What’s new at Blue Fish Canada: We start with an editorial on the closing divide between rural and urban youth and their interest in fishing. There’s so much to report including an up-coming “Get Ready For fishing event, Ontario’s mourning the loss of local champion Wil Wegman, new rounds of funding are now available for eradicating invasive species, more news about fishing sonar advancements, and so much more – the ice has melted and fishing is “on fire!”

Photo of local champion, prolific writer, conservationist and fishing competitor, Wil Wegman in Algoma

This Week’s Feature – Youth Divided

By L. Gunther

Youth growing up outside major urban centres often enjoy year-round access to nature. Having lived myself in a town of 20,000 located 60 km from Toronto, it was often the case that my friends and I would hurry home after school, grab our fishing rods, jump on our bikes and go fishing. More than once we speculated whether kids living in Toronto had ever seen a deer, groundhog, rabbit, or even caught a fish in the wild.

Urban migration has resulted in a troubling divide among youth concerning their views about fishing. While “country mice” regard fishing as a positive aspect of our childhood, “city mice” often miss out on this important aspect of their development, making them more susceptible to unfavorable perceptions of fishing as a sustainable activity. But wait, it’s not all bad news. While there are exceptions, the exciting news is that this divide is shrinking.

Without doubt, climate change, biodiversity and habitat loss, all now take up sizeable portions of mainstream and social media. Youth interested in fish and fishing are exposed to all this along with everyone else. For youth who lack access to nature and the opportunity to fish and study fishes, it can lead to their questioning the validity of fishing-related content, including what they hear from their mentors. Face facts, lots has changed since the days of our grandparents.

Like me, I’m sure any of you with kids or grandkids are having to defend fishing from an increasing list of concerns being shared about the ethics and sustainability of fishing. I have one grandson who I’m still working on “deprogramming” two years after he watched “Seaspiracy”.

Thankfully, youth with unimpeded access to the outdoors observe nature directly, allowing them to balance what they are hearing in the news with what they observe. These increasingly contradictory inputs stimulate young minds, who then apply their own form of citizen science to gain a stronger understanding of the health of their local fisheries. But access alone has never guaranteed success in forming a healthy bond with nature.

For generations, becoming a responsible angler has depended on mentorship, or in the absence of a guiding hand, willingness to undertake self-directed research on topics that go beyond tips for catching more and bigger fish. Finding fishing related on-line content that includes sustainable fishing guidance essential to conservation is the challenge. Even mentorship no longer guarantees youth will learn up-to-date science-based best practices.

It’s normal for those new to fishing to want to focus on the exciting aspects of the sport – catching fish. Content creators are rewarded by responding to this demand by catering their offerings to satisfy this thirst, it’s how social media algorithms work. Mentors and others committed to see the sport grow naturally follow suit. Thankfully, there’s another trend emerging in mainstream entertainment.

Increasingly more examples can be found in mainstream entertainment that offer clear proof that producers have deliberately chosen not to “Bambi” fishes. It’s fueling interest among youth to forge their own bonds with nature through fishing. Mainstream entertainment isn’t the only thing causing interest in fishing to grow – the first time in well over a decade that the shrinking number of people who fish has been reversed.

First off there was a 21% increase in fishing license sales in 2020 that experts attribute to COVID-19, but personally I think that more than people’s need to “social distance” outdoors contributed to this increase. I’m also hearing reports that youth are also concerned that they might miss out on what many are worried could be their last chance to try fishing before concerns over biodiversity loss forces fishing to be shuttered. This may be contributing to another emerging trend — youth interested in carrying on the family or cultural tradition of fishing, and who want to defend such practices from those who they believe are set on “cancelling their culture”. But perhaps the most significant influence stimulating the recent growth in interest in fishing among youth comes from mainstream entertainment.

Fueling the surge in interest in fishing is what some call “life imitating art.” I’m referring to popular reality shows like Wicked Tuna, and a growing number of prime-time Disney, Star Wars and other movies featuring their heroes harvesting wild fish for food. The fact is there are a lot of youth – especially urban youth – who now want to form personal connections with nature through fishing, and by doing so, become defenders of nature and the tradition of fish harvesting that can be traced back among most cultures for many millennia.

The desire among youth to form personal life-long connections with nature through fishing deserves our support. Blue Fish Canada has understood this since our formation in 2012 as reflected in our “articles of incorporation” and “charitable objectives”. Our mission remains “the future of fish and fishing.”

Like many other charities we had to step back from delivering in-person programming in 2020-2021 due to closures, volunteers stepping back, donors taking a pause, and foundations and granting organizations focussing on addressing COVID-19 hardships. A lot of Canadian charities were shuttered in the past couple years. Blue Fish Canada, on the other hand, transitioned to on-line delivery of our services. And now, due to growing demand, we are once again ramping back up our in-person youth outdoor explorer programs!

Most youth fishing programs focus on giving kids fishing rods and a few lures and organizing a day of fishing. For sure both are terrific ways to pass along knowledge and the joy of fishing, but is “teaching a person to fish” instead of “giving a person a fish” still enough?

Blue Fish Canada’s mandate goes far beyond simply teaching youth how to catch fishes. Our programs are designed to share knowledge about fishing sustainably while practicing conservation so youth and their mentors can keep up with science-based best practices without having to “re-invent the wheel.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Blue Fish Canada would be criticized for portraying fishing as more than simply having fun. Thankfully, the days of anglers being encouraged to capture excessive numbers of fish are slowly fading away. Now it’s about the excitement of the anticipation and thrill of the quest. Counting captures is being replaced by bucket list achievements and personal bests. Arguably, a more personally impactful fishing experience even when practicing self-restraint by knowing when enough is enough.

Obviously, Blue Fish Canada can’t meet the growing demand among youth for knowledge and access on our own. It’s why we also operate a number of knowledge transfer programs meant to “train-the-trainers.” We continue to build our extensive network of volunteers and knowledge experts. People who understand fish and fishing in profound ways made stronger through our facilitating access to traditional, local, and science-based know-how.

The more youth that become passionate about nature, the greater the chance that our beautiful planet will tolerate our presents that much longer. Accordingly, environmental groups are beginning to embrace the idea that instead of advocating for the demise of recreational fishing, it just may be smarter to inspire youth to become passionate defenders of fishing and the ecosystems that make it possible. Many of these groups are now open to collaborating with Blue Fish Canada to ensure youth have the sustainable fishing skills and access needed to become stewards of nature.

To become a blue fish collaborator or mentor please reach out. Or, if you would rather make a donation consider becoming a monthly donor like Canadian country star Brett Kissel. Even the price of a couple coffees a month can go a long way. Donating and getting tax receipts is made easy and secure through our chosen on-line donation processing service “Canada Helps.” Donate now in support of our 2023 Youth Outdoor Explorer programs! https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


B.C. got just 0.6% of commercial Pacific salmon catch in 2022 / Business in Vancouver
Commercial fishermen in B.C. caught just 2 million Pacific salmon in 2022 – just 0.6 per cent of the global commercial catch of 354 million fish — according to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC).

Quebec government 2022 Atlantic Salmon Exploitation Report / ASF
In 2022, adult salmon assessments were completed for 40 Quebec rivers. Scientists estimate 29,368 adult salmon returned compared to 28,601 in 2021 when 39 rivers were assessed. These monitored rivers receive 90 per cent of the annual angling effort. Reported angling catches totalled 19,147 salmon compared to 15,265 in 2021. Of all fish caught 14,730 were released compared to 10,087 in 2021. Of the salmon that were harvested last year 3,401 were grilse and 1,016 were large salmon. This compares to 4,442 and 736 in 2021, respectively. The 2022 season was characterized by a 16 per cent increase in total returns compared to 2021. Against the most recent five-year average, grilse returns increased by 8 per cent while returns of large salmon increased by 20 per cent. These results are based on data from 31 rivers that have results available for the last six years. At the same time, the sale of salmon licenses increased by 13 per cent in 2022 compared to the previous five-year average and rod-day sales totaled 76,706, up from 75,435 in 2021.

For Atlantic Canada, Fishing Season Brings Yet More Violence/ Hakai
East Coast fishers have weathered arson, gunshots, and harassment. Conflict and turmoil will likely continue until the Canadian government addresses Indigenous rights head-on.


End Alaska salmon troll fisheries / The Columbian
Fisheries managers know that over 90 percent of the Chinook caught in the Alaska troll fisheries come from the Pacific Northwest. Those fisheries have contributed to the destruction of the Chinook populations in the Pacific Northwest, leading to younger hence smaller and fewer Chinook.

Orcas are working together to sink boats / Morning Brew
Scientists think the behavior started with one orca and spread across the population.


As Ocean Oxygen Levels Dip, Fish Face an Uncertain Future / Yale E360
Our future ocean — warmer and oxygen-deprived — will not only hold fewer kinds of fish, but also smaller, stunted fish and, to add insult to injury, more greenhouse-gas producing bacteria, scientists say. The tropics will empty as fish move to more oxygenated waters, says Pauly, and those specialist fish already living at the poles will face extinction.

Bracing for Climate Impacts on Lake Erie/ Inside Climate News
Yet while Lake Erie’s fisheries are thriving now, climate change will present challenges down the road—even if the most recent survey of licensed charter boat captains doesn’t spell it out in so many words.

Glace Bay Fishing Group Calls on Government to Clean Up Contaminated Lake / CBC
A group in Glace Bay, N.S., says the water in a local lake is contaminated and is asking the provincial government to clean it up before stocking the pond with more trout.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation is activating emergency funding to support urgent salmon issues as flood events impact salmon and their habitats. Unseasonable high temperatures are causing rapid snow melt, leading to high streamflow in regions throughout B.C. With flood warnings in effect in the Skeena region – where potential flooding poses a threat to the survival of out-migrating juvenile salmon – PSF’s emergency fund is available to assist First Nations and community efforts to save Pacific salmon and activate habitat restoration and remediation work directly impacted by current climate events.

One Great Shot: Gimme Shelter / Hakai
In the open ocean, where shelter is rare, young fish find safety under stunning blue hydroids.

New grants will fight invasive species that inflict $3.6B in annual damages / ISC
The Invasive Species Action Fund, coordinated by the Invasive Species Centre, has grants available to municipal and local governments, academic institutions, Indigenous communities, conservation authorities, and non-profits to assist with projects aimed at controlling invaders.


Outboard Industry Looks to Decarbonize—But How? / Outdoor Wire
Yamaha Marine’s director of external affairs Martin Peters says the recreational marine industry must plan now to decarbonize its products to meet customer expectations as well as likely future regulations. In angler-speak, that means eventually getting rid of gas outboards. Because boats require 10 times more energy to move through water than cars through the air, the energy density of today’s battery technology isn’t great enough to support electrification of larger outboard motors and other internal combustion products on a basis that makes economic sense for consumers.

How to make fishing trips safe and enjoyable for your dog / Outdoor Canada
Want to bring your four-legged pal on the boat for your next fishing trip? Just be sure to follow these six tips to keep everyone safe and happy out on the water.

NMMA Reports Recreational Boating’s Economic Impact Soars to $230 Billion / FTR Industry Wire 
The U.S. National Marine Manufacturer’s Association recently announced new data which found the annual economic impact of recreational boating in the U.S. increased 36%, from $170B in 2018 to $230B in 2023. The industry’s contributions to the U.S. workforce grew as well, with an 18% increase in jobs supported, from 691,000 in 2018 to more than 812,000 in 2023.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Ontario’s fishing community mourns the passing of prolific writer, conservationist and fishing advocate Wil Wegman
Wil Wegman published his first newspaper article in 1985 and not long after began writing a weekly newspaper column called “The Great Outdoors” which would later become syndicated. Will freelanced for numerous magazines such as Ontario Out of Doors, Outdoor Canada, Bob Izumi’s Real Fishing, Big Jim’s Just Fishing, Bassman Magazine, and U.S. magazines such as In Fisherman, Bassmaster and BASS TIMES. As well as a prolific and award-winning outdoor writer, Wil successfully competed in bass tournaments and has qualified three times for Team Ontario. Will was a member of Team Canada at the World Ice Fishing Championships in 1991 and has many top ten finishes in the Canadian Ice Fishing Championships and other open water BASS fishing events. From 1995 to 2010 Will served as the Conservation director for the Ontario BASS Nation. Will Spearheaded dozens of conservation projects for his BASS Master club as their conservation director from 1995 until his passing, including habitat restoration, bass tagging research, roadside clean-up, used fishing line recycle depots and invasive species removal projects. From 1986-2010, Wil taught a 12 hour in-class bass fishing course at various campuses of Seneca, Georgian and Fleming College, and for 20 years he taught his highly regarded 3-hour ice fishing course. In 2017, Wil was inducted into the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame and won the OFAH Rick Morgan Professional Conservation Award as well as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ National Recreational Fisheries Award. Wil was Employed full time with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for 33 years as a Resources Management Technician.

Coming up:

Water Canada Summit
On June 7-9, 2023, the Water Canada Summit themed “Water Connects” will take place in Ottawa. Learn more about the lineup of influential water voices scheduled to speak.

Get Ready for Fishing / BFC

Get Ready for Fishing is the ultimate event to learn everything you need to know about fishing this summer!

On Saturday, June 10, join Blue Fish Canada at the OPG Saunders Hydro Dam Visitor Centre in Cornwall to participate in a variety of hands-on activities that will enhance your fishing knowledge and technique. Participants will learn about fish sustainability, tackle choices, casting technique, fish identification, invasive species awareness, and the importance of water safety. Each session will conclude with a presentation from experienced angler Lawrence Gunther on in-depth information about the five most sought-after sportfish in the St. Lawrence River including bass, muskie, walleye, pike & carp. Participants will have the opportunity to enter a free draw to win one of two Shimano spinning rod combos.

Register for one of two sessions:
11:00a.m: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/641473222677
1:30p.m: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/641498257557

Special Guest Feature – Garmin’s LiveScope Plus Helps Anglers Find and Catch More Fish  

Fishingwire Magazine

It’s not too often that a single product introduction has the ability to change how everyone from tackle manufacturers to weekend anglers to seasoned pros see and approach a day of fishing, but in 2018 when Garmin unveiled the world’s first live-scanning sonar—LiveScope—that is exactly what happened!

Now instead of watching what had been in their transducer’s field of vision, anglers could see a live display of what was currently in front of them and see how fish reacted to varying presentations. It was now not only possible to determine varied sizes of fish on the electronics’ display, but anglers could even distinguish between species and seek out specific targets in real time. This truly revolutionized fishing as we know it today, so much so that some questioned whether this was even fair to the fish. Fortunately, the fish have no say in the matter and the results are undeniable as LiveScope has led to countless professional fishing tournament wins including three of the last four Bassmaster Classic Championships, and it has won numerous industry awards including ICAST’s Best of Show, NMEA’s Technology of the Year and Boating Industry’s Top Product, just to name a few.

In 2019, LiveScope made its way into the ice fishing scene with the introduction of the LiveScope Ice Fishing Bundle, and hardwater anglers couldn’t get their hands on it fast enough! Ice fishing electronics or flashers have always presented more of a real-time readout of what was going on below the angler’s feet than open-water models, but where traditional flashers displayed distinct color bars to represent fish, bait and structure, the Panoptix LiveScope display shows both a real time and far more realistic, almost video-game-like picture on the screen.

In one of the latest additions to Garmin’s revolutionary live-scanning sonar lineup, anglers experience 35% improved target separation over the existing system with sharper resolution, reduced noise, and Garmin’s clearest images ever. LiveScope Plus can identify and separate targets as small as 14 inches at distances 100 feet from the boat so anglers can see exactly what they need to with improved stitching, reduced noise and fewer on-screen artifacts that impede the picture of fish and structure. If there was any question as to whether LiveScope was fair to the fish before, this very well may settle the debate!

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What’s new at Blue Fish Canada: As the chair of the Great Lakes Fish Health Network. I’m pleased to report that several of us network members and others recently submitted a powerful academic review of the application of fish consumption advisories on the Upper St. Lawrence River. As soon as it’s published it will be shared along with supporting interviews with several of the key authors. In the meantime, Blue Fish Canada has also been asked to join the working group responsible for the “Fish Health Tracker Tool.” Development and application of the tool is the topic of this edition’s editorial and podcast. Such an amazing citizen science tool – we should all be using this.

Photo of Doris Leung, Interim Director, Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System

This Week’s Feature – Fish Health Tracking Tool

By L. Gunther

We all have caught a fish at one point or another that we couldn’t identify, or one that had an unusual growth or wound. Some of us have even witnessed a fish kill. The first thought is, “who should I report this too”, or maybe, “how can I find out more?” Well, a group of Canadian scientists and regulators have invested considerable effort and resources to create a tool to report unusual fish species or fish health events. But wait there’s more, the tool also provides anglers with feedback on our discoveries and questions. Talk about empowering citizen science!

The Fish Health Tracker Tool provides anglers with the ability to report their observations while on the water using their portable smart device, or later from their desktop. Once the report has been received and verified, abnormal observations are forwarded to people with the authority to take appropriate action. The Tool was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.

You would think a tool like this would quickly gain broad support among the angling community. With six million anglers purchasing licenses each year in Canada, not to mention the youth, seniors and other groups that can fish license free, there surely must be plenty of odd fish health and species incidents being observed every day. So why has there only been 17 submissions since the tool was first launched in January 2022?

The slow take-up of the tool is a concern. I doubt very much that anglers just don’t care. It could, however, be playing into every angler’s deep-rooted fear that their secret fishing spot will be widely shared. Or it could just as easily come down to people simply not knowing about the tool. Well, hopefully that’s about to change thanks to all you loyal readers of the Blue Fish News.

I first learned about the Fish Health Tracker Tool while searching the web for news-worthy articles for the Blue Fish Newsletter. My heart rate actually jumped. As always in such cases, I reached out to arrange an interview for an episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show. It’s how I was introduced to Doris Leung.

Doris Leung is the Interim Director of the Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System, a group that functions as part of the newly minted “Animal Health Canada” organization. The impressive team Doris helped assemble to develop and manage the Tool meets monthly, and I’m happy to report, now includes Blue Fish Canada. Even more impressive is the extensive list of scientists who have stepped up to review, take action, and respond to observations submitted by anglers across Canada. Link below to listen to my conversation with Doris Leung on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e398-fish-healthtracker-tool

I suspect many of you are thinking, how does this app track my movements? A fair question since pretty much every other angler app out there does just that. In fact, the Tracker does not use the GPS technology built into your smart device. If you choose to report your location, you’re going to need to manually input your longitude and latitude coordinates. Or you can simply name the water body where the fish incident took place. That simple and that secure.

The sort of reports you can post include healthy fishes, fishes that look abnormal or that are acting unusual, the presence of invasive aquatic species, or fishes affected by environmental issues such as chemical contamination. If a problem is suspected, one of the Tracker’s many supporting scientists may contact you for further information, or if warranted, will alert local authorities to conduct a more in-depth investigation.

Blue Fish Canada is all about the future of fish and fishing. Having said that, you know we aren’t going to let this drop. Somehow, we are going to find a way to incent as many anglers in Canada as possible to report their unusual fish sightings, starting with a podcast and this editorial, and a commitment to support the team responsible for the Fish Health Tracker Tool’s on-going deployment and future enhancements.

In the meantime, you can find the app on your devices app store by searching for,” Wildlife Health Tracker” – look for the “bird” graphic (a more suitable meme is in the works.) You can also access the tool directly from your desktop through the following link: Wildlife Health Tracker

Increasingly, fishing apps are becoming highly specialized. What started as tools for documenting and sharing caught fish with friends and family, have now evolved into so much more. We have apps that tell us what fish can be sustainably caught and consumed, where and when we can fish and for what, tools for hosting virtual tournaments, for tracking tagged fish, and reporting fish numbers and size. Tools that record and report water quality test results, and compile data on behalf of biologists conducting field research. Regulators are also beginning to use apps as a requirement for anglers to report their catch, and who knows, may someday be used to report illegal activity. But, until now, we never had a tool that allow anglers to report fish health incidents, or to acquire information such as species identification.

The Fish Health Tracker Tool truly represents a significant step towards empowering anglers to engage in citizen science, and to exercise our stewardship responsibilities. It’s definitely an app every angler should be adding to their “must-have” technologies, and it’s free.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Manitoba sport anglers want to see some changes to fishing regulations for tournaments / CTV
As part of the new regulations – which were announced by the province in February – year-round fishing is now allowed for certain species, licence changes were put into effect, and size restrictions were put on specific species to determine if they are allowed to be kept or not. Concern is if fish are caught during a tournament and they are over a certain length, anglers have to take a picture of them and then release them, they can not be brought back to an official weigh-in station.

