In the July 19, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with a focus on the evolution of fishing regulations and Lake Nipissing’s unique challenges. As always, we include summaries and Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. We close with a spotlight guest feature on Marine Protection Areas and our 30-by-2030 conservation commitments.

Photo of  Editor Lawrence Gunther fishing walleye
Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther fishing walleye

This Week’s Feature – Lake Nipissing and the Evolution of Fishing Regulations

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

Recently, Ontario’s now Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry sought input on proposed regulatory changes for Lake Nipissing. The proposals are meant to address a number of over exploited and under-utilised fisheries specific to recreational angling. While progressive in their proposed application of innovative solutions intended to benefit various pressured fish populations, their focus is on angling only, and do not include information about how the proposed changes complement conservation measures employed by the Nipissing First Nation’s (NFN) community and their various fisheries.

The proposed changes for Lake Nipissing carry forward a variety of regulatory approaches to recreational angling being applied in other areas of Ontario. The proposals also demonstrate where the Ministry is in it’s thinking about regulatory best practices, fishing pressure, angler preferences and tourism. However, without including data on the NFN’s “food, social and ceremonial” (FSC) and “moderate livelihood” fisheries, in addition to data specific to angling pressure, it’s impossible to assess properly whether the proposed regulations will achieve their intended goals. Understanding where we are now, how we got here, and what different government departments and the NFN are doing to conserve fish stocks is essential to understanding the intersections between angling and NFN fisheries and securing the support of the angling community and other stakeholders including those concerned with the social and economic sustainability of nearby communities.

Harvest limits: Regulations were initially established to set times of the year when a fish species could be harvested and were then nuanced to include daily and then possession limits on how many fish could be harvested in a day or in the possession of a licensed angler – including their freezer. In the case of many popular and easily accessed fisheries such as Lake Nipissing, a lake that now also includes what appears to be a significant FN fishery, further conservation measures are now required due to unsustainable combined fishing pressure. This has led to a proposed tightening of existing regulations specific to size limits (In the case of Northern Pike, retention of a limited number of fish under a certain size and one of a larger size), and a slot limit (in the case of Walleye, the retention of a limited number of fish within a certain size range). However, the two proposed conservation measures represent two opposite approaches to conservation.

Proposing to implement two regulations that use contrary measures on one body of water will result in confusion among anglers leading to fines and worse. It also sends the message that government scientists advising fishery managers are still experimenting to determine which approach is best suited to achieve the intended conservation outcome.

The intent of the proposed regulatory changes concerning the harvest of walleye is to ensure sufficient juvenile and breeding size fish are left in the lake. This is the exact opposite to the approach being proposed for northern pike. One can speculate why the different approaches for these two different species, such as limiting harvest to the ideal size walleye for processing AND CONSUMING, to reduce numbers of juvenile pike or to increase the number of juvenile walleye, to protect breeding size walleye, to ensure sufficient availability of fish for food for both public and FN fishers, to allow for the harvest of trophy sized northern pike, and to establish sustainable fisheries independent of hatchery interventions. On their own, learning and applying these two contradictory slot limit regulations may be possible, but add in two other completely different forms of proposed regulations for bass and muskie, and the chance of costly errors by anglers grows exponentially.

Pre- and post-spawn fishing: Similar to what was recently adopted in southern Ontario, regulators proposed that bass fishing on Lake Nipissing be expanded to include a pre-spawn fishery. In addition to the regular summer season now allowed for the harvest of a set number of bass, anglers would also now be permitted to catch-and-release bass pre-spawn. (No fishing would be permitted during the actual spawn.) The change was proposed to encourage more anglers to take advantage of what managers consider to be an under-utilised fishery. Nipissing is known best for the Walleye fishing, but with Walleye in decline due to the combined fishing pressure of both public and NFN fishers, it’s hoped recreational anglers will be convinced to transfer some or all of their fishing activity from walleye to bass.

Dr. Bruce Tufts from Queen’s University has conducted extensive research on the impacts of fishing pressure on spawning bass. It’s because of his research recent changes to Ontario regulations are beginning to include pre-spawn fishing opportunities, with a period of no fishing during the spawn, and then to reopen the fishery for harvest post-spawn. Link below to hear my discussion with Dr. Tufts about his bass fishing research on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/dr-bruce-tufts-on-bass-research-and-regulatory-changes-in-fm-zone-20/

Harvesting trophies: More-and-more we see harvest regulations of apex predators such as muskie being set to discourage the harvest of all but the most prized trophy sized fish. I find this perplexing for a number of reasons. First off, these same fish that make it on to the list of fish to be harvested are often the same fish found on fish consumption advisories due to the danger they represent to humans if consumed. Further, the trophy sized fish available for harvest are also the same fish responsible for a majority of the successful spawning that occurs each year. So, one need ask, why condone the harvest of trophy-sized fish? I asked this of a Ministry official in one of my very first Blue Fish Radio podcast episodes produced in April 2013, and the answer is tourism. People are worried that without the opportunity to harvest a trophy, tourists may not come to a region to enjoy the capture of such fish. It’s an argument that may have carried weight ten or more years ago, but with advances in digital photography, videography, and replica mounts, is less relevant today. Others argue that without direct evidence of a record capture, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) will not accept a claim submitted by an angler looking to set a new record.

The IGFA recognises that their record verification protocols may be contributing to the decline of certain fish species, and now makes it possible for other supporting evidence other than a dead fish to be used to claim a new record. Regardless of the IGFA, regulators could allow the harvest of a potential record fish acceptable instead of setting a length or size limit. It would mean setting the harvest size requirement to reflect the IGFA record for that species. Or, simply make the harvest of certain species such as muskie illegal but continue to allow catch-and-release angling to take place.

Many successful and sustainable catch-and-release fisheries now exist around the world, so why not Canada? I’m not suggesting that the public fishery on Lake Nipissing move to catch-and-release fishing exclusively, as this would represent a clear conflict with the historic practice of fishing by hook-and-line. What I am suggesting is that we revisit regulations that allow trophy sized fish to be harvested. Link below to listen to episode one of The Blue Fish Radio Show featuring my discussion with Ontario’s fisheries policy advisor Dan Taylon about the harvest of trophy muskie: https://bluefishradio.com/evolution-of-ontario-fishing-regulations/

Equitable access: First Nations fishers, such as those who’s territory includes Lake Nipissing, have regained their legal right to harvest fish for either Food, Social or Ceremonial (FSC) purposes, or to earn a moderate livelihood [commercial]. The rights of the Nipissing First Nations (NFN) community supersede the rights of recreational anglers and other commercial fisheries but are subordinate to conservation. Sorting out who sets the rules that apply to NFN fisheries has been captured in an agreement between the Ontario government and the NFN. The NFN also has jurisdiction over regulating NFN fisheries including setting seasons for the commercial gillnet fishery, issuing licenses, setting net sizes and the number of nets that each NFN commercial fisher can use, and determining when such fisheries need to be closed early due to over harvesting. This does not apply to NFN members who fish for FSC purposes, which can take place year-round. The only exception being a ban on the sale of fish caught by NFN members without a commercial license.

The NFN website offers few details about the scope of their commercial and FSC fisheries, but does mention that, “in 2018 NFN had 23 registered commercial fishers and our overall harvest was within target limits to ensure sustainability.” How accurate is the NFN commercial harvest tracking system is difficult to assess as the website would suggest that reporting is voluntary? However, the NFN is actively engaged in monitoring fish stock levels by conducting annual surveys using gillnets of various sizes. Read more about the NFN commercial and FSC fisheries on the NFN website: https://www.nfn.ca/natural-resources/fisheries/

Tourism: There exists a significant tourism industry built around angling on Lake Nipissing. Fishing related tourism operates year-round with as many as 3,000 licensed ice fishing shacks in operation each winter. Knowing the number of fish harvested by anglers annually is difficult to assess as “creel surveys” of anglers are expensive, limited, and normally last no more than two weeks in the summer. Anglers who rent ice shacks do so primarily to harvest walleye, as do those who book stays at fishing lodges and resorts during the open water season. There’s also a large number of cottage owners, renters, and RV trailer parks populated by people who enjoy fishing on Lake Nipissing. These stakeholders represent sizable economic investments and generators in the region.

Conclusion: Consulting with stakeholders over regulatory changes is essential to building buy-in. It also ensures transparency and reflects a commitment to democracy. What’s missing is the bigger round table where all stakeholders can exchange views, access the same information, and build consensus on the path forward. The lack of inclusivity and transparency is made obvious by what isn’t included in the consultation documents the Ontario government released concerning newly proposed tightening of Lake Nipissing angling regulations. Anyone reading the documentation would conclude, wrongly, that the fait of Nipissing’s fish stocks rests solely in the hands of the public fishery. It’s obvious to all involved that this is not the case.

Whether fish sustainability can be managed by the NFN and Ontario government using current survey tools and the proposed new regulations seems unlikely. Without actual data on the number of fish being removed from Lake Nipissing each year, a race to the bottom seems likely. Fishing pressure will increase until fish stocks collapse. Stakeholders will continue to blame each other for the declining fish populations. The only ones left fishing in the end will be NFN FSC fishers. Given how important Lake Nipissing’s fisheries are to the region, the collapse of fish stocks will be followed by a general downturn in the local economy.

Given the position of many FN communities that catch-and-release angling goes against their values, it’s unlikely that further shifting away from harvesting by the public fishery would be supported by the NFN. Without stakeholders coming together and negotiating a mutually beneficial agreement that supports sustainable fishing, expect that the current round of proposed tightening of angling regulations to be followed by many more.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Anglers who fish Canadian waters can participate in the online Canadian Fishing Network (CFN) Fish Off tournament on Facebook. Congratulations to the top 3 CFN Fish Off 2021 Spring tournament winners:
1st place: Mitch R. Finally, Esquire & Brandon K. Kadoski Esquirè of Team Drag Pullers
With 121 pts, 56 species
2nd place: Jesse Whalen & Ben Pugh of team Fishing with Ginger
With 61 pts, 30 species
3rd place: Brad Torry & Troy Richardson of Team Left Coast
With 57 pts, 18 species

Watch the winners compete in the 2022 CFN Fish Off TV Show airing on Sportsman Channel Canada and WFN – World Fishing Network. Fans can also watch the action on YouTube: Season 1, Season 2, and Season 3.

The Recreational Fishing Industry Reconnects at ICAST / NPAA
With Orlando, Fla. as the backdrop, the 64th International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, will be in-person and onsite this July 20 – 23, in the North Building of the Orange County Convention Center. ICAST is produced by the American Sportfishing Association.

Northern Ontario fly-in adventure: 3 kayaks, 6 days and 400-plus fish / Outdoor Canada Magazine
During a long pandemic winter, a group of kayak anglers planned a dream trip: flying their little plastic boats into a remote Ontario Lake. The result was a wilder and more incredible adventure than they ever imagined.

This stretch of the Babine is popular with humans. And grizzlies / The Tyee
A new conflict hotspot is a stretch of the Babine River close to a Fisheries and Oceans Canada weir that’s seen a recent rise in recreational fishing.

Coded Wire Tags Assist Fishery Management / FishingWire
When adult salmon or steelhead are caught, return to a hatchery, or return to rivers to spawn, the coded wire tag is recovered with the aid of a coded wire tag detector, which is a device similar to a metal detector. For more information visit the Pacific Salmon Commission: The governing body for administering the terms of the Pacific Salmon Treaty between the U.S. and Canada.

Future of Stripers Is in Anglers’ Hands / FishingWire
According to the most recent Striped Bass Stock Assessment released in 2019, the U.S. Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission estimates 9% of stripers unintentionally die from catch-and-release angling – more than the percentage of fish caught and harvested. When doing the math, Sascha Clark Falchuk, executive director of Keep Fish Wet, reminds us that if we decrease release mortality by just one percent (something that is very doable using best practices), then over 250,000 more stripers would remain in the fishery.

Fish Factor: New phone app helps fishermen report climate change impact / Cordova Times
Now a new phone app is making sure fishermen’s real-life, real-time observations are included in scientific data.

Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. hosting summer fishing challenge for kids and teens / Cranbrook Daily Townsman
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC is once again hosting their summer fishing challenge, on now until August 3rd.

Orca whales splash cod fishing excursion near St. Philip’s / CBC News
While cod fishing between Bell Island and St. Philip’s in Newfoundland anglers were greeted by the show of a lifetime.

Miramichi smallmouth bass awareness campaign launched / ASF
People who fish the Miramichi River system are asked to retain and report invasive smallmouth bass, which were illegally introduced in a headwater lake more than 12 years ago.

Should DFO reel in sport fishing to help save salmon? / The Star
The federal government failed to address the recreational fishery, which also impacts salmon returns, despite making historic and dramatic reductions to the commercial fleet. Conservation groups want Ottawa to dramatically curtail the recreational fishery as it did with the commercial fishery last week in order to save wild salmon on the West Coast.

Fisherman reels in sixgill shark off Nanaimo, B.C. / CTV News
A Nanaimo fisherman has a wild tale to tell, but unlike most big fish stories, he’s got the video to back it up.

Why you need to check your dog for ticks after every outing / Outdoor Canada
As the weather warms and you spend more time outdoors, both you and your dog are likely to encounter ticks that can spread dangerous illnesses, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. Here’s how to keep your dog—and yourself—safe during your forays afield.

Fish:

DFO salmon protections sink dreams of Pacific fishers / National Observer
The closures, the government says, will last “multiple generations” of fish to save tumbling salmon populations.

Canada announces big cuts to commercial fishing to protect wild salmon that Washington’s orcas eat / The Seattle Times
Canada is slashing and closing commercial coastal fishing on more than 100 salmon stocks in an urgent effort to protect wild salmon from extinction.

More than a billion seashore animals may have cooked to death in B.C. heat wave / CBC News
A marine biologist at the University of British Columbia estimates that last week’s record-breaking heat wave in B.C. may have killed more than one billion intertidal animals living along the Salish Sea coastline.

Heat wave could have huge impact on Thompson-Okanagan fish / INFO News
The warm waters are causing fish to seek refuge in deeper waters and may impact returning spawning salmon.

Fish kill bigger and earlier in Alberta this year but also a sign of healthy populations / Edmonton Journal
Some of the people who keep an eye on Alberta’s fish population call the last week in July “fish kill week.” A dead white fish washed up on the beach at Pigeon Lake on July 9, 2021. Dead fish are washing up on Alberta Lake shores due to the recent heat dome which in some cases has caused rising water temperatures, and an algae bloom that diminishes oxygen levels for the fish.

Court says feds breached charter in P.E.I. fish kill investigation / CBC News
Federal investigators failed to understand they needed search warrants following a fish kill on the Clyde River in P.E.I. in 2016.

Sockeye salmon finally back in Okanagan Lake / Gaming Post
Thanks to conservation efforts, the body of water is now once again home to the long-lost species.

Greg Taylor’s 2021 salmon forecast amongst widespread closures / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
“It is a bold and courageous decision, made necessary by the cascading impacts of the climate emergency on salmon and the ecosystems they inhabit. But it is also a declaration of past failures.”

Goldfish are invading our waterways, and they must be stopped!!! / Outdoor Canada
One of the most prevalent and destructive invasive species spreading across the Canada may also be swimming around in your home: the common goldfish. Though they seem harmless, goldfish have become giant problems for our fisheries, making their way into lakes and rivers across the land, via suburban ponds and toilet bowls.

Will different salmon species adapt before the climate votes them off the island? / Hakai Magazine
Warmer waters are one of the factors that are challenging ocean inhabitants. Hakai Magazine explores how tolerance to high temperatures could turn different species of Pacific salmon into climate change winners or losers.

Cabinet shuffle raises questions about future of Ontario’s natural resources / OFAH
In late June, the Ontario government announced a cabinet shuffle that resulted in profound changes for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Out went incumbent minister John Yakabuski and in came Greg Rickford, MPP for Kenora Rainy-River. With the change that blends the MNRF with other ministries, the OFAH has been hearing from concerned anglers and hunters. The most common question asked? Will these changes push natural resources down the government’s priority list?

Grieg Testing for the ISA Virus in Newfoundland Labrador / ASF
A tank with 118,000 Atlantic salmon parr had a positive initial test for virulent Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA). Grieg is following up with further testing. There have been five confirmed cases of virulent ISA in NL in 2021 so far, and 13 in NB.

Critical Miramichi salmon data lost to pandemic /ASF
Important fish counting devices were not deployed through 2020, which could hinder future salmon conservation efforts. Read more

Water:

Lawmakers in Alaska and Washington state push B.C. on mining regulations / News Nation USA
American lawmakers have renewed calls for B.C. to strengthen its mining regulations to protect shared waterways.

NL Government Defends their Aquaculture Regulations / ASF
In the wake of a major escape event, Don Hutchens questions minister’s claim that NL has the strongest aquaculture regulations in the country.

How Ocean Plastic Pollution Impacts Our Fishing Heritage / AFTCO
Land based plastic, often single use plastic, is ending up in our oceans at alarming rates. Roughly a dump truck full of plastic is “dumped” into our oceans every single minute. It’s causing harm to the fish we love to catch.

Land-based salmon farm being considered for Nova Scotia’s Chebogue Point / Perishable News
The Municipality of Yarmouth is considering an application from Boreal Salmon Inc. to establish an open flow land-based salmon farm at Chebogue Point.

Indigenous:

Sumas First Nation in Abbotsford launches 2nd conservation and harvest plan / Chilliwack Progress
Intent is to rebuild Sumas, Chilliwack, and Cultus Lake salmon populations and enhance Indigenous fisheries management. “The harvest and stock assessment activities will provide some of the food, social and ceremonial needs of the community but, just as importantly, much-needed data collection to guide our future conservation and management decisions,” said Count. Murray Ned.

Chinook salmon fishing on Yukon River closed again this year / CBC News
Yukon First Nations are being asked to forgo fishing for chinook salmon again this year, because of low numbers coming up the Yukon River. The Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee, a non-government advisory body, made the recommendation.

Industry:

IGFA Hall of Fame Induction Slated for Wonders of Wildlife / FishingWire
The annual IGFA Hall of Fame induction dinner will be held this year at the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, and tickets are now available.

Boating:

Electric Boat Targets 100 MPH Record / FishingWire
Vision Marine Technologies has teamed up with Hellkats Powerboats to showcase the capabilities of its proprietary technology by rigging a Hellkats 32′ Super-Sport Widebody Catamaran with a twin application of its ground-breaking E-Motion powertrain system.

