain to the point of breaking.

IGFA APP Update
Several years ago, the IGFA launched a mobile app that focused primarily on providing real-time updates on IGFA World Records. However, due to increased maintenance costs and a lack of downloads, the IGFA has made the decision to permanently delete the IGFA mobile app. Today, the IGFA website features a mobile friendly interface that allows anglers to access a variety of features from their mobile devices, including world record catch details that are updated daily. Additionally, IGFA will soon be adding functionality to our online world record database that will allow anglers to download PDFs of current and pending records directly to their mobile devices or computers.

Boating:

Lake Simcoe: Aquatic Invasive Species and New Boater Regulations
On January 27 OFAH’s Invading Species Awareness Program presents Lake Simcoe key invasive species, including their impacts, identification, distribution, and how to report them. Moreover, the presenters will highlight the new boater regulations for 2022 and what anglers and boaters need to know.

Books:

The Science and Spirit of Seaweed
This book is an anthology for the seaweed curious. Like a compendium, this book by seaweed harvester Amanda Swinimer comes at seaweed from a myriad of directions. Part memoir, part field guide, part cookbook, part reference manual, the book is packed with information and anecdotes for those seeking practical knowledge about seaweed biology and ecology, but also for those interested in wild harvesting, natural history, the medicinal and therapeutic attributes of algae, or what it means to be a professional seaweed harvester.

Arts:

Get Crafty with 2021 Woods Hole Science Aquarium Snowflake Templates / NOAA
This winter, get your craft on with these snowflake templates. Enjoy four new designs that celebrate a few past and present residents of Woods Hole Aquarium: angelfish, seals, thorny skate, and wolffish.

Fish Art Contest Breaks the Winter Blues / FishingWire
Wildlife Forever is proud to offer the Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest. Winners are awarded in each state and country, where the top contestants win prizes and worldwide recognition. The contest deadline is March 31.

Audio and Video:

Audio: Canada’s “moderate livelihood” ruling complicates fishing for the Mi’kmaq people / NPR
A tense conflict between Indigenous fishermen and commercial lobstermen flared up in Nova Scotia in the fall of 2020. Listen to how it all got started.

Video: Running Dry -Alberta’s Shrinking Rivers / Conserving Our Special Places
Alberta doesn’t run on oil. It runs on water. Our families, farms, businesses and communities all rely on water from rivers that rise on the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains. But that water is running low. This new documentary explains why authorizing coal mining along the Eastern Slopes in Alberta is a bad idea. This in spite of Benga Mining, the Piikani Nation and the Stoney Nakoda Nations appeal to the court to overturn the Alberta Energy Regulator’s decision to deny the Grassy Mountain Coal project.

Video: Salmon Use Flooded B.C. Road as a River / Globalnews.ca
On Nov. 28, salmon were spotted swimming along the road connected to Little Campbell River in Surrey.

Video: Resilient Waters project / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Advancing the goal of reconnecting and restoring salmon habitat in the Lower Fraser River takes political will and action. Learn more about fish-friendly changes to flood management and the Resilient Waters project by viewing the following two videos.
Link here to watch the new Resilient Waters video.
Link here to watch the Connected Waters video.

Video: Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food
Two centuries ago, nearly half the North American diet was found in the wild. Today, so-called “wild foods” are becoming expensive commodities, served to the wealthy in top restaurants. In Feasting Wild, geographer and anthropologist Gina Rae La Cerva traces our relationship to wild foods and shows what we sacrifice when we domesticate them — including biodiversity, Indigenous knowledge and an important connection to nature. Along the way, she samples wild foods herself, sipping elusive bird’s nest soup in Borneo and smuggling Swedish moose meat home in her suitcase. Thoughtful, ambitious and wide-ranging, Feasting Wild challenges us to take a closer look at the way we eat today.

Webinars:

Webinar: Deep-Sea Mining Demystified. / Hakai
The International Seabed Authority is racing to draft regulations for the nascent deep-sea mining industry. Hakai Magazine organized a webinar discussion of the topic with leading experts.
Link here to read the Hakai Magazine’s feature story “My Family’s Pacific Island Home Is Grappling with Deep-Sea Mining.”

Webinars: Latornell Conservation Symposium
Latornell hosted a series of informative webinars about a range of topics including: watershed management, Indigenous-led land conservation movements, ecological monitoring tools, nature-based climate change solutions and more.

Special Guest Resources – Which Salmon to Buy

The Monterey Aquarium’s Seafood Watch recently down-graded the consumption of much of the salmon raised using open pen aquaculture in Canada from “Yellow” to “Red”. The red designation means consumers should avoid purchasing and consuming such fish, whereas the yellow designation signifies a “good alternative”. Many who have concerns with open pen aquaculture in Canada support this move by SeaFood Watch, but question why salmon produced using the same methods in Nova Scotia and Main continue to be listed as yellow.

The Atlantic Salmon Foundation and the SeaChoice program out of the Suzuki foundation are just two of many organizations that are questioning SeaFood Watch’s decision not to down grade salmon raised in Nova Scotia and Maine. According to the ASF, All open net-pen aquaculture salmon is environmentally unsustainable. In specific, ASF says the decision by SeaFood Watch to label as “good” sea cage salmon produced in Maine and Nova Scotia is misleading, when salmon produced in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador are now assessed as “’red”.

Bill Taylor, President of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, says “a yellow label for open net-pen aquaculture salmon from Maine and Nova Scotia is simply unacceptable.” The position of ASF is that escaped fish from these operations put critically endangered wild populations at risk, and that everywhere the industry operates there are negative ecosystem effects.

So what about wild caught salmon? In 2017 the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) recertified the B.C.’s commercial salmon fishery subject to DFO addressing outstanding conditions where the fishery does not meet its standard. They required improvements to fishery monitoring, better stock assessments and reducing impacts on wild salmon populations from hatchery-raised salmon. An independent 2018 audit reported that 40 percent of these conditions were behind target. This led to the industry choosing to pre-emptively withdraw from the international certification in 2019 to avoid failing its upcoming audit and having its certification removed. Without the certification the industry loses out on the sale of wild salmon to the EU.

While neither the SeaFood Watch ranking or MSC certification are mandatory standards, they do mean much to those who take the time to make sure they are consuming seafood that is being harvested or produced sustainably. Canada’s down-grade of much of it’s fin-fish aquaculture sector two years after the loss of MSC certification of it’s wild pacific salmon commercial fisheries for many is concerning both environmentally and economically.

According to DFO Canada’s seafood exports in 2019 were valued at $7.44 billion, and involved 6,800 tons of seafood. Loss of certification or downgrading by NGO’s doesn’t mean an end to Canada’s seafood exports, but it does undermine consumer confidence, a growing issue for all food sectors as people become increasingly concerned over climate change and environmental sustainability – both of which are linked to how we catch and produce seafood.

Is it all bad news for these industries? It depends how you look at the situation. Some believe the majority of consumers make food choices based on value and food trends. However, consumers are becoming increasingly discerning and the industry knows this. The old adage of supply and demand is forcing industry to change, and with government support and regulations, positive progress is being made. However, it’s up to all of us to take the time to understand how our choices influence markets and governments, so if sustainability is important to you, than be part of the growing movement and purchase sustainably caught and produced seafood – it’s not hard.

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