Concern for trade as European Commission advised to act on lead / Angling International
If the European Commission agrees to the recommendation, it will mean that companies will have to apply for authorisation to use lead in their products. Substances can be banned if the risks are considered unmanageable. Such a move would have enormous repercussions for an angling industry in which the use of lead in manufacturing is widespread.

2 Fishermen Found Guilty of Cheating During Walleye Tournament Sentenced to Jail / FishingWire
Two men who pleaded guilty in March to cheating in a fishing tournament were sentenced to 10 days in jail on Thursday. Jacob Runyan, 43, and Chase Cominsky, 36, were also each ordered to pay a $2,500 fine. Half of that money will be donated to a fishing charity for children. As part of a plea deal, the two men pleaded guilty to cheating and unlawful ownership of wild animals. Cominsky also agreed to give up his bass boat worth $100,000. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop charges of attempted grand theft and possessing criminal tools. Both men also agreed to a three-year suspension of their fishing licenses.


Lake Huron’s Chinook salmon used to be king. 20 years after rapid decline, native fish back on top / CBC
Once plentiful in Lake Huron, the Chinook salmon fishery collapsed after its main food source, the herring-like alewife, dried up in 2003. The salmon — a species that is not native to the Great Lakes — never fully recovered, and although many fishermen competing at the derby prefer it, it’s unlikely to fetch the weights of 20 years ago.

Millions of salmon heading home to B.C. caught by Alaskan fishers / Focus on Victoria
“It is infuriating that, this year, Alaska is closing the fishery on the inside waters of the Alaska Panhandle because of conservation concerns, but the fishery will go ahead on the outside waters, says Watershed Watch’s Dave Mills. “Data has shown that 97 per cent of those fish are not from Alaska.”

New Research Asks, “Can Pacific Salmon Keep Pace with Climate Change?” / NOAA
A recent study — the largest of its kind — showed unpredictable changes in juvenile salmon migration timing in response to climate change. The study’s findings highlight the need for more research on how climate change affects salmon migration. It also underscores the importance of protecting salmon habitats and ensuring that salmon have access to food.

Is the new salmon on Canada’s East Coast friend or foe? / National Observer
A press release from the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization says it “considered with alarm the threat that Pacific pink salmon, an invasive species, spreading throughout the North Atlantic, is now posing to wild North Atlantic salmon.” Pink salmon pose possible threats to wild Atlantic salmon: diseases and parasites from the pinks, as well as more competition for habitat and food.

Ontario man works to remove ‘sea of goldfish’ from natural wetland / CBC
Curt Beleutz has been catching invasive goldfish in a Sparta, Ont., waterway and releasing them into an isolated pond. In the long run, he’s not likely to make much of a dent, Beleutz admitted. But he hopes he might be able to reduce the goldfish population for at least this season. Plus — and maybe more importantly — he’s telling everyone who will listen not to let unwanted goldfish out into the wild.


Group says action needed to stop economic disaster from invasive species / Spare News 
Eric Cleland, Nature Conservancy of Canada’s director of invasive species program in Ontario, says right now invasive phragmites — also known as the European common reed — stretches along the Trans Canada, in Marathon, Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Dryden, Kenora, and the Lake of the Woods area. He said it’s mostly contained in the highways right now. “Our opportunity to act is now because if it spreads to the wetlands, the lakes, the rivers of beautiful northern Ontario, we are going to be without the tools needed to deliver this,” he said. “It’ll be too large a problem.” He said they’ve learned from experience in Southern Ontario, where the weed is getting well established and costs tens of millions of dollars to manage.

River Notes / ASF
Once again, many of Nova Scotia’s rivers did not have the benefit of a true spring freshet this year. Kicking off the season in low water conditions has become an unwelcome trend in Nova Scotia. DFO stopped counting adult salmon on the St. Mary’s as part of budget-cuts during the Harper era. Yet the number of fish being captured for tagging and observed by locals puts the St. Mary’s leaps and bounds ahead of others. With arguably the largest population of salmon in mainland Nova Scotia, the St. Mary’s should be a DFO priority for adult salmon assessments.

To feed endangered orcas, Alaska ordered to stop intercepting B.C.-bound salmon / Times
Watershed Watch’s fisheries advisor Greg Taylor says the latest ruling is huge, as the interception of Chinook in southeast Alaska has been their biggest single source of mortality.

Coastal GasLink hit with more stop work orders over water pollution concerns / CBC
Coastal GasLink has been issued stop work orders on a stretch of pipeline construction for the second time in just over a week, the latest in a pattern of environmental violations for polluting sensitive waterways.

Canada opens Fisheries Act investigation into Kearl leak / CTV
Environment Canada is opening an investigation into whether Imperial Oil broke federal laws with two releases of tailings from its Kearl oilsands mine in northern Alberta.

Five invasive species that cost Ontario the most money / ISC
For the amount of damage they cause, invasive species punch above their weight. The spread of invasives can have enormous consequences on natural ecosystems, recreation, and economic industries. Now, a study by a team of international researchers has revealed that the global economic cost of invasive species is as steep as the costs for natural disasters such as storms, earthquakes, and wildfires

‘Very rare’ white-morph crayfish being pushed out of Lake Simcoe / Barrie Advance
Can you help Premek Hamr find one of the “most interesting and rare” crayfish in Canada? “The species is not rare; what’s rare is this population is white,” Hamr said. “It would be good to know if there’s any sightings and whether they’re still in the lake. Pretty soon you’re just going to have rusty crayfish in Simcoe; they out-compete them, have a higher appetite and are a little less afraid of predators. They breed prolifically, lay lots of eggs, reproduce very quickly and smother the natives. The ‘rusties’ are bigger.”

Avian Flu Outbreaks in Marine Mammals Mark New Era for Deadly Virus / Yale Environment 360
A highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza has killed thousands of wild birds and is now infecting seals and other marine mammals. Researchers know the virus can jump from birds to mammals, but they are on alert to see if it can be transmitted from mammal to mammal.


Salmon alliance shares salmon crisis plans at Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association annual meeting / Yukon News
The Yukon First Nation Salmon Stewardship Alliance attended the annual preseason meeting of the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association where it shared its plans to address the salmon population crisis along the Yukon River which is home to the longest salmon migration in the world.

Ceremonial release of Okanagan sockeye fry in Penticton touches on more than just restoring the salmon population / Penticton News
Dozens of community members of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and school children gathered along the Penticton channel riverbanks Thursday to take part in an important ceremony, releasing thousands of sockeye salmon fry.


Recreational Fishing Industry Ranks the Safety of Right Whales Below Profit / Hakai
The primary worry, according to Mike Leonard from the American Sportfishing Association, comes down to the economic impact. many ASA members left public comments warning that including their boats in the speed rules will negatively affect their livelihoods (the new rules would affect boats larger than about 11 meters). One commenter, a charter boat operator in North Carolina, wrote that “the speed limit would effectively double” their travel time and that “[their] customers are paying to fish, and catch fish, not just for an extended boat ride.”


New Boat Trader survey reports on Millennial boater upgrades / Boating Industry
According to the latest market report from Boats Group, buyer interest shifted last year, leading to a normalization of the industry. As a result, the total number of boats sold worldwide decreased for the first time since the pandemic-induced boom. However, two in five (40%) of millennials that purchased their boat during the pandemic boating boom reported intent to upgrade their vessel, according to a recent private seller survey conducted by Boat Trader, America’s largest boating marketplace. The study performed on the marketplace’s For Sale By Owner (FSBO) platform found that out of all the private sellers that purchased boats within the past one to three years, close to half (49%) of the participants expressed a desire to upgrade, with millennials being the largest generational group.


Surf & Turf: a seafood justice podcast / LocalCatch.Org
This new podcast series explores the intersection of seafood, equity, and justice, covering a range of issues related to seafood production, distribution, and consumption. The podcast centers voices from the Local Catch Network and in season one (six episodes), we explore themes related to food security, sovereignty, innovation, and alternative economies. This podcast is an excellent resource for to learn more about how people involved with Community supported fisheries are creating a more just and equitable seafood system.

Special Guest Feature: Ask an expert: What is on this perch?

Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Q: We caught this perch (click the link for a photo) on Lake Nipissing in North Bay. A friend believes it’s a parasite. Note that the fin is also wonky. Any thoughts? Is this common? What should someone do when they catch a fish with a variant like that? We weren’t sure what to do.

A: Adam Weir, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Fisheries Biologist responds: The OFAH is a member of the Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System (CAHSS) Aquatic Network and I was able to connect with professionals across the country to help determine what is wrong with this perch. There was general agreement this is a lesion that developed because of trauma or injury. The pectoral fin is also damaged, which may be a result of a bacterial infection and, since it’s on the same side as the lesion, they may have occurred at the same time. The trauma could have come from a predation attempt, the fish ate something that protruded out of the body wall from the inside or was injured by an outside source. Several members of the network commented on the possibility of it originating from a lamprey attachment point. There are native silver lamprey in Lake Nipissing that do parasitize a variety of fishes, feeding on their blood via their rasping tongue teeth and sucking mouth.

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What’s new at Blue Fish Canada: Blue Fish Canada volunteers and staff are hard at work preparing Youth Stewardship Kits, and as in past, the focus is on both fishing and conservation. This includes teaching youth how and when to use circle or barbless hooks, and non-lead alternatives. Along with actual tackle, youth are provided with the information needed to both fish sustainably, and engage in discussions with others who may hold opinions about the legacy of recreational fishing. It’s why we are constantly seeking out the latest science and best practices on issues such as lead fishing tackle. Read this issue’s editorial, listen to our podcast with Margie Manthey, and please share your input so we can continue to respectfully advance the conversation. Send your feedback to: BlueFishCan@gmail.com

Photo of Wolf Lake Association’s Director of Fishing, Margie Manthey

This Week’s Feature – The Legacy of Lead Tackle

By L. Gunther

Lead fishing tackle could very well be one of the most divisive issues dogging recreational fishing, and yet, from a big picture perspective, it’s also relatively insignificant. So why is it that any talk to phase out lead fishing tackle generates such strong responses from both angling stakeholders and environmentalists? Having followed the lead tackle debate for over a dozen years, I think the problem boils down to people working with incorrect information, and worse, that banning lead is the thin edge of the wedge meant to cast fishing as an outdoor activity that should be brought to an end. Let’s look at what we already know about the legacy of lead fishing tackle.

Lead poisoning from ingested fishing tackle in common loons has been well documented. Across North America lead poisoning accounts for 49% of documented loon mortality and occurs from adult loons ingesting lead fishing tackle. Jigs and sinkers are the main culprit. But why does mortality occur, and why is it that loons swallow lead tackle in the first place?

Like many other birds, loons depend on their gizzards to help with the digestion process. The gizzard is the section of the digestive track where plant material is broken down by small bits of gravel intentionally ingested by loons. Unfortunately, when a lead sinker or jig is mistakenly added to the gizzard, lead being much softer, it too is quickly broken down by the small rocks. This “emulsified” lead is then infused into the blood of the loon leading to significant lead poisoning symptoms and often mortality.

If the loss of the loon itself isn’t enough, there’s also the plight of scavengers that consume the remains of the dead loon. It’s a meal that now includes high levels of lead, which in turn either impairs the functioning of the scavenger, or results in mortality. Yes, raptors too are impacted by lead fishing tackle.

I understand that building your own fishing lures can be quite rewarding. Purchasing lead wheel weights from tire shops, melting them down over a camp stove, and pouring the liquid lead into inexpensive molds or ones you design yourself can give an angler a real sense of accomplishment. Adding some paint, maybe a bit of fluff or feather, and selling your creations to your friends or through your local tackle shop, and voilà, an entrepreneur is born.

We now know that working with lead brings with it health risks of its own. Lead fumes generated during the melting down process, lead trimmings after weights and jigs are removed from the molds, and the dust alone generated by lead materials being moved about, can all result in the person working with the material absorbing lead into their system through their lungs, their skin, their eyes and ears, and so on. Maybe not enough to result in mortality, but lead absorption can be accumulative in that once it gets in your body it doesn’t easily come back out. Go ahead an install ventilation equipment, wear a respirator, and cover up using a hazmat suit if you want, but it’s still resulting in a part of your home, garage or shed becoming a hazard zone. Is it worth it?

I often come across old fishing tackle boxes at garage sales, junk shops, and flea markets. The first thing I notice are the loose lead jigs and sinkers tumbling around in the treys and the bottom of the box. I ask myself do I really want to put my hands into that decades old tackle box that has been accumulating lead dust for dozens of years? And I think about how lead jigs and weights are tackle that we never seem to find ourselves in short supply. It’s cheep, easily found in any shop that sells fishing tackle, and relatively long lasting, until it’s lost.

As a boy my friends and I all used our teeth to clamp lead sinkers to our fishing lines. We did it because we couldn’t afford to buy expensive needle nose plyers. Of course, with age came better sense and jobs that now meant we could afford plyers, but the temptation to clamp down on that lead sinker that keeps slipping down my line with my teeth never really goes away. And then there are the line ties on the jig heads that are clogged with paint, and yes, maybe a bit of lead, that need to be cleared out with something sharp and tough enough to break through the paint and lead so fishing line can be passed through the “eye” of the jig. All those small paint and lead fragments that are now on my fingers that I then wipe on my pants. None of this represents safe lead handling practices given what we now know.

I admit, Tungsten jigs and weights are by far superior to lead. They are smaller than lead by about 30% for the same weight, which means they will fall through the water column that much faster. Tungsten is harder, which means I get more accurate feedback when my jig head or sinker bumps into a rock, stump, gravel bottom, or some other structure that may be holding fish. It works amazingly well, but I do feel the pain when it breaks off – a single Tungsten weight can easily cost two to five dollars, depending on the size and shape.

Other lead alternatives like tin, bismuth, steel and ceramic are much less expensive than tungsten, and come close to what are still the lowest cost fishing weights and jigs – ones made out of lead. Unfortunately, the general consensus is that none of these alternative’s function as well as lead, given that they are often larger in comparison. But does it really matter?

Yes, a 3/8-ounce jig will be noticeably bigger, but the smaller sized line weights commonly used under floats when fishing for panfish don’t represent any significant difference in size or function. So why not use a lead alternative?

I think about bottom bouncers, weighing as much as 2-5 ounces of lead, and also about trolling weights that range between 1-3 ounces, or catfish or carp rigs that can get up to five ounces easily. I have yet to come across alternatives to these sizeable lead weights. But then again, do they even represent a health risk? I can’t imagine any bird or fish swallowing any of these items, and when one is lost, which doesn’t happen that often, I would think that it wouldn’t take long before they are covered over by sediment at the bottom of the lake or river. But this isn’t always the case.

While fishing for sturgeon on the lower Fraser River near Mission British Columbia, I traveled upriver aboard an aluminum jet boat equipped with a six-litre V8 engine normally found in a pickup truck. My guide told me they use to hold jet boat races among anglers, until the cost of losing and recovering boats began to out-weigh angler enthusiasm for taking part. I was told that due to the strong flow of the river and the bottom compensation of the river’s bed consisting mainly of melon-sized rocks, meant any aluminum boat that sank during the race had to be recovered relatively quickly or it would be ground into aluminum dust leaving little behind except for the iron block of the engine. It got me thinking about the 16-ounce lead weights we were using to pin down our sturgeon rigs. It wasn’t unusual for one of these giant lead sinkers to break off when snagged between several large rocks, or to come free during the fight with a sturgeon. The goal is to lose the weight, and not your entire rig, or worse, to tether a sturgeon to the bottom should your line break. That’s a lot of lead that will soon be rubbed into micro-fragments and distributed along the river’s bottom by the current for who knows how long and to what detriment.

So, we know there is no safe amount of lead to have in our homes, our water, and the toys we give to our children and grandkids. All the experts agree that lead does not belong in our water pipes, the solder we once used to connect copper water pipes, the paint we once used in our homes, and so on. It makes me think, why is it we are so stubbornly slow to transition away from lead fishing tackle?

Numerous states in the U.S. have implemented lead tackle bans. National Parks in the U.S. are the latest to join this trend. Right here in Canada there are duck sanctuaries that you are allowed to fish in, but if you are caught with a single lead weight in your boat while doing so, you could be facing a significant fine. But maybe incentives are the way to go?

Margie Manthey from the Wolf Lake Association is leading the charge on creating programs designed to insentify anglers to turn in their lead fishing tackle and receive a gift certificate to put towards the purchase of non-lead tackle. Turns out most participating anglers are just happy to have found a location where they can unload their lead tackle safely and forego the gift card. So far, the program has collected over 80 kilos of lead tackle. And no, Margie isn’t against fishing – she fishes any chance she gets, and her sons are active competitive anglers as well. When Margie isn’t busy with running the “Get the Lead Out” program, she’s spear-heading the restoration of walleye spawning habitat. Margie is my guest on The Blue Fish Radio show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e395-wolf-lake-walleye-restoration-and-g

Pallatrax Stonze fishing weights won a best-in-show award at the 2008 ICAST show and is still going strong. EagleClaw makes a wide variety of non-lead weight and jig alternatives guaranteed to earn praise from your more environmentally minded family and friends. Once you start looking you will be surprised by the number of alternatives on the market.

Final thought, let’s not wait to have some government official implement a plan that may seem well intentioned, but is riddled with rules that make no sense. Instead, I challenge anglers everywhere to take a page from Margie’s play book and find innovative safe alternatives to educate and insentify fellow anglers to begin making the switch away from lead. It’s up to all of us to define lead tackle’s final legacy.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


The People Traveling the World in Search of the Smallest Fish They Can Reel In / Daily Beast
While you might think fishing is all about catching the biggest fish possible and using it as a dating profile picture–or, at the very least, posting it on Instagram)–there’s an emerging group of fishermen who think just the opposite. It’s not about how big the fish is. Instead, it’s about variety. And there’s no better way to catch unique fish than by reeling in the smallest organisms that’ll bite.

Memorial planned to honour lives lost in Lake Winnipeg / CBC
Two fishing partners and their dog team, lost through the ice in 1908. A fatal lightning strike to a fishing net in the 1920s. In at least two cases, appendicitis. Shipwrecks. Fires. These are just a handful of the harrowing stories Heather Hinam has uncovered in her work as a researcher on a memorial that will honour the fisherfolk who have lost their lives to Lake Winnipeg. The New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli is organizing the fisherfolk memorial with the support of the Westshore Community Foundation.

IGFA Passports to Fishing Update / IGFA
The International Game Fish Association Passports to Fishing program was launched four years ago, and there are no signs of it slowing down! To date, this youth angling education program has reached nearly 20,000 children and families in 41 different countries around the world. Blue Fish Canada is proud to serve as Canada’s program representative.

DFO shuts down lucrative baby eel fishery in Maritimes amid poaching, safety concerns / Turtle Island News
Federal fisheries officials shut down the lucrative baby eel fishery in the Maritimes amid growing concerns of illegal poaching and violence. Unfortunately, with the public service strike, enforcement officers are no longer carrying out enforcement related activities to ensure the shutdown order is being enforced. Numerous claims by those impacted by the shutdown saying the harvest is still being carried out.


‘Shockingly huge’ steelhead salmon escape fish farm, threatening B.C. lake / Port Alberni Valley News
It’s not clear how many farmed fish have escaped over time or what the consequences have been to the lake’s ecosystem or even the farm’s owners, the Department of Fish and Game at the B.C. Ministry of Forests as well as the aquaculture enforcement branch of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have been repeatedly alerted to the problem. It appears the AgriMarine fish farm on Lois Lake is operating illegally, says Stan Proboszcz, senior scientist with Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

OCEARCH’S 45th Expedition: Expedition Northbound / FishingWire
OCEARCH’s data shows that prior to their spring migration north to Canada’s Atlantic coast, many white sharks use the productive continental shelf waters around the Outer Banks, North Carolina region as an overwintering and spring staging area. Alongside 42 collaborators from 28 research institutions, the organization will collect data to support 25 science projects that will help solve, for the first time, the life history puzzle of the white shark in the Western North Atlantic Ocean.

Invasive Carp Find Purpose on the Menu / FishingWire
“You know what’s the most popular food source in the world? This,” Thomas says as he points to the copi. It’s not that way in America, he says, because of our expectations. We’ll buy beef, pork, turkey and other products, but are unfamiliar with copi. Copi is a new name applied to invasive carp: grass carp, silver carp, black carp and bighead carp.