Special Feature – NO-FISHING MPAS ARE NOT THE SOLUTION

By Bill Shedd. AFTCO Chairman & CEO

Similar to Canada, the U.S. has committed to conserve at least 30 percent of America’s land and ocean areas by 2030. It signaled a desire to participate in the global 30×30 initiative. While we remain optimistic about the outcome, with the details still not yet fully revealed, the jury remains out for the recreational fishing community. We continue to look for answers from the federal government on their definition of conservation and if the 30 percent will include the protections currently in place. Will the 30×30 plan prove a great plus for the resource and the sport, or will it include a network of areas that unnecessarily restrict angler access?

“Marine protected areas are defined areas where human activities are managed to protect important natural or cultural resources. There are approximately 1,000 marine protected areas, or MPAs, located throughout the United States. MPAs cover about 26 percent of U.S. waters.” — NOAA Canada has 14 MPAs at present that cover over 350,000 square kilometers or about 6% of Canada’s marine territory.

To explore why habitat protection and the goals of 30×30 should not restrict angler access, scientific research on the topic can best be summarized by these 3 statements:

  1. No-Fishing MPAs do not Increase Fisheries Productivity: The science suggests no-fishing MPAs (at times referenced as no-catch MPAs, no-take MPAs, or fully protected MPAs) do not produce a meaningful increase in fishery productivity in the U.S.
  2. Proven Fisheries Management Does Increase Overall Fisheries Productivity: Science-based fisheries management is the key to protecting ocean fishery health. Looking at NOAA’s data on the status of fishery stocks shows the state of improving U.S. fishery health thanks to effective fisheries management. Fisheries management has rebuilt and continues to rebuild fish stocks in our oceans.
  3. Recreational Anglers Support Biodiversity and Habitat Protection: Recreational anglers understand the need to protect and conserve our fish populations and the habitat they depend on. We support 30 by 30 policies that are not merely aspirational, but that recognize existing management levels/actions that currently afford protections and work to identify additional conservation needs and actions through an objective, science-driven, stakeholder-engaged process to determine the appropriate level of management actions necessary to meet biodiversity conservation goals.

MPAs actual value to fisheries is being oversold by no-fishing MPA advocates. In fact, no-fishing MPAs have been shown to provide often-insignificant value to U.S. fisheries value that pales in comparison to current proven U. S. fisheries-management practices. Yet, many supporters of no-fishing MPAs have used generous funding to find science that draws inaccurate, broad-stroke conclusions that these MPAs benefit fisheries, conclusions often offered to the public as fact. This MPA misrepresentation makes successful U.S. 30×30 development problematic.

The sportfishing community perspective comes from users of the ocean resource with a storied history of marine conservation. It comes from community members who recreate on, in and around the ocean. That includes a desire to leave our fisheries in a better state for the next generation.

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In this July 5, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with a focus on who’s behind the push to end catch-and-release fishing and why. Included as always is a specially curated list of summaries and Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. Our closing spotlight guest feature is a post written by fishing guide Andrew Marr on catch-and-release Pike fishing.

Photo of Featured Blue Fish Radio guest Mark Hume with a Pacific salmon

This Week’s Feature – Catch and Release or Harvest: Who’s right?

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

Like most who have fished for the past half century, we have all witnessed and been part of a major shift in how we fish. Our generation represents a turning point that marked the end of many thousands of years of fishing to harvest and brought in a new ethic in how we approach conservation. No longer is harvesting for food our prime directive. In fact, for many of us, ethical fishing now means releasing all we catch. However, calls are growing around the world that maybe we went too far.

Increasingly, animal activists and First Nations leaders are advocating for an end to catch-and-release fishing. Could this represent the proverbial pendulum completing its latest swing? Maybe we need to re-examine why and when we practice catch-and-release fishing and make more room for sustainable harvesting. Such a pragmatic approach may not quash arguments put forward to ban recreational fishing, but it certainly could nuance recreational angling to build and strengthen wider public support.

A few years back I interviewed author and conservationist Carl Safina of the Safina Institute located along the U.S. eastern seaboard. Carl grew up as a marine recreational angler and witnessed firsthand some of the excesses of head boat charters that routinely take upwards of 100 anglers out for a day of fishing with the goal that each angler would fill his or her limit or cooler, whatever came first. Carl realized that the practice wasn’t sustainable, but instead of advocating for anglers to throw fish back, he believes that we should instead dial back our fishing pressure to catching and keeping a fresh meal of fish – and no more. His perspective relates to medium sized fish such as Mackerel, Blue Fish, Striped Bass, Drum, and other common inshore fish. He’s not advocating for harvesting large billfish like Swordfish, Marlin or Sailfish, or blue fin tuna or shark – fish that are not easily caught or accessible to the average angler. Carl’s point is that marine recreational anglers need to approach fishing with the recognition that the supply of fish isn’t as robust as it once was. Link below to listen to my two-part interview with Carl Safina on The Blue Fish Radio Show:

Part #1: https://bluefishradio.com/saving-the-oceans-featuring-carl-safina-part-1-of-2/

Part #2: https://bluefishradio.com/saving-the-oceans-featuring-carl-safina-part-2-of-2/

Freshwater fishery scientists and enlightened anglers recognized decades ago that species such as trout, bass, walleye, etc. need to be managed through regulations that govern the number of fish any one licensed angler can have in his or her possession at one time. This has since been modified to include slot sizes that ensure large breeders and juvenile fish exist in sufficient numbers to sustain their population. Certain groups of anglers have determined that, despite what regulations may allow, it’s better to return all fish. According to the latest data from Statistics Canada, licensed anglers are now returning about 2/3 of the total number of fish caught.

On June 12, 2021, retired Globe-and-Mail journalist and author of five books on nature, Mark Hume, published a 4,000-word opinion piece in the Globe rebutting calls to end the practice of catch-and-release salmon fishing along Canada’s west and east coasts. The calls have been issued by both animal activist organizations and First Nations communities. Their motives range from stopping the practice of recreational fishing altogether, to ending anglers from catching and harvesting their limit of salmon and then continuing to fish using catch-and-release. The First Nations communities refer to catch-and-release fishing as “playing with our food”.

Mark’s article puts forward and thoughtful reflection of over 3,000 years of recreational fishing and how it’s become part of who we are as a people. He points out that fishing with hook-and-line is far less destructive than the gillnet and seining fisheries in use by many FN and commercial fishers, and that recreational fishing serves to connect people with nature in powerful and positive ways.

I spoke with Mark about his article, his books and life-long passion for fishing. We discussed how catch-and-release fishing is vital to conservation, research, and building and maintaining a strong sense of stewardship. Mark points out that if we were all to return to fishing for food or to make a moderate livelihood, there would be little chance that fish populations would be able to sustain this level of fishing pressure. The state of B.C.’s Pacific salmon stocks is clear evidence of the destructive impacts of how fish are now harvested through gillnetting and seining. Link below to hear my conversation with Mark Hume on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e341-mark-hume-on-calls-to-end-catch-and

There are thousands of examples of how catch-and-release fishing has benefitted our fisheries, our communities, and our ecosystems. There’s no doubt that more research is needed to dial in the practice for maximum beneficial results and to identify and curtail problems such as barotrauma, fish handling, hook styles, water temperature, etc. but there’s strong evidence that anglers are doing and supporting this type of research and eager to implement the resulting identified best practices.

Andrew Marr makes a living as a guide. He and his fellow guides are working with the owners of fishing lodges to ensure the viability of the fisheries these lodges depend on to operate. Because of their observations, experience and determination, the quality of fishing is continuously improving. Releasing all large fish not only ensures a strong and healthy breeding population but allows anglers to catch-and-release large trophy sized fish year-after-year. It’s all possible because of catch-and-release fishing, and selectively harvesting fish only for food to celebrate the occasion and to take part in the ritual practice of the fabled shore lunch. Many lodges no longer allow their guests to depart with coolers of frozen fish. You can read Andrew’s reflections on conservation through catch-and-release fishing in the Special Guest Feature at the end of the July 5th, 2021, Blue Fish News.

Keeping only those fish identified as inconsequential to the sustainability of a fish stock has proven to be a highly effective conservation measure and popular among the angling community. No longer are large trophy sized fish being sought for the purpose of having mounted and displayed on someone’s wall, when digital images and replica mounts are even more effective at capturing the moment for posterity.

Bringing home, a meal of fresh fish to share with family and friends has gone well beyond a food security measure for most anglers and represents a much more significant ritual that recognizes not only our connection to nature, but our responsibility to ensure nature is protected so that we can catch and safely eat fish grown in the wild. It’s these sentiments that underpin the proposed marked selective Pacific salmon fishery. Anglers want to be able to identify salmon reared in hatcheries for harvest, and to release wild salmon to complete their life cycle in nature. The concept builds on professionally researched conservation measures that all rely on catch-and-release fishing to one degree or another.

There’s little doubt that the technologies now available to the individual have advanced our capacity to find and catch fish exponentially. While many of these same technologies have been applied by commercial and moderate livelihood FN fishers in ways that are impacting fish stocks, the same can’t be said for recreational anglers. In fact, one could argue that the more an angler invests in fishing related technologies, the less likely he or she is to actually harvest fish. No recreational angler is investing tens-of-thousands-of-dollars to address their own food insecurity. This doesn’t mean there aren’t those out there who receive pleasure from filling their chest freezers, but these are a small minority of anglers who pride themselves on doing so with the smallest possible investment in tackle and time. By far the average angler is simply carrying out a tradition that they learned from a parent, and so on back many thousands of generations. It’s why mentoring young anglers is so crucial.

As the president of the charity Blue Fish Canada, it’s my honour to chair the Great Lakes Fish Health network. The five Great lakes (Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario), along with the upper St. Lawrence River, represent the most valuable freshwater fishery in the world ($200 million annually). By far it’s also one of the most valuable freshwater public fisheries in the world ($7.8 billion annually). Making sure that the fish are healthy, and that the fish are safe to eat by those who catch these fish and share them with family and friends, make up the mission of the Network. Fish consumption advisories that recommend we limit our consumption of certain species of fish caught in the Great Lakes should not be a policy, but an interim measure kept in place until we can return the lakes to their former capacity to produce healthy and safe fish to eat. If we don’t, the Great Lakes will become a 100% catch-and-release fishery for all the wrong reasons. More on that in future issues of the Blue Fish News.

In the meantime, amazing anglers and scientists have collaborated on drafting guidance documents that can be found on the Blue Fish Canada website. There are currently 14 such downloadable Blue Fish Sustainable Tips documents that outline strategies for ensuring fish being returned go back healthy, and how to sustainably harvest fish for food and to celebrate with others nature’s amazing capacity to provide. You can find all 14 Blue Fish Sustainable Fishing Tips by visiting the following link: https://bluefishcanada.ca/resources/blue-fish-sustainable-fishing-tips/

There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to fishing. All fish species and ecosystems demand different approaches. Fisheries that are in decline, in the process of recovery, or are strong, all require that we adjust our fishing practices. It’s a work in progress. For that reason, it’s important that we listen to what people have to say. Understanding their agenda is part of this listening process, as is being able to speak knowledgeably about how you are following the latest recommended best practices, in addition to knowing and following the regulations. It’s important that we don’t inadvertently spread or leave unaddressed false information. Fishing may be an ancient activity, but it’s also a privilege that can be lost.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

National Fishing Week / Keep Canada Fishing
July 3 – 11 is National Fishing Week which is supported by Catch Fishing, a national program dedicated to encouraging Canadians to enjoy our fishing heritage. If you are new to fishing, check out the “Catch Fishing” booklet! Learn more about your provincial fishing regulations. Find out when you can fish LICENCE-FREE.

Major League Fishing Record-Setting Day on St. Lawrence River / FishingWire
Jacob Wheeler grabbed the early lead catching 47 bass totaling 165 pounds, 1 ounce – a new Bass Pro Tour record for the heaviest single-day weight. There were 918 bass weighing 2,894 pounds, 8 ounces caught by the 40 pros on a single day, also a new Bass Pro Tour record for the heaviest total weight caught in a single day of competition.

Recreational fishing for salmon closed within local watersheds / My Bulkley Lakes Now
The Department of Fisheries has announced recreational fishing for Chinook Salmon has been closed on the Skeena River watershed, Babine River and Bulkley River. The closure will be effective from June 15 until March 31,2022. This will be implemented on all rivers and lakes within Region 6 but will not include the Kitimat River and Nass River watershed.

Circle Hooks for Stripers / FishingWire
Studies by the states of Massachusetts and Maryland concluded that when using baited circle hooks to fish for striped bass, the mortality of released fish is significantly reduced. A circle hook means, “a non-offset hook with a point that points 90° back toward the shaft (shank) of the hook.

Lake Michigan Fishery Looks Great for the Summer / FishingWire
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today anticipates a strong season for the Lake Michigan fishery based on early surveys and contacts with anglers showing successful fishing in the early part of the season.

The Riverman: Ian Macintosh / Perch magazine
Ian remembers how the perch from Lancaster were famed for their distinct flavour and in high demand by New Yorkers. According to Ian, these fish tasted so good because of their diet: a mix of freshwater shrimp and aquatic snails. “In the 1960s, when fishing for perch, if we got four or five fish to a pound it was good. Six or seven to the pound was average’ today you need eight or nine,” he says. Through reports like the Great River Rapport, storytelling from people like Ian, relentless advocacy work, and public engagement, we can help make sure quality fish and fishing is sustainable.

TPWD, B.A.S.S. Celebrate Fish Care Success At Bassmaster Classic / FishingWire
When the Bassmaster Classic was moved from March to June., B.A.S.S. staff and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department took extra measures to ensure the warmer weather would not lead to increased fish mortality. Officials announced that the plan proved successful, with a live-release rate of over 98% back into Lake Ray Roberts in Texas.

Fish:

Water, Fish & Community / River Institute
Zoom link – July 7 2021 | 7-8pm
Dr. Barry Madison, Research Associate & Adjunct Assistant Professor, Queens University, takes an integrative molecule-to-population level approach in his research. He draws on his broad research experience employing techniques from physiology, endocrinology, and toxicology to study animal responses to environment and climate change. In this presentation, he will provide some perspective on his background and approach to research, as well as the story of why Water, Fish, & Community represents a new age of integration in his scientific journey.

Canada Closes Pacific Commercial Salmon Harvest in Many Areas / NewsWire
Canada is slashing and closing commercial coastal fishing on more than 100 salmon stocks and permanently downsizing the fleet through voluntary license buybacks in an urgent effort to protect wild salmon from extinction. Stating Pacific salmon are in long-term decline with many runs on the verge of collapse, Bernadette Jordan, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced Tuesday that bold action is needed now to stabilize and rebuild stocks before it is too late. The cutbacks are part of a broader $647 million initiative to save wild salmon, including habitat improvements and a reconsideration of Canada’s aquaculture industry in B.C. waters.

Cape Breton highlands Atlantic salmon restoration project hits ‘major milestone’ / Salt Wire
Parks Canada is calling this year’s Atlantic salmon run in Clyburn Brook one for the record books. Local fishing guide and custom fly-tyre Evan Rice, who is based in Sydney Mines and owns fly fishing company Currents Fly Fishing says, “I think that their project is pretty great, what they’re doing up there,”. “The smolt rearing is a great way to do it. … As far as other rivers around, the areas such as the North, Middle Baddeck, we’ve actually been seeing a lot of success in rehabilitation on rivers.”

House committee pushes feds to scale up action to save wild salmon / National Observer
A parliamentary house committee is demanding that Ottawa take steps to save wild salmon stocks on the West Coast by first developing comprehensive research and restoration strategies. The 32 recommendations by the House of Commons committee on fisheries and oceans presented a report this week after a 15-month-investigation into the state of Pacific salmon. The aim of the report was to identify the steps needed to ensure the long-term health of wild salmon and the commercial, Indigenous and recreational fisheries that rely on them, and shape Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan’s new $647-million Pacific Salmon Strategy.

DFO hopes fixes at Big Bar slide will help migrating salmon / National Observer
For a third year, salmon are facing barriers to their migration due to the Big Bar landslide on the Fraser River. This year, salmon will mostly be reliant on an improved “nature like fishway” to aid them in their travels. The department has spent $131 million to date, and around $6 million in the past few months preparing for the fish arrival — big boulders were dropped into the river to create channels for the salmon to swim through, as well as eddys and other pools for them to rest in. Also in use is a fish wheel, which collects the fish and holds them in the water to be moved past the slide by trucks — if needed. A $176.3-million fish ladder project announced back in December is expected to be completed in 2022.

Pesticide dumping in Clayoquot Sound / Watershed Sentinel
Sea lice continue to beset the salmon farming industry globally. No treatment has ever solved this problem, anywhere in the world. Salmon farming corporations are dumping hydrogen peroxide, acutely toxic to krill, off of Vancouver Island’s west coast.

Help keep salmon farms on the radar of our elected officials / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
One year from now, in June 2022, the vast majority of fish farm licences in British Columbia will expire. That’s 106 factory fish farm sites out of a total of 109. These destructive companies aren’t stopping, and we need to keep fighting back.

DFO denies transfer licence for fish farm in Discovery Islands / Times Colonist
Another salmon farm operator in B.C. has been denied a transfer licence that would have allowed it to grow out a final cycle of Atlantic salmon in the Discovery Islands.

Decades of Atlantic salmon restoration work on Nova Scotia’s St. Mary’s River Paying Off / CTV News
More details about the ongoing work to restore healthy Atlantic salmon runs on Nova Scotia’s St. Mary’s River.

Newfoundland group claims aquaculture company not acting responsibly over fish escape and ISA / ASF
A recent freshwater fish escape and a case of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) has raised concerns among conservationists in Newfoundland.

Ban on commercial fishing in central Arctic Ocean comes into force / Nunatsiaq News
A first-of-its-kind agreement among a group of northern countries is now law, effectively banning commercial fishing in the central Arctic Ocean until there’s a better scientific understanding of the area and its ecosystems. This means an area of about 2.8 million square kilometres will be protected — about the size of Quebec and Ontario combined — for at least 16 years with the option to be extended every five years. With climate change speeding up ice melt in the Arctic, there is more interest in using the Arctic Ocean for commercial fishing and shipping activity.

Water:

Great Lakes’ water levels forecast to be in the ‘sweet spot’ for summer / mlive.com
Great Lakes’ water levels are expected to be much lower than the record-high levels over the past few years, but still above the long-term average water level. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that precipitation over the Great Lakes basin has been below average now for six months in a row.

Helium balloons ending up in Great Lakes by the hundreds of thousands / CBC News
The plastic balloons we use to mark some of the biggest milestones in our lives — births, deaths, graduations, homecomings, engagements, gender reveal parties — are ending up in the Great Lakes by the hundreds of thousands, according to an Ontario biologist who spent two weeks gathering trash. “It’s possible that 960,000 balloons wash up on the Lake Erie shoreline every year,” she said. “Even if my estimate is off by 50 per cent, that’s half a million balloons that are washing up just on one of our Great Lakes.