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is So Big, Invasive Species Are Now Thriving On It / ScienceAlert
“The issues of plastic go beyond just ingestion and entanglement,” Linsey Haram, a marine ecologist formerly at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, explained when in the process of conducting her research. “It’s creating opportunities for coastal species’ biogeography to greatly expand beyond what we previously thought was possible.” Rarely documented until now, one historical example was of coastal-dwelling invertebrates hitching a ride across the North Pacific Ocean on plastic debris swept out to sea in the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Hundreds of invertebrate species clung on for six years to debris that washed ashore in North America and Hawaii in 2017.

Will the new U.N. High Seas Treaty help protect Pacific salmon? / High Country News
The high seas begin 370 km from land and cover 43% of the earth’s surface. They are home to as many as 10 million species, yet remain one of the least understood places on Earth. In early March, negotiators representing nearly 200 nations came to a historic agreement aimed at protecting the ocean’s creatures and ecosystems. When the new United Nations High Seas Treaty was announced, marine scientists and conservationists around the globe rejoiced.

El Niño is coming and ocean temps are already at record highs / The Conversation 
It’s coming. Winds are weakening along the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Heat is building beneath the ocean surface. By July, most forecast models agree that the climate system’s biggest player – El Niño – will return for the first time in nearly four years. Specifically, El Niño tends to trigger intense and widespread periods of extreme ocean warming known as marine heat waves. Global ocean temperatures are already at record highs, so El Niño-induced marine heat waves could push many sensitive fisheries to a breaking point.

The Gruesome Ways Volcanoes Kill Fish / Hakai
Whether the eruption is underwater or on land, fish don’t have an easy time dealing with nature’s fury. Volcanoes can be life-threatening for fish. A major eruption in 2011 in Chile, for instance, killed 4.5 million of them. Researchers have studied how lava flows, hot gases, and deadly debris can cause mass die-offs or even cut fish off from the sea in suddenly landlocked lakes.

Mapping infection hotspots in wild Pacific salmon / PSF
A new study assesses the marine distribution of dozens of infectious agents in wild Pacific salmon in the marine environment. This novel study reveals where salmon populations have experienced infection “hotspots,” some featuring potentially detrimental pathogens. The research, supported by the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF)’s Salmon Health team, provides the most comprehensive assessment to date of the marine distributions of infectious agents in Chinook, coho, and sockeye salmon in B.C. during their first year at sea.


Land back: Osoyoos Indian Band reclaims sacred salmon fishing site / iNFOnews
The Osoyoos Indian Band is celebrating the return of an important piece of land which includes a sacred salmon fishing site that’s been utilized by syilx people for thousands of years. Set aside in 1877, the 71 acres of Osoyoos Indian Reserve was taken back by the federal and provincial governments in 1913 through the McKenna-McBride Royal Commission, which authorized “British Columbia” to add to, reduce and even eliminate Indian reservations. Much of the land from that original Osoyoos Indian Reserve is now “owned” by private homeowners, one of whom has displayed an inaccurate sign on their front yard which says that the land where their property is situated is “ceded.”


Rebuilding Abundance Symposium Follow-Up Report / Oceana Canada
In the fall of 2022 Oceana Canada hosted the Rebuilding Abundance symposium. The event included creative and insightful conversations so desperately needed on rebuilding fish and fisheries in Canada. Participants shared differing views and identified the concerns that united everyone. There was a shared sense that by working collaboratively it’s possible to achieve a better future for the ocean and for those who depend on healthy fisheries. Oceana Canada has now produced a report that summarizes the presentations and discussions and identifies Oceana Canada’s key recommendations for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to create more abundant and sustainable fisheries.

Status of Stocks 2022 / NOAA Fisheries
NOAA Fisheries’ 2022 Status of Stocks shows continued progress in science and management for U.S. fisheries. Key takeaways include: 93 percent of stocks are not subject to overfishing and 81 percent are not overfished; the overfishing list included 24 stocks and the overfished list included 48 stocks, which are decreases from 2021; and two stocks were rebuilt, bringing the total to 49 rebuilt stocks since 2000. U.S. commercial and recreational fishing provided 1.7 million jobs and $253 billion in sales across the broader economy in 2020.


Boat Noise Consultation Results Released / Transport Canada
In early 2022 Transport Canada (TC) launched a “Let’s Talk” web portal to collect public comments about possible changes to small vessel (boat) noise emissions. This month (April 2023) TC has released, “What we heard: Small vessel noise emissions” outlining which of the options proposed was most popular with public respondents. Most respondents strongly disagreed with the idea of not making any changes to the Small Vessel Regulations.


E395 Wolf Lake Walleye Restoration and “Get the Led Out” / BFR
Margie Manthey is a true local champion for her numerous efforts to improve the future of fish and fishing on Wolf Lake. The lake is located near Westport in eastern Ontario in a region known as South Frontenac. A passionate angler and Director of Fishing for the Wolf Lake Association, Margie has been instrumental in rehabilitating walleye spawning beds, replacing “perched” culverts, and strengthening shoreline resilience. But, her main passion is incentivsing anglers to switch away from using lead weights and jigs. Her “get the lead out” program resulted in over 80 kilos of lead fishing tackle being voluntarily turned in by anglers in just one year.

Special Guest Feature American Sportfishing Association Issues Statement on National Wildlife Refuge Lead Tackle Restrictions

On September 15 2022 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service released a final rule announcing the prohibition of lead fishing tackle on certain National Wildlife Refuges that are being opened to fishing. The American Sportfishing Association issued the following statement from Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Leonard.

“It is deeply disappointing that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) ignored science and the concerns of the sportfishing industry. USFWS is charged with ensuring fish and wildlife resource management is rooted in the best available data and science. This proposed rule runs counter to that charge, and sets a dangerous precedent for future unwarranted bans on fishing tackle. Although USFWS states that this decision is based on concerns that lead ammunition and tackle have negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of both humans and wildlife, USFWS provided zero evidence of lead fishing tackle causing any negative impacts in these refuges.

“As we have previously said, ASA and the entire sportfishing community fully support science-based conservation initiatives. Our industry has long made sacrifices for the betterment of the environment and wildlife. While anglers should have the choice of whether they want to use alternatives, it is important to recognize that non-lead tackle may be more expensive and perform worse.

“We hope that USFWS realizes the error they made in this rule and reconsiders its implementation. Anglers should be able to keep using traditional fishing tackle as they have for generations.

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What’s new at Blue Fish Canada: Spring has certainly sprung and everyone everywhere is readying gear for the open water season. Thank goodness, it’s been a record cloudy winter and we all need sun. But, let’s not forget all the rest of the health benefits that go with fishing, and what we need to do to make sure our actions give back in ways that ensure fish and fishing will be around for generations to come. On that theme, our feature editorial continues to explore what it means to live in a “one health” relationship with nature, following on our mental health focus editorial released in the April 3rd issue of the Blue Fish News. More than ever, given all we now know about the impacts extreme weather is having on nature and losses in biodiversity, we need to stand together for nature.

Photo of editor Lawrence Gunther on the bow of his Ranger

This Week’s Feature – One Health and Recreational Angling

By L. Gunther

In the April 3, 2023, edition of the Blue Fish News, we covered the topic of mental health and recreational angling. Everything from benefits from spending time in nature, to adopting the appropriate mental state whether fishing with friends and family or competing at the highest levels. Today let’s explore the concept of “one health”, and why it’s an approach we all now need to adopt.

It’s my understanding that indigenous values are based in the one health philosophy of being in nature. An understanding that for every action there’s a response or consequence. I’m not an expert in traditional indigenous practices, but I have spent considerable time seeking a deeper understanding of the relationship between indigenous people and nature’s capacity to provide to the health of their communities.

Much of my research has focussed on how indigenous communities emphasize the role of each member’s status as a net contributor to the overall health of the community, including the traditional roles of people like me who live without sight. It’s 40-years of exploration that has framed my perspective of our place within nature as being grounded in people working together to survive and thrive. On reflection, it’s a paradigm that is slowly losing relevance as evolving technology makes foraging that much more efficient, requiring fewer active foragers and less effort to accomplish the same goals. At the same time, ensuring that we strengthen our awareness and connection with the wellbeing of nature grows in importance along with our new-found powers.

One health recognizes the interconnectedness of the health of humans, animals, and the environment. With respect to spending time in the outdoors, given the increasing pressure nature is experiencing due to increased harvesting pressures, climate change, biodiversity and habitat loss, it is more important than ever that we are aware of the impacts of our actions. After all, if nature suffers, how are we to continue to benefit from being in its midst?

At a more practical level, protecting ourselves when in nature includes preventing the transfer of zoonotic diseases. These are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Such transfer can occur by having direct contact with diseased fish, by consuming raw or undercooked diseased fish, and in some cases, through the water such fish inhabit. Just as importantly, we don’t want to be the ones who spread aquatic diseases from one water body to another. More environmental stressors brought about by our increased capacity to travel large distances.

Another aspect of the One Health approach concerns the responsible use of natural resources. Over-harvesting of fish, or unsafe fish handling practices when releasing fish, can all diminish fish populations over time if the combined extraction and mortality rate exceeds the ability of the fish to replenish their numbers, or what is now defined as unsustainable. North American conservationists recognized this threat over 150 years ago; recognition that formed the framework of today’s systems used to manage harvest pressures. Given our growing realisation of our global impacts on nature, conserving the health of an ecosystem includes more-than-ever the protection of species at risk, minimizing human impact on wildlife habitat, and enhancing and strengthening the resilience of habitat that has been negatively impacted by extreme weather or human activity.

I think the message is obvious to everyone who spends time in nature at this point. No one believes any more that our presence in nature is completely benign, or that Nature’s capacity to provide is infinite. This may have been the case up until relatively recently, but our ability to move about efficiently over long distances, and our adoption of numerous technical innovations, have now tipped the balance towards “short term gain” along with “long term pain.” It’s led to greater need to take measures to “leave no trace”, and to know when “enough is enough.

Nature is incapable of saying no, so it’s up to us to figure this out on nature’s behalf. It’s what conservationists refer to as the science-based precautionary principle. Since most of us aren’t scientists, we need to pay attention to what those who are doing the science are saying. Even still, healthy relationships aren’t built on a foundation of a thousand “no’s”.

An indigenous elder told me that the secret to surviving in a small space over long winters with someone you care about involves learning to read the signs. To anticipate their needs and desires without there having to explicitly state what these are. To spare the person from having to ask by taking action to address such needs before they become a source of friction. It’s a form of communications that goes well beyond spoken language.

Examples of species that have successfully evolved have a heightened awareness of the others in their community and the environment as a whole. The vast majority of the time is spent listening with their eyes, ears, and other senses, using language, play, songs, dance and story telling to convey deeper more complex lessons of morality, fertility and survival.

The assumption conveyed by some that animals were put on earth for our benefit, and that humans rule supreme is slowly being abandoned. Replacing this paradigm with something more realistic hasn’t been easy. Recreation, conservation, environmentalism, survivalism, indigenous values, and now sustainability, have all been promoted as the answer to our long-term survival. Learning from experience is crucial, but going back in time is likely not the answer.

Plenty of evidence exists of past civilizations that failed because they were unable to live in balance with nature. Those civilizations that did well, found other ways to ensure their needs never grew beyond what their environment could support, because if demand did outstrip supply, starvation often resulted. For those who never bothered imposing their own limits, many simply reverted to taking from their neighbours. Imperialism, inter-tribal conflict, wars, it’s all rooted in vanquishing ones perceived weaker opponent — bloody alternatives that society as a whole now hopes to move beyond.

So, if we can’t live outside of nature without impacting nature itself and threatening our own long-term survival, and if we don’t want to revert to pre-industrial times when we stayed within the borders of our respective territories until we couldn’t, then we need to discover a new way of existing in harmony with nature. Mitigating and adapting to climate change is forcing our hand, as are increasing anxiety levels among people. Signs of heightening stress within nature itself are also underscoring the need to evolve our systems and behaviors to align with our planets strengths and weaknesses.

One thing is certain, it’s in all our best interests to form responsible one-health connections with nature as we adapt and make sense of this new paradigm. Going back in time isn’t an option, despite what reality TV is portraying through ever-more hone-steading type programming might suggest. Growing populations and expectations also make it unsustainable for people to revert to a “hunter-gatherer” lifestyle. Already ample evidence exists of resulting territorial conflicts and biodiversity loss, especially when commercial trade in these same resources is included – technical innovations have already tipped the odds in favour of over-exploitation. But, does all this mean that nature can no longer provide?

What sustainable life on earth will need to include to support as many as nine billion people still is a work in progress. While these issues are being sorted out, finding new terms of engagement with nature needs to be reimagined at a personal and community level. But for certain, connecting with nature in healthy mutually sustainable ways is crucial if we are to slow down and ultimately end the practice of sacrificing nature to meet our own economic goals. Shuttering ourselves away from nature in built urban environments and treating the rest of the planet as our “piggy bank” isn’t sustainable.

We are told community, economy, health, are all base-level requirements essential for people to achieve feelings of safety and security. But, can we continue to excuse the behaviour of others by associating their actions with survival? Or, is they’re also a spiritual aspect that many of us now struggle with personally? What role does nature play in rekindling this spiritual aspect of who we are? More on that topic to come.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Catch-and-Release vs. Catch-and-Eat Bass Fishing / Field & Stream
So you’re telling me that people out there actually want to eat bass? Whether it’s a largemouth or smallmouth, I’ve always been surprised to hear fishing folks talk about eating bass. In my mind, micropterus salmoides are not food. However, after learning that I just might be in the minority in the fight for eating bass versus not eating bass, I see I need to explain myself—and let you know why I think you shouldn’t eat bass either.

Quebec Ice Fishermen Catch Giant Atlantic Halibut / Field & Stream
A group of Quebec fishermen recently made an incredible catch: On March 4, Denis Lavergne, Stéphane Rivard, and Jean-François Simard teamed up to land an absolutely gigantic Atlantic halibut while ice fishing—yes, ice fishing—the Saguenay Fjord. Recreational Atlantic halibut fishing is prohibited in Quebec. But in the winter of 2022, the provincial government instituted a program on the Saguenay Fjord that pairs anglers with government scientists. Under the program, anglers are allowed to fish for the species but must submit their catches to scientists, who record biological data from the fish. According to Simard, who is a wildlife technician for the Quebec government, the Saguenay Fjord is a one-of-a-kind fishery.

To save the Bow River’s trout, anglers stand to pay the price / Outdoor Canada
It’s not the first time anglers have felt they were in the crosshairs of fisheries biologist Michael Sullivan from Alberta’s Ministry of Environment and Protected Areas. In the mid-1990s, Sullivan led a walleye recovery plan that many anglers felt unfairly singled them out as the cause of the walleye decline. As with most fisheries, there is typically a cumulative effect leading to a population decline, but many felt Sullivan ignored other factors, resulting in some of the most restrictive angling regulations Alberta has ever seen. One of the most controversial parts of his plan was the institution of a limited-entry draw allowing anglers to keep a small number of walleye.

Now Sullivan is leading the charge to bring more restrictive fishing regulations to Alberta’s famed Bow River, and many anglers are predictably watching with a suspicious eye. While rainbow and brown trout are not native to the Bow River drainage, they provide an important fishery in terms of both recreation and economics, with anglers injecting approximately $24.5 million into the local economy each year. Nonetheless, a recent decline in rainbow numbers has Sullivan and his colleagues looking for a solution—and once again, anglers seem to be their primary target.

The fishing life: When it comes to wetting a line, this is what it’s all about / Outdoor Canada
The fishing life is resourcefulness. We anglers often overcome unfavourable weather, equipment breakdowns and all kinds of unexpected challenges to reach our destinations. We also strive to learn and improve. We read how-to articles, listen to the pros, build our tackle collections and study our fisheries.

The Best Walleye Fishery on the Planet / Field & Stream
At nearly 10,000 square miles, Lake Erie is the 11th largest lake in the world. And right now it arguably has the best walleye fishing in the world. Fisheries experts say Erie now holds over 100 million walleyes.

MP Taylor Bachrach joins calls to limit foreign ownership of commercial fishing licenses on West Coast / CFNR Network
A pair of NDP MPs are calling for Ottawa to end the transfer of commercial fishing licenses in Pacific waters to foreign owners. Canada does not currently limit the foreign ownership of commercial licenses and quotas, nor does it track citizenship when they change hands. According to the Union and the MPs, this displaces Canadian operations, damaging their economic viability, and domestic food security.

California salmon fishing slated to shut down this year due to low stock / NPR
Federal researchers expect a near-record-low stock of Chinook salmon, one of the largest and most highly prized fish in the Pacific Ocean. The measure, unseen in 14 years, would temporarily ban both commercial and recreational salmon fishing in the state. Much of the fishing off the coast of neighboring Oregon would also be canceled until 2024. Chinook salmon are the “largest and most highly prized” of all the salmon in the Pacific ocean, according to the council. But over the years, the species has become increasingly endangered as a result of drought, heat waves and agriculture. The decision to cancel the salmon fishing season is expected to take a toll on the $1.4 billion fishing industry, which supports 23,000 jobs in the state.


The fright of a lifetime: Accidentally encountering a great white shark in Canada / Canadian Geographic
Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark shares his experience coming face-to-face with one of the ocean’s top predators while scuba diving near Halifax, N.S.

Nature group wants Canada to strengthen reviews of genetically engineered animals / Salmon Arm Observer
Nature Canada wants engineered animals to stay out of the wild. Canada hasn’t had any accidents with the technology, but Nature Canada senior adviser Mark Butler said we need to prevent wild animals from being exposed to engineered cousins that could breed with them, prey on them or compete with them for food.

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 was discovered in 1957 after more than 6,000 compounds were tested to uncover a selective sea lamprey control method. TFM is fully registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and with Health Canada as a safe and effective pesticide. Licensed and trained technicians apply TFM in streams to remove sea lamprey larvae. TFM does not pose a risk to human health or the environment when applied at concentrations necessary to control larval sea lampreys. It naturally breaks down in the environment and does not accumulate in the tissues of fish.

More evidence that releasing hatchery-reared native fish is harmful / Hatch Magazine
The impacts of rearing and stocking non-native fish into watersheds where they don’t belong are well understood: undue competition for limited resources, hybridization, predation — the list goes on. The impacts of rearing and stocking non-native fish into watersheds where they don’t belong are well understood: undue competition for limited resources, hybridization, predation — the list goes on. In the American West, we’ve seen how introduced brook trout outcompete native cutthroat trout and eventually take over; or how rainbow trout mingle with native cutthroat trout during the spring spawn and produce a fertile hybrid that slowly eats away at native fish genetics. But even attempts to boost fish native stocks by raising genetically “appropriate” native fish and then releasing them into watersheds where they are native might be causing harm to native fish born and reared in the wild.

New tool shows progress in fighting spread of invasive grass carp in Great Lakes / ScienceDaily
Using data collected during their efforts to remove invasive grass carp from Lake Erie and its tributaries, the aquatic ecologists and environmental statisticians developed a model that can be used to estimate the amount of any rare fish early in the invasion process.

Scientists break new record after finding world’s deepest fish / University of Western Australia
At a depth of more than eight kilometres underwater, a new record for the deepest fish ever filmed and the deepest fish ever caught has been set by scientists from The University of Western Australia and Japan.


$1.2B in, Teck has barely tackled pollution problems / Narwhal
As Teck Resources plans to distance itself from coal, government records show the mining giant remains a long way from solving the widespread contamination of local rivers and creeks — despite having already invested $1.2 billion in water treatment. Last year, selenium levels 267 times higher than what’s considered safe for aquatic life were detected in waters directly affected by Teck’s Elk Valley mines, according to an internal government meeting note obtained by The Narwhal through a freedom of information request. The mining giant’s water treatment facilities have been plagued by delays and unexpected water quality issues.

Toxins found in small fish-bearing waterbody near oilsands spill, energy regulator says / National Observer
Alberta’s energy regulator has confirmed hazardous chemicals are present in a small waterbody after two releases of tailings-contaminated wastewater from Imperial Oil’s Kearl oilsands mine.

As glaciers retreat, new streams for salmon / Discover Magazine
Ecologist Sandy Milner has traveled to Alaska for decades to study the development of streams flowing from melting glaciers. He’s seen insects move in, alders and willows spring up, and spawning fish arrive in thousands.