Alberta, Ontario amongst Canada’s worst conservation performers / The Narwhal
A national report shows how all provinces and territories are doing in the race to protect more of the country’s remaining wild spaces.

Watersheds Canada to launch Canada’s first and only natural shoreline restoration software / Watersheds Canada
Watersheds Canada’s Natural Edge Program empowers Canadians to take local action on the restoration and conservation of their freshwater resources by enhancing their shoreline areas with native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. Vegetated buffers are effective in removing over 90% of runoff when compared to non-vegetated shorelines and are critical in mitigating the effects of climate change. These areas provide critical habitat and shade for 90% of aquatic wildlife and 70% of land-based wildlife at some point in their lifetime.

Understanding Great Lakes Algal Blooms: State of the Science Virtual Conference / Ohio Sea Grant
Registration is open for this year’s Understanding Algal Blooms: State of the Science Virtual Conference, which will highlight current scientific knowledge related to algal blooms. Registration is free but required to receive Zoom log-in information.

Indigenous:

Feds told — again — to allow Indigenous commercial fisheries / National Observer
Canada must stop controlling how First Nations harvest and sell salmon, halibut, and dozens of other marine species, a B.C. court has ruled. The decision marks the end of a 15-year legal battle waged by the federal government to prevent the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations — a coalition of five First Nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island — from reclaiming their traditional commercial fisheries decimated by colonial policies. “We are just trying to establish a commercial fishery that provides income to the families,” said Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

Two Nova Scotia First Nations propose first-ever moderate livelihood elver fishery / CBC News
Nova Scotia’s Acadia and Bear River bands have come up with the first-ever moderate livelihood proposal for baby eels — called elvers — in Canada. The plan would permit the harvest of up to 115 kilograms of baby eels on any of the 19 watersheds in southern Nova Scotia, with individual license holders limited to a maximum of 35 kilograms. The tiny baby eels are flown live to Asian fish farms where they are harvested as adults. In 2019, the fishery was valued at $38 million.

Trading away culture and food security, say Chiefs / Watershed Sentinel
“We do not want any farms restocked in our territory. We’ve been trying to get these farms out of our territory for 18 years”, says Chief Gigame George Quocksister Jr, Tsahaukuse. Quocksister is Laichwiltach, and he was joined by elected Chief Darren Blaney, of Homalco Nation. The two chiefs say they’re committed to protecting wild salmon. They thanked Minister Bernadette Jordan for her decision to phase out fish farms, and hope it is a turning point in the story of declining stocks.

Salmon being distributed to families / Whitehorse Daily Star
The Yukon First Nation Education Directorate has once again partnered to provide urban-based Indigenous families with roughly 30,000 pounds of wild-caught B.C. salmon.

Conflict re-ignited on Quebec’s North Shore after local fisherman challenges Innu river rights / CBC News
The Innu First Nation of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam says more needs to be done to inform Quebecers on land rights of Indigenous peoples, following another confrontation with a non-Indigenous fisherman on the Moisie River. Members of the Innu First Nation have been in an ongoing legal battle to seek control of the fishing club, formerly known as the Club Adams, frequented and owned by wealthy Americans for more than 100 years.

Industry:

TUF-Line shows its steel with 100% bio monofilament / Angling International
The TUF-Line Biodegradable Monofilament retains all its strength for a full year after spooling onto the reel. “When stored in its original unopened package it also has a shelf-life of more than five years,” says the company, which was acquired by Mustad from Western Filament in 2019. It adds that the line is designed to biodegrade within approximately seven years, returning to a harmless biomass with no harm to the environment.

Boating:

Weather To Boat – Weather reports and boating safety
The new “Weather to Boat” app has just been launched by the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC)! It is available for FREE download in online app stores. Powerful, dynamic … and it could save your life. In addition to marine and local weather forecasts, it provides pre-departure checklists, geo-referenced marinas and boat launches, video tips, and much more. RESEARCH

Special Guest Feature – To Catch or Release Large Pike (edited)

By Andrew Marr

(Andrew Marr has been working as a fishing guide for the past ten years. Most recently at Wollaston Lake Lodge. His opinions about catching and releasing large fish represent a growing practice among fishing guides and lodge owners that fish are more valuable in the water alive than packed in the coolers of guests heading home after a week of fishing.)

I’ve been a professional pike guide for over a decade and have worked with fisheries biologists on studies tracking large female pike over periods of years to track growth, re-catches etc. I’ve personally handled in the vicinity of 20k pike and over 1k in excess of 40″.

Large pike are a treat for any angler to catch. They are big, strong, fight decent, and more often than not, pretty willing to bite a good presentation. When handled and released correctly a single pike can become a PB for multiple anglers over multiple years, I can absolutely attest to that many times over!

I can recall many small, medium, and large pike well over 40” I’ve personally handled multiple times in a single season and over multiple seasons. Once my guest caught the same 41″ unexpectedly twice in the same day. Healthy as could be, just super aggressive that day but handled well enough to bite again several hours later.

Our responsibility is to be selective about the pike we choose to harvest. The only fish we take are for shore lunch. We don’t put fish on ice for guests to take home. Those fish have far greater value in the lake in good numbers. My job depends on a sustainable fishery.

We don’t kill large trophy fish to be mounted for what are hopefully obvious reasons. Replica mounts, need I say more. I get that’s strict for some, but big fish are the business and big fish need to be in the body of water you’re fishing to catch them. It’s the steps we take to protect what we are fortunate to have.

The thing that best protects the sustainability of our waters, to produce both numbers and “Trophy” fish, is selective harvest. We eat pike but really go out of our way to try to tell the gender of the pike and only kill males in the under 29″ range. For reference 1 28″ pike with sides will feed 3 people pretty comfortably at shore lunch, providing you filet it well and don’t waste a bunch.

The reasoning behind keeping males vs females is simple. Females are less abundant than males and greater in size. If you’ve ever seen pike spawn you’ve likely seen a single large pike surrounded by 1-4 smaller males. That’s essentially how pike populations work, fewer larger females at the top, mid-size and growing females along with the larger males, then getting into younger year classes and mixed population with a higher percentage of males. The large female pike at the top of the pyramid in the fewest numbers are the backbone of fisheries like this.

The larger Females produce an exponentially higher number of eggs with an exponentially high degree of fecundity, meaning more eggs, bigger eggs, healthier eggs with a better chance of producing an equally greater number of successful fry with a potential of growing bigger and healthier fish. The larger Females also help keep the smaller pike in check due to cannibalism. There were incredible studies done where large Females were removed from a body of water in an effort to control numbers only to have it backfire into an over abundance of smaller pike whose detriment to other local populations and the environment was disastrous. The “big girls” are the essential ingredient that keeps the entire food chain in balance.

The bottom line is people will make their own choices as to what they choose to harvest for the table or even the wall. If you buy a license that’s your right. Like I said, I like shore lunch as much as the next guy. There are lakes I fish here at home that don’t have the population to support almost any harvest, and others where I wouldn’t leave without a few due to great abundance. Catching a big old pike will put a smile on any one of our faces, it’s just good fun! Believe me when I say that going back and catching that fish the following season at a bigger size is even better, and the next year and the next year.

Being selective in our harvest can still fulfill our desire to provide and enjoy the bounty of our efforts, while knowing that you’re providing yourself and others the opportunity at both numbers and size for the foreseeable future. The more anglers who adopt this approach the greater we will all be rewarded the next time we are on the water.

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In the June 21, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with more on Pacific salmon abundance issues and steps being proposed to reverse declines while maintaining fisheries crucial to coastal communities. As always, we include summaries and links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. We close with an opportunity to Have Your Say concerning a new Bill introduced in Parliament, and a Spotlight Guest Feature concerning Seven Public Fishery Principles put forward by the B.C. Public Fishery Alliance.

Photo of featured guest Brian Tutty
Photo of featured guest Brian Tutty

This Week’s Feature – Pacific Salmon are Thrown a Lifeline

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

Just when you think you heard it all, Pacific salmon are back in the news. I’ll personally never get tired of reporting on the salmon that are such a huge part of the B.C. ecosystem, economy and culture, especially when it’s clear to all concerned that Pacific salmon are at risk of being lost. So here’s what I’ve learned and covered in my podcasts over the past four weeks since last having featured Pacific salmon in the Blue Fish News.

In the June 7 issue of the Blue Fish News I wrote about human values and how these now need to include responsible choices. For centuries we took what we could and needed, and would only stop when it was clear that any more would be a waste of effort and resources. Only recently have innovations meant excess harvest of perishables such as fish can now be efficiently preserved, transported and traded. The export of fish from Canada started with salting Cod, then canning salmon, and now factory trawlers that process and flash-freeze fish as quickly as they can be caught. Innovations in harvesting technologies have also reversed our catch per effort ratio from more time fishing leading to more fish, to a continual decrease in effort required to harvest ever greater numbers.

Thirty years ago on Canada’s east coast harvest innovations fooled scientists, fishers and politicians into thinking that Atlantic Cod stocks were plentiful since we kept catching more as time went on. Fishing pressure was allowed to continually increase until suddenly, the Cod were gone. New rules at DFO brought about in 2019 now require that DFO create regulations to “restore damaged habitat and rebuild depleted fish stocks”.

Diminishing Pacific salmon numbers has just as much to do with habitat destruction and numerous other non-fishery causes such as climate change, as it does with harvest innovations and fishing pressure. What is evident however, is that all the factors contributing to Pacific salmon decline are related to how we value these fish. Both in terms of the economic return their harvest represents, and their intrinsic value to the ecosystem as a whole. We want to prosper from their capture and sale, but we don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to accommodate their ecological requirements.

Reversing the decline of Pacific salmon will take both practical solutions and an examination of our values. Thankfully, these parallel processes have been underway for some time now, and have already begun to bear fruit.

I recently spoke with Brian Tutty, a 38-year career biologist with Canada’s department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) about what he witnessed over his career and since. His efforts and that of DFO and many others to bring a stop to the decline of wild salmon should be made into a movie. These actions include numerous practical solutions implemented in amazingly creative ways with spectacular results. They all shared a common objective — to instill in others a sense of stewardship and responsibility for the health and wellbeing of Pacific salmon. Not only about what to do to ensure their survival, but to instill in others what absolutely they needed to stop doing because, in some cases, it amounted to intentional destruction. Much was learned over the years, and even though many of these programs were ended due to budget cuts, the know-how exists.

I’ve interviewed a lot of people about fish over the decades, and I’m now convinced more than ever that we need to challenge those who continue to believe that our actions are unintentional at best or ill-informed at worst. We need more story tellers like Brian Tutty if we are going to shape attitudes and instill values needed to ensure salmon receive the protection and conservation required to rebuild and sustain their numbers. Click on the link to hear Brian reflect on his over four decades of service in the name of salmon on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e339-retired-dfo-biologist-brian-tutty

Turns out politicians in Ottawa have also been listening. The biggest ever fish rescue program and investment was just announced. The Pacific salmon restoration program calls for $647 million to be spent over five years in four key areas. Program priorities include conservation and stewardship, hatcheries, harvest transformation, and integrated management. So, what does it all mean?

I asked both Aaron Hill from Watershed Watch Salmon Society, and Tom Davis from the Public Fishery Alliance, for their opinions concerning the spending announcement. Both these west coast salmon experts have dedicated their lives to safeguarding Pacific salmon, and both come from families and communities that are directly tied to these fish. While not a lot is known about exactly how the four announced priority areas will be addressed, both Aaron and Tom had plenty to offer in terms of where the resources should be applied and where not. They also both expressed considerable skepticism, but can you blame them given all we have recently learned concerning gill netting and aquaculture impacts on wild fish? Click on the link to hear my back-to-back interviews with Aaron and Tom on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e338-federal-pacific-salmon-rescue-plan-

Big investments and program promises often proceed an election. No doubt, the state of B.C. Pacific salmon are going to figure in each party’s platform, and if they don’t, then it’s up to us to ask why. I’m asking, starting with MP Bob Zimmer, member of Canada’s Conservative Party. Click on the link to hear Bob’s findings and opinions after having met and spoken with public fishers up-and-down the west coast on this episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e340-mp-bob-zimmer-and-the-bc-public-fis

I’ll also be asking representatives from the other parties as well, so stay tuned and get ready. If you have questions, you want me to ask or MPs that you want me to have as guests on The Blue Fish Radio Show, send me a note.

I’m not going to promote one political party over another, I can’t. As the president of the charity Blue Fish Canada, promoting the interests of a political party is a violation of CRA rules that govern what charities can and cannot do.

I’m also going to continue to speak with and listen to First Nations representatives about their thoughts and priorities concerning not just Pacific salmon, but the federal government’s international commitment to protect 30% of Canada’s marine, terrestrial and aquatic territory by 2030. There’s lots of momentum behind the formation of Indigenous Conservation and Protection Agreements as a means of fulfilling Canada’s international 30-by-30 commitment, and as a strategy for advancing reconciliation. The U.S. has made a similar international commitment, so I’ll be reaching out to our friends south of the border as well.

For the latest news about fish, water and fishing, be sure to Subscribe to receive both The Blue Fish Radio Show podcast, and the biweekly Blue Fish Canada News. If you like what you hear and read, leave a ranking on Apple Podcast, and make a charitable donation to Blue Fish Canada: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Fish are caught in the middle of the catch-and-release debate / Globe and Mail
Since 1828, sports anglers have been told to release fish they don’t need for food. Now they are being told they are wrong. A deep dive by veteran B.C. journalist and author, Mark Hume.

What it looks like to be obsessed with fishing / Pique Newsmagazine
“Fishing is still the most widely practised sport, hobby, distraction, time-waster in the world. It fulfils mankind’s primal instincts to challenge nature.”

Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program launches year 2 / Rossland News
A youth initiative and even a greater prize package is planned for 2021-22 angler incentive program.

Researchers catch record-breaking Nechako sturgeon, thought to be nearly 100 years old / CBC News
The largest Nechako white sturgeon on record was caught and released near Vanderhoof, B.C., earlier this month. Weighing in at 152 kilograms (336 pounds) and measuring 2.9 meters (9.6 feet), the huge fish was caught by staff at the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre (NWSCC).

Tournament App Allows All-Virtual Fishing Tournament Competition Worldwide / Fishing Wire
Scoring takes place using the popular CaptApp mobile application, which allows teams to shoot video that is automatically time- and date-stamped as well as geo-located.  Read more

DFO Closes all Fishing on N.S.’s Grand Lake and Shubenacadie River / ASF
Agencies are investigating suspected contamination that has killed dogs and sickened people.

The Great River Rapport / Perch Magazine
“The river changes, every year it’s different. It’s never the same.” Young fisherman Mackenzie Petrie transmutes his experiences on the river into observations that inform future scientific research. The St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Science collects observations from the past and is collecting current observations from community members to know the complete story of the river.

National Walleye Tour Heads to Lake Erie June 24-25 / Fishing Wire
The National Walleye Tour Presented by Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s will host its third regular-season event on Lake Erie at Huron, Ohio, June 24-25.

Worldwide Virtual Offshore Tournament for Women to Raise Funds for Charity / Fishing Wire
Scoring will take place using the CaptApp application, which verifies catches using video and geo-location, among many other features—cellular reception is not required for the app to operate.

22 Bass Over 13 Pounds in Florida Released during FWC’s Trophy Catch Season 8  / Fishing Wire 
The Trophy Catch team was thrilled to recognize the anglers who submitted 22 Hall of Fame bass weighing 13 pounds or more that were caught, documented, and released back into Florida’s waters. The associated comprehensive Trophy Care program promotes best handling practices for bass to ensure that each Trophy Catch bass is released alive.

U.S. officials plan to curtail salmon fishing along West Coast to help killer whales / CBC News
Federal officials in the U.S. are planning to curtail non-Indigenous salmon fishing along the country’s west coast when runs are forecast to be low, in order to help endangered killer whales.

Salmon fishing on Lower Yukon shut down / KYUK
On the Yukon River, subsistence salmon fishing is being closed to protect king salmon as they migrate upriver into Canada.

Blue Marlin World Cup Set for July 4 / Fishing Wire
The Blue Marlin World Cup, a one-day event targeting trophy blue marlin, will again be held on July 4th, around the globe.

Fish:

We projected a fisheries collapse by 2048 — now there is reason for hope / The Hill
Fifteen years ago, a team of scientists reached “peak pessimism” and mathematically projected in a widely publicized paper a global fisheries collapse by 2048. This year, on World Oceans Day, the lead author of that study, Boris Worm, writes that he now has reason to hope that we might “have a fighting chance to leave an ocean to our children that is more abundant, more productive and more resilient than the one we inherited.”

Plastic Debris Is Getting into the Great Lakes, Our Drinking Water, and Our Food / WDET
Researchers are finding plastic microfibers so small, they’re actually in the tissue, the flesh of fish. That means people are eating it too. It’s not the only way you’re ingesting plastics.

New research shows that 2020’s travel restrictions were good—very good—for Ontario’s bass / Outdoor Canada 
The pandemic has been a crisis for humankind, but for the fish… maybe not so much. In this popular blog post, Outdoor Canada fishing editor Gord Pyzer explains astonishing new science showing that in one busy Ontario Lake, 2020’s reduction in fishing pressure led to the best bass spawn in 30 years.

Great Lakes Researchers Study Musky Travels / Fishing Wire
Scientists from the Michigan DNR, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ohio DNR and United States Geological Survey began tagging muskies in the Detroit River in 2016, with subsequent batches of fish tagged in the Canadian and American waters of Lake St. Clair.

Greenland Quota Puts Atlantic Salmon at Risk / ASF
Greenland resists negotiating with U.S., Canada, at NASCO meetings, holds firm on 27-t quota for 2021.

Video: Stewards of Nova Scotia’s St. Mary’s River / ASF
Conservation takes people, and in Nova Scotia local leaders on the St. Mary’s River are rising to the challenge and leading a successful recovery effort. ASF worked with videographer Tim Myers on this short feature video, profiling the work of the St. Mary’s River Association.

NEW 2021 State of Atlantic Salmon Report / ASF
ASF has released its annual overview of the latest information on North American Atlantic salmon returns and harvest.

Pacific salmon abundance plummeted in 2020 / Business in Vancouver
The global abundance of Pacific salmon in 2020 was the lowest since 1982, according to new data released by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission.

The sad fate of krill in the Southern Ocean / EarthSky
Little shrimplike krill lie at the base of the Southern Ocean food web. Many sea creatures in this ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, eat krill. That includes penguins, seals, fish and whales. But krill populations are projected to decline about 30% this century, due to human-driven climate change, and natural variability in the climate.

Cape Cod diver left with a whale of a tale after a humpback spat him out / CNN
A Cape Cod lobster diver is safe Friday, following a fluke encounter with a humpback whale that nearly made him the leviathan’s lunch.