Things aren’t looking good’: How climate change, chemicals and invasive species are impacting Innisfil ice fishing / Innisfil Journal
Ice fishing has long been a tradition on Lake Simcoe, but the length of time the lake is covered in ice, for areas like Kempenfelt Bay, has been shrinking, according to data from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.


Yukon River’s salmon runs likely to stay small while Indigenous Peoples’ sacrifice grows / National Observer
Indigenous people on both sides of the border spoke about the devastation the loss of chinook salmon and the more recent collapse of chum stocks are having on communities while testifying at the Yukon River Panel, a bilateral commission that manages salmon stocks, during its meeting in Whitehorse this week. The collapse of wild salmon is causing a current of pain that spans the length of the Yukon River, from its mouth at Alaska’s Bering Sea to the headwater’s in Canada’s Yukon territory 3,000 kilometres away.


E393 Bring Back the Brookies with Trout Unlimited / Blue Fish Radio
Kerry Kennedy is a member of the Niagara Ontario chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada, and the driving force behind the Bring Back the Brookies initiative. A committed conservationist, Carrie is leading the charge to enhance trout habitat, and to document the TU chapter’s progress so others are informed and inspired to do the same. Find out what it takes to enhance stream and shoreline habitat, and why initiatives such as this are becoming imperative to the health of resident trout.

Special Guest Feature – Fisheries and Oceans Canada Faces Deluge of Calls to Improve ‘Suspect’ Science National Observer

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is being flooded with calls for change after a parliamentary committee examined how the federal agency conducts, interprets and acts on its own science.

The investigation ended with 49 recommendations to address concerns about how DFO science is presented to the fisheries minister and the public before important political decisions are made — particularly those involving B.C. salmon farms or commercial fisheries on either coast.

Insufficient funding for critical research, not incorporating data from Indigenous people, fish harvesters or independent academics, and a lack of transparency about DFO’s scientific research and outcomes also surfaced as key issues in a recent report from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO).

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What’s new at Blue Fish Canada: After one of the most sunless winters in a while, we start by exploring the connection between fishing and mental health, mental preparedness, and mindfulness with three experts in the field. Also included is a closer look at the $420 million the federal government pledged to clean up the Great Lakes, and so much more. Otherwise, Blue Fish Canada is putting final touches to youth fishing and conservation programs, knowing open water fishing season isn’t far off.

Editor Lawrence Gunther and his son Theo on Charleston Lake

This Week’s Feature – Mental Health and Recreational Fishing

By L. Gunther

Much needed discussion about mental health is permeating not just media but conversations among families, friends and colleagues. While causing discomfort, it’s a whole lot better than how things use to be when the consequences of people reaching their limits were written off as a failure of character. Thankfully, growing awareness of the relationship between sound mental health and the health of the environment is resulting in people becoming more mindful about time and place.

Therapists like Paul Michael White, author and contributor to his new book “Tales of the Great Outdoors”, are speaking openly about their mental health experience and insights. Competitive anglers like Morgan McLean, a member of Canada’s fly fishing team about to represent Canada at the next Commonwealth Games, understand the importance of team spirit and maintaining a “winning” attitude. And then there are registered psychotherapists like Alexandra Euteneier who are including in their practice mindfulness best practices and the benefits of time spent in the outdoors. All three are guests on my latest episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show. Link below to watch the episode “Mental Health, Positive Thinking and Mindfulness in the Outdoors” on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9rnnWQsHjM Or, link to the podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e391-mental-health-positive-thinking-and

What draws many of us to fishing is the excitement of the chase. The pre-fishing preparation of our equipment, the planning of the adventure itself, and the anticipation of the early morning alarm that signals the beginning of the adventure can be both exciting and terrifying. But we do it because we feel so much better afterwards. What is it that causes this feeling of bliss and accomplishment, even if we come home empty handed?

Maybe it’s the stress reduction we experience while fishing. Fishing is almost always relaxing and peaceful, two essential elements needed to reduce stress levels. Just the act of casting a line can calm the mind.

Fishing also requires concentration and focus, which can help to promote mindfulness. This can be beneficial for people who struggle with negative thoughts or have difficulty staying in the present moment. We all know what it’s like to spend a day on a boat with someone who can’t stop talking about their spouse, their job, their health issues, etc., it’s all one can do to try to get the person to focus on what’s right in front of them.

Regardless of how a fellow angler ends up on our boat, fishing is still a social activity. Understandably, for some, fishing is an opportunity to get away from people and charge their batteries, but for many others, fishing provides much needed social connection and temporary relief from loneliness, especially as we are increasingly working alone from our homes.

To just go fishing is often more than enough to perk us up, but to actually catch fish can provide a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It triggers that innate feeling of what our early ancestors experienced when returning from the hunt with game-in-hand. Even if we are practicing catch-and-release, fishing can still boost our self-esteem.

And last but certainly not least, fishing provides outdoor exercise, and given that “sitting is the new smoking”, getting away from the desk and into the outdoors can leave us feeling pleasantly exhausted at the end of the day.

So if recreational fishing can be a beneficial activity for improving mental health and well-being, why do some put all this at risk by introducing a competitiveness aspect to the activity? Never mind the fishing partner that feels compelled to count every fish they catch throughout the day, taking time to measure the bigger ones, and expecting you to do the same in order to keep a scoreboard of sorts.

I’m talking about people who travel incredible distances, hand over large amounts of money to register for a competitive event, are willing to take time off work to pre-fish the water body in advance, and then suffer the humiliation when they end up near the back of the pack. What is it that drives competitive anglers to turn what for many is an escape from the pressures of life, into something that far exceeds normal levels of stress and anxiety? People who risk it all for the thrill of competing against others, and the recognition of being crowned the best of the bunch when their stars align.

Having fished in over 150 competitive events myself for everything from salmon to perch, muskie to carp, trout to snook, and more, I must admit, competitive fishing is a thrill that can become somewhat addictive. But to be successful, you first need to accept that competitive fishing requires a totally different mental approach compared to recreational fishing.

As a good friend and highly successful competitive bass angler once told me while the two of us were fishing a tournament, “if you’re having fun, you aren’t fishing hard enough”. Here are some key mental factors to consider when it comes to competitive fishing.

Competitive fishing requires intense focus and concentration for extended periods of time. Anglers need to stay focused on the water, their equipment, and their strategy to be successful. As someone without sight, I have an advantage over sighted competitors when it comes to visual distractions.

Competitive fishing is also mentally challenging, especially if the fish aren’t biting or if conditions are difficult. Anglers need to be mentally tough and resilient to keep their focus and not get discouraged. I don’t know how many times I’ve fished with others who mentally fall apart within 30 minutes of the start of a competition because they haven’t caught a fish, or a big fish got off, or their equipment failed. I even asked one such angler why they persist in competing when it’s obvious they are miserable for most of the time. It’s not easy to maintain a positive attitude no matter how difficult the conditions are, and especially when other anglers are catching fish and you aren’t.

In competitive fishing, conditions can change quickly, and anglers need to be able to adapt their strategy and techniques accordingly. This requires mental flexibility and the ability to think on your feet. It also justifies our immense amounts of tackle and fishing rods. I like to point out that even golfers head out on the course with a golf bag full of clubs.

Without doubt, anglers who are confident in their abilities and their strategy are more likely to be successful in competitive fishing. Confidence comes from practice, preparation, and past successes, and isn’t something that can be bought with money – premier fishing boats, the best rods and reels, the most tackle — a confident angler can catch fish with a cane pole.

At the end of the day, even if you aren’t crowned as the top dog, it’s important to undergo an objective re-cap of the day. Simply writing off your loss to bad luck, or the winner getting lucky isn’t constructive. Learning to pass through these feelings and out the other side is essential if you’re going to learn something from the loss. Remember, we celebrate our wins, we learn from our failures.

I know sometimes my fishing partners find it annoying that I want to talk about a crappy day of fishing we just experienced when they would rather forget about the day and move on. But, it’s crucial to learn from our mistakes so we don’t keep making the same ones — the definition of “crazy”.

In the next issue of the Blue Fish News I’ll examine the linkage between our wellbeing and that of nature. Accepting, understanding and respecting this relationship is more important than ever as threats to biodiversity and the planet as a whole continue to increase.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Canadian Jeff Gustafson finds $300,000 of BASSMASTER CLASSIC GOLD with Mega Live Imaging / FishingWire
After a dominating event in 2021 which saw Humminbird and Minn Kota pro Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson secure his first Bassmaster Elite Series win, a return to the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, Tennessee was all the more rewarding for the Kenora, Ontario native. Through three days of intense competition and changing conditions, Gustafson saw light at the end of the tunnel on his Humminbird MEGA Live™ imaging and became the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic champion. “To come back to the place where I was able to win an Elite Series event fishing how I like, and do virtually the same thing during the Bassmaster Classic, it feels awesome,” said Gustafson.

How does a fisherman know when his industry is in trouble? The shower is closed / West Coast Now
Joel Collier’s experience last summer made him realize that B.C.’s small-boat fishery will disappear without drastic action.

DFO slaps 3 B.C. men with combined $113K in illegal fishing fines / Global News
Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced more than $100,000 in fines against three men for separate illegal fishing incidents dating back to 2018. The largest set of fines, totaling $49,704.68, was issued against Adrian Slavko Kern, a commercial fisherman the DFO said illegally deployed fishing gear to catch halibut and sablefish in the Chatham Sound area near Prince Rupert in September 2018.

The Alberta Conservation Authority Wants to Hear From You / ACA
The ACA wants to hear your opinions and experiences about angling in Alberta. They need your insights to help enhance Alberta’s fishing experience regarding locations, frequency, and target species. Fill out the short survey and be entered to win a prize!

The inside story of how DFO officers caught and prosecuted a repeat poacher near Prince Rupert / West Coast Now
Three-time convicted Prince Rupert poacher Adrian Slavko Kern received an eight-month fishing ban and $49,704.68 in fines for a fourth offence last October. The Kern case, based on the illegal catch of 154 halibut and 467 sablefish in Chatham Sound near Prince Rupert, highlighted all the human, technical, and legal complexities of modern fisheries enforcement.

Men Plead Guilty in Erie Walleye Tournament Scandal / FishingWire
Last fall the tournament fishing world was set ablaze by the scandalous activity of a couple of walleye tournament anglers cheating to win a tournament on Sept. 30, 2022 by adding lead to their fish. Last fall the two men, Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky pleaded not guilty in their first court date. However on Monday, March 27, 2023 just moments before their trial in Cuyahoga County Court was set to start, the pair changed their tune and admitted to the charges of cheating, a fifth-degree felony, and unlawful ownership of wild animals, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

Lake Erie Committee Sets Yellow Perch and Walleye Total Allowable Catches for 2023 / GLFC
THE setting of TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCHES by commercial fishers on Lake Erie for Perch and Walleye is facilitated by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, a Canada and U.S. treaty organization.

Yellow perch Total Allowable Catch for 2023 is 6.573 million pounds, a 9% decrease from 2022. Poor recruitment of yellow perch in the central basin of Lake Erie continues to be a challenge. Ontario will receive 3.155 million pounds, Ohio 2.480 million pounds, Michigan 0.221 million pounds, New York 0.181 million pounds, and Pennsylvania 0.536 million pounds. The decision is the result of deliberations among scientists, managers, and consultation with stakeholders through the Lake Erie Percid Management Advisory Group.

The Lake Erie walleye total allowable catch for 2023 is 13.526 million fish, a 7% decrease from 2022 of 14.533 million fish. Overall, the walleye populations have increased compared to last year’s abundance, the average size of fish is smaller, resulting in a lower population biomass. Ohio will be entitled to 6.913 million fish, Ontario 5.824 million fish, and Michigan 0.789 million fish. THE LAKE ERIE PERCID MANAGEMENT ADVISORY GROUP consists of senior representatives from all provincial and state jurisdictions on the lake, recreational fishers, commercial fishers, and other interested organizations.


Football-sized goldfish cloning themselves in B.C., Ontario waters / Weather Network
The fish are hardy and reproduce quickly – releasing up to 50,000 eggs at a time, three times a summer. Out west, experts are tracking goldfish invasions in lakes near Terrace, Quesnel, and Whistler.

Study: Lake Erie fish safe to eat, but still suffering / Food and Environment Reporting Network
A study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment shows that while Lake Erie fish fillets are safe to eat, the fish themselves may not be doing so well. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers over multiple years gathered samples of walleye, yellow perch, white bass, and white perch before, during, and after harmful algal blooms appeared in the lake’s western, west-central and east-central basins. They then measured the amount of microcystins — a class of toxins produced during some algal blooms — in the animals’ livers.

Changing salmon hatchery release practices can improve survival rates, study finds / CBC
A first-of-its kind study in British Columbia suggests salmon hatcheries could improve survival rates by optimizing the weight of the juvenile fish and the timing of their release.

Federal Researchers Say Two Widely Used Pesticides Harm Many Endangered Fish Species / OPP.Org
The National Marine Fisheries Service issued a draft of its biological opinion Thursday concluding that continued use of insect-killing chemicals containing carbaryl or methomyl likely jeopardizes dozens of endangered fish species — including Chinook salmon, coho salmon, sockeye, and steelhead in the Columbia, Willamette, and Snake rivers.

Investigation into how Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducts and communicates science / National Observer
An investigation into how Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducts and communicates science culminated in 49 recommendations. Among them is a call to nix a mandate to promote aquaculture since that can compete with conservation.

Why sea creatures are washing up dead around the world / Washington Post
Dead fish in Florida. Beached whales in New Jersey. Sea urchins, starfish and crayfish washing ashore in New Zealand. Millions of rotting fish clogging up a river in the Australian outback. A mass fish die-off in Poland. Around the world, freshwater and marine creatures are dying in large numbers, leaving experts to puzzle over the cause. Here’s a look at some of the events that led to the deaths of swaths of aquatic creatures around the globe in the past year.

For the First Time, Scientists Can Predict Traits for All Fish Worldwide / NOAA
The combination of traits a given species has developed to adapt to its niche and  environment makes up its life history strategy. The new model uses 33 traits—describing size, growth, reproduction, parental care, lifespan and more— to classify more than 34,000 fish species among three dominant strategy types. The results will inform ecosystem-based fisheries management, help forecast consequences of climate change, and advance our understanding of evolutionary relationships.

A Look Into the World of Electrofishing / FishingWire
Do you ever wonder how biologists are able to catch and sample so many fish? They cheat! Biologists commonly use electrofishing methods to “stun” fish so that they can easily be caught.


New UBC water treatment zaps ‘forever chemicals’ for good / Water Canada
Engineers at the University of British Columbia have developed a new water treatment that removes “forever chemicals” from drinking water safely, efficiently – and for good. There are more than 4,700 PFAS in use, mostly in raingear, non-stick cookware, stain repellents and firefighting foam. Research links these chemicals to a wide range of health problems including hormonal disruption, cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and cancer.

Report Synthesizing Scientific and Fishing Industry Knowledge on Fishing And Offshore Wind Energy / RODA
The “Synthesis of the Science” project was a key first step toward jointly building a regional fisheries and offshore science agenda. RODA brought together fishermen, fishing industry representatives, federal and state agency experts, wind energy developers, academics, and other prominent scientists from the U.S. and Europe to attend the workshop and contribute to the report. The report enhances understanding of existing science and data gaps related to offshore wind energy development interactions with fish and fisheries on regional and broader levels. Ecological knowledge of the fishing industry participants was incorporated into all of the report topics covering: ecosystem effects , fisheries socioeconomics, fisheries management and data collection, methods and approaches, and regional science planning. The stakeholder symposium and subsequent report were Funded by NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center. The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance is a broad membership-based coalition of fishing industry associations and fishing companies — across the United States — committed to improving the compatibility of new offshore development with their businesses.

How the health of a river is influenced by what’s happening on land / CBC
The North Saskatchewan River and its surrounding watershed covers almost 100,000 square-kilometres across Alberta and Saskatcehewan and is home to 1.7 million people. What factors affect the health of the North Saskatchewan watershed, and what is being done to improve water quality and quantity as we continue to feel the effects of climate change?

SMRA awarded $1.56 million for habitat restoration / Guysborough Journal
The St. Mary’s River Association (SMRA) has received $1.56 million from the federal government to further its decade-long work of restoring the fabled river, where Babe Ruth once cast a line for salmon.

What happened to The Ocean Cleanup — the system that would rid the oceans of plastic? / ABC
The Ocean Cleanup, brainchild of young Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat, was feted as the beginning of the end for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Ten years from its inception, is it any closer to achieving its goal?


When Indigenous Rights, Conservation, and a Very Lucrative Fishery Collide / Sierra Club
Alagum Kanuux is one of five marine sanctuaries proposed by Indigenous groups that are currently in progress; others are in waters off California, New York, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Each sanctuary has a unique history, politics, and legal setup. Out of all the applicants, only the St. Paul Aleuts are a federally recognized tribe. Pollock is America’s biggest fishery by volume, and in 2019, Bering Sea trawlers’ catch fetched $1.55 billion wholesale. Highly consolidated and mainly controlled by out-of-state owners, the pollock sector exerts a whale-size influence on both the area’s small communities and its regulator, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.


Blue Fish Radio: Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson’s formula for fishing success / Outdoor Canada
Kenora, Ontario’s Jeff Gustafson, known throughout the fishing world as “Gussy”, wins the 53rd annual Bassmaster Classic Championship in Knoxville, Tennessee. After three days of intense competition and varying conditions, Gussy emerged victorious, catching a total of 42 pounds and 7 ounces of Tennessee River smallmouth bass. Gussy guided his first paying angling client at age 14, and remains highly regarded for his good nature and humility. On this episode of Blue Fish Radio, recorded in 2019, Gussy talks about the keys to his fishing success including hard work, having a conservation mindset and staying focussed on your goals. Link below to listen to the interview: https://www.outdoorcanada.ca/blue-fish-radio-jeff-gussy-gustafsons-formula-for-fishing-success/

Scientists and Local Champions:

Sign up to be a Water Steward this Summer! / ISC
The best way to manage invasive species is to prevent them from establishing in the first place, and that’s where you can help. The Invading Species Awareness Program (ISAP) is looking for new and returning volunteers in the Durham, Haliburton, Kawartha, and Pine Ridge regions, to join our Water Steward Program.

Water Canada Advisory Board New Appointee / FOCA
Federation of Ontario Cottagers Aassociation’s Executive Director Terry Rees has been named to the 2023-24 Water Canada Advisory Board. FOCA represents thousands of cottage associations and over 50,000 cottage and shoreline property owners. Learn more from Water Canada’s extensive online resources.

Coming Up:

2023 St Lawrence River Muskie Anglers Workshop / Muskies Canada
Muskies Canada has organized a webinar to inform St Lawrence River Muskie Anglers about significant work supporting muskie management, and how Musky anglers can get involved. Guest Speakers include Dr. John Farrell from the Thousand Islands Biological Station, and Matt Windle from the St. Lawrence River Institute. A representative from the Lake Ontario Management Unit of MNRF Ontario will address Muskellunge programming for 2023. To participate please send your name and email to: muskies.unlimited@gmail.com. Timing is Saturday, April 8th at 9: am – 12: pm.

Special Guest Feature – Canada commits $420 million for Great Lakes

(notes from the Canadian Press)

On March 24, 2023, Canada committed to spend $420 million to Clean-Up the Great Lakes. This follows an earlier pledge made by the U.S. in 2021 to spend $1 billion over five years to improve Great Lakes ecosystems.

Canada plans to use the money to clean up a series of pollution hot spots. Three in Lake Superior and four in Lake Ontario are in Canadian waters, while another four are in waters shared by both countries.

Total Areas Of Concern in the Great Lakes total 43:

  • 12 in Canada
  • Five that are shared binationally
  • 26 in the U.S.

With three sites already remediated, it’s part of the Canadian government’s plan to clean up 12 of the 14 worst sites in the lakes by 2030.

In addition to mounting a big push on invasive species involving the efforts of anglers, the government’s goals include reducing phosphorus going into Lake Erie from Canadian sources by more than 200 tonnes within 15 years. Funding will also go to efforts to stop harmful algae blooms generated by agricultural run-off, as well as preventing harmful chemicals from entering those waters, which represent 20 per cent of world’s surface freshwater and provide drinking water for 40 million people.

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What’s new at Blue Fish Canada: As ice fishing winds down and thoughts turn to getting boats ready for fishing, we thought it was a good time to review the role anglers play in preventing the spread of invasive species. Understanding the many ways we can help stop the spread is especially relevant following a year of research reports and rule changes brought about due to a growing realization that anglers are unwitting conveyers of invasives. On another note, public access to recreational salmon fisheries on Canada’s west coast is heating up – more of that to come in our next issue of the Blue Fish News, as well as a more comprehensive examination of our “one health” relationship with fish. Of course, we have all the latest fish and fishing news as always…

Photo of a giant invasive goldfish

This Week’s Feature — Actions anglers can take to halt invasive species

By L. Gunther

Preventing the introduction of invasive species is just one strategy for protecting native aquatic life. There is a lot more recreational anglers and fishing clubs can do to mitigate the threats posed by invasives. Everything from preventing further spread of invasives, monitoring and reporting impacts, educating the public about invasive species prevention, teaching fellow anglers identification and elimination best practices, supporting scientific research, and providing input to government policy makers and regulators. In this editorial, let’s go over the different types of invasive species now in Canada, how they got here, their impact on native fishes, and how you can take action to mitigate their impact.

Invasive species are a serious problem in a growing number of Canada’s lakes, rivers, and along our longest coastline of any nation in the world. Invasives can also have a significant impact on native fishes and the future of our favorite fisheries. Impacts include the disruption of ecosystems and competing with native fishes.

There are numerous examples of invasive species that are already threatening native fishes where their impact has yet to be mitigated, other than measures being introduced to prevent their continued spread. Three of the most common invasive aquatic species that remain unchecked are zebra mussels, round goby and spiny water flea.

Zebra mussels are a freshwater mussel that is native to the Caspian Sea region of Eurasia. They were first introduced to the Great Lakes in the 1980s and have since spread throughout much of Canada. Zebra mussels compete with native species for food and habitat, and they can attach to and damage water intake pipes and other structures. They also filter water, which can disrupt the food chain and reduce the amount of food available for fish. New evidence shows that they are also contributing to blue green algae.

Round goby are a small fish that is native to the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions of Eurasia. They were first introduced to the Great Lakes in the 1990s and have since spread throughout much of Canada. Round gobies are aggressive and can outcompete native fish for food and habitat. They also prey on the eggs of native fish, including smallmouth bass and yellow perch. New scientific evidence also shows they are responsible for passing on viruses to other fishes such as Muskie.

Spiny water flea is a crustacean that is native to Eurasia. They were first introduced to the Great Lakes in the 1980s and have since spread to many other bodies of water in Canada. Spiny water fleas are predatory and can consume large quantities of zooplankton, which disrupts the food chain and can reduce the amount of food available for fish.

A fourth relatively new invasive aquatic specie is goldfish. People are releasing their unwanted aquarium pets into storm drains, creeks and ponds, and they are becoming a growing problem in waterbodies nearby urban centres. In the early 2000s, thousands of goldfish were discovered in Burnaby Lake, a small urban lake near Vancouver. In 2015 a population of over 2,000 goldfish were discovered in a stormwater retention pond in St. Albert, a suburb of Edmonton. In 2014, a population of goldfish was found in Trout Lake, a large lake in northeastern Ontario near North Bay. Since then, numerous municipalities have reported goldfish infestations in nearby watersheds, and in all cases the goldfish were found to be damaging aquatic ecosystems by uprooting native plants and outcompeting native fish species for food and habitat.

Anglers have a role in educating pet owners not to release their pets into the environment. Unwanted aquarium pets can be found new homes, returned to local pet stores, donated to public aquariums, or euthanized humanely.

Other examples where invasive species have taken over aquatic ecosystems and severely impacted the health of native fishes in Canada include:

Lake trout: In the early 20th century, sea lampreys were introduced into the Great Lakes, where they preyed heavily on lake trout. As a result, the lake trout population declined dramatically, and the fishery collapsed. It wasn’t until the sea lamprey control program was developed that the lake trout population began to recover.

Yellow perch: Round gobies, an invasive fish from the Black and Caspian seas, were first discovered in the Great Lakes in the 1990s. Since then, they have become a dominant species in many areas, outcompeting native fish including yellow perch. Yellow perch populations have declined dramatically in some areas, and some researchers believe they may be on the verge of collapse.

Eelgrass: In the 1930s, European green crabs were accidentally introduced into the waters of Nova Scotia. Since then, they have spread along the Atlantic coast and have become a significant predator of eelgrass, a critical habitat for many fish species. More recently, they have been found along Canada’s west coast.

Thankfully, not all invasive aquatic species continue to range unchecked. For example, sea lamprey, rusty crayfish and common carp are all invasives that we have learned to manage, but it can involve considerable effort and expense. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

It’s not just fauna causing havoc, flora is also harming native fishes. Invasive plants alter fish habitat, reduce water quality and oxygen levels, and limit access to food and spawning sites.

Eurasian watermilfoil is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa and was introduced to North America in the late 1800s as an ornamental pond and aquarium plant. It is a highly invasive species that can form dense mats on the surface of water bodies, blocking sunlight and reducing oxygen levels. It also impacts spawning and nursery habitat for native fishes.

Purple loosestrife is native to Europe and Asia and was introduced to North America in the 1800s as an ornamental plant. Its dense stands can reduce open water areas for fish to swim and feed, and the plant’s seeds can fill in spaces between rocks and gravel, reducing suitable fish spawning habitat.

Japanese knotweed is native to Japan and was introduced to North America and Europe in the 19th century. It alters stream and riverbank ecosystems. The plant’s large dense stands can create barriers to fish movement, and its extensive root systems can destabilize streambanks leading to erosion and sedimentation of aquatic habitat.

Safeguarding Canada’s natural assets from the impacts of invasive species begins with preventing their introduction, but it doesn’t end there. According to Jenna White, program development coordinator for the Invasive Species Centre, anglers can also play a role in preventing the spread of invasives by reporting when an invasive has been captured or observed, monitoring spread, participating or leading initiatives to remove invasives, supporting invasive species research, and providing input to officials responsible for invasive species policy and regulations. And let’s not forget education and awareness. Link below to hear my discussion with Jenna White from the Invasive Species Centre: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e389-actions-anglers-can-take-to-halt-in.

The Invasive Species Centre is a non-profit organization that works to prevent and manage invasive species in Canada. They have a reporting tool on their website that allows individuals to report invasive sightings. The Invasive Species Centre also offers training programs, funding opportunities, and technical support to help individuals and groups identify, manage, and prevent invasive species.

Other programs and initiatives available in Canada to support recreational anglers who want to do more to halt the spread or remove invasive species include:

The Government of Canada supports a mapping initiative called EDDMapS (Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System), which allows individuals to report invasive species sightings. The tool can also be downloaded and installed as an app.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) operates a website where individuals can report sightings of invasive species in the marine environment. The website also provides information on how to prevent the spread of invasive species. DFO also provides funding for projects that address invasive species available for individuals, groups, and organizations who want to take action against invasive species.

The Canadian Council on Invasive Species is a non-profit organization that works to prevent and manage invasive species in Canada. They provide resources, funding opportunities, and training programs for individuals and groups who want to take action against invasive species.

Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program, operated by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, runs the Invading Species Awareness Program, which provides resources and support to individuals and groups who want to prevent the spread of invasive species in Ontario. This program offers training, educational materials, and funding for invasive species management projects.

The Alberta government operates the Aquatic Invasive Species Program, which provides funding and support for projects related to invasive species prevention and management. This program offers funding for research, monitoring, and control projects, as well as education and outreach initiatives.

The Manitoba government’s Fisheries Branch provides funding and support for projects related to invasive species management and prevention. This includes funding for research, monitoring, and control projects, as well as education and outreach initiatives.

Many local conservation authorities across Canada often have programs or initiatives in place to support individuals and groups who want to take action against invasive species in their area. These programs may include funding opportunities, training programs, or technical support.

If you or your fishing club are considering taking action to prevent the spread or the removal of invasive species, it’s important to work with experts and follow best practices. Sound planning also includes involving local community members and indigenous groups in the area to provide input and build support for the initiative.

Let us know about your program so we can share with others what you have learned and accomplished. Send us an email at BlueFishCan@gmail.com.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Minnesota becomes latest US state to face lead ban / Angling International
The bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale or use of lead sinkers or jigs weighing one ounce or less or measuring under two-and-a-half inches. It follows others in recent years levelled against lead’s affect on wildlife.

Consultation on potential revisions to the rules for catch and release of fish during recreational fishing / Environmental Registry of Ontario
Ontario is proposing changes to recreational fishing rules to provide clarity on when anglers can photograph, measure, and weigh fish before they are released. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is proposing changes that would: allow anglers to delay the release of a fish caught during the open season for that species only long enough to photograph, measure and weigh, if the fish is of a restricted size or over daily catch and possession limits; and, require the immediate release of fish that are out of season, are species at risk or are otherwise prohibited under the existing recreational fishing rules.

Monster Lake Trout caught in Red Lake area / KenoraOnline
Two anglers from northwestern Ontario were close to breaking an over-70-year-old record over the weekend after catching a nearly 60lb lake trout in the Red Lake area. Sam Boucha says she and her friend Brad Molloy were out on the ice Saturday when the pair reeled in the monster fish, which has been measured at 47.75” long and 31” in girth – weighing in at over 57 lbs.

Atlantic fishing industry watching as decisions loom for federal fisheries minister / CBC
Big decisions that could affect fishing communities in Atlantic Canada and Quebec are looming for federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray after rubbing shoulders with seafood companies at North America’s largest industry trade show in Boston this week. First up, Murray will have to decide whether to extend a regional mackerel moratorium for a second year, in an effort to rebuild the depleted population. That call has been complicated because the United States authorized a mackerel fishery in 2022 — at a reduced capacity — and will again this year. Americans are fishing the same stock before it gets to Canada.

Sportfishing Industry Highlights Importance of Fishing Access and Conservation / FishingWire
The American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) Southeast Fisheries Policy Director, Martha Guyas, testified on the importance of sound fisheries policy before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries. Guyas began by showcasing the various ways that fishing benefits conservation, jobs and the U.S. economy. In 2021, 52.4 million people went fishing in the U.S., supporting 826,000 jobs and contributing $129 billion to the economy,. Through fishing license purchases, excise taxes and direct donations, the recreational fishing community contributes approximately $1.7 billion toward aquatic resource conservation each year.


The tiny fish creating big problems in B.C. waterways / CTV
They’re a popular fish for aquariums, but they’ve become a growing problem in the wild. Unwanted goldfish, illegally dumped in B.C. waterways, are threatening native species and there are calls for the province to take action.

Grass Carp is one of four species of invasive Asian carps threatening to invade the Great Lakes / Asian Carp Canada
Recent evidence of reproduction in two U.S. tributaries of Lake Erie makes them the most immediate threat of the four species to Canadian waters. Grass Carp can grow to be more than 80 lbs and over 5 ft in length and eat up to 40% of their body weight daily in aquatic plants. They have the potential to destroy wetlands which could have major ecological and economic consequences.

Up to the gills in goldfish: Large invasive fish a problem in B.C. waters / The Star
Brian Heise, an associate professor in the department of natural resource sciences at Thompson Rivers University, says thousands of large, invasive goldfish have multiplied in bodies of water throughout BC. “They’re not the little fish you see in the pet store. They actually get quite large, and they have the potential to get even larger, especially probably in some warmer, more productive waters,” he said.

Noisy sealife moves off Oak Bay shores, but hope for healthy herring return remains / Oak Bay News
Pacific herring spawn off Esquimalt Lagoon last March heralded as the first in a decade.

N.L.’s Atlantic salmon stocks still struggling, says DFO in latest assessment / CBC
The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada says Atlantic salmon stocks declined in most Newfoundland and Labrador rivers in 2022.

Efforts to free Kokanee salmon from ‘predator pit’ continue / Castanet
For Kootenay Lake’s kokanee salmon population to rebound, the kokanee first need a break from being devoured by the over-abundant rainbow and bull trout, say Ministry of Forests officials. So, in the coming year, the ministry will be ramping up measures to reduce the number of predatory trout in the lake.

The Next Threat to the Great Lakes / Fishbrain
There are currently no established populations of Asian carp in Canada. There have been a few rare individual captures of Asian carp in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. In terms of Bighead Carp, only three single specimens have been collected, all in western Lake Erie, between 2000 and 2003, and these are believed to have been intentionally released. In terms of Grass Carp, there have been 29 captures since 2012 in the waters or tributaries of lakes Huron, Ontario, and Erie. Of those tested, nine were determined to be fertile. It is likely that these fish were escapees from areas where populations were being used for aquatic plant control, or live releases. No Silver Carp or Black Carp have been found in the Great Lakes to date.

Salmon are feeling the heat after decades of logging / Narwhal
As a cold-blooded species, salmon are at the mercy of the waters they swim in. New research finds logging restrictions along small, unprotected streams could go a long way to keeping water cool and safe for the at-risk fish.

Release of captive-bred native fish negatively impacts ecosystems, study finds / Phys.org
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that large-scale fish releases negatively impact ecosystems as a whole, while offering little benefit and some harm to the species they seek to support.


One of North America’s most dangerous invasive species is hitchhiking on fish / AAAS
Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are one of the most catastrophic aquatic invasive species in North America. Now, researchers have discovered a new way they invade—by hitchhiking on fish. Scientists made the observation while assessing fish communities in a lake in southeastern Quebec last year. They found a zebra mussel attached to a lake chub (Couesius plumbeus), a species of minnow typically about 12 centimeters long. The observation, reported this month in Biological Invasions, is the only time a nonlarval freshwater bivalve has been seen attached to a fish. The mollusk had latched onto the hapless minnow using protein fibers called byssal threads, which they also use to attach to plants, rocks, and concrete.

International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species / ISC
The 23rd International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, from May 12 – 16, 2024. The conference theme is ‘Meeting Challenges with Innovation’.

Seals and salmon among issues highlighted in Commons report on DFO science / SaltWire
Seals, salmon, science and climate change. It’s all mentioned in a report made public March 9 by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Bob Hardy, a fisheries consultant from Newfoundland and Labrador, told the committee DFO was reluctant to accept the idea that seals were affecting fish stocks, and ignored evidence from fishers, Indigenous peoples and seal science from other North Atlantic fishing nations.

Climate change, invasive species and the Great Lakes / Manitoulin Expositor
From February 7 to 9, more than 900 attendees participated in the virtual 2023 Invasive Species Forum, which focused this year on invasive species action in a changing climate. Keynote presenter Dr. Gail Krantzberg, spoke about the link between climate change and invasive species in a Great Lakes context, “there is much uncertainty about invasive species and changing climate”. What is known is that we’re going to see more frequent extreme weather: an increased severity of storms, more floods and prolonged periods of drought. These changes could result in the loss of nearshore zones throughout the Great Lakes, leading to displacement or disappearance of coastal wetland species and the potential increase of alien species coming in because of thermal shifts: where the water was once too cold and the winters too brutal, it’s now possible for them to survive. We will see a shift towards warm water species, including alien invasive species, and they are very damaging.

B.C. announces $100 million investment in watershed strategy / PSF
On March 6, 2023, the Government of British Columbia and the B.C.-First Nations Water Table announced a $100-million investment in healthy watersheds and the launch of engagement on a new co-developed watershed security strategy to help ensure safe, clean water is available to communities throughout B.C. for generations.

Fish-friendly flood infrastructure in the Fraser / PSF
More than150 flood control structures in the Lower Mainland block an estimated 1,500 kilometres of potential salmon habitat. A collaborative project called Resilient Waters seeks to reconnect vital wild salmon habitat by modernizing aging flood-control infrastructure to restore fish passage. The project assesses habitat quality and fish passage at 25 high-priority sites scattered across the Lower Fraser basin including sloughs and creeks in Delta, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Langley, and Chilliwack. PSF’s Community Salmon Program proudly supports this project.

First-of-its-kind study on salmon and habitat / PSF
In collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Watersheds Program has assessed the relationships between habitat degradation and Pacific salmon population trends in B.C. This first-of-its-kind study, published in Ecological Indicators, uses province-wide datasets on freshwater habitat pressures to better understand the links between habitat and salmon populations to help inform conservation planning.


B.C. First Nations leaders want Fisheries and Oceans science reviews put under the microscope / CBC
First Nations leaders in B.C. are calling for an investigation into Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s scientific review and decision-making processes after a group of scientists pointed out flaws in a recent report on salmon farming and parasites.

VIDEO: Chiefs of the First Nation Wild Salmon Alliance press conference / APTN
Chiefs of the First Nation Wild Salmon Alliance from across British Columbia are in Ottawa to advocate for the transition of open-net cage fish farms from B.C. oceans to land-based farms.

First Nations at loggerheads over salmon farming / Castanet
Two B.C. First Nations groups were in Ottawa today giving anyone who would listen diametrically opposed views on salmon farming in B.C.


New report reveals true size of fishing market in the USA / Angling International
Invaluable data for the recreational fishing industry is contained in a new report just released by the American Sportfishing Association. Findings include the fact that 52.4 million anglers contribute $148 billion in economic output and support 945,500 jobs across the country, as well as contributing $1.8 billion to conservation.

Scientists and Local Champions:

View SkeenaWild’s full job descriptions at www.skeenawild.org.
SkeenaWild is looking to bring a Fisheries Biologist and a Communications Specialist onto their team to advance the conservation work they undertake in support of wild salmon and their habitat in the Skeena Watershed.

Special Guest Feature

Here’s a short list of five things anglers all should be doing to prevent, identify and eliminate invasive species:

  1. Learn to identify invasive species: It’s essential to know which species are invasive and which are not. Take the time to educate yourself about the different types of invasive species in your area, including plants, animals, and algae. Surprisingly, many of these invasive species came to Canada and were sold as aquarium pets, ornamental fish for ponds, garden plants, and exotic foods.
  2. Clean your gear: Make sure to clean your gear, including your boats, trailers, and fishing equipment before leaving the water. Invasive species can hitch a ride on your gear, and you can inadvertently spread them to other bodies of water.
  3. Don’t dump bait: It’s illegal to dump live bait into the water in many areas, and it’s a common way for invasive species to spread. Dispose of bait properly and never dump it into the water. This includes aquarium pets that are no longer wanted.
  4. Report sightings: If you see any invasive species, report them to the appropriate authorities immediately. Early detection and rapid response are essential in preventing the spread of invasive species.
  5. Remove invasive species: If you do catch an invasive species, it’s essential to remove them from the water and dispose of them properly. Don’t release them back into the water, as this can further spread the problem.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: With the Ottawa Boat and Outdoor show behind us, and what a show it was with record attendance, the focus is now on getting in as much ice fishing as possible before the season ends. It was great to be out with the fishing club from Saint Marks High School last Friday on Constance Lake – the pike fishing was on fire and I think all 22 members of the Club caught fish – including the teachers! I even had a small pike of my own to add to the count. The school’s fishing club members were having so much fun, which is another reason why we need to make sure sustainable recreational fishing isn’t added to the list of prohibited activities without scientific justification when marine protected areas are being established across Canada. Read this issue’s editorial for an update on the steps Canada is taking to meet its 30-by-30 goals.

Photo of editor Lawrence Gunther with two of the guest speakers at the Canadian Sport Fishing Hall of Fame inductee ceremonies – MP Bob Zimmer on the left and MP Blaine Calkins on the right

This Week’s Feature – Creating Inclusive Marine Protection Agreements March 6 2023?

By L. Gunther

In the February 21 2023 issue of the Blue fish News we included an editorial on the Impac5 Congress recently held in Vancouver to discuss policies, management and governance of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Indigenous Conserved and Protected Areas (ICPAs), and National Marine Conserved Areas (NMCAs). We highlighted the absence from the Congress of non-indigenous coastal community representatives and the commercial and recreational fishing sectors that form the socio-economic basis of these communities. Since then we attended the annual general meeting of the Canadian Sport Fishing Industry Association (CSFIA) in Toronto, during which considerable discussion focused on the potential barriers to public access for recreational anglers posed by the various protections being established throughout Canada. This editorial follows up on the inclusiveness issues brought to light when planning and negotiating areas requiring protection in our first editorial, and news about the new protected areas recently announced, along with more details on how these areas are to be administered and governed.

Attending the Impac5 Congress in Vancouver brought home just how important it is for all stakeholders to be involved when formulating plans and negotiating new regulations that will alter the way we interact with oceans, lakes and rivers. Of course, the temptation by those in charge is to move quickly by limiting the scope of consultations to those who are obvious supporters, but history shows the end result can often be short term. Getting buy-in at the beginning is crucial if inequities are to be prevented and reversals avoided.