Humpback whale freed off Vancouver Island from discarded fishing gear / CBC News
Fisheries and Oceans Canada successfully disentangled a humpback whale pinned to the ocean floor. The whale was trapped for hours near Nanaimo on Thursday, anchored by 50 traps, 3,000 feet of rope, two floats and two anchors.

Water:

Improving fish passage in the Elk River watershed / East Kootenay Online
A new initiative led by the Canadian Wildlife Federation will plan, prioritize, and implement barrier-remediation projects throughout the Elk River watershed to improve fish passage.

Aussie coal mines pose big threat to Southern Alberta’s water: study / The Tyee
New scientific research commissioned by local landowners warns of devastating pollution and habitat destruction.

Bad news for fish: Climate change is sucking the oxygen out of lakes, study suggests / CBC News
Fish could be left gasping for air as oxygen levels plunge in the world’s freshwater lakes due to climate change, a new study suggests.

Perspectives on renewed Great Lakes Agreement / OFAH 
When it comes to the Great Lakes, one of the key tools for Ontario and Canada to meet their objectives under the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) is the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. More commonly known as COA, it serves to spearhead cooperative efforts on things like nutrient management, reducing plastic pollution, wastewater/stormwater management, aquatic invasive species, and improving resilience to climate change.

NOAA anticipates lower than average algae bloom for Lake Erie  / NOAA
This year’s bloom is predicted to be smaller than 2017 and 2019 blooms. The decrease in severity is due to March and April rain levels and the associated discharge and phosphorus loads being lower than average.

Tiny specks bring big hope that ocean is improving after the devastating ‘Blob’ / The Seattle Times
A plankton ecologist with Oregon State University, reported seeing an abundance of plankton associated with cold water upwelling, and good fat levels and size in zooplankton, the tiny animals that feed the food web.

DFO Authorizes Use of Rotenone in Miramichi Watershed / ASF
Federal authorization means the operation to eradicate smallmouth bass from the Miramichi watershed will proceed in August.

Hunters join forces with conservationists to call on B.C. to protect fish and wildlife habitat / The Narwhal
As B.C.’s landscapes are fragmented by industrial activities and the province faces biodiversity collapse, with more than 2,000 species at risk of extinction, guide outfitters, hunters, fishers and trappers are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with naturalists, ecotourism operators and conservation organizations in a new coalition calling on the province to protect B.C.’s ecosystems before it’s too late.

How a Russian Vessel’s Grounding Highlights Perils of Arctic Shipping / Yale E360
A recently released report on the 2018 grounding of a Russian ship in the Canadian Arctic points out the many dangers of a coming shipping boom in an increasingly ice-free Arctic, including the lack of reliable navigational charts and crews inexperienced in polar waters. 74 groundings have occurred in the Canadian Arctic from 2000 to 2018. The report underscores in chilling ways how a steady increase in shipping in a rapidly melting and largely uncharted Arctic could result in an environmental and human disaster.

Climate Change Impacts Coastal Fisheries and Communities / NOAA
Changes in our climate and oceans are affecting our communities, businesses, and natural resources—including our fisheries and coastal habitats. Climate change is already affecting the productivity, abundance, distribution, and composition of fish stocks that anglers enjoy. As a result of these kinds of changes, coastal businesses and the associated industries we cherish face unprecedented challenges.

Indigenous:

Why the first river in Canada to become a legal person signals a boon for Indigenous Rights / The Narwhal
The Muteshekau Shipu in Québec will enjoy new protections as Canada joins a global movement to recognize both Indigenous law and the rights of nature.

Why Indigenous knowledge should be an essential part of how we govern the world’s oceans / The Conversation
“We have an opportunity to empower traditional and contemporary Indigenous forms of governance and management for the benefit of all people and the ecosystems we are part of.”

First Nations, commercial harvesters, and recreational fishing groups join forces to save Fraser River fish / Chilliwack Progress
First Nations, commercial, and recreational fishing groups have joined forces to help stave off any further decline of fish stocks on the Fraser River. The Lower Fraser Collaborative Table (LFCT) includes membership from 23 First Nations of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, recreational fishing groups, and commercial reps from the Area E Harvest Commercial.

Potlotek, DFO agree on first authorized moderate livelihood fishery / CBC News
Potlotek First Nation Chief Wilbert Marshall says his band’s fishery plan will include enforcement protocols authorized by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Mi’kmaw fishery will not affect conservation levels. The lobster stocks are healthy, and Potlotek’s traps will be fished under existing licenses and seasons.

‘Salmon War’ 40 years ago: ‘The reaction may have been too harsh’ / The Star
In 1981, approximately 500 police officers and stormed the Listuguj First Nation Reserve on the Gaspé Peninsula. It was one of the first events of the “Salmon War,” a conflict that pitted the Quebec government against Indigenous communities.

Industry:

BPS/Cabela’s Donating Over 40,000 Rods and Reels to Non-Profits / Gone Fishing 
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s are once again donating more than 40,000 rods and reels to hundreds of not-for-profit partners throughout North America that help kids from all backgrounds connect to the great outdoors to kick off Gone Fishing.

Boating:

All-Electric-Boat Bass Tournament Results Announced / Fishing Wire
The event, sponsored by ePropulsion, was held on May 29, 2021 on the Hard Labor Creek Reservoir in Walton County, Georgia, drawing nine clubs with a total of 72 anglers, with winners earning the State Championship title and a new ePropulsion Navy 6.0 Evo outboard engine.  Read more

Have Your Say – Bill C-297, the Selective Fisheries Act

On May 26 a Private Members Bill “Bill C-297, the Selective Fisheries Act” was introduced into the House of Commons. The Selective Fisheries Act responds to the demands of B.C. anglers to “allow for selective fisheries for plentiful species while maintaining the conservation of vulnerable salmon stocks”. The Bill would give the Fisheries Minister the authority to “create selective fisheries and increase the number of marked hatchery fish for anglers to target”. Link to review Bill C-297: https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-2/bill/C-297/first-reading

Let MP Mark Strahl know what you think of the Bill by completing the survey: https://www.markstrahl.com/selectivefisheriesact/

Special Feature – Seven Proposed B.C. Public fishery Principles / Public Fishery Alliance

The following seven draft Public Fishery Principles were first developed in 2018 by B.C. fishers, conservationists, politicians, scientists and others. They address barriers or inadequacies that threaten public fisheries along B.C.’s coast and continue to be updated by the B.C. Public Fishery Alliance to reflect and inform current issues and opportunities.

The seven Public Fishery Principles follow:

  1. Marking of all current hatchery stock to allow clear identification of harvestable fish by First Nation, Commercial and public fishers.
  2. Support for developing and implementing selective and sustainable harvesting innovations to replace current unsustainable harvesting practices.
  3. Sufficient financial and enforcement resources to restore habitat, ensure equitable and sustainable harvests, and prevent pollution.
  4. Hatchery enhancements that support sustainable and equitable harvest by First Nation, Commercial, and public fishers, and reduce genetic dilution of wild fish.
  5. Timely and accessible fishery announcements to ensure sufficient time to plan, prepare and implement fishery activity.
  6. Consultation and collaboration with and between stakeholders in decision-making processes.
  7. Designated regional Directors General of public Fisheries.

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In the June 7, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we start with an exploration of why we insist on compartmentalising aquatic and marine ecosystems. As always, we include a specially curated list of summaries and links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. We close with a spotlight guest resource on marine recreational fishing safety tips.

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther as a youth with his 1st Georgetown Venturers and their two warrior-styled canoes used to paddle the St. Lawrence River and beyond

This Week’s Feature – One Ocean Many Names

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

World Ocean Day this June 8 got me thinking about an adventure I took part in in 1977 that led to my expanding my conception of our planet’s aquatic and marine ecosystems. It was the type of long intense first-hand experience that leads to one questioning their beliefs. In my case, it was a two-month canoe trip that triggered my realization that despite our need to label and name, the earth’s marine / aquatic ecosystems are, in fact, one continuous interconnected and interdependent system that spans the planet. The triggering event was a canoe trip that started just west of Toronto where the credit River enters Lake Ontario and finished on the east coast of Prince Edward Island some 2,100-plus kilometers and two months later.

Turns out it’s not impossible to paddle a canoe from Toronto to P.E.I. A bunch of us 1st Georgetown Venturers did just that. We needed to figure out how to get from Georgetown Ontario, just north of Toronto, to Sunnyside P.E.I. so we could take part in the 1977 World Scout Jamboree. That canoe trip created a cognitive map in my mind. It personalized the connection between the Credit River that ran through my hometown and into Lake Ontario, and east along Lake Ontario’s north shore to the Thousand Islands at the head of the St. Lawrence River. Then past Montreal and Quebec City to the Gaspesie Peninsula where we portaged the Matapedia River. Then south along the New Brunswick Coastline before crossing the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island, and ending after paddling around to the east side of the Island to the town of Summerside.

My fellow Venturers and I witnessed the ecosystem switch from northern pike and common carp to beluga and lobster. We tasted the water transitioning from fresh to salt and went from benefiting and thrilling from the eddies of the St. Lawrence as it passes through the Thousand Islands, and the rush of the Lachine Rapids along the north shore of Montreal Island, to battling rising tides and storm surges along the lower St. Lawrence River and New Brunswick coastline.

Our maritime companions transitioned from pleasure yachts to cargo ships to lobster boats. The reception from shoreline and coastal communities along the way ranged from hostile to indifference, to curious and welcoming. The only consistent aspect of the voyage was rain.

With only a compass to navigate by, no radio communications, and campsites chosen the night before using estimations based on best effort, there were many days on the water that stretched to 12 hours, and in one instance, 24. This later included a night spent huddled around a campfire with no water, food or sleeping bags. One particularly bad storm generated confused seas that sank three dories but spat our two 25-foot warrior-style canoes and 12 paddlers on to the beach fatigued but undamaged.

Water temperatures in the lower St. Lawrence River and Gulf and Atlantic never rose above 10 degrees Celsius. No one said it but we all knew that tipping would likely lead to death due to hyperthermia since it was unlikely anyone would witness our plight in time to organize a rescue. Crossing the Northumberland Strait was more a psychological challenge than a physical one, since at one point during the crossing no one was able to see land. By then 1–2-meter swells were our constant companion.

Perhaps if we had fully appreciated what canoeing the Lower St. Lawrence and Atlantic coast would entail, organizers and parents alike would have thought differently about the voyage. But that’s what maps do, they make even the most inhospitable and uninhabited geography look manageable.

What I learned is that Canada’s rivers, lakes and three oceans are, in fact, one system with different regional characteristics. There are no distinct transitions, no lines in the water, no abrupt changes, just a system that is highly interdependent and connected.

While landscapes may seem static, water is always moving. Because of water, even terrestrial ecosystems interact. The fluidity of water not only transfers beneficial nutrients but creates pathways that facilitate the movement of animals. It’s because of water interdependence between ecosystems is circular.

An example of a fish species that exemplifies aquatic continuity is striped bass. This fish species moves between fresh and saltwater annually, and travels thousands of miles each year.

I recently spoke with Jamie Howard from Howard Films about his most recent project “Running the Coast”. It took Jamie over four years of filming to document Striped Bass along North America’s east coast, and the people who seasonally celebrate these iconic fish throughout their journey.

Filming of this three-part documentary also led Jamie on his own path of discovery as he came to learn that the future of Striped Bass is not a certainty. Link below to hear my interview with Jamie Howard on The Blue Fish Radio Show:
https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e337-running-the-coast-with-jamie-howard

As for my own journey of discovery, at age 13 I was not only the youngest paddler aboard the two canoes, but the only one who was legally blind. However, by no means was I the only one limited in the ability to see and appreciate what was below the hulls of our two canoes. The six of us paddling each canoe focussed mainly on the timing of our strokes and keeping out of the way of the numerous massive cargo ships we encountered each day. We had only glimpses of the life and vitality that thrived below the surface.

I’ve since remapped the part of my brain meant for interpreting optical nerve stimulation, to visualize my environment including underwater worlds. I also learned how to make better use of my ears to both hear and listen.

I just learned about a new 5-part Hakai Magazine series about listening underwater called The Sound Aquatic Podcast. I spoke with the host of the series Elin Kelsey, and it came as no surprise that we share a mutual love and respect for animals that depend primarily on sound to communicate.

Animals that have evolved to take advantage of the ability to hear and transmit sounds through water five-times faster than in air. To thrive in a world that is also often devoid of light or rendered inhospitable to those that depend on sight. Link below to hear my interview with Elin on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e336-sound-aquatic-and-elin-kelsey

So, as you think about world Ocean Day, the three oceans that make up Canada’s longest coastline of the world and 72% of Canada’s total territory, taking into consideration Canada’s exclusive economic zone, remember that it’s really one large system. We just like to carve it up on maps and give it different names to make it easier to convey geospatial information. Only by suspending geographic conceptions is it possible to appreciate the reality that fish evolved in a world with very few boundaries.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Socioeconomic Impacts of Atlantic Offshore Wind Development / NOAA Fisheries
To help analyze how party and charter boat fishing operations may be impacted by offshore wind energy projects, NOAA Fisheries compared vessel logbook fishing location data from 2008-2018 to current offshore wind energy project areas. We identified where and when fishing occurred relative to these areas and developed reports of potential socioeconomic impacts from each offshore wind project area based on the historic data. These reports include information on the number of primary species retained, number of party and charter boat trips, number of angler trips, revenue associated with party and charter boat trips, and communities affected by each offshore wind development project area. These reports will help estimate the potential impacts of such development on managed recreational fisheries and associated fishing communities.

Eco-Certified Recommendations / Ocean Wise
Ocean Wise recommendations cover a broad range of seafood sourced from all over the world’s oceans and inland aquatic systems. Ocean Wise recommendation is the result of an assessment that scores the environmental performance of a fishery or aquaculture operation.

Low flows and warm waters of concern for Newfoundland/Labrador salmon / ASF
The Atlantic salmon angling season begins on Newfoundland Island, and on June 15 in Labrador. In central and eastern NL especially, river levels are low, in part due to low winter snowpack.

Anglers and hunters are on the front lines of biodiversity / OFAH
On the heels of International Biodiversity Day, which just passed on May 22, OFAH Resource Management Specialist Lauren Tonelli, shares her personal fishing, hunting and trapping story and talks about how and why OFAH and our members are critical stewards for biodiversity.

Friends of the Cowichan demand Minister end winter fishing on the river / Focus on Victoria
Greater conservations measure are needed if the fish—and fishing the river is known for—are to survive.

Summer Fishing Challenge open to youths across B.C. / Port Alberni Valley News
The Summer Fishing Challenge, hosted by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, is designed to encourage youth enjoyment of freshwater fishing.

How Nova Scotia plans to make the province a sportfishing destination / CBC News
This fall, the provincial government plans to launch a new long-term program called Fish Nova Scotia. The hope is to attract tourists through sportfishing.

A Guide to Flying Fishing Flags / In The Bite
A standardized system regarding maritime flags exists within the International Code of Signals but there is no right or wrong way to fly a fish flag. However, there is an informal set of rules that is generally followed by many fishermen no matter the port of call.

B.C.’s North & Central Coast 2021 Fishing Season Forecast / SkeenaWild
SkeenaWild’s Executive Director Greg Knox explains the outlook for North & Central Coast salmon returns and fisheries openings and closures for this coming season.

BC’s Family Fishing Weekend returns June 18 to 20 / Nelson Star
Get ready with a free Family Fishing Webinar Series.

Fish:

To protect wild fisheries, the government must listen to scientists / Alexandra Morton
COVID-19 has proven that our government can use science to save lives. Now is the time for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to apply science to Canada’s precious wild fisheries.

Globe Climate: Behind the story of thwarted efforts to help steelhead trout / Globe and Mail
Scientists were waging a behind-the-scenes battle over what it would take to save them from extinction. Here’s what happened.

Hatchery conditions linked to lower steelhead trout survival / WSU Insider
Alterations in the epigenetic programming of hatchery-raised steelhead trout could account for their reduced fertility, abnormal health and lower survival rates compared to wild fish, according to a new WSU study.

How aquaculture is spreading a salmon virus / Hakai Magazine
A genetic analysis of Piscine orthoreovirus shows how it was repeatedly transported from Norwegian salmon farms to aquaculture operations around the world—and on to wild Pacific salmon.

Newfoundland Labrador lumpfish hatchery application gains government approval / ASF
NL has approved an application for the lumpfish hatchery at Marystown. The fish are to be used for sea lice control in open water net-pen aquaculture salmon.

PRV Virus Story Continues to Generate Ripples / ASF
Peer-reviewed study determined that a Norwegian salmon virus had been introduced into BC waters. The discovery brings to light yet more ecological damage caused by open net-pen aquaculture.

Efforts Need to be Greater to Protect Wild Newfoundland Salmon / CBC Radio
CBC’s The Broadcast interviews Mi’sel Joe, Chief of the Miawpukek First Nation (Conne River), on the need to improve protection of wild Atlantic salmon on the south coast of Newfoundland.

Proposed West Greenland Atlantic Fishery Measures Failed / NOAA
The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) is meant to promote the conservation, restoration, enhancement, and rational management of wild Atlantic salmon stocks. Members include Canada, Denmark for the Faroe Islands and Greenland, EU, Norway, Russia, U.K. and the U.S. A new regulatory measure to reduce the mixed stock fishery that occurs off West Greenland against scientific advice failed to be adopted and will continue to take critically endangered U.S. and Canadian origin salmon.

Surge in Ocean Nitrogen Sends Sargassum Ballistic / Phys.Org
Increased nitrogen availability from natural and anthropogenic sources, including sewage, is supporting blooms of Sargassum and turning a critical nursery habitat into harmful algal blooms with catastrophic impacts on coastal ecosystems, economies, and human health, says this study. Read more

Water:

Assessing the carbon footprint of aquaculture /ASF
Aquaculture’s ecological footprint has significant carbon consequences associated with farming fish.

B.C. failing to meet international biodiversity targets: report / The Narwhal
A decade after Aichi biodiversity targets were set by Canada and other nations, a new report examines how B.C. measures up, finding the province has failed to protect nature in the midst of a growing global ecological crisis.

Fight to Free the Petitcodiac Proves Power of Grassroots Democracy / ASF
It took the persistent efforts of concerned citizens to reconnect the Petitcodiac River with the ocean. New Brunswick’s Petitcodiac River now flows freely for the first time in more than half a century.

Victoria, BC no longer flushing raw sewage into Puget Sound / CBC
In response to public pressure from local environmental advocates and Washington State, the city of Victoria constructed a sewage plant that is now in operation. No longer is Victoria using surrounding ocean waters to flush away raw effluent now that a $775 million sewage plant has started treating the equivalent of 43 Olympic-sized pools of waste daily.