I think my main takeaway from the Congress was the Chairs’ Statement from Canada’s Environment and Fisheries and Ocean Ministers recognizing the need for increased international action and partnership with Indigenous Peoples in order to advance Canada’s goal of protecting marine ecosystems. It fits well with Canada’s move towards reconciliation and settling land claims, and the need for First Nations and other coastal indigenous communities to find ways to generate sorely needed incomes and revenues after decades of living in poverty. Of course, the transfer of responsibility over important ocean resources to indigenous communities was couched more in terms of conservation and protection – the underlying message being that indigenous people have values in these areas that non-indigenous people lack. It’s a theme that environmental groups have been trumpeting for several years now and one that seems to be resonating well politically as Canada races to meet international commitments to establish marine and terrestrial protected areas that cover 30% of our ocean territory and 30% of our land, lakes and rivers by the year 2030.

Those in attendance at the Impac5 Congress included representatives from governments and leaders from Indigenous, environmental, philanthropic, academic and private organizations, industry, as well as young professionals. Unfortunately, who wasn’t at the meeting were non-indigenous representatives of people who have lived in communities along Canada’s coastline who have for generations depended on making their living and supporting their families and communities by going out on the ocean to harvest food.

The Congress included several exhibits organized by Canadian First Nations communities, and quite a few indigenous representatives. A special reception area was established in the main corridor where Congress participants were invited to sit and speak with indigenous leaders and elders.

I asked a number of FN officials attending the Congress what the difference is between a marine protected area and an indigenous conserved and protected area. Based on what I learned prior to the Congress by listening to a number of webinars is that ICPAs both conserve fish habitat and fish stocks, and provide employment opportunities to local indigenous inhabitants to act as protectors of the designated area. What exactly this protection role includes is less clear.

The overall gist of the responses from the FN representatives I spoke with at the Congress reflected their view that there’s a difference in the values held by FN fishers compared with non-indigenous anglers and commercial fishers. What these differences are is also unclear, but the inference is that non-indigenous anglers and fishers are responsible for the biodiversity loss being experienced around the world.

One of the indigenous representatives I spoke with pointed out that protections are generally viewed by indigenous people as undesirable as they prevent their people from doing what they want to do and have always done – harvest fish and other marine life. If you think about it, I think we can all agree that protections may not be the preferred option, but they are now often necessary due to our increasing capacity to over-harvest fish and other wildlife due to advances in technology that have exponentially increased our harvesting capacity. These new-found efficiencies make complex and science-based conservation measures more necessary than ever, regardless of who’s doing the fishing.

The federal government’s department of fisheries and oceans (DFO) took the opportunity during the Congress to announce four prohibitions that all new marine protection areas are now expected to include. These are: oil and gas exploration, development and production; mineral exploration and exploitation; disposal of waste and other matter, dumping of fill, deposit of deleterious drugs and pesticides; and, mobile, bottom contact, trawl or dredge gear – trap-based fisheries such as weirs, and lobster and crab pods are excluded. Of these, recreational fishing will be impacted by the prohibition of bottom contact fishing, but that doesn’t mean trolling with the use of downriggers will be acceptable. As mentioned, these are starting points only, and other forms of fishing could be categorized as prohibited in certain MPAs, as could prohibiting fishing of any type.

One of the largest MPAs announced during the congress is an off-shore area in the north-east Pacific Ocean that lies within Canada’s territorial waters that we are just learning about. It covers 133,019 square kilometres. It’s home to extraordinary seafloor features, including more than 46 underwater mountains, known as seamounts, and all known hydrothermal vents in Canada. These deep-sea biological “hotspots” are globally rare and support deep-water species unique to this area.

Of more concern to coastal communities was an agreement announced during the Congress to protect BC’s North Coast. The agreement was made between 15 First Nations and the BC and federal Governments. It’s a blueprint for a vast network of marine protected areas across the northern third of Canada’s West Coast. The Action Plan is said to “guide joint efforts to protect our oceans and their marine wildlife and environments.” The news release also claims that the agreement, “demonstrates how collaboration between First Nations, federal and provincial governments, citizens and stakeholders can achieve resilient and healthy ecosystems that are necessary to support sustainable industries, prosperous economies and healthy communities.” But who exactly will be managing and governing these protected areas after being designated?

Once a new MPA is established it’s up to the regional governing bodies to decide what other protections are needed. This could include things like banning commercial and recreational fishing, whale watching, wind energy, etc. The groups that will serve as regional governing authorities for each new MPA determine who is eligible to carry out specific activities within the designated protected area, and what activities they are permitted to undertake.

Across Canada treaty rights, indigenous rights over land and sea, and the need for reconciliation and self-sufficiency are all now priorities. Nation-to-nation negotiations often include reassigning access rights to public and private water and land. The goals of these negotiations include how such transfers of stewardship responsibilities will rebuild biodiversity, improve conservation, and strengthen nature’s resilience to climate change. What isn’t made clear are details about how the transfer of rights over wealth generation to FN and other indigenous communities will be monitored and regulated to safeguard nature. Examples of industries that occur in territories outside urban centers where marine and terrestrial protection zones are being established include forestry, mining, oil and gas development and extraction, tourism, sport fishing and hunting, and commercial fishing and trapping. One fact is becoming clear, and that’s economically FN communities are beginning to use their newly restored rights to dig their way out of extreme poverty.

The media often rightfully report demands by FN representatives to have a seat at the table when matters are being discussed that concern their traditional lands. What seldom makes the news are calls by non-indigenous people asking to also be included in discussions about territory that is part of the fabric of their communities. Non-indigenous communities impacted are concerned that their rights and socio-economic connection to the land and water are being ignored.

There are increasingly more groups, both indigenous and not, who claim that indigenous values specific to harvesting nature’s bounty are superior to those held by non-indigenous commercial fishers and recreational anglers. The relationship between indigenous people and nature is without doubt profound and real, and the complex beliefs and practices evolved over thousands of years helped ensure their relationship with nature was sustainable. Indigenous people also learned to follow nature’s cycles and efficiently extract what was needed to survive. That didn’t mean animals weren’t extirpated such as wooly mammoths, saber tooth tigers, short nosed bears, and more recently the near collapse of beavers across Canada.

The ability for humans to destabilize ecosystems only began when technologies were developed that allowed these hunter, fishers and trappers to exponentially increase their harvesting efficiencies. Advancements in harvesting technologies continue that we all now use. The challenge is learning to limit our use of these new “powers”. Since understanding the true strength of these new tools is beyond our individual capacities to perceive entire ecosystems, we are now dependent on science to provide the feedback needed to establish limits that we all must now agree to follow.

A claim I often hear being made by indigenous representatives is that non-indigenous anglers “play with their food” when we catch and release fish for sport. In contrast, I’m told indigenous fishers only fish for food. It’s an interesting distinction, but one that doesn’t reflect the adoption by non-indigenous anglers of catch-and-release fishing as a conservation measure in the 1980’s. It’s a practice that is growing in importance as an essential aspect of modern conservation regulations that depend increasingly on slot limits to determine if a fish may or may not be harvested. Selective fishing is also now widely being used in commercial fishing such as lobster, crab, tuna and other commercial fisheries.

There are examples of ancient indigenous fishing practices that involved selective harvesting, such as the use of weirs prior to the practice being outlawed by colonial governments in the early 1900’s. Weir fishing is still practiced by commercial fishers on the Great Lakes. Like catch-and-release fishing using hook-and-line, weirs are a form of selective fishing, something that isn’t possible when using many forms of commercial netting and long-line techniques now being used by both indigenous and non-indigenous commercial fishers. Gill nets for instance kill indiscriminately, and while not permitted for use by recreational anglers, are commonly used by indigenous fishers whether for commercial, food, social or ceremonial purposes.

Spearing fish while spawning on shallow river beds is another indigenous practice that goes back centuries. It provided the only chance indigenous fishers had to harvest fish before they would return to the protection of the depths. To be fair, non-indigenous people also fish recreationally for certain species of fishes during their spawning season such as salmon and steelhead as they enter rivers to find suitable spawning beds. All this to say, both indigenous and non-indigenous fishers and anglers are evolving their fishing practices to reflect what scientists are learning about our true impact on fishes and their long term sustainability.

During the Impact5 Congress Parks Canada also issued a news release announcing 10 new national marine conservation areas with a new policy direction. These ten new NMCAs stretch along large portions of Canada’s three coastlines, and represent marine areas where the government thinks we need to enhance protections. Time will tell if indigenous leaders feel the same way. We are already beginning to witness FN communities unilaterally announcing Indigenous led Conserved and Protected Areas. Endorsing this recent development is a $800M funding commitment made by the federal government in December 2022 during the COP 15 meeting in Montreal to support the establishment of four indigenous conserved and protected areas.

The $800 million is to be used to support indigenous communities to establish ICPAs off the northern tip of Vancouver Island, a good portion of the northern end of Great Slave Lake in the NWT, parts of James Bay in northern Ontario, and areas within the Territory of Nunavut. Other than the money, it’s a commitment that will have no impact to the vast majority of Canadians who live in urban communities, but may have disastrous repercussions for non-indigenous people who live, work or operate businesses in the affected areas. It may also impact tourism since the vast majority of people who travel to these areas are interested in hunting and fishing.

As with FN communities, there are many non-indigenous people who feel that their views, values and concerns cannot be properly represented by those elected to and hired by government. That’s why consultations and negotiations are now part of most all government planning processes. Unfortunately, binational negotiations between governments and FN communities, may be exacerbating the rural/urban split growing across Canada for those left out of these discussions.

No doubt, keeping issues from becoming political is better for all concerned. It’s why the sport fishing industry association and many recreational and commercial fishing organizations are asking that discussions be opened up before the term protection is transformed from safeguarding precious natural resources, to what many now fear will create ancestry-based access barriers to what many have come to consider as shared public resources.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Ocean treaty: Historic agreement reached after decade of talks / BBC
Nations have reached a historic agreement to protect the world’s oceans following 10 years of negotiations. The High Seas Treaty aims to place 30% of the seas into protected areas by 2030, to safeguard and recuperate marine nature. The agreement was reached on Saturday evening, after 38 hours of talks, at UN headquarters in New York. The negotiations had been held up for years over disagreements on funding and fishing rights. The last international agreement on ocean protection was signed 40 years ago in 1982 – the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Young anglers have a new chance to catch and release IGFA World Records / IGFA
The new category adheres to strict angling rules and best handling practices, requiring young anglers to submit proper World Record documentation including measurements, photographs, and releasing their catch. “By introducing the All-Tackle Length Junior Category, we hope to inspire the next generation of anglers to get out and fish, while promoting ethical and sustainable fishing practices,” said IGFA President Jason Schratwieser. “Fishing is a fantastic way to connect with the outdoors, and we believe that by engaging young people with this sport, we can inspire the next generation of stewards of our oceans, lakes, and rivers and help ensure the long-term health and vitality of our aquatic resources.

Just 6 corporations control over a quarter of B.C. fishing licences, new research reveals / West Coast Now
Just six corporations controlled 26 per cent of all B.C. fishing licences in 2019, according to research presented at Fisheries for Communities Conference.

Halibut treaty marked new era in Canadian independence / Victoria Times Colonist
The Halibut Treaty of 1923 is the first environmental treaty designed to conserve ocean stocks of a fish, and Canada insisted on signing it with the U.S. without Britain’s ratification.”

B.C. fish harvesters to feds: stop selling out coastal communities to foreign money / West Coast Now
B.C. fish harvesters urge Canada to stop favouring foreign investors to prevent local exclusion from the industry.

The North American Master Angler is Starting Soon / Fish Donkey
34 Species and it runs from March 1 to October 31. If you like to catch a variety of fish, this is the contest for you. It could take as many as 14 species to win. Last year it took 10. This year Fish Donkey added 11 new species for a total of 34.

Northern Pike- It’s What’s for Dinner / FishingWire
It is shocking how many people have not tried eating Northern Pike. Many anglers avoid eating these fish partly due to all the bones and the hassle of cleaning them. You may have heard fishermen refer to them as slimers or snot rockets, but despite the names given to these fish, they are delicious. Not only are they delicious, but they are a blast to catch. Pike are aggressive feeders, fight hard, and can grow to enormous sizes. In many lakes, they are abundant, and the need to harvest them in some lakes is crucial. Learning how to clean and eat this species can help sustain healthy lakes.


Halibut is a rare success story among B.C. fisheries, and harvesters want to keep it that way / West Coast Now
B.C.’s halibut stocks remain healthy due to meticulous management by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the IPHC since 1923.

Fish spawning site at Maurice Creek finished / Energetic City
The fish spawning shoal at Maurice Creek, as part of the Site C dam project, is now complete.

A precautionary decision / National Observer
Fisheries and Oceans Minister Joyce Murray talks about the science behind her long awaited and controversial decision to close fish farms in the Discovery Islands of British Columbia.

In support of removing open net-pen salmon farms from B.C. waters / Seafood Source
“The entire west coast commercial salmon fishing fleet and the union which represents the shoreworkers, tendermen, and fishermen have come together in support of removal of open net-pen salmon farms from the waters of British Columbia, Canada.”

How the science behind salmon farms and sea lice became so contentious / CBC
A federal decision to shut down 15 open-net Atlantic salmon farms around B.C.’s Discovery Islands is being lauded as a win for protecting wild salmon, and a significant blow to the fish-farm industry — all while reigniting a decades-old debate.

Feds announce $12.5M to prevent invasive aquatic species getting into Great Lakes / CBC
The money will fund research into better ballast water management systems tailored specifically to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, help ensure the implementation of new ballast water regulations, allow government to get a better knowledge of ballast management and inform the federal government when in discussions about international rules and environmental protections.

In Cod’s Shadow, Redfish Rise / Hakai
In the North Atlantic, the trajectory following fisheries collapse has not been forgiving. Even decades after overfishing drove seemingly inexhaustible species like Atlantic cod off a precipice, many populations—most notably, of Atlantic cod—have remained stubbornly low. But in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, an exception to the rule is emerging from the depths. Redfish—a deep-dwelling species found in the western Atlantic from Baffin Island to New Jersey—is an unlikely hero: a scarlet groundfish the length of a bulldog sporting a faintly outraged expression and a line of spines sharp enough to draw blood. More to the point: aside from readers of Dr. Seuss, who’s even heard of a redfish?

2 killer whales slaughter 17 sharks in 1 day / EarthSky
A killer whale’s diet normally consists of seals, squid, fish and so forth. Humans are not on the list, although now it appears that sharks are. Time and again, the washed-up carcasses of the sharks shows that the killer whales are just targeting the sharks’ livers. The killer whales are biting the sharks between their pectoral fins, yanking out the livers and leaving behind the other organs. The killer whales must have learned at some point where to find this tasty meal and remembered it, because they leave behind no bite marks on other parts of the sharks’ bodies. But why the liver? Livers in sharks are large: They account for up to a third of a shark’s body weight. And, they’re rich in fat, packed with nutrients the whales need.

Alexandra Morton on New Hopes for ‘Fat and Sassy’ Salmon / Tyee
The DFO recently announced it would not renew 15 open-net pen Atlantic salmon fish farms in the Discovery Islands, a key migration route for B.C.’s wild salmon. Discovery Islands are very important, but the reason they’re being treated separately goes back to 2010 when the Cohen Commission into the decline of the Fraser sockeye was called. [Cohen’s] mandate to look at what happened to the Fraser River sockeye reduced his focus on the coast to places where those fish migrate. The reason why the Discovery Islands are so important to the Fraser River sockeye is that when they first leave the river, the majority of those fish migrate north. They’re in a very stressful stage of their life, which is entering saltwater. Anything that happens to them in those first couple hundred kilometres is incredibly important to the outcome of the survival of these fish.

Can the Northern California Summer Steelhead Be Saved in Time? / Sierra Club
Researchers have come to dire conclusions about California’s native fish: Almost half the salmonids are likely to be extinct in the next 50 years, including over half of anadromous species—fish that migrate up freshwater rivers from the ocean to spawn. This is according to the State of the Salmonids II report, which reviewed the status of California’s 32 salmon, trout, and steelhead fish species.


Canada needs to pick up the pace of ocean conservation / Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail’s Editorial Board writes about the need for Ottawa to double the proportion of marine protected areas by 2030.

2023 Great Lakes Ice Cover / News Week
2023 is setting record-low levels of ice cover on the Great Lakes. This link provides satellite images comparing current and past ice cover.

Ontario’s Bill 23 Implementation and what it means for protecting water quality in lakes and rivers / Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
As of January 1, municipalities can no longer seek advice from conservation authorities (CAs) to determine if planning applications may impact water quality in local lakes and rivers. Planning applications will still be circulated to CAs to get important advice on impacts to flooding, erosion, wetlands and unstable soils (known as natural hazards) but, provincial regulations now prohibit CAs from providing additional advice on ecological impacts to the watershed, even if requested by municipalities. CAs are working with municipalities and applicants to help them transition, and moving forward, CAs will continue to work with individuals, developers and municipalities to assess natural hazard risks and how to mitigate them. To learn more about these new regulations and CAs responsibilities visit: https://www.rvca.ca/

Great Lakes Commission releases report on usage of Great Lakes waters / GLC
According to a new GLC report, 37.5 billion gallons of water per day were withdrawn from the Great Lakes basin in 2021, about a 1% decrease from 2020 withdrawals. Only 5% of the total reported water withdrawn was consumed or otherwise lost from the basin. Considering both consumptive use and diversions, the Great Lakes basin gained a total of 156 million gallons of water per day in 2021.

Great Lakes Commission releases action plan on climate resiliency / GLC
The GLC released an action plan to guide the region’s efforts to make the Great Lakes more resilient to the effects of climate change. The Action Plan for a Resilient Great Lakes Basin helps to prioritize regional efforts and forms a roadmap to advance climate resilience in the Great Lakes.

AFGA wants Ottawa to recognize its efforts to promote land conservation / Outdoor Canada
As Canada determines how to fulfill the commitments it made at last December’s UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in Montreal, the Alberta Fish and Game Association wants Ottawa to recognize what the association is already doing to promote land conservation.

Microplastic pollution — how worried should we be? / Great Lakes Now
There are enough microplastic particles at the bottom of the #GreatLakes that they are becoming a permanent part of the sedimentary layer. According to the United States Geological Survey, there are 112,000 particles of microplastics per square mile of Great Lakes water. Scientists have found these tiny bits of plastic all over the world — even in mosquitoes’ bellies. Much of the contamination can be chalked up to the fact that we recycle only 9 percent of plastic waste. Of the remainder, about 12 percent is incinerated and 79 percent accumulates in landfills or the natural environment, including our lakes. “They’ll be a marker on the sedimentary horizon. We’ll be known as that horrible group of humans who did this.”

Toilet paper a source of toxic PFAS in wastewater / Healthline Media
Does toilet paper add cancer-causing PFAS to our wastewater? For one specific type of PFAS, toilet paper contributes about 4% of it to sewage in the United States and Canada, and up to 89% in France.


B.C. First Nation orders Trans Mountain to stop work on their land / Parksville Qualicum Beach News
Katzie First Nation claims work at two sites is being done without proper notice or consultation.


Looking Ahead and Planning for Future Successes / Destination Northern Ontario
Looking back at the past couple of years, we can see that tourism has been hit the hardest and will take longer to recover than any other industry. This year, together with our industry partners, Destination Northern Ontario looks forward to the future of tourism in Northern Ontario as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to the 150 tourism representatives on various product teams and our partners that guide the development and enhancement of Northern Ontario tourism products and experiences in specific “best bet” product areas as well as a strong research program to support product development opportunities in the region.


The 2023 Ottawa Boat and Outdoors Show A Resounding Success / Master Promotions Ltd
Ottawa had its first taste of summer as the 2023 Ottawa Boat and Outdoors Show took over the EY Centre. A full 4 days of recreational fun was had from February 23-26 where a record-breaking number of attendees prepared for their summer adventures. The 2023 edition welcomed the largest crowd in the history of the event with over 10,000 people in attendance over the weekend. “We couldn’t have asked for a better return to the show floor.” said Scott Sprague, Event Manager. Highlights from this year’s edition included fishing experts sharing advice in front of the casting pond, an “Everything You Wanted to Know About Fishing” educational showcase and much more over the course of the event – from kid’s fishing lessons to model boat displays.

Proposed Lifejacket Regulations: Public Comment Period / FOCA
At the most recent Ontario Recreational Boating Advisory Committee meeting, Transport Canada announced that by April 2023 they will begin seeking public opinion on the proposal for mandatory wearing of PFDs (personal flotation devices) on recreational boats. The public review will take place through the Let’s Talk Transportation website. This update was circulated this week by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority


“Tales of the Great Outdoors” by Paul Michael White
Paul Michael White is a professional speaker, mental health counselor, teacher, and an avid fly-fisher. He learned many of life’s most important lessons from his mentor, Skipper Mike Bruce, who introduced him to fly-fishing while modeling the keys to being a better and more successful person. Paul is the author of “Fishing for Reality” as well as a contributor to his new book from Newfoundland and Labrador, “Tales of the Great Outdoors.”


Canadian Fishing Network Live Coverage of Outdoor Shows and MPAs on Blue Fish Radio!
On The Blue Fish Radio Show Lawrence Gunther and Scottie Martin talk about the spring outdoor show season and concerns being voiced by the Canadian Sport Fishing Industry Association over potential angler access issues that could result from the many new marine protection areas being proposed for Canada on Canadian Fishing Network Live February 20 2023!


Angling Ethics and Aquatic Exotics / Into the Outdoors
You can’t wish them away. Fact of the matter is that most invasive aquatic species are here to stay. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help slow the spread. In this educational video from Into the Outdoors Education Network, our young sleuths get an education about stopping the spread of aquatic invasive plants.

Coastal GasLink – System Failure / Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition
The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition presents a video detailing the lack of sediment control at Coastal GasLink river crossing construction sites in the Skeena.

Special Guest Feature – Canadian bass fishing expert “Big Jim” McLaughlin honored with Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Board’s Meritorious Service Award / BASS Masters

Established in 2018, the Hall’s Meritorious Service Award gives proper and well-deserved recognition to an individual or organization for their significant contributions within specific areas to bass fishing. McLaughlin, known throughout the Canadian bass fishing scene as ‘Big Jim’, was once one of the most feared and successful competitive anglers in Canada, as well as its first Pro Bass Classic winner and the first two-time Pro Bass Classic winner. He continues to be a headline presenter at major fishing expos in Ottawa and Toronto, along with handling emcee duties at various bass fishing tournaments across Ontario. In addition to his angling skills, McLaughlin has always had a knack for introducing youngsters to fishing and helping their parents understand the sport and how to make it a family activity. Over the past 25 years, he’s given many kids their first taste of fishing by hosting the Jackpot Casting Pond at the annual Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show. Over his career, he’s been a driving force behind growing tournament bass fishing in Canada and has inspired many to establish careers in the sport as both professional anglers and in other areas within the industry. “While Big Jim’s incredible tournament accomplishments are what most bass anglers in Canada would point out, it’s his relentless and tireless work promoting bass fishing that really overshadows all his tournament success,” said noted bass fishing TV celebrity Dave Mercer. “There’s a Greek proverb that says, ‘a society grows great when men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in’ and Big Jim is doing that by physically introducing more anglers to fishing at tournaments, outdoor expos, kid’s events, or often a random lake side meeting, than any other Canadian.”

“On behalf of the BFHOF Board, we can’t thank Big Jim enough for what he has done for bass fishing and the tournament scene throughout Ontario over the years,” said Board president John Mazurkiewicz. “It’s a pleasure recognizing him for what he does to celebrate, promote and preserve the sport of bass fishing.”

Many BFHOF inductees, the Hall’s Board, leaders from the bass fishing industry, pro anglers and special invited guests will be in attendance at the annual HOF reception at the Bassmaster Classic where McLaughlin will officially be honored with his BFHOF Meritorious Service Award.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: It’s been a busy couple weeks having just recently returned from Vancouver where we were covering the Impac5 Conference, and taking part in the Festival of Ocean Films as a short documentary provider and panelist. Both experiences centered on the question, “can we fish sustainably? We were then in Toronto for the Spring Fishing and Boat Show, and awards were presented as part of the Canadian Sport Fishing Hall of Fame. We also covered the Canadian Sport Fishing Industry AGM and the considerable discussion that took place about potential threats to angler access associated with Canada’s push to protect 30% of our ocean and terrestrial territory by the year 2030 – more of that in the next issue of the Blue Fish News. Right now we need to prepare for the Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show – drop around and take in our exhibit!

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther and the rest of the panelists at the Festival of Ocean Films

This Week’s Feature – Is Fishing Sustainable?

By L. Gunther

Is fishing sustainable? This was the topic of the films and panel discussion on day two of the Festival of Ocean Films in Vancouver earlier this month. It was also a powerful underlying theme at the Impac5 conference taking place in Canada for the first time. As the host of one of the documentaries screened at the festival and a panelist, I wasn’t sure about the reception I would face knowing that fishing is often blamed as one of the top reasons the world’s oceans are in decline. It was also a message being amplified by many of the exhibitors and presenters attending the Impac5 Conference that I attended as a representative of the media while in Vancouver. But first let me thank the Georgia Strait Coalition for the invitation and travel support to attend the screening of the Ripple Effect Episode I was featured in, and for inviting me to be on the panel.

In 2022, The Water Rangers selected a series of experts to help teach and inspire members and followers in a special monthly video release. I was pleased to be selected for Episode 3 of the Ripple Effect series in a video filmed and edited by Graham Perry, aboard my boat on the Upper St. Lawrence River. We set out on opening day of the walleye fishing season with weather conditions typical for early May. As temperatures hovered around zero the wind made it feel much colder. My fishing partner and I met up with Graham at around 4am at the Cardinal boat launch along with dozens of other anglers, all of us anxious to catch the lunker walleyes the St. Lawrence is famous for.

Watch the featurette now: Ripple Effect Episode #3: Lawrence Gunther & Blue Fish Canada

By 4:30 we were aboard my Ranger 1880 MS Angler with lines in the water along with a couple dozen other boats fishing in front of a giant cornstarch factory. The factory is massive and is one of the few remaining industrial complexes still operating along the shores of the Upper St. Lawrence River.

Even though the factory has operated for decades, the quality of fishing directly in front of the complex remains excellent, despite its numerous smokestacks spewing out a stench smelling of cornstarch and chemicals. We weren’t disappointed with a number of Walleye caught ranging in size from 50 to 75 cm, all of which had substantial girth.

By 8am the sun had risen and was shining down in earnest, bringing to an end the bite for that day. Boats loaded on to trailers, many of the anglers having been on the water at the moment the clock struck midnight and the season opened. I spoke with several to learn who had caught fish, and who were planning to eat their catch despite the fish consumption advisories warning anglers to limit their consumption and that of their spouse and children.

My informal survey of anglers that morning revealed about half of those who caught fish chose to harvest a few for their personal consumption. All were aware of the advisories but were confident that eating the fish in moderation and by cutting away the fat along the belly would provide sufficient safeguards.

Fish consumption advisories aren’t going to prevent anglers from showing up to take part in the annual tradition of fishing the St. Lawrence River on opening day of walleye season. By choosing to eat a small amount of the fish caught, they keep alive their connection with the river and a tradition that goes back generations.

Trying to capture the sentiments of my fellow anglers on film was no easier than getting these anglers to discuss how fish consumption advisories are impacting their tradition and ability to provide fresh caught fish for their families and friends. Conveying this to the audience in the theatre in Vancouver as a panelist was even harder knowing that many would be horrified by the thought of catching and eating fish caught in front of a factory, and that governments have issued health warnings that very likely under-estimate the true danger of eating these fish. What they don’t know is that these anglers show up every year because not to, would be like admitting that the ecosystem was broken beyond repair and was now in the hands of industry to do with as they want.

Following the screening of films at the festival I was pleased with the number of questions from the audience that were pro-fishing. Most felt that, properly managed and protected, the world’s oceans could provide a safe and sustainable source of wild grown protein to satisfy the world’s population. It was a considerably more optimistic viewpoint than what I encountered earlier that day on site at the Impac5 conference.

One of the last audience members to ask a question at the festival wanted to know if people are working together to ensure the future of fish and fishing. I responded that in many instances this was the case, but that those responsible for planning the Impac5 conference were less so inclined based on my limited observations. Other than diverse indigenous groups from Canada and around the world, not one of the exhibitors and workshop presenters I encountered or read about in the conference agenda represented non-indigenous people who fish. It was a disturbing absence at a conference focused on marine stewardship. Bringing people together at such an important conference to discuss what should or should not be permitted to take place within marine protected areas or indigenous conserved and protected areas, without doubt, should include those stakeholders who, for good or for bad, have been and still are fishing commercially or recreationally on waters that are being considered for protection.

Attendance at the Impac5 Conference included plenty of government representatives, a slightly smaller number of Indigenous People, many environmental groups, and companies and consultants looking to find customers for their services and technologies as governments around the world rush to meet their international commitments to protect 30% of their oceans and terrestrial territories by 2030.

A surprising number of companies were featuring technology for detecting and surveilling fishing boats of all sizes.

Technologies being marketed to identify and track fishing boats deemed to be trespassing or fishing illegally included the latest in hydrophone audio recording equipment and the artificial intelligence to identify different types of boats. Another sold shore-based radar to identify and track boats up to 15 km offshore. The technology could spot even small fishing boats as long as there was something on the boat that reflected the sonar signal. Even the makers of Canada Arm 1 and 2 were there to showcase their satellite imaging technology capable of tracking fishing boats whether or not they had shut off their automated ship identification transponders. The computers processing the data could re-trace the boat’s course back to where the captain shut off the boat’s transponder and gone “dark”.

To be clear, not all MPA’s restrict fishing. Some do, and others restrict only certain forms of fishing such as bottom contact fishing which is the case along Canada’s west coast where glass sponge reefs are present. But none of these nuances were part of the presentations by these companies. In fact, anyone visiting their booths would assume fishing was no more welcome than boats smuggling drugs.

A concern I have with the Impac5 Conference is the extremely high cost to attend the event. Participation cost upwards of $1,200, which included access to the buffet lunch each day, and access to all presentations and the exhibit area. It’s by far the most expensive conference I’ve ever attended, and yet over a thousand people from around the world showed up for the event. Thankfully, I was able to attend as a representative of the media.

Many of the people in attendance represented various levels of government, with many coming from Canada. It may seem like a lot of money to spend on public servants, but it’s often categorized as “training”. Fair enough, where else can public servants learn so much in such a short period of time, and get to know the stakeholders and their positions. My only worry is that without non-indigenous fishing interests being represented at the conference, it may be the case that such policy makers and regulators are missing and important piece of the story. No doubt, official consultations could make up for this deficiency, but can we count on these important gate-keepers recognizing that there was another significant perspective and local knowledge gained over generations of experience concerning marine protection that wasn’t represented?

A comment made by a fellow panelist at the film festival about not letting commercial aquiculture business representatives take part in discussions about establishing protected marine areas because, as the environmental group representative claimed, “how can you have someone at the table who clearly has demonstrated a disregard for the marine environment.”. If blocking the aquiculture sector from participating in such talks is a priority, then just maybe organizers also blocked commercial fishing representatives from participating as well? How can you allow one and not the other. And if that’s the case, then it just may be that the embargo included recreational or public fishing interests as well. It wouldn’t be the first time that all forms of fishing were conflated as responsible for the endangerment of fish stocks.

There are negotiation tables in B.C. that include all the stakeholders when dividing up salmon harvesting quotas. I’m told these can often be heated discussions, but that they do work. Most all other provincial governments negotiate with FN fishers separate from non-indigenous communities when negotiating harvest restrictions meant to ensure long-term sustainable fishing. However, increasingly the trend is now for indigenous groups to develop and enforce their own harvest quotas and conservation measures.

When FN communities implement their own harvest quotas, government biologists and regulators are left with assessing and allocating what’s left. This can include reducing or stopping fishing by non-indigenous fishers altogether if fish stock estimates have declined to unsustainable levels. In such cases indigenous fishers are also expected to stop commercial fishing activity, and fish only for food, social or ceremonial purposes. Such outcomes were anticipated in Canada’s 1999 supreme court ruling involving the case of Donald Marshal in Nova Scotia, an FN fisher charged with fishing without a commercial license.

The recreational marine fishery, or what some refer to as the public fishery along Canada’s west coast generates over $10 billion in revenue each year, and that doesn’t even take into consideration the value of the inland freshwater fishery often associated with many of these same marine fishes. More than economics, it’s a way of life for many who live along the coast and has been for generations. People are worried that their interests and way-of-life may be overlooked in the rush to establish MPAs and ICPAs to meet the 30% protection goals by the year 2030.

We have the disastrous example along the coast of California of what can happen when protections are implemented with a promise to conduct the science later to adjust restrictions where possible. In the end, California failed to meet their five-year review commitment, sighting budget restrictions, and by year ten the state government announced that the research would not be conducted and the fishing restrictions would stay in place. It was a devastating blow to tourism, guided fishing operations and public access to near-shore fishing. In one disastrous move an entire way of life was brought to an end.

Thankfully, in Canada there’s a common decree shared among most indigenous and non-indigenous leaders alike that fishes and other natural resources belong to all of us. Respecting this grass roots understanding means finding ways to achieve fair share agreements. For such negotiations to be successful, governments and other stakeholder groups also need to acknowledge that equitable access is fundamental to achieving success. All stakeholders need to be on-side with any conservation and protection measures otherwise they are destined to fail.

To listen first-hand to several of the exhibitors I spoke with at the Impac5 Conference, and to hear highlights and the panel Q/A session at the Festival of Ocean Films link below to listen to The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e385-impac5-and-the-festival-of-ocean-fi

A big thanks again to the folks at the Georgia Strait Coalition for screening our doc and for inviting me to be a panelist, to the Impac5 Conference organizers for providing the media passes, and especially to Dave Brown of the Public Fishery Alliance for assisting me with getting around Vancouver.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Canadian Sportfishing Hall of Fame Inductees (2023) / CSIA
The inductees of the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame fall under a number of categories. Angler – an avid angler be it recreational, competitive or otherwise; Advocate – a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of the industry; Media – the means of communication, radio, television, newspapers and/or magazines, that reach or influence people widely; and Industry Leader – a person who has taken the initiative to help the industry in a positive way. The Canadian Hall of Fame Alumni nominate and vote for the newest inductee annually. For 2023 new inductees include Outdoor Canada Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Patrick Walsh, and Mike Melnik, Managing Director for the Canadian National Sportfishing Foundation. Congratulations to you both!

DFO is holding a ‘reverse auction’ where the ‘most worthless’ salmon fishers are the winners / Skeena
B.C.’s salmon fishers have just weeks to decide if they will try their luck in a bizarre “reverse auction” held by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in the face of declining runs, has imposed coast-wide restrictions until 2025 that make the future look bleak for salmon fishers. For many, it’s a choice between the slow death of closures or the quick relief of a minimum payment to quit now.

Charges against B.C. anglers who took part in Fraser River demonstration fishery dropped / Hope Standard
‘It’s important to know the people who were out there were not law-breakers,’ says angler.

DEC will stock Lake Ontario with nearly 1 million salmon in 2023, expects ‘excellent’ fishing season / New York Upstate
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have agreed to a 10% increase in Chinook salmon stocking in Lake Ontario this year, for a total of 985,180 fish.

To catch more big walleye, lake trout and whitefish, tap into those good vibrations / Outdoor Canada
The fact is, most of the time fish use their lateral line to reassure themselves that our baits are safe. They may see, hear or smell them first, but it is almost always the vibrations they detect through their lateral lines—what scientists call a hydrodynamic sensory system—that finally convince them to strike.

International Game Fish Association Announces 2023 Fishing Hall of Fame Inductees / IGFA
This year’s inductees include IGFA World Record consummate and tournament champion Roberta G. Arostegui; fly-fishing adventurer and trailblazer, Kay Brodney; conventional and fly-fishing master angler, captain and writer Dean Butler; distinguished Avalon Tuna Club member and conservation advocate, Gerald A. Garrett; and marine resources champion and fishing apparel pioneer Bill Shedd. Elected unanimously by the IGFA Board of Trustees, the 2023 class will join 141 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.


Save our Salmon / PSA
PSF participated in the announcement of a new initiative launched by First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C. called Save Our Salmon-Extinction is Not an Option. Announced during the IMPAC5 conference with global focus on marine protected areas and the vital need to take action to help our marine ecosystems, the SOS campaign is intended to engage the broader public in the need to save and rebuild wild salmon.

Lake Huron fishery further protected from invasive sea lampreys / GLFC
The completion of a $1.67 million permanent sea lamprey trap on the East Branch Au Gres River in Iosco County, Michigan. The completion of the project represents a long-standing partnership between USACE and GLFC to control invasive sea lampreys and protect the $7 billion Great Lakes fishery.

DFO Decision: Discovery Island Fish Farms remain closed / Cortes Currents
The DFO press release announcing the decision to not reissue licenses for fish farms in the Discovery Islands, states, “Recent science indicates that there is uncertainty with respect to the risks posed by Atlantic salmon aquaculture farms to Wild Pacific Salmon in the Discovery Islands area, as well as to the cumulative effect of any farm-related impacts on this iconic species.”

B.C. salmon returns 2022 / Watershed Sentinel
License buybacks, fishery closures, and drought – Watershed Watch’s Fisheries Advisor, Greg Taylor, takes a look back at how it all went for the salmon in 2022.

Surrey salmon hatchery flood recovery / CityNews Vancouver
A fish and game club in Surrey is rebuilding after losing 30,000 salmon eggs in the 2021 flooding that hit B.C.

Salmon deplete fat stores while stopped at dams, study shows / Phys.org
Dams on Maine rivers have long been known to impact fish populations, but a new study led by the University of Maine quantifying the time and energy lost by Atlantic salmon stopped by dams indicate that the structures might have even more of an impact than once thought.

Opinion: To help recover B.C.’s Pacific salmon, we need to rethink hatcheries / Outdoor Canada
After a decade of declining returns (and another disappointing year for anglers on BC rivers), it’s time to rethink how we run our hatcheries on the Pacific coast. Right now, hatcheries are simply wasting precious money to produce fewer and fewer salmon.

Manitoba’s belugas have a chance to be protected / Narwhal
Near Churchill, conservation advocates are pushing the federal government to protect a huge swath of Western Hudson Bay, an area important to narwhals, polar bears and 60,000 beluga whales.

AquaBounty reduces role of genetically engineered salmon facilities on P.E.I. / CBC
AquaBounty will no longer be producing fully-grown genetically engineered salmon for sale as food at its operations on P.E.I.

Making Sense of Menhaden / Hakai
In the Chesapeake Bay, a fight is raging over a little fish with an outsized importance.

How Did Millions of Dead Crabs Wind Up in the Abyss? / Hakai
The unexpected discovery of a mass grave of red crabs 4,000 meters below the ocean’s surface is puzzling scientists—and raising questions about the ecology of the deep sea.

Watershed stewards use DNA technology to hunt for invasive Prussian carp / Prairie Post
Prussian carp spread from Alberta into Saskatchewan through the South Saskatchewan River system. It is very adaptable and its presence in a watershed is a concern for several reasons. Technology is helping the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards (SCCWS) to identify the potential presence of invasive Prussian carp in the aquatic ecosystem.

Whose Egg Is It Anyway? / Hakai
How to create a catalog of fish eggs to make it easier for aquariums to raise rare fishes.


Canada’s largest permanent protected area will be underwater / Narwhal
The Tang.ɢwan-ḥačxʷiqak-Tsig̱is marine protected area will be 133,000 square kilometres, covering underwater mountain ranges and alien ecosystems.

Canada is going to protect a ‘vast network’ of B.C. marine areas stretching from Vancouver Island to Alaska / West Coast Now
Canada is going to be protecting a huge swathe of B.C.’s west coast with the guidance of coastal communities and First Nations.

What COP15’s Global Biodiversity Framework will mean here in Canada / World Wildlife Fund
The world has agreed to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. WWF-Canada’s James Snider explains what this will mean for conservation in Canada.

Herring spawn season is upon us, here’s why you should rethink seaweed mulch / Coast Reporter
February, March, and April are herring spawning months on the Sunshine Coast and herring will often choose seaweeds as the “anchor” for their eggs. Even when the egg-laden seaweed gets broken off and washed up on the beach, those eggs can quite happily survive until the next high tide.

Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission call proposed Canadian open-pit gold-mine a threat to Southeast / KINY
Upstream from Southeast Alaska, in the British Columbia wilderness, a significant mining boom is taking place.