Stop using B.C.’s oceans as a toilet / The Province
Government needs to set clear policies that prohibit sewage dumping.

Indigenous:

Shíshálh Nation opposes chinook fishery opening / Coast Reporter
Shíshálh Nation is calling for the immediate closure of the recreational sports fishery in their territory, days after Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced the immediate opening of parts of the coast for chinook retention on May 14. The opening is on a trial basis. Fishers can catch one marked chinook per day, or one unmarked chinook at a maximum size of 80 cm.

Kwanlin Dün accelerates land use planning as Yukoners flock to Fish Lake / The Narwhal
The Kwanlin First Nation and the Yukon government have begun working on a land-use plan that will guide the future of Fish Lake, in part by designating different uses for the area, such as residential, commercial, traditional or environmental protection. “We know that if we don’t act now, the problems out there will only get worse,” says Kwanlin Dün Chief Doris Bill. “So, we need to figure out a way to coexist.”

Special Feature – Marine Boating Safety Tips and Tools / Blue Fish Canada and the NOAA

  1. Will a storm move in while you’re on the water? Check marine forecasts and be in the know before you go. Use a weather app and radio to stay alert to weather hazards in the area.
  2. Wear your life jacket offsite link. Always. Every passenger.
  3. Recreational boaters: Know what you’re getting into, literally. Check nautical resources such as the latest tide and current predictions.
  4. Understand the danger of cold water and how to prepare for and survive in it should you accidently go overboard.
  5. Know wildlife-viewing or fishing regulations, guidelines and tips for the location you’ll be enjoying. And boat responsibly.
  6. Using a mooring buoy? Make sure you are using it correctly.
  7. Boat clean and green. Secure all trash onboard, and don’t dump it overboard. Help prevent small oil spills if you have a vessel with an engine.
  8. “See A Spout, Watch Out.” It’s so exciting to encounter a whale when you’re out on the water. Know how far away you must stay from these beloved marine mammals for their and your safety. Boat strikes can kill whales and seriously injure passengers.
  9. If you’re headed to larger bodies of water, an EPIRB or other long-range emergency beacon is a great investment–a true life saver in the most difficult situations.

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.
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Donate to Blue Fish Canada, a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity.

In this May 25, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News our focus is on increasing calls to end destructive gillnet fishing on the Fraser River. We include Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. The spotlight guest resource offers ten tips for taking kids fishing!

COMING SOON – Lake2Plate is back with a new video featuring produce, beverages, accommodations and an outdoor culinary feast featuring local, freshly harvested fish and forage. Lewis and I start with a visit to Ferme Pleine Lune where I learn about their certified organic vegetables. Then it’s off to the Little Red Wagon Winery to sample grapes on the vine and their wines made with heritage blackberries and grapes. We then check in at Domaine du Lac Bryson where I spend the next 24 hours capturing and harvesting wild walleye, brook trout and lake trout to be featured in our celebratory outdoor feast, all prepared with the assistance of Tristan Hertzog From the Ground Up Culinary. It’s an amazing adventure showcasing some of the best Quebec’s Pontiac region has to offer. Stay tuned for more details about the coming YouTube launch on May 27 at 7p.m. EDST.

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther and Guide Shari Topping with a large Rainbow

This Week’s Feature – Endangered B.C. Steelhead, Chinook and Sturgeon Sacrificed to Gillnet Fisheries

Just over 2,800 pages of government documents secured from Fisheries and Oceans Canada obtained through an access to information request by the B.C. Wildlife Federation revealed that DFO altered language about concerns raised by scientists over whether to list Thompson and Chilcotin steelhead under the federal Species at Risk Act. Such a designation would have given government fishery managers the powers to help mitigate the decline of these iconic wild steelhead species by taking action such as ending certain gillnet fisheries scientists have identified as significant contributors to the populations’ collapse.

Released documents show that a month before the altered report was published in November 2018, the chair of the Canada Science Advisory Secretariat’s steelhead review warned DFO in an email that changes to the advice given by scientists was undermining the scientific credibility of the process. Some in the BC government such as the director of fish and aquatic habitat for the BC Ministry of Forests, also expressed concern to DFO that the altered wording in the report did not reflect the scientific consensus. Members of the BC science team cautioned in another email that, “the report, as published, downplays the threats associated with salmon fisheries bycatch mortality”. Apparently, these opinions were also held among DFO scientists as well. A DFO internal email from one of their own scientists stated, “The ongoing involvement by people who were not part of the process, who have not been involved in the development of the materials or the advice, continues to compromise our ability to meet the deadlines as well as the scientific integrity of the process”.

BC’s own deputy minister of the environment expressed concerns over DFO’s changes to the conclusions in the report to “support status-quo commercial salmon harvesting”. Language in the original report recommended that “the lowest possible allowable harm should be permitted at this time” and that “exploitation be reduced below current levels of exploitation wherever possible”. The report was changed by DFO to read “allowable harm should not be permitted to exceed current levels”. The changes gave the green light for commercial gillnet fisheries that threaten endangered wild steelhead populations passing through the Fraser River and elsewhere to continue.

Many of the issues now laid bare in the retrieved documents were discussed in my October 2019 episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show featuring David Brown. Meeting anglers like David Brown who dedicate huge chunks of their lives to stewarding wild fish resources is always a remarkable learning experience. Dave is a local champion and founder of the BC Public Fishery Alliance. He knows more than most about Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead that run up the Fraser River. Coincidentally, his knowledge and advocacy were recognized in 2017 by DFO awarding Dave the “National Recreational Fisheries Award”. It was the fall of 2019 and I wanted to speak with Dave about his concerns with the joint DFO and BC Steelhead Action Plan that had just been released. Link below to hear my conversation with Dave Brown in the fall of 2019 about his frustration with steps being proposed to mitigate the decline of Thompson and Chilcotin steelhead on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/what-to-do-about-declining-fraser-river-steelhead/

It was a month after I spoke with Dave Brown in the fall of 2019 that DFO decided not to protect Thompson and Chilcotin steelhead under the Species at Risk Act, a decision that went against the recommendation of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. DFO cited that such a listing would result in an estimated $90 million loss in profit for commercial fisheries, Indigenous commercial fisheries and seafood processing over 20 years, plus an additional $16 million in losses for the public fishery.

In November of 2020, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada listed more than half of the 12 chinook salmon populations in southern B.C. as endangered, threatened or of special concern. I spoke with Greg Taylor from Fish First Consulting just several months before these new listings were announced in a two-part podcast series released in September 2020 on The Blue Fish Radio Show. I wanted to hear Greg’s thoughts about what DFO should be doing to ensure both endangered wild chinook salmon are protected, and what can be done to ensure local public fisheries essential to the social and economic sustainability of many of BC’s southern communities are sustainably managed.

Link to Part one of my September 2020 discussion with Greg Taylor from Fish First Consulting about his concerns over DFO’s insufficient fisheries research, and hesitancy to take the decisions needed to ensure both enough wild salmon reach spawning grounds, and public fisheries target hatchery salmon. https://bluefishradio.com/fraser-river-salmon-stocks-and-greg-taylor-part-i/

Link to part two of The Blue Fish Radio Show featuring Greg Taylor discussing his recommendation to include stakeholders in fishery decision making processes. Greg also offers his opinion of the BC salmon fisheries management strategy that was about to be released: https://bluefishradio.com/fraser-river-fishing-access-and-greg-taylor-part-2/

In an excellent article written by Stephanie Wood for The Narwhal, DFO is reported to have committed to have Thompson and Chilcotin steelhead reconsidered for listing under the Species At Risk Act now that the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has reassessed the species as endangered. The article reports that DFO also now plans to continue rolling closures for salmon fisheries this year, and that they are considering additional measures to reduce steelhead bycatch as part of the Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan to be released in July 2021.

I reached out to Dave Brown to get his reaction to the DFO documents secured by the B.C. Wildlife Federation, and what needs to come next. Link below to hear Dave’s thoughts on this May 24, 2021 episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e335-gillnet-fisheries-threaten-endanger

Blue Fish Radio has been tracking and reporting on impacts of commercial fisheries on the sustainability of wild fish stocks since we first began podcasting in 2012. More recently, Blue Fish Radio has explored impacts of gillnets on juvenile sturgeon on the Fraser River with Kevin Estrada, Kevin established the Fraser River juvenile sturgeon tagging and tracking program and started a petition to end gillnetting on the river that had over 80,000 signatories. Link to hear Kevin speak about his concerns over gillnet impacts on juvenile sturgeon on this March 2021 episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/fraser-river-sturgeon-champion-kevin-estrada/

I learned about new selective sustainable salmon harvesting innovations designed to eliminate the impact of gillnet fisheries in the Fraser on wild chinook with scientists like Peter Krahn. Peter has reimagined indigenous ancient weir fishing systems using a non-intrusive mobile fish trapping system that supports data collection and selective harvesting. Link to hear my April 2021 discussion with Peter on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/selective-pacific-salmon-harvesting-and-tagging-innovations/

Once again, we are hearing from BC angler advocates like the Public Fishery Alliance. They are calling for the end of gillnet fishing on the Fraser to protect the handful of remaining wild Thompson and Chilcotin steelhead. But more than that, advocates are asking for open and transparent negotiations over how important decisions are taken about regional fisheries. Over in Port Alberni Bob Cole and others established just such a round table involving FN communities, commercial and public fisheries, conservationists, scientists, and all levels of government. While decision making authority continues to rest with DFO, the stakeholders at the table use their access to the same information DFO uses to develop a consensus position that DFO then implements. Link to hear my July 2020 conversation about how the round table works with Bob Cole on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/port-alberni-round-table-ensures-salmon-stocks-and-equitable-access/

People are growing increasingly frustrated about why science-based precautionary recommendations to end unsustainable fishing practices are not being followed. Issues such as the use of destructive technologies like gillnets by people who otherwise have legitimate and legal rights to fish. Anglers and others are asking when do science-based precautionary measures inform how these rights are applied, and what will it take to ensure politicians act on such recommendations? Why does the protection of endangered wild species of fish come second to our choice in the tools we use to exercise our rights to fish? Anglers understand that just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

Anglers understand that with more proficient tools comes the responsibility to no and manage when enough is enough. It’s not easy, since we are all hard-wired to do our best to provide for our families and communities. It doesn’t come naturally to exercise such judgment since it’s only relatively recently that we created the highly efficient tools in support of our innate drive to harvest. Tools that now give us the power to inflict significant and widespread harm to nature if not applied responsibly. Technologies that led to population collapses or species elimination such as passenger pigeons, whales, buffalos, beavers, and more recently cod and now sharks.

Just as our values shape our decisions, evidence and science must also now inform how we apply these values. Otherwise, what use to be a “lucky day”, becomes every day, and then eventually, nothing. Its why scientific data has become crucial to informing decisions about harvesting, and why all stakeholders now want a seat at the decision-making table.

You can access all 2,800 pages of the documents obtained by the B.C. Wildlife Federation through access to information legislation at these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Science proves that releasing big fish dramatically improves a fishery / Outdoor Canada
Gord Pyzer shares new scientific research about the stunning effect of selective harvest on fish populations, and the outsized importance of big fish. The study shows how keeping the big ones devastates a fishery, and does it even faster than scientists suspected. But the opposite strategy—keeping only little guys and releasing the lunkers—creates true trophy waters.

Fisheries scientist calling on high-tech anglers to reel it in / CBC News
Some sport fishermen with deep pockets are using drones to drop baited lines, electric lures that flash lights or emit scent, and fish finders so advanced that they create 3D images of the prey, turning angling into a kind of video game. That might be making fishing fun for some, but it’s far less sporting for the fish, according to Steven Cooke, who’s calling for the technology to be reeled in.

Johnston Brothers Victorious At Sturgeon Bay / SBOBT
Bassmaster Elite Series pros Chris and Cory Johnston took home the Sturgeon Bay Open title over the weekend in impressive fashion. This makes the third time that the dynamic brotherly duo have taken home the hardware and check to go with it. With a weight of 53-4 the Canadian team topped an impressive field by nearly a 3 pound margin in what they describe as their favorite event to fish. There is no rest for the weary as both brothers headed South to Lake Guntersville for the Elite Series event.

U.S. Conservation Group Calls for 10-Year Harvest Ban on Atlantic Coast Stripers / Fishing Wire
Striped bass, also known as rockfish, are arguably the most economically important finfish on the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. Unfortunately, striper numbers have plummeted on the Atlantic Coast, and Stripers Forever says a decade-long moratorium on harvest may be the only sure cure.

Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck / Salmon Arm Observer
Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure. The B.C.’s resource road districts are only receiving about one quarter of the money they request for maintenance of washouts, rockslides and bridge damage for the 58,000 km of forest service roads.

CSF Sees Hope in “30 x 30” Conservation Program / Fishing Wire
While this first set of recommendations is largely consistent with many of the priorities identified by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and other members of the sportsmen’s community, many questions remain regarding what efforts are going to count toward the 30% objective. Throughout the report, the Biden Administration repeatedly references the role of the hunting and angling community in the U.S.  history of conservation successes. Further, it specifically calls on stakeholder engagement, including engagement from the hunting and fishing community, regarding science-based practices and programs that maintain and enhance outdoor recreational access for all Americans .

New 30 by 30 Report Shows Growth in Recreational Fishing’s Influence / Fishing Wire
The ASA’s Mike Leonard says the 30 x 30 conservation plan could be a good thing, so long as the proposed inclusion of angling and other recreation interests are kept at the fore.

Fish:

Atlantic Canada seafood magnate urges pause on aquaculture expansion / ASF
John Risley, co-founder of Clearwater Seafoods, says open net-pen farms are fundamentally unsustainable and expansion plans should be shelved until industry can address fundamental problems like sea lice, escapes, and the scouring of global oceans for forage fish to feed caged salmon.

Community Steps Up to Continue Yukon River Salmon Research / NOAA
Fewer Chinook are returning to the Yukon River each year, and those that do are smaller and younger than they have been in the past.  The need to understand what is behind the dwindling returns led to a special partnership between NOAA Fisheries, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and local fishermen from the villages of Emmonak and Alakanuk.

Miramichi smallmouth eradication plan given go-ahead by N.B. / ASF
The provincial government has released the proposal to eradicate invasive smallmouth bass from the Miramichi watershed from further environmental assessment, a regulatory milestone as DFO works to conclude their review.

Hitchhiking with Bloodworms / Hakai Magazine
Invasive species are sneaking around the world, nestled in the seaweed used to ship bait worms. An easy solution exists, but the industry is resisting change.

The four fish I would still eat – even after watching Seaspiracy / The Guardian
Paul Greenberg, bestselling author of FOUR FISH, explains which four sea creatures he would still eat following his viewing of the documentary “Seaspiracy.”

Thousands of salmon fry released in B.C. river to restore populations devastated by Big Bar landslide / CBC News
The effort is part of an ongoing release of 101,000 chinook salmon fry that DFO says will avoid the early life stage mortality in the first year of a salmon’s life.

Hatchery conditions linked to lower steelhead trout survival / WSU Insider
Alterations in the epigenetic programming of hatchery-raised steelhead trout could account for their reduced fertility, abnormal health and lower survival rates compared to wild fish, says a new WSU study.

Blue herons identified as a top juvenile salmon predator / Marine Mammal Research Unit
It is more than just seals that are preying on the bounty of juvenile salmon exiting river mouths each spring. Up to 50 per cent of juvenile salmon deaths occur when the young fish pass through a gauntlet of predators and damaged habitats on their way to the ocean. Exactly how all of these fish die has been a cause for concern, but now a UBC study has identified a bird species that may be scooping up oversized portions of B.C. juveniles: Pacific great blue herons.

Higher Counts of Returning Atlantic Salmon Stir Hope / ASF
There appears to be an upward trend in returning numbers of Atlantic salmon, and spawning success. According to the Atlantic Salmon Federation, a recent population report showed returns of adult salmon from the ocean were up around 70 per cent in Labrador last year, 27 per cent in Quebec and 20 per cent in Maine.

New research shows fish farm disease agents impact wild salmon / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
New research by Dr. Emiliano Di Cicco links pathogens infesting factory fish farms with PRV disease found in B.C. wild salmon.

Sharks navigate using Earth’s magnetic field / EarthSky
Sea turtles, lobsters and some birds rely on Earth’s magnetic field to navigate to the beach of their birth or their winter getaway. This month, researchers reported the first evidence that sharks also have a magnetic sense, making it possible for them to map their surroundings and to maintain their heading while navigating long distances.

New clues to ancient life from billion-year-old lake fossils / EarthSky
Scientists have reported on the discovery of new microfossils in ancient Scottish lake sediments that could help fill in the gap between the earliest single-celled life and multicellular life. These scientists say their find could be the oldest example of complex multicellular life in the evolutionary lineage leading to animals. They say the fossils are also significant because they come – not from ocean sediments – but from sediments of an ancient freshwater lake.

Can fisheries benefit from biodiversity and conserve it too? / Simon Fraser University
New study reveals the trade-offs of fish biodiversity–its costs and benefits to mixed-stock fisheries–and points to a potential way to harness the benefits while avoiding costs to fishery performance.

Water:

Fish-friendly gold mines produce “salmon gold” / Hakai Magazine
With supporters like Apple and Tiffany, a new conservation financing effort has companies paying to help fund restoration of salmon habitat, one stream at a time.

A giant invisible problem for Fraser salmon and how to fix it / Chilliwack Progress
Most of the dikes, floodgates, and pumps protecting B.C.’s communities are aging, and many are too small to block the larger floods and higher tides caused by climate change. Major upgrades are needed. If we ensure these upgrades consider wild salmon, we can both protect our communities from flooding and welcome wild salmon back to their former habitats.

Dump of Salmon Farm Pesticide on BC Coast is Opposed by Tour Operators / ASF
In Clayquot Sound an effort to renew a license to dump byproduct from sea lice treatment is meeting strong resistance.

The Big Melt  / The Tyee
Using space-borne optical imagery, a four-fold increase in the rate of glacial melt in the last decade highlights a massive loss of glacial mass across much of Western North America. Yearly, the ice lost is more than all the water we use in Canada.

Free Shoreline Wilding Resources from Watersheds Canada
Watersheds Canada has a number of free resources specific to creating sustainable and water-friendly shorelines and fish habitat. Visit their website to access the Shoreline Habitat Creation Manual, Native Plant Care Guide, Wildflower Garden Guide, and Lake Links Planning Committee’s Lake Protection Workbook. Hard copies can be ordered and paid for by emailing seidel@watersheds.ca.

Indigenous:

Potlotek First Nation seeks injunction against DFO over self-regulated fishery / CBC News
Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton is seeking a court injunction to prevent the DFO from interfering with its moderate livelihood fishery. A number of First Nations communities in the province, including Potlotek, launched their own self-regulated lobster fisheries last year to mark the 21st anniversary of the historic Supreme Court of Canada decision that affirmed Mi’kmaw rights to fish for a moderate livelihood. In March, federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said Ottawa will not licence any treaty-based fishery in Atlantic Canada unless it operates within the commercial season.

Indigenous protected and conserved areas and guardians are truly essential services / Georgia Straight
“Protecting our homelands is essential for the survival of everyone, not just Indigenous peoples. But this does not have to come at the expense of jobs, or a healthy economy.”

A Whale of a Controversy / Sierra Club
In exchange for ceding thousands of acres of land to the US government in 1855, the Makah secured the right to continue hunting whales under the Treaty of Neah Bay located on the Olympic Peninsula. Though the tribe voluntarily stopped hunting in the 1920s, when the gray whale population dwindled dangerously due to overzealous commercial whaling, they’ve since rebounded to a healthy population, numbering around 26,000 today. The Makah has since received an exemption to the federal ban on whaling from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Opposition to the Makah’s whaling resumption comes from groups like Sea Shepherd and the Animal Welfare Institute that view whaling as inhumane and dangerous to the health of a fragile population.

Inside the hidden fight over Indigenous fishing for baby eels in Nova Scotia / CBC News
DFO had been closely monitoring, and in some cases prosecuting, the unauthorized sale of baby eels harvested by Mi’kmaq under Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) eel licences since 2017. The appearance of more than 110 Indigenous fishermen at the beginning of April 2020, up from 21 across the region in 2019, quickly forced a shutdown of the little known but lucrative fishery throughout the Maritimes.

Who is an expert in Indigenous history up for debate in Nipissing hunting and fishing trial / CBC News
A trial that could have far reaching implications for Indigenous people across Canada has resumed in North Bay this week. There are 54 people on trial in a virtual courtroom based in North Bay, charged with violating Ontario’s hunting and fishing laws, as well as the commercial fishing laws of Nipissing First Nation.

DFO told BC salmon farmers, but not First Nations, about mouth rot disease / The Narwhal
Documents released under access to information legislation show federal scientists raised the alarm about a bacteria that causes potentially deadly lesions in Atlantic salmon, saying migrating Fraser River salmon were at risk. “It’s like this perfect storm of pathogens emanating from these farms and impacting BC’s wild salmon.” says Watershed Watch’s Stan Proboszcz.

Industry:

Johnny Morris Tribute to Leigh Perkins, Orvis Founder / Fishing Wire
“It’s no exaggeration to say that Leigh Perkins was a friend to anglers everywhere, he was one of our heroes,” says Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops. I thought the world of him for many reasons, but I especially admired his unwavering commitment to customers and conservation…

New B.A.S.S. Program Inspires And Educates Families On Outdoor Exploration / Bassmaster
The Go Out{side} program encourages a new audience of burgeoning outdoor enthusiasts who can turn to the authorities at B.A.S.S. for guidance on a variety of outdoor topics, including fishing, camping, hiking, cooking, travel, gear and conservation.

Boating:

Boat Shipments Up 23 Percent Over February, 2020 / Fishing Wire
NMMA’s Monthly Shipment Report for the U.S. has been updated with February 2021 data, which shows wholesale shipments of new powerboats up 23% compared to the 2020 average, and up 9% compared to the 2019 average.

Stopping the spread of invasive species by regulating the movement of boats / FOCA
FOCA has written the MNRF to request the movement of boats between waterways be regulated. It’s suggesting that the MNRF accomplish this as part of proposed amendments to Ontario’s Invasive Species Act.

Special Feature – Tips for Taking Your Kids Fishing / Blue Fish Canada and the Iowa DNR

  1. Keep it simple with easy-to-use tackle. Just a nightcrawler and bobber is all you need to start. Think small, too – the fish you will likely encounter have mouths about the size of the tip of your finger, so use small hooks, small baits, a quarter-sized bobber and 2- to 4-pound test fishing line.
  2. Find jobs for each child. Let them feel like they are an important part of the trip and help keep them focused by giving them each a job, like carrying bait or measuring any fish you catch.
  3. Go early in the day when kids are most attentive. A fishing trip during a skipped naptime or the hottest part of the day is a recipe for disaster. Aim for a morning trip so kids are more focused and when temperatures are cooler — plus, fish tend to bite better in the early morning.
  4. Give your kids your full attention. Try to make this “their” trip – show them the basics and let them know you’re proud of how they’re doing. And, especially for small children, keep a constant eye, as it’s easy for a little one to fall in quickly; life jackets are always a good idea for shore fishing.
  5. Keep it short and have a Plan B. Start with just an hour or two and leave when they start to get fidgety – make sure they remember the positive, fun parts of the trip. Look for a pond where there’s nearby distractions like playground equipment. If the fishing is slow, there’s plenty of other things to do outdoors.
  6. Bring a camera to record memories! Even if they don’t get a fish that day, make sure to get shots of them casting and enjoying the special time spent with you. If they reel in their first fish ever, be sure to take a photo.
  7. Bring snacks and drinks. Nothing can turn a frown upside down quicker than a yummy nutritious snack. Bring plenty of water so no one goes thirsty. Minimise sugar intake so kids don’t lose focus due to a sugar high.
  8. Play Safe and prepare accordingly. Sun block, insect repellent, a small emergency kit with bandaids, properly fitting PFDs for everyone and sun hats will keep everyone safe and happy.
  9. Teach them about stewardship. Fish are fun but they are animals too. Teach kids to handle fish respectfully. Use barbless and / or circle hooks as much as possible. Use lead alternatives like tin for weights. Pack it in, pack it out, leave things better than you found them.
  10. For more species-specific sustainable fishing tips, visit the Blue Fish Canada Resource page and our extensive collection of top-ten downloadable quick tip guides. https://bluefishcanada.ca/resources/blue-fish-sustainable-fishing-tips/

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In the May 10, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we explore the three big changes that shifted industry expectations of their pro staff. Catch up on the latest fishing, fish, water and other news. We close with a spotlight guest resource chosen to inform and inspire.

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther with his guide dog next to his Ford 150 equipped with a Four-Wheel Truck Camper

This Week’s Feature – Three Factors Fueling the Evolution of Pro Staff and Influencers

Three significant developments are changing how anglers are now expected to represent the sport of angling. In addition to supporting the fishing industry, anglers looking to become pro staff must also now do more to attract others to the sport, and mentor both new and experienced anglers to adopt a stronger conservation mind-set. The three events precipitating these changes are the emergence of the internet and social media, baby boomers aging out of the sport, and scientific research that makes clear that more is needed to protect our fisheries, fish habitat, and ecosystems as a whole. Combined, it’s dramatically reshaping the role of pro staff, and has ushered in a new role for fishing ambassadors as social media influencers.

It wasn’t that long ago that the mission of professional anglers sponsored by the industry included displaying the brand names of fishing and boating companies at angling events like tournaments. As much as possible, their mission was to gain exposure to their sponsors’ logos over mainstream media. For anglers and the brands they represent, it meant becoming adept at positioning logos on pro staff clothing, hats, boats, and trucks, with the hopes that these images would somehow make it on to the news. However, securing free access to viewers, listeners and readers through mainstream TV, radio, newspapers and magazines isn’t easy. The media industry depends on paid adds to survive, and unless there is a compelling reason to cover an angling event, the producers of the news aren’t interested in giving add space away for free.

To gain exposure for fishing and the brands that make it possible, beginning in the 1980’s, hundreds of heavily sponsored fishing shows began airing on TV. A raft of magazines were also launched that focused on promoting sport fishing that featured star anglers and the brands they represent. The value of these marketing strategies have since dropped significantly due to the internet.

Before the internet turned marketing on its head, outdoor shows use to be one of the few ways eager anglers were able to learn of the latest innovations in the fishing and boating world. Fishing and boating magazines, and catalogs received in the mail, were also coveted and kept as close to hand as the phone book or yellow pages. Fishing shows on TV personified success as their stars demonstrated how to get the most out of the latest fishing innovations. Thanks to the web, anglers need no longer wait for the spring outdoor show season, for articles to be written and printed, and for TV shows to be filmed, edited and broadcast.

The web and social media have made accessing a much larger and more diverse audience possible. The relevance of outdoor shows, magazines, TV, radio, stores, and even the role of pro staff, were all reassessed by industry in light of this new outreach opportunity.

Not to be out done, fishing competitions have embraced the web. Many now relay and archive thousands of hours of video showcasing individual competitors on their boats. Spectators and fans can watch, for the first time, their favorite anglers during actual competitions. Everyone can now see exactly who’s skills are given a competitive advantage through the branded tools made available through the sponsorship of the best-of-the-best.

Industry insider Angie Thompson is the first to admit that competitive fishing is a fan-favorite for about 20% of people who fish at most. It’s important, but the brand affiliations don’t necessarily cross over to the 80% of anglers who pay little to no attention to competitive fishing. Angie believes the reason the industry has pivoted so quickly to embrace the internet and its many popular influencers, is because the web gives industry access to this massive segment of the market that for too long has been difficult and expensive to reach. You can listen to my conversation with Angie, host of the “Fishing Business Podcast”, on this episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e334-the-fishing-business-and-angie-thom

While all these internet-related changes continue to ripple throughout society, another similarly epic shift is afoot that is reshaping how fishing is perceived and embraced. Environmentalists and scientists have convinced the public, who have in turn elected politicians – most all of whom now rank addressing climate change and our impacts on nature as priority issues.

Conservation efforts of the past 150 years are beginning to reveal weakness in the face of new challenges impacting nature. Issues include climate change, habitat loss, over exploitation, and a whole new wave of pollutants in the form of plastics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. No longer can industry focus solely on the mental, physical and social benefits of fishing, it also now needs to inform and inspire their millions of practitioners to become stewards of their resource.

Yup, lots has changed in the past couple decades. Turns out the new millennia ushered in just as big a seismic shift as the industrial revolution. So where does all this leave those new internet angling influencers seeking to distinguish themselves from the rest? Who’s influencing the influencers? What about the thousands of tournament pros and hundreds of fishing show hosts? But before we go deeper on answering these questions, we first need to address the third impactful element, retention and recruitment — anglers are “aging out”.

North America is unique to the phenomena called the baby boom. These include anglers who shunned their parents and grandparents cane poles and cedar strip boats, in favor of modular constructed fishing rods and boats formed from fiberglass and aluminum. Companies like Shimano revolutionized fishing with their reels, rods, lures, lines and baits manufactured using the latest industrial processes and formulas. Sophisticated electronic equipment has turned anglers into captains of highly specialized vessels that share much of the same technologies found aboard luxury cruise ships.

Unfortunately for the fishing and boating industry, and for those in the tourism sector, boomers are now leaving the sport. A new report released by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation revealed that an additional 8.8 million U.S. anglers 55 and older dropped out of the sport in 2020, continuing a very worrying three-year trend. Reasons for leaving include lack of time, cost, interest in other outdoor activities and lack of access to waters as the main reasons.

We also know that about 40% of people between the age of 65 and 75 suffer from knee and back pain and immobilization that can make fishing more challenging. Those over 75 are further encumbered by reductions in their ability to see and hear. As these seasoned anglers are forced to step away from the sport, insufficient new recruits mean the total number of anglers in North America has been coming down.

So who are the next generation of anglers? For sure they include carbon copies of those 20% of people who fish competitively. People who “pay to play”. It also includes those who the industry still refer to as “weekend warriors”. Anglers who gravitate towards 16-foot aluminum boats equipped with windshields, and outboards that can be started with a key and turned with a wheel. Boats, that in a pinch, can tow a child on a tube, but for the most part, are designed primarily for fishing. However, there’s another segment of new recruits that the industry has yet to define.

The recent RBFF report on angler participation referenced earlier included some good news as well. It revealed that five million people new to angling tried fishing in the U.S. in 2020. Turns out these new anglers are made up primarily of youth, women, and people of diverse backgrounds who live in urban areas.

People drawn to angling recognize that fishing is not only a legitimate way to get outdoors, but a continuation of a truly historic activity that speaks to our hard-wired dispositions to harvest fish to feed our families and communities. Many are turning to indigenous communities for guidance on how to reincorporate fishing into their lives in ways that acknowledges and celebrates their own historic and cultural ties to fishing. It’s also part of the growing interest in foraging for flora and fauna.

More generally, the desire to reconnect with nature through fishing is an expression of their growing awareness of conservation movements meant to ensure all forms of life can survive and thrive. Organizations like Canada’s Earth Rangers and their 350,000 youth can now access Blue Fish Canada sustainable fishing tips through the new Earth Ranger App being downloaded by their parents.

In response to this growing awareness that the environment is changing, anglers of all ages are taking direct action to ensure their go-to activity is sustainable. This includes donating their time and funds in support of conservation initiatives at record levels, and directly participating in citizen science and research projects. Anglers are rising up once again to become the defenders of not only the sport, but the health of the natural environment upon which it depends.

Anglers understand all too well that their relationship with nature is a two-way street – both depend on the other for their wellbeing. And yet, industry has not stopped promoting the excitement of the sport of angling, nor should it. No one is going to pursue an activity throughout their life that doesn’t bring pleasure.

In recognition of the sports evolution, industry is supporting a new breed of influencers who are teaching people not only how to have fun fishing, but to engage in the sport in ways that are fun, inclusive, and sustainable. Influencers like Angie Scott of the Woman Angler and Outdoor Adventurer podcast are building huge audiences. Angie is one of many who have followers eager to learn from trusted sources on how to make angling a part of their life in ways that they can enjoy and defend to their non-angling friends. Influencers like Angie do more than display the logos of the companies that are invested in their success, they produce and share informative content that directly speaks to the desires of their followers. Link below to hear my interview with Angie Scott on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/woman-angler-and-adventurer-angie-scott/

To become a better-informed angler, and to embrace the sport of fishing in ways that will allow you to hold your head high knowing that you’re also serving as a steward of the environment, check out the free resources made available through the charity Blue Fish Canada. All the information and training materials we distribute are fact-checked by our expert scientists and angler advisors. Also, if your one of those many millions of people who are experiencing some form of loss of function that you worry may bring an end to your outdoor pursuits, or maybe a business who wants to ensure that the accessibility and accommodation requirements of your customers are being addressed, Blue Fish Canada has resources that can assist in this as well. Find out more by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

Or by visiting our new YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChyOTm97FTAlvx2Wp8DRgSA

The Latest Fishing, fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Canadian Fishing Network Fish Off / CFN
The CFN Fish Off is more than just a television show. It is a nationwide community builder and education platform for anglers of all ages and walks of life. Teams composed of parents, kids, weekend warriors, and outdoor enthusiasts from coast to coast are able to compete in Canada’s largest online fishing tournament hosted on Facebook. Contestants across Canada can earn a spot on the CFN Fish Off TV show that airs on two of North America’s largest outdoor networks: The Sportsman Channel (Canada) and the World Fishing Network (U.S.A.). Register your team today!

Musky Symposium / YouTube
Musky Trader Canada and Ottawa River Musky Factory Joined forces to host a two-day musky symposium. The event raised over $27,000 to support research and programs that develop and protect the musky fishery across North America. The Symposium included educational seminars and access to the hottest new musky lures and tackle.

Catch–Photo–Release Tournaments on The Rise / Fishing Wire
It’s the start of fishing tournament season, and tournament organizers are reminded that an immediate release method, known as catch-photo-release, can be used for competitive fishing events.

Lake Superior Anglers Asked to Report Marked Splake / The Fishing Wire
Splake, which are a hybrid cross between lake trout and brook trout, have been stocked in Lake Superior most years since 1971. Anyone catching a splake should inspect it for missing fins or a jaw-bone clip, which indicate it has been marked and report it to Michigan DNR.

RBFF report: New anglers in USA are younger, urban and from more diverse backgrounds / Angling International
A new report from the Recreational Fishing and Boating Foundation (RBFF), reveals that 55 million Americans, aged six and over, went fishing in 2020. The 10% rise is largely due to more than five million new and returning anglers made up of youth, women and diverse audiences who live in urban areas. However, lapsed anglers remain a problem, according to the report, with 8.8 million anglers over 55 dropping out in 2020. It’s a continuation of a troubling three-year trend among this demographic who say that lack of time, cost, interest in other outdoor activities and lack of access to waters are the main reasons.

Fish:

How Jellyfish Swim / EarthSky
There’s something otherworldly about jellyfish. They’re mesmerizing to watch, as they gracefully drift and gently pulse through the water, with tentacles wafting behind their bells. But don’t be fooled by their slow motion; jellyfish are expert swimmers. In fact, a new study reports that some jellies are the most efficient swimmers in the world.

Lake of the Woods Walleye Population in Danger / The Graphic Leader
Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has revealed that the Lake of the Woods walleye population is in danger and that its current fisheries are not sustainable, spelling serious trouble for the local economy.

The revelation follows a province-wide risk assessment done by the MNRF between 2015-2017, showing that Lake of the Woods is the most at-risk inland fishery in Ontario, both in terms of “likelihood of collapse” and the resulting social and economic impacts that will follow. Out of over 40 lakes surveyed across the province, Lake of the Woods was the only one to clearly fall into the danger zone of the MNRF’s risk assessment.

Angler Input Sought on Ocean Fisheries / The Fishing Wire
The Open Ocean Trustee agencies’ fish restoration experts are asking for your input at a May 13 webinar. Through a number of avenues, we’ve been soliciting stakeholders to identify objectives and priorities that will guide future restoration, monitoring, and evaluation for fish and water column invertebrates.

Volunteer Opportunity – Smallmouth Eradication / ASAF
The Working Group on Smallmouth Bass Eradication in the Miramichi is seeking volunteers to join our operation in August and September. Permits are pending, but we have to start assembling the team. A wide variety of tasks with a range of physical requirements are available.

4 wildlife restoration programs that have actually worked / Chatelaine
Biologist Alexandra Morton speaks about her 30-year campaign to save wild salmon. “After all my research and activism, the only thing that worked was physically putting my body in the way and joining a First Nations occupation of a salmon farm for 280 days. That brought First Nations and the government to the table. The act of occupying, of just standing there and being honorable, peaceful but absolutely immovable—people have used it for centuries and it is incredibly powerful.”

Sea Lice Decimating Atlantic salmon / Halifax Examiner
A recent study is raising alarm bells about the effects of sea lice on wild Atlantic salmon, an issue that is being compounded by climate change.

NL Government Aims to Expand Open Net-Pen Aquaculture on Newfoundland’s South Coast / ASF
The Newfoundland / Labrador government plans to expand salmon aquaculture into an area where wild Atlantic salmon have so far been less impacted by the industry.

Cut Off from the Ocean by a Volcanic Eruption, These Fish Had to Learn to Live in a Lake / Hakai Magazine
For the past 300 years, a small population of Arctic char has been eking out an existence in a remote lake. Only a handful of the char grow big enough to become cannibals. Meanwhile, they continue reproducing at a high enough rate to sustain their population.

Musky Mortality Research Project / Fishing Wire
The study will help determine whether Muskellunge catch-and-release angling during the summer poses a significant source of mortality in southern populations. Studies are concurrently taking place in the James River (VA) and Stonewall Jackson Lake (WV), as well as in a hatchery pond setting.

Higher sockeye returns predicted for Fraser River but not enough for a harvest / Times Colonist
Sockeye salmon returns to the Fraser River are forecast at 1.3 million this year — higher than the past two disastrous seasons, but still so low that fishing opportunities are not ­anticipated.

Organizer of convoy that churned through Fraser River fish habitat served warning letter / Abbotsford News
Organizers of the truck event were co-operative throughout the investigation, the officer added, and have been actively advocating for protecting fish and fish habitat across North America since the video became a cause of concern a few months ago.

New U.S. Bill Would Help Fish and Wildlife Recover / Fishing Wire
New U.S. proposed federal legislation would dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, and dedicate an additional $97.5 million for conservation led by Tribal fish and wildlife agencies

Water:

Canada’s troubled waters / University Affairs
Not only is it a myth that Canada has an abundance of readily accessible water, say researchers, but we’re poorly managing what we do have. “Every community and province needs a drought plan – how they will deal with water shortages to maintain supplies to priority users and how they will apportion water when it runs short.”

United Nations Decade of Ocean Science / Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO
The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is now underway. Ocean science is broad and inclusive: it’s not just the blue ocean, but also the coastal communities. It embraces local and Indigenous knowledge alongside natural and social science.

Newfoundland / Labrador Broke the Rules by Allowing ATV Trail in Main River Area / ASF
The Main River was set aside a generation ago for its significant wilderness value, including old growth forest and Atlantic salmon. The government allowed an ATV trail to be built without environmental assessment and against the rules of the wilderness area’s creation.

Nova Scotia Government Silent on Protecting Archibald Lake / ASF
Protection of Archibald Lake as a wilderness area is important, especially for the restoration of wild Atlantic salmon in the St. Mary’s River watershed. Despite extensive consultation, the government won’t commit.

State of the Great Lakes Report / Fishing Wire
Among the topics examined are preventing the introduction of Asian carp, coping with high water levels, addressing nutrients and harmful algal blooms, the threat that climate change poses to lakes and other water resources, and local and regional long-term resiliency initiatives for coastal community planning to increase community resiliency and sustainability.

Copper Mountain mine tailings pond proposal sparks widespread concern / The Narwhal
The expansion could increase the height of a dam holding back mining waste to 255 metres — taller than Vancouver’s highest skyscraper — without requiring an environmental assessment.

As waste leaches from B.C. coal mines, experts worry rules will fall short / The Narwhal
Teck’s coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley are poised to be exempt from more stringent federal rules as selenium pollution continues to leach from waste rock piles.

Nine derelict vessels to be removed from Ucluelet Inlet as part of massive $2.5M cleanup effort / Port Alberni Valley News
The Coastal Restoration Society has received $2.5 million from the provincial government’s Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund to tackle debris strewn across roughly 400 kilometres of shoreline, including the removal of nine derelict vessels from Ucluelet Inlet.

Indigenous:

Mi’kmaw research group learns more about salmon life cycle using tracking devices / CBC News
A Mi’kmaq-led research organization is fitting Atlantic salmon with acoustic and satellite tracking devices to learn about their behaviour and survival in waters beyond the traditional territory.

Gitxsan Nation extends ban for non-Indigenous fishing permit holders across their territory / Smithers Interior News
Gitxsan chiefs say they are extending a ban on sportfishing on their traditional territories in northwestern B.C. in response to the provincial government backing away, after two years, of discussions on the future of the fishery on the Skeena River system. They say permits issued by the provincial government hold no authority unless permission is first received from hereditary chiefs.

Treaty rights at centre of trial of 4 Mi’kmaw fishermen set to begin next month / CBC News
The trial of four Mi’kmaw fishermen accused of illegal fishing in September 2019 will begin next month in Nova Scotia provincial court.

The Invisible Salmon Migration / SkeenaWild
Join the Lake Babine Nation Fisheries on Monday, May 17th on Facebook Live as they say goodbye to the Babine Lake sockeye smolts at the 6th annual, but first ever virtual Invisible Migration event. Every spring, hundreds of millions of tiny wild salmon smolts begin an incredible journey. These young fish swim as far as 600 km down the Skeena River to the sanctuary of the Skeena’s saltwater estuary. It’s in the estuary that they transform from being a freshwater fish to a saltwater fish and learn to adapt to tidal flows.

Industry:

New Brunswick Government Helps Outfitters Hurt by Covid-19 / ASF
The province has committed $500K to assist outfitters, such as salmon lodges, that have been affected by travel restrictions and other issues caused by the pandemic

Sportfishing Industry Praises Recovering America’s Wildlife Act introduced in the U.S. Congress / NPAA
On Earth Day an unprecedented alliance of business, academic, tribal and conservation leaders have united to provide a solution to one of America’s greatest threats – the decline of our fish and wildlife and their natural habitats. Scientists estimate that one-third of fish and wildlife species in the United States are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without much needed funding for their proactive conservation. Healthy, sustainable fish and wildlife populations drive many sectors of our economy, especially the $788 billion U.S. outdoor recreation industry.

Boating:

Tips on Pontoon Boat Handling / The Fishing Wire
The benefits of pontoon boat design—an expansive deck and outstanding stability—also affect how a pontoon handles. That performance is very different from the way a monohull boat behaves and requires some awareness from the captain, especially from a skipper used to piloting a monohull. Consider these factors when learning how to drive a pontoon boat.

Arts:

Huk Features Exciting New Designs with Artist K.C. Scott / The Fishing Wire
Scott built his successful brand and studio in Florida, and he continues to create world-class artwork with incredible consistency. His work is often centered around marine environments, but he crosses between freshwater and saltwater ecosystems with a wide range of species. His work is known for placing viewers right in the action. Huk’s K.C. Scott designs will outfit an angler from head to toe and features nearly 30 exclusive products.

Books:

Fly-fishing with the author of “The Optimist” / New Yorker
David Coggins book on fly-fishing, “The Optimist” was released by Scribner. David has fished all over B.C.

Special Feature: Recreational Fishing Industry Renews Its Pledge to Help Anglers Keep Our Fish and Waterways Clean and Healthy / NPAA

This year, the sport fishing industry, along with member supporters, professional anglers and others are focusing on retention techniques that help those soft baits stay in place longer and out of our waterways. And when no longer useful, placing them in a receptacle for proper disposal once the day’s fishing is over or saving them for recycling into new soft lures.

Techniques for keeping the bait firmly attached aren’t complicated. Using retention tools like O-rings, a superglue and other techniques, as well as tying strong knots and using fresh line free of abrasions, all help to ensure nothing is left behind. Keeping the boat clean by corralling used baits and line means they stay in the boat when taking off at speed.

“The best way to care for a fishery is to leave it cleaner than before you fish it,” said B.A.S.S. Elite Series angler and Missile Baits Owner John Crews. “I always keep and discard my plastics and any line or lures I may snag while fishing.”

“As a hard-core angler and avid outdoorsman, it’s important for me to help do my part to keep the environment clean and provide clean waters for the next generation,” noted Mike Iaconelli, Professional Angler and Founder of The Bass University. “Join me in doing this by keeping your old soft baits and fishing line out of the water…”

Blue Fish Canada has developed a number of quick-reference resources that you can use to educate others about the importance of keeping the environment free of discarded and potentially harmful fishing tackle. Our Fishing Tackle Recycler initiative focusses on keeping urban shore fishing locations clean of discarded line, lures, and other terminal tackle such as lead weights and hooks.

Link here to Learn more about our many sustainable recreational fishing programs.

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In this April 26 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on New Brunswick’s Saint John River muskie and the research and advocacy efforts underway to prevent their eradication. We include summaries and links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. The Special Guest Spotlight Feature includes links and presentation summaries to this year’s amazing Muskie Canada Inc. 2-day Odyssey.

Image of the Musky Factory Bait Company Abigale Culberson and Lawrence Gunther holding a large musky

This Week’s Feature – Defending New Brunswick’s Saint John River Muskie

Some 60 years ago the Quebec government sought to reestablish muskie in a small lake that was part of one of many watersheds that fed New Brunswick’s Saint John River. Inevitably, the muskie established a viable population, but to the consternation of Atlantic salmon conservationists, they also eventually found their way into the Saint John River itself. Ever since, New Brunswick’s now Thriving muskie population has been the source of continuous hard feelings, misunderstanding, and government sponsored fishocide. Enter, Muskie Canada Inc and a legion of muskie fanatics that recognized the Saint John river muskie population for what it is, North America’s next muskie fishing hot spot.

Of course, angling enthusiasm is seldom a sufficient reason in itself to single-handedly save a fish population from destruction. There also needs to be an ecological, historic, subsistence, cultural, or economic incentive. In the case of NB muskie, growing enthusiasm for this recent newcomer is its ability to attract non-weather dependent anglers to the region. Tourists that are expanding what is otherwise a relatively short summer tourism season.

NB muskie are the focus of an image make-over thanks to widespread positive international media coverage in the form of TV shows and magazine articles that are universally declaring NB muskie as north America’s newest hottest muskie fishery. At the same time, scientists have been hard at work testing and generally debunking fears that muskie are dining out largely at the expense of endangered Atlantic salmon. Numerous scientific reports have now determined that muskie, while happy to consume fish of most any species and size up to ½ their own length, are not, in fact, targeting Atlantic salmon. Further, that their predation is not contributing to the demise of Atlantic salmon. Of course, sceptics point to seals as another species scientists have similarly absolved of suppressing salmon recovery, which just goes to show that even science isn’t sufficient to convince the most skeptical among us.

Never-the-less, the muskie have arrived, they have become habituated or naturalized, or in other words, made themselves a new home. Removing a fish species from a watershed, once established, is near impossible, but that doesn’t mean a concerted effort backed up with considerable annual funding can’t keep a fish species suppressed. One need only look at the $20 million spent each year to control lamprey in the Great Lakes. The question is, do politicians and the public who elect them want to see their tax dollars being used to suppress a fish species, that for all intents and purposes, is a net benefit to the social and economic fabric of the region? For some, such a capitulation represents moving one step closer to abandoning any hopes of returning to the glory years of world class salmon angling.

For well over 100 years New Brunswick was famous for hosting wealthy guests from around the world at private salmon lodges. Anglers who were often tightens of industry, royalty, members of family dynasties, and others who could afford to stay at expensive lodges and fish private stretches of pristine salmon rivers. Unfortunately, Atlantic salmon have been in decline throughout much of southern Atlantic Canada. Numerous contributing factors are to blame, and considerable effort and expense is being expended to research and restore Atlantic salmon. To be clear, no angler wants salmon to go away. They are a native keystone species. Their loss would represent an epic failure of humanity.

While salmon angling tourism throughout much of Atlantic Canada has shrunk, in New Brunswick a different yet equally spendy class of anglers are growing in number each year. Both local and from away, in comparison to salmon anglers, muskie anglers seem to come from a somewhat different class of society. Bucket hats and tweed jackets have been replaced with ball caps and Goretex coats. Self-propelled drift boats have been replaced with high-tech fishing boats that can cost well over $100,00 when fully rigged. Former salmon fishing purists who used to slip in and out of New Brunswick with as little fanfare as possible, are being replaced by muskie anglers interested in meeting up with local fishers, and even taking part in friendly walk-on fishing competitions open to tourists and locals alike. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that muskie anglers represent your typical weekend recreational warrior, not at all.

Muskie anglers belong to a class of their own. These are anglers who have decided to dedicate 100% of their angling-allocated time and budget to the pursuit of one species of fish, muskie. A species of fish that can often take 10,000 casts to capture just one, and yet, will dominate an angler’s waking hours and dreams.

So why is it that muskie are still on the “hit list” of certain New Brunswick conservation groups and government regulators? Local champions such as Marlon Prince, the Chair of the Saint John River Muskie Canada chapter, have been fighting back, forming alliances, funding research, and engaging politicians such as NB’s Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Development, Mike Holand. Both were presenters during the two-day on-line Muskie Odyssey organized by Peter Levick and his army of Muskie Canada Inc. volunteers. Another of the panelists was Abigale Culberson from the University of New Brunswick.

I spoke with UNB researcher Abigale Culberson to learn more about muskie research, the state of the muskie population itself, and the factors influencing their sustainability. Abbie and her team recently conducted a series of studies to assess the muskie population in the Saint John River, and the current and potential impacts of fishing pressure on their sustainability. The model they created reveals a 30% annual mortality rate for these non-native fish, which they estimate will rise as fishing pressure increases. They conclude steps need to be taken to reverse current policies, regulations, and culls – all of which have the goal of suppressing the Saint John River muskie population. Link below to hear Abbie speak about her team’s research and sustainability concerns on this episode of The Blue fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e332-defending-new-brunswick-muskie-usin

Competing interests pitting one fish species against another isn’t unusual in the world of fisheries management and shifting angler preferences. It’s not unusual that “one anglers’ garbage is another angler’s treasure”. Unfortunately, the rules on how to settle such disagreements are intentionally vague, with government often taking a “wait-and-see” approach.

Pressure is growing across Canada to restore and protect native fish species. Creating fisheries known for abundance using fast-growing non-native species is no longer considered by many as constituting the prime directive. Debates over ethical choices concerning adding or subtracting fish species are happening. Complicating matters are growing awareness of fish health impacts caused by climate change, invasive species, disease, cultural preferences, indigenous rights, ecological puritanism, angling fashions, dietary preferences, and more. It’s no wonder opinions range widely about whether a fish species is welcome or not. At the risk of sounding like an animal rights activist, I have to ask, who is standing up for fish?

It’s time we get to the table and work out some welfare rules for wild fish. We have an ever-expanding set of standards for safeguarding both farmed and companion animals, but surprisingly little that concerns fish. Sure, how and if a fish species can be harvested is one such set of well-defined regulations, but what I’m talking about are rules that would address one species being granted greater or less protection compared to another. Just maybe, if we had clearer fish species protection rules, people would stop taking matters into their own hands.

Aquarium fish like Goldfish are proliferating in lakes across Canada and habituating themselves to the detriment of native fish species. This isn’t an anomaly. More extreme examples of such actions include Common Carp being introduced to North America, the introduction of Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout across Canada, the addition of Pacific salmon into the Great Lakes, the unintentional transport and release of invasive species, and more. Examples, large and small, that sends the message that impacting established ecosystems is O.K.

By establishing general principles governing the rights of native and non-native fish species, conflicts concerning species dominance can be avoided. More importantly, we would have a clearer understanding of what it means to conserve what we have, instead of falling back on thinking that we can fix our mistakes by simply adding more or different fish.

The Latest Fishing, fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Angling as a Path to Conservation Stewardship / Fishing Wire
Many of us know intuitively—that anglers and others who use natural resources are a tremendous asset for the continuing stewardship of natural resources, and one that retains still untapped potential. the authors suggest that outdoor recreationists will likely play increasingly important roles in conservation efforts, in response to continued loss of recreational opportunities. To have positive impacts it will be vital for them to be organized and well informed as they attempt a societal shift from consumer to conserver that results in recreation specialization shifts from consumptive to appreciative.

How Microfishing Took the Angling World by (Very Small) Storm / Hakai Magazine
Around the world, fishers are embracing tiny quarry. Is microfishing a celebration of biodiversity or a sign of collapse?

Americans on fishing charters fined for crossing into Canadian waters / CBC News
Ten people who were on board American fishing charters that crossed into Canadian waters on the Detroit River are facing fines of $8,800, according to the RCMP. Four U.S. fishing charters were spotted on the Canadian side of the border on Thursday morning. Authorities were able to intercept two of them while the other pair of vessels fled back into U.S. waters.

No Canadian Fishing Trips this Summer for U.S. Anglers / FishingWire
There’s too much uncertainty about the pandemic’s path in the coming months for Canada’s federal government to engage in discussions about reopening the Canada-U.S. border, said Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

Three banned from fishing, holding licences in Canada after overfishing violations / Times Colonist
Three people have been banned from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada after pleading guilty to overfishing on Vancouver Island in 2019.

Get a trout with the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program / The Nelson Daily
The Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program is designed to help the iconic kokanee salmon population recover after their collapse in 2013. The incentive program encourages anglers to catch and retain rainbow and bull trout while giving the juvenile kokanee a chance to grow.

Kamloops fly fishing poised to see another strong year / Sun Peaks News
Experts say fishing is seeing a bump in popularity in B.C. as people search for a safe outdoor hobby.

OFAH calls on government to reopen Crown land camping and to address boat launch closures / OFAH
The OFAH has sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford asking the province to rescind its decision to close Crown land camping, while also urging the government to address other access-related closures occurring in municipalities across Ontario.

Heart of the Fraser Should Be Named ‘Ecologically Significant’ / The Tyee
Along an 80-kilometre stretch of the Fraser River, between the towns of Hope and Mission, beats an important ecological heart. Home to almost 30 species of fish, these waters host B.C.’s largest single salmon spawning run, as well as the province’s finest white sturgeon spawning habitat. The undiked islands throughout the stretch also provide key rearing habitat for millions of young salmon, especially chinook, which make up the primary food source for endangered southern resident killer whales. In addition, the area supports an exceptional diversity of birds and other wildlife, and provides cultural, recreational and economic opportunities for First Nations, local communities, outdoor recreation enthusiasts and many others.

“Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas” (EBSAs) / DFO
“Areas identified as EBSAs should be viewed as the most important areas where, with existing knowledge, regulators and marine users should be particularly risk averse to ensure ecosystems remain healthy and productive.” Among other things, EBSA designation serves as a basis for the “identification of Areas of Interest (AOIs) and of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)”.

Industry leaders fear US climate change plan will put large areas of the ocean off-limits / Angling International
Efforts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address climate change in fisheries have met with opposition, with some industry leaders saying climate change doesn’t exist in the ocean.

EFTTA CEO pledges to ensure anglers can fish in Marine Protected Areas / Angling International
CEO of the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) discussed the role that recreational angling can play in achieving the aims of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. That strategy contains ambitious targets for the implementation of MPAs to protect a minimum of 30% of the region’s sea area by 2030. At least a third – 10% – must be strictly protected.

Fish:

VIDEO: Ottawa commits $647 million in budget to protect B.C. salmon stocks / Global News
Watershed Watch executive director, Aaron Hill, provides his take on the biggest federal budget for salmon in many years!

Stan Proboszcz: New threat to BC wild salmon revealed / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Recent government documents reveal DFO staff were shown new research indicating a bacteria that causes a disease called mouth rot in Atlantic salmon is hitting B.C. factory farms hard.

What To Do with Fish When the River Runs Dry / Hakai Magazine
When people come to the aid of stranded fish, are the salvaged truly saved?

This year’s Yukon River Chinook salmon run will likely be small, according to forecast / CBC News
Officials on both sides of the border are concerned that the run will once again fail to meet conservation and harvest goals.

University of Glasgow a Partner in Marine Tracking Program / ASF
A major tracking program in the eastern Atlantic is hoping to reveal the mysteries of mortality at sea in Atlantic salmon and other species in the waters surrounding Ireland and the United Kingdom. Comments also by Dr. Fred Whoriskey of the Ocean Tracking Network

Researcher Ian Bradbury on risks of aquaculture to wild Atlantic salmon in NL / CBC Radio
DFO’s Dr. Ian Bradbury talks about the effect of escapes in the context of a major proposed aquaculture expansion in South Newfoundland. He notes that aquaculture is perhaps the greatest threat to wild salmon today, with the threats from sea lice and escapes.

DFO to create $700M aquatic research centre in Moncton / Atlantic Salmon Federation
A significant overhaul of the DFO building will turn it into a major ocean and freshwater research facility.

Salmon breeding habitat protected by Island Nature Trust acquisition / Atlantic Salmon Federation
Good news for wild Atlantic salmon and other fish species on Prince Edward Island, as a segment of the Vernon River has received important protections.

How fishing apps can help ensure the health of our fisheries / Outdoor Canada
Using apps on smartphones and tablets, anglers across Canada are keeping better track of the details about their time on the water. From where and when they went fishing to the number of fish kept or released, it’s exactly the type of real-time information recreational fisheries managers can use to ensure the future of fishing.

International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Conservation award
The IGFA Barry M. Fitzpatrick Conservation Award was given to The Wild Salmon Center. The Award acknowledges significant and outstanding contributions towards fisheries conservation. The Wild Salmon Center (WSC) is the leading group working to protect the strongest wild salmon rivers around the entire North Pacific. “When you protect salmon, you protect a whole watershed and everything in it, including people. The most beautiful and important rivers of the North Pacific all depend on salmon and the nutrients they carry inland from the ocean.”

5 ways fish are like you and me / EarthSky
Scientists who’ve studied fish – including their neurobiology, social lives, and mental faculties – say they’ve found time and time again that fish are more complex than we’ve realized. Here are five things’ fish have in common with humans.

Research Shows Predators May Be Large Factor in Decreased King Salmon Size / KYUK
The size of king salmon returning to Western Alaska rivers to spawn has been decreasing over the past few decades. Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks think that they’re closer to understanding why. Research indicates that returning king salmon are getting smaller because the bigger ones are being eaten by predators, like salmon sharks. Predators’ preference for larger fish may have always existed, but there could just be more predators now than in the past.

Water:

How to meet the ambitious target of conserving 30 per cent of Earth by 2030 / The Conversation
Canada has an extensive system of protected areas that, when added together, would cover an area slightly larger than Ontario. But Canada also has a new conservation goal called 30 by 30, which aims to conserve at least 30 per cent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030. Meeting this ambitious goal would mean roughly doubling Canada’s protected area.

Conservation Authorities Very Pleased with Federal 2021 Budget / Conservation Ontario
Proposed environmental actions and funding include flood management, biodiversity, green infrastructure, environmental monitoring, wetland and shoreline restoration and support for local tourism. “What the Federal government proposes to do through this budget is very important to address the climate change impacts that conservation authorities see across Ontario’s watersheds,”

Great River Rapport / River Institute
A space to explore the many different facets of the Upper St. Lawrence River ecosystem. Information from scientific studies about the ecosystem, its past and present state, and the people who are connected with the river and how their knowledge and observations are linked to the scientific work.

How this conservationist rallied to get a Quebec river legal personhood status / National Observer
Writer Patricia Lane interviews Pier-Olivier Boudreault, conservation director for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Quebec.

Sea level rise creating ghost forests in U.S. East / Earthsky
Flooding seawater is raising salt levels in coastal woodlands, killing large patches of trees along the U.S. Atlantic coast, from Maine to Florida. These huge swaths of dying forest – known in the scientific community as ghost forests – are so large they can be seen from space.

Indigenous:

Moderate livelihood negotiations to include elvers, says fisheries minister / CBC News
The harvest of baby eels in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is now part of negotiations to implement Mi’kmaw treaty rights to fish for a moderate livelihood.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Just Won a Huge Ruling for First Nations Fisheries / The Tyee
After a 26-month wait, the Nuu-chah-nulth are celebrating a B.C. Court of Appeal ruling released Monday that found the federal government has infringed on their commercial fishing rights in many ways. The ruling confirms rights to all species, such as salmon, crab, groundfish and prawn, but that this must be negotiated between the Five Nations and DFO, and their consent is needed. It also gives the Five Nations commercial fishery have priority over recreation and commercial fisheries.

App Developed with Indigenous Communities Fosters Safe Fish Consumption / IJC
Fish harvest and consumption are an essential part of Great Lakes Indigenous cultures. There are contaminants of concern that persist in Great Lakes fish, but those levels are not always so high that they are unsafe to eat. Especially when compared to store bought farm-raised fish.

Saving B.C. salmon: the Gitanyow’s plan to protect a watershed / The Narwhal
After years of trying to get the province to protect an important salmon watershed, one northwest B.C. First Nation is taking matters into its own hands.

Industry:

Angler App Fishbrain secures $31m to accelerate global growth / Angling International
Sweden’s Fishbrain App plans to be the ‘go-to resource’ for anglers around the world. The investment will be used to continue to scale up its user base and solidify its market-leading position as the top platform for sportfishing.

Berkley and BoatUS Seek Entries for Recast and Recycle / NPAA
Berkley has teamed up with the BoatUS Foundation for the Recast & Recycle Contest to generate innovative ideas to improve the fishing tackle recycling process, increase the amount of fishing line that can be recycled, develop products from recycled items and discover new ways to reuse fishing line. Contest submissions can address any and all of these goals to improve the recycling process, and winning entries will receive $15,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place and $5,000 for third place.

Igloo introduces world’s first ‘recycled’ hard-sided cooler / Angling International

Dyneema takes major step towards renewable bio and recycled resources / Angling International
The manufacturer of Dyneema, the world’s strongest fibre and a key component in high-end fishing lines, has formed a coalition of industry partners to drive the transition towards renewable bio and recycled resources.

Shimano officially launches centenary website and looks to future / Angling International
Message from Shimano’s President, Yozo Shimano: “Today, we are seeing increasing numbers of people becoming more and more environment and health conscious. Moreover, because of the pervading sense of stagnation, many people have begun to pay keener attention than ever to cycling and fishing, regarding them as a means to relieve themselves from stress and refresh their body and mind. In this environment, Shimano is full aware of the vital importance of fulfilling its role to promote healthy and enriched lifestyles by supplying its products and to create a sustainable society.”

Special Guest Feature – MUSKIES CANADA @ WORK ODYSSEY SCHEDULE:

The Muskie Canada Inc. (MCI) 2021 Muskie Odyssey show went online for two days of action-packed entertaining and informative seminars. MCI’s Peter Levick and his over 50 volunteers raised the bar on providing virtual programming that included a secondary stream where over $49,000 in merch was auctioned off to raise funds for muskie research. Each MCI chapter was given their opportunity to shine by showcasing their unique fishery and conservation initiatives. Bonus special guests included two provincial ministers, top muskie guides, renowned authors, research biologists, government representatives and more.

Check out the links below to stream the recorded sessions on MCI’s YouTube channel:

Opening Show: Welcomes, introductions and a word from Hon. John Yakabuski Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Kawartha Lakes chapter Presents: The Kawartha Lakes: Look into this historic Muskie fishery and we’ll share the work of the Kawartha Lakes chapter & partners to research and manage invasive species and their impacts.

Ottawa Chapter Presents: The Ottawa River: The Ottawa Chapter presents well-known guide, John Anderson on fishing the Ottawa, as well as a look into management and research for this world-class fishery.

Toronto Chapter Presents: Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Project: Learn about the work of Muskies Canada, led by the Toronto chapter and many partners in this huge 14-year project to restore a once great fishery that was unfortunately lost in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Muskies Canada and OMNRF Present: Ontario’s Angler Log Program: See how this work helps provide the OMNRF with essential data to better understand the Muskie fisheries across the province, from logs supplied by MCI members.

Belle River Chapter Presents: Lake St. Clair Trolling Techniques by Pro Guides: Overview, how to fish Lake St. Clair as well as Belle River chapter’s work with partners on fishery management & research.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Presents: Lake St. Clair Muskie Telemetry Project: Lake St. Clair is an amazing fishery. Behind the scenes there is a lot of international research work happening to ensure it stays that way. Belle River Chapter, OMNRF and many partners are working to learn more about this fishery through leading-edge radio telemetry work.

Upper Valley Chapter Presents: The Upper Ottawa River Region: This fascinating part of the Ottawa River area, upstream of Ottawa holds a strong population of Muskies. Join us for a terrific session as we lift the veil on this well-kept secret Muskie water. Guide Jaime Sebastian will talk about the Upper Ottawa River, Black Bay and the Petawawa River system and some canoe-only lakes in the region that hold big fish.

Canadian Fishing Network and Muskies Canada Present: Women & Muskies: Top women anglers, pro-staff and guides will show you how Muskie angling is changing – for the better. These women who are all serious Muskie fanatics will show how women are increasingly excelling in the Muskie world.

Kitchener-Waterloo Chapter Presents: Tell Us About – My Best Day on the Water: Join us for a fun panel presentation by some well-known Muskie guides, Hall of Famers and well-known fanatics as they share stories of unforgettable Muskie experiences.

Saint John River Chapter Presents: New Brunswick Muskie Fishery – Challenges & Opportunities: The “Johnny” has been quietly establishing itself as a prolific Musky fishery for the past 15 years. Did you know these beefy maritime fish have been in the river for 60 years? Local DNR and biologists are working with Muskies Canada to ensure this fishery will continue to thrive. We are very pleased that Minister Mike Holland of New Brunswick will be part of this session.

Mississauga Chapter Presents: Muskie Handling Techniques – Catch & Release: Canadian muskie waters are all supported by wild populations. Thus, proper fish handling and a strong catch-and-release ethic become essential to maintaining our fisheries. Our experts will go over best practices to help ensure healthy releases.

Hamilton Chapter Presents: The Mighty Niagara: Above and below the falls there are very good Muskie fisheries. The current and conditions are challenging but the rewards are sweet. Big Muskies from the lake come into the river and Buffalo Harbour in the fall following bait. This is one of the best times to hunt for Musky in the area. Join host Brent Bochek as he leads you through this special Muskie fishery and shows us how EVERY CAST COUNTS.

Montréal Chapter Presents: Ma meilleure journée de pêche au maskinongé (in french): Au cours de cette session notre panel d’invités chevronnés partagera avec vous des histoires de pêche inoubliables. Si la langue de Molière est la votre (ou pas), soyez-y! Récits, techniques, astuces, et période de questions.

Gananoque & 1000 Islands Chapter presents: St. Lawrence River Muskellunge – An International Effort: The St. Lawrence is well known as a great fishery where Muskie fishing traditions go back decades. People are catching and releasing big fish. Why worry? Behind the scenes however, there are great concerns about invasive, egg-eating Gobies, virus-related die-off, loss of spawning habitat, and diminishing numbers of Young-of-the-Year (YOY). Don’t miss this session full of research and management work to save this endangered fishery.

Sudbury Chapter Presents: Managing Muskies In Northeast Ontario: Segment 1: Managing for more and bigger muskies! Discussion with Jeff Amos (OMNRF Northeast Region Resource Advisory Unit) about efforts to improve muskie fishing opportunities by changing seasons and Minimum Size Limits for a large portion of Ontario including Lake Nipissing and the French River. Segment 2: Spanish River Muskellunge Restoration. Arunas Liskauskas (OMNRF Upper Great Lakes Management Unit) will share details of a project so successful that it may have created the next HOT fishery for GIANTS of the north!

Barrie Chapter Presents: Georgian Bay, Land of the Giants: Segment 1: Summary of volunteer activity by the MCI chapter in closest proximity to Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. Segment 2: Presentation about fishing one of the world’s most legendary Muskie waters, Georgian Bay! This exclusive content will be provided by Kyle Garon, of Slobland Flicks, famous for hunting GIANTS and sharing those adventures on his Slobland Flicks YouTube Channel.

Ontario Sunset Country Travel Association presents: Sunset Country – Lake of the Woods and more: Join us for a trip to some of Ontario’s finest Muskie waters. Lake of the Woods is a mecca for Muskie fanatics. The fishery also has its challenges. Let’s look at this great angling destination but also consider some issues that are being worked on to ensure future sustainability.

Wrap-Up Show: Discussion of the overall event and what we can do to continue to provide great content for Muskie World.

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In this April 12, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with a focus on Lake of the Woods, the unofficial 6th Great Lake. As always, we include a specially curated list of summaries and Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. We are also giving readers advanced access to a special Blue Fish Radio episode featuring Alexandra Morton discussing her new book “Not On My Watch”.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTJoin Blue Fish Canada on April 15 at 7:00 p.m. est for the premier web streaming of the Canadian documentary What Lies Below. Follow Lawrence Gunther and his guide dog as they reveal ten stories impacting water, fish, and diverse Canadians who live by and from the water. Discover what is truly taking place out-of-sight beneath the surface of Canada’s many rivers, lakes and oceans.”

Link here to watch the trailer https://youtu.be/NHQbuECriog and
Link here to set a reminder for April 15, 7: p.m. EDST.

Photo of Blue Green Algae along the shoreline

This Week’s Feature: Lake of the Woods – the Unofficial 6th Great Lake

Many consider Lake of the Woods to be the hidden jewel of western Ontario. With it’s 4,349 sq. km. of surface area measuring 94 km by 109 km, and reaching depths of 64 meters, some even consider it to be a Great Lake given that it’s the 6th largest lake located either fully or partially within the United States.

The lake’s primary inputs include the Rainy River, Shoal Lake, and Kakagi Lake. According to the Rainy-Lake of the Woods: Tour of the Basin Map Journal, the lake’s watershed encompasses 69,750 sq. km. of mostly water-covered ten distinct basins. These watersheds begin with the lake’s headwaters near Lake Superior and stretch all the way north to the lake’s outlet at Kenora Ontario, where it drains into the Winnipeg River and ultimately into Lake Winnipeg itself.

It’s 14,522 islands are situated mainly in the lake’s shallower southern end. At the northern Canadian shield tip of the lake are the lake’s deeper colder bays. This dual personality makes Lake of the Woods a truly bountiful and diverse lake with fish species that include walleye, northern pike, perch, sauger, crappie, smallmouth and largemouth bass, lake trout, lake sturgeon, whitefish, suckers, and it’s famed prized muskellunge.

Numerous watersheds and lakes straddle the Canada / U.S. border. However, binational status can introduce significant issues for assigning responsibility to resolve issues. In the case of Lake of the Woods, this includes addressing the lake’s excessive algae blooms. Sorting out jurisdictional issues is where the century-old International Joint Commission (IJC) comes into play.

The Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, in partnership with the Lake of the Woods District Stewardship Association, are two of the primary drivers behind the push to put the issues impacting Lake of the Woods on the agenda of the IJC and numerous government departments. Environment and Climate Change Canada has now released ecosystem objectives for reducing phosphorus. What is still to be determined is how these objectives will be met on Canada’s side of the border – Minnesota is already moving ahead with their reduction strategies.

According to Todd Sellers, Executive Director of Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, it’s taken 15 years of hard work at the grass-roots level to get governments to take the lake’s algae situation seriously. While it’s still too soon to claim success, it doesn’t mean little has been accomplished. Link below to hear Todd Sellers discuss the multi-layered personality of Lake of the Woods, its water quality and fish health challenges, and the machinery of numerous governments now activated to address the lake’s issues on The Blue Fish Radio Show:
https://bluefishradio.com/todd-sellers-on-lake-of-the-woods-algae-and-fish-sustainability/

Interested in knowing more or getting involved in Lake of the Woods issues? Take part in two up-coming April 14 online webinars. Or, submit your comments on Environment and Climate Change Canada’s targets for reducing harmful algae by April 30. To register for the April 14 Lake of the Woods workshops with special guest Environment and Climate Change Canada, visit: www.LOWWSF.com

To learn more about what ECCC is doing and to submit your concerns and recommendations about the lake’s water quality and fish health before the April 30 deadline visit: www.placespeak.com/lakeofthewoods

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Musky Odyssey April 17-18 — See detailed schedule here
If you love Muskie fishing in Canada, you won’t want to miss this blockbuster virtual event. April 17 – 18 Muskie Canada Inc. will showcase the best of Canadian Muskie waters and how the organization is working hard to help these great fisheries. Muskie destinations will be featured such as: Sunset Country and Lake of the Woods; Georgian Bay, Lake Nipissing and the French River; the Kawarthas Lakes; Lake St. Clair; the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers; even the newest Big Muskie waters of New Brunswick.

Podcast – Selective Pacific Salmon Harvesting and Tagging Innovations / Blue Fish Radio
Peter Krahn is a professional chemical/environmental engineer with 38 years experience specializing in forensic criminal environmental investigations. Now retired, Peter is developing a selective fishing technology for sustainably harvesting salmon to replace destructive gill nets. It supports scientific data collection, and supports selective harvesting, the removal of invasive fish species, and the release of wild fish. Listen to Peter Krahn and Dave Brown from the Public Fishery Alliance on The Blue Fish Radio Show.

AHEIA’s Alberta Fishing Education Program is currently FREE! / Alberta Conservation Association
Looking to become an angler in Alberta? This course offers a comprehensive fishing education experience, all from the comfort of your home! Learn all about fish identification, fishing equipment and techniques, preparing and cooking your catch, and much more!

Recreational anglers required to immediately record catch / Powell River Peak
Recreational fishing licences for tidal waters in the Pacific region went on sale April 1. Under regulations in the tidal waters sport fishing licence, recreational anglers are required by law to immediately and permanently record their catch on their licence or an FOC-kept catch database for all retained chinook and halibut caught in any management area, and lingcod caught in specific areas. They can now do this digitally under FOC’s national recreational licencing system (NRLS).

Ohio Lake Erie Perch Limit to Drop to 10 / Fishing Wire