Do booms influence salmon survival? / PSA
There’s an extensive history of log booms used for storage and transport via bays and estuaries that provide access to sawmills. Bays and estuaries also serve as critical migratory corridors for salmon. Harbour seals rest on log booms and prey on salmon in coastal waterways. Read about the log boom predation study.

The worst house guests: European green crabs are invading B.C. waters. / Narwhal
A monumental effort is underway to contain the spiny creatures, the bodies of which are flash frozen and dumped at landfills or churned into compost. But one First Nation is arguing that, given the price of groceries, we should rethink the way we eradicate invasive, but edible, species.


Why this tiny B.C. First Nations community sees hope for a recovery of sockeye / West Coast Now
There’s hope that a vast new network of Marine Protected Areas for B.C.’s coast will spark a revival of Chinook, oolichan and sockeye runs.

First Nations, B.C. groups launch coalition to save Pacific salmon from extinction / Hope Standard
New coalition says Pacific salmon populations have declined by more than 90 per cent since the 1970s. A leader with the First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C. says collaboration, not politics, will be the only thing that saves dwindling Pacific salmon populations.

How this Nuxalk Coastal Guardian reconnected to his culture by protecting his territory / West Coast NOW
Becoming a Guardian Watchmen was not a straightforward journey for Roger Harris. But the job has become a deeply meaningful one.


Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show!
From February 23-26 visit the Blue Fish Canada exhibit at booth 4320 located in the new fishing section at the Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show. This year the Show provides visitors with free parking at the EY Centre in Ottawa.


FISH ART CONTEST / Wildlife for Ever
Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Fish Art Contest! With over 55,000 entries and counting, the Fish Art Contest is the BEST way to introduce youth to conservation and the joys of fishing. The Fish Art Contest uses art, science, and creative writing to foster connections to the outdoors and inspire the next generation of stewards. The 2023 Contest Deadline is February 28th, 2023.


E385 Impac5 and the Festival of Ocean Films / BFC
The Blue Fish Radio Show covers the Impac5 Conference in Vancouver focused on Marine Protection Areas, and then participates as a pannelist at the Festival of Ocean Films featuring his Water Ripple Change Maker documentary. It’s a collection of live audio featuring Impac5 exhibitors discussing fishing, and a lively panel discussion afterwards at the Festival with a focus on the question, is fishing sustainable? Catch all the highlights on The Blue Fish Radio Show!


Dive deep into the Bay of Fundy without leaving home / CBC
Dive Deeper, a virtual museum exhibit on the Passamaquoddy region of the Bay of Fundy launched this week. The website, presented by the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, lets you take a deep dive into the flora and fauna that live above and below the bay’s depths from the comfort of home.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW)
Access the ISAW Toolkit and the full Invasive Species Awareness Week Campaign Toolkit! 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 20th to February 26th, 2023, let’s get #InvSpWk trending!

Coming Up:

Save the Date! World Water Day Film Screening – Watch trailer / POLIS
Please save the date for a screening of The Soul of the Fraser followed by dialogue with four watershed changemakers! This World Water Day event will be held in person on lək̓ʷəŋən territory in Victoria, BC on March 22, 2023. It is co-hosted by POLIS, the Centre for Global Studies, Birds Canada, BC Nature, Greater Victoria Naturalist Society, and the University of Victoria Sustainability Project. More details will be coming soon! Watch trailer>

Special Guest Feature – Canada’s marine protected and conserved areas

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

On December 9, 2022, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) published the Government of Canada’s 2022 Guidance for Recognizing Marine Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECM).

The 2022 Guidance will apply to existing and future federal marine OECMs, including marine refuges, which are key in helping the Government of Canada meet its marine conservation targets to protect 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2025, and 30 per cent by 2030.

Protected areas include Marine Protected Areas created under the Oceans Act, National Marine Conservation Areas, and marine portions of National Wildlife Areas, Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, National Parks, and provincial protected areas. Protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECM) both contribute to marine conservation targets. To date, all areas that qualify as OECM have been fisheries area closures. Fisheries area closures that meet OECM criteria are known as “marine refuges.”

OECM are governed for the long term by a Lead Relevant Governing Authority (RGA) in coordination or co-led with other RGAs. RGAs have the jurisdiction to make and enforce long-term decisions with no end date. They are required to recognize and respect Aboriginal and treaty rights, and consult rights holders. They must also take into account the views of local communities and stakeholders. RGA’s may include Indigenous governments who “may have rights over hunting, fishing and land usage, as per treaties and self-government agreements.

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What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: On Saturday January 28, Blue Fish Canada’s President Lawrence Gunther spent the day in Clayton New York to take part in the annual Winter conference organized by Save The River and the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper. Check out our podcast for highlights. On February 6-8 Gunther will be in Vancouver attending the IMPAC5 international marine conservation conference, and then on the evening of February 7th, a short documentary produced by Water Rangers featuring Lawrence Gunther is being aired as part of the Festival of Ocean Films followed by Gunther’s taking part in a panel on sustainable fishing. Link here to secure on-line or in-person Festival of Ocean Film tickets.

Use the discount code “FOF2330” for 30% off

The last two weeks of February will have Blue Fish Canada volunteers and Gunther at the Toronto Spring Fishing and Boat Show (Feb 17-19), and at the Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show (Feb 23-26).

Photo of Lawrence Gunther wearing his “Save Blind Bay” sweatshirt along with his guide dog Lewis.

This Week’s Feature – Save The River and Fishes

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

Last weekend I attended the annual winter conference organized by Save The River and the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper. It’s an event I try not to miss as the St. Lawrence River holds a special spot in my heart. And, like monitoring city sewage for signs of disease outbreaks among citizens, the St. Lawrence itself serves as a barometer of sorts with respect to the health of the Great Lakes. Link below to The Blue Fish Radio Show featuring short interviews and extracts with conference presenters including amazing news about the number and size of captured and released Muskie in 2022. https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e383-save-the-river-winter-conference-st

Much has been written and advocated for with respect to healthy Great Lakes. I can be counted as one of many who are calling out for stronger protection measures. In my mind however, health in this case can be defined in several ways.

Water quality is always first and foremost as more than 40 million people get their drinking water from the Great Lakes. How safe the water is to drink elicits wide ranging responses depending on who you talk to, but so far no one has directly linked human mortality to this source of drinking water. And yet, it’s what most activists focus on.

Fish consumption is probably the second most recognized issue with regards to water quality. A lot of fish are caught and consumed from the Great Lakes, and governments feel obliged to not only monitor the safety of fish being caught and sold commercially, but to inform the public about which fish are safe to eat or not, by who, and in what quantities. This is important information to know and follow without doubt, but many ask why are such consumption advisories even necessary? Should not fish caught in the world’s largest collection of fresh water be safe to eat?

Unsightly and occasionally toxic Blue Green Algae blooms are causing concern, as are unpleasant raw sewage releases and the closure of beaches due to safety issues after heavy rains. Shoreline erosion due to water level fluctuations, and conversely, water hazards when levels drop are also serious inconveniences and threats to property. All of the above are grist for mainstream media as they can be counted on to grab the public’s attention.

Perhaps however, one of the most serious healthy Great Lakes issues that we hardly ever hear about are impacts to Great Lakes fishes. Things like toxins, micro plastics, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, invasives, habitat loss and anoxic dead zones caused by excessive Blue Green Algae. We pay attention when it concerns our ability to catch and safely consume Great Lakes fishes, but what it means for the actual fishes is seldom reported. Issues such as genetic mutation, endocrine disruption, mortality, spawning success, and increased stress on fishes caused from multiple sources often go unreported or unrecognized.

Fishes aren’t binary in that they either thrive or die. I know we think of fish as not much higher on the spectrum as plants, and maybe that helps people convince themselves that eating fish is acceptable, which it is and always has been. But, they are animals and not only deserve our respect, but the right to live lives free of undo stress, the ability to freely carry out their fish behaviors, have access to suitable habitat and food, and the ability to successfully spawn.

I’m not going to get into whether fish feel pain, as it’s a topic that has been exploited heavily to advance other agendas. I’ll only say what we tell youth, and that’s fishes eat other fish whole all the time, and many of these fish being consumed are well defended with all manner of sharp appendages. The only issue I’ve witnessed by predatory fish that impacts their consumption of smaller fishes is their inability to completely swallow their prey when they “bite off more than they can chew”.

Some even consider fish to be sentient, which is defined as the capacity to experience feelings and sensations. Can they problem solve or formulate problems is difficult to say. What seems more likely is that they are constantly learning what is safe and beneficial to eat, how to hide from threats and hunt prey, and what they need to do to successfully spawn. So yes, they can think even if it’s at a very rudimentary level.

Putting aside arguments about feeling pain and sentients, like all animals, fishes deserve to live free of constant and severe pain, stress, anxiety, starvation and frustration. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be caught in responsible ways and selected for harvest when they reach sustainable levels. The fact that they are prolific spawners and often assemble in large groups or schools are evidence that their place in the ecosystem is to nourish other forms of life.

Perhaps our general lack of concern over fishes has to do with how fish are handled during the capture and euthanasia stages of being caught-and-released or harvested. Blue Fish Canada has been working for over ten years to document recreational angling best practices specific to fish species, time of year, and our intentions. Others have also taken notice of how commercial fishing practices often result in unnecessary fish stress and inhumane mortality, resulting in new research specific to humane fish handling and euthanasia practices.

One of the first attempts to establish standards for humane fish handling practices in the commercial sector is the Canadian Aquatic Industry Alliance’s new Animal Care Code. The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farmed Salmonids serves as the industry’s national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices. It was developed with a diverse group of stakeholders including researchers, veterinarians, national animal welfare organizations and farmers.

It’s a step in the right direction, and one that’s certainly needed. Most every other farmed animal in Canada has their own animal care codes, so why not fishes.

The way fishes are handled even aboard artisanal fishing boats for centuries involves fishes being piled up on decks or in hulls where they are slowly smothered, crushed, and suffocate out of water. Fish caught throughout the day are often only processed by the same fishers at end-of-day on route back to the dock. I know, I was one of these fishers in the 1980’s up until the cod fishery was closed. What we now know is that fish handled carefully and euthanized humanely within minutes of being caught are far more valuable due to their having experienced only minimal stress. Unfortunately, commercial fishing operations have a long way to go before this becomes standard practice.

Anglers care about fish mortality and minimizing fish stress. We invest considerable money in proper hook release equipment, nets and aerated livewells aboard our boats. Are we perfect? No, but we are making progress. Now, if there were only some way to transfer our concern over fish health to the public at large, maybe then we would begin to see a change in how commercial fishing is carried out. You know, by rewarding those that do with our business.

The fact that certain fishes on occasion are forced to live under less than ideal conditions, out of sight of the public, would never be tolerated if wild terrestrial animals were observed living under similarly problematic conditions. Whether it’s our sport, our food, or just out there living their lives, fish are animals and deserve to be treated with respect. And, isn’t that really what healthy Great Lakes truly means?

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


The untold story of a Lake Erie nature preserve that used to be a fishing lodge and casino for gangsters / Outdoor Canada
Now a nature preserve, Lake Erie’s Middle Island hides a notorious past as a key rum-running centre, complete with a luxury fishing lodge and casino.

Okanagan-Similkameen residents reminded to not release goldfish into the wild / Castanet
A non-profit organization dedicated to tackling invasive species in the Okanagan-Similkameen got a report in this week from a local angler who spotted goldfish while ice fishing at Yellow Lake near Keremeos.

Does rewarding anglers for their fish do more harm than good? / Outdoor Canada
When I first heard about my home province of Saskatchewan’s new Master Angler Program, I thought about all the anglers vying for great prizes and bragging rights for catching giant fish. Then I shuddered to think of the effect it could have on big breeding females, in particular, in our province’s waters. After all, competition can bring out the worst, as well as the best, in people.

Try Ice Fishing for Free During Family Fishing Weekend (February 18-20) / ACA
Looking for a new place to go? Check out Alberta Conservation Authority’s on-line Discover a New Favourite Ice Fishing Spot interactive map.


Fish experiment shows how B.C. salmon influence life on land / Burnaby Now
For four years, an SFU team led by salmon ecologist Allison Dennert pulled rotting salmon from a river to see how it would impact plant growth in a nearby salt marsh. The results have big implications for a wide web of life.

Serious scientific failings: Experts slam DFO report downplaying threat of salmon farms / Narwhal
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) released a report that found “no statistically significant association” between the level of sea lice that attack juvenile wild salmon and infestations of the parasite at nearby salmon farms. What that implies, the report continues, is that sea lice on wild juvenile Pacific salmon “cannot be explained solely” by sea lice larvae from farms. The industry association that represents salmon farmers in B.C. sent out a press release lauding the report as “comprehensive.”

Salmon farms not ‘solely’ to blame for growing B.C. sea lice infestations, claims DFO study / CBC
Alexandra Morton says the conclusions reached in the latest DFO study reflects unreliable sampling data provided by farmers and consulting firms hired by them.

Kids’ salmonid program back on the Seymour River / North Shore News
Gently Down the Seymour, a program that has brought thousands of Metro Vancouver kids up close with the salmonid-bearing creek, is returning after three years of COVID-19-related cancellations.

Research continues on pinniped predation in Salish Sea / goskagit.com
As state officials raise the issue of whether to consider the removal of sea lions and seals for the sake of reviving endangered salmon populations, research continues on the mammals.

Geneticists light up debate on salmon conservation / The Scientist
Splitting Chinook salmon into two groups based on their DNA could aid conservation efforts. But some researchers argue that this would be a misuse of the data.


Feds and First Nations gearing up to host global ocean conservation summit / National Observer
The upcoming IMPAC5 conference in Vancouver is an opportunity to chart the path to meet world leaders’ promise last month to protect 30 per cent of the planet’s land and waters by 2030, says federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray.

Winter Salt / Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority
Rising chloride (salt) levels are impacting Ontario’s lakes and rivers. Salt is accumulating in the environment and poses an emerging threat both to ecosystems and human health. Once introduced into an ecosystem, salt can become a persistent problem, since there are really no biological processes that will remove it. Reducing the amount of salt entering waterways is an important way to protect our aquatic ecosystems.

When will Klamath Dam removal take place? A complete timeline for the largest dam removal project ever / Active NorCal
The Klamath River dam removal project has cleared every major hurdle, paving way for the deconstruction of four dams in 2023 and 2024.

Feb 2 World Wetlands Day / Watersheds Canada
Did you know Canada is home to 25% of the world’s wetlands? In fact, there are approximately 1.29 million square kilometres of wetlands covering 13% of Canada’s terrestrial area! Watersheds Canada has four free resources you can use to learn about the importance of wetlands and resilient shoreline areas.

Sea vomit: Why DFO is worried about an invasive species with a disgusting name / CBC
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is asking fishermen to keep an eye out for an invasive species in the Bay of Fundy. Pancake batter tunicate is also known by the less appetizing phrase “sea vomit.”

Since the founding of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in 2002, the TRCP has existed to unite hunters and anglers around common goals and then bring the strong, unified voice of our community directly to decision-makers, who can implement pragmatic solutions that benefit fish, wildlife, and outdoor recreation access. The best metric of success is whether the TRCP compelled its members, readers, and social followers—to act in support of conservation, whether that’s by signing a petition, sending a message to your lawmakers, attending a public hearing or rally, or donating to keep our work going. In looking back on this year—our 20th anniversary—we saw a pattern of strong support for many issues, both national and regional in scope. More than 30,000 of you took action at least once in 2022. Here are the top ten issues that convinced the most sportsmen and sportswomen to speak up.

Partnership to Improve Conservation of Nearshore Habitat / FishingWire
As human development of the nearshore continues, there’s a growing need to protect and restore high-value habitats for protected species and sustainable fisheries,”. The NOAA wants to provide a full, transparent, user-friendly, and effective toolbox for managers to do that more easily and accurately, especially when it comes to living habitat components like kelp, eelgrass and other submerged aquatic vegetation. In partnership the NOAA will identify and share the latest and most effective tools, science, and practices for recognizing and objectively assessing the ecological value of submerged aquatic vegetation in nearshore habitats.

Government says there is no need for every toxic chemical to have a pollution plan / Dawson Creek Mirror
The federal government is playing a dangerous game by refusing to force any company that makes or uses toxic chemicals to have a plan in place to prevent them from getting into the environment.


Blueberry River First Nations beat B.C. in court. Now everything’s changing / Narwhal
Apart from a little pocket of land on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, Blueberry River First Nations territory is an industrial wasteland. At a walking pace, it only takes about three minutes to stumble onto some kind of development. It’s a land of pipelines, clearcuts and gas rigs. But things are about to change. After winning a hard-fought case before the B.C. Supreme Court in 2021, the Treaty 8 nation reached a final agreement with the province on Jan. 18. The agreement charts a path forward from a past where the province excluded the community from resource decisions and infringed on the nation’s constitutionally protected rights. Two days later, B.C. signed agreements with four neighbouring nations: Doig River, Halfway River, Saulteau and Fort Nelson. Collectively, the agreements represent a way out of conflict and a shared goal to heal the land.


2023 is shaping up to be another exciting year / Destination Northern Ontario.
Looking back at the past couple of years, we can see that tourism has been hit the hardest and will take longer to recover than any other industry. Using statistics from 2022, it is evident that some sectors have significantly recovered. Although the inflation rate is high, some sectors are performing above what they did in 2019. Between October 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022, approximately 1,688,383 crossings were made over the Ontario – U.S. land border. The crossings in 2022 are 130% higher than in 2021 and 412% higher than in 2020. Despite the significant increases in crossings in 2022, the crossings remain 30% below their pre-pandemic levels. Despite this, the shortfall gap continues to narrow.


Kwikwetlem sockeye hatchery cultural blessing and groundbreaking ceremony / Kwikwetlem First Nation
kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) First Nation recently hosted a special cultural blessing and ground-breaking ceremony for a new conservation-based hatchery on the Coquitlam River.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Research opportunity / ASF
UNB seeks postdoctoral fellow for new freshwater program. ASF’s Wild Salmon Watersheds is a new program focused on rivers and streams. Pilots have been established in three watersheds and we are looking to add academic horsepower to the program development team.

Become the next ASF New Brunswick program director / ASF
Are you a polymath with a passion for New Brunswick’s salmon rivers? If so, apply to join our regional programs team as the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s New Brunswick program director. Deadline for applications is February 22nd.

Join our team! / Ocean Tracking Network
Since 2008, the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) has been creating a unique global research, data management and infrastructure platform that tightly integrates biological, oceanographic and social sciences, promotes technological innovation, and fosters collaborative partnerships across sectors and around the world. We are currently hiring for two positions:
Program Manager (Deadline: Feb. 8, 2023)

Field Technician (Deadline: Feb. 10, 2023)

Coming Up:

Impac5 Conference Comes to Canada / Nature Canada
From February 3rd to 9th thousands of delegates are gathering in Vancouver for IMPAC5—the fifth International Marine Protected Areas Conference—to advance ocean protection. As host of IMPAC5, conservation groups are calling for Canada to become a leader for ocean protection by:

  • Laying out a clear pathway to our 30×30 ocean protection promises
  • Demonstrating support for Indigenous leadership in ocean conservation
  • Committing to strong protection standards in Marine Protected Areas
  • Announcing a moratorium on deep sea mining in Canadian waters

Special Guest Feature – What’s in Your Bait Bucket?

Invasive Species Center

The use of baitfish is a proven pathway for the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Ontario’s waters. Problematic fishes, such as Round Goby or Rainbow Smelt, and pathogens like Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) can be inadvertently introduced via a bait bucket to new waterways when anglers illegally dispose of their leftover baitfish. But it is not just live bait that presents a risk, even dead baitfish, fish parts, or bait-holding materials (e.g., water) can have serious ecological consequences for our waterways if improperly disposed of.

To address this issue, Ontario has implemented new laws to help reduce the spread of invasive species through the use and movement of bait, as part of the Sustainable Bait Management Strategy. These 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.

This Ontario’s Sustainable Bait Management Strategy serves as a best practice for anglers to follow no matter where they fish, the exception being those provinces like Quebec that have their own live bait regulations. Get to know your provinces rules concerning live bait, and if you think the province needs to do more to keep Canada’s wild fisheries healthy, than maybe it’s time to start asking questions of your elected officials.

About us:

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

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

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

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

By L. Gunther

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

Scientists and Local Champions:

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

Coming Up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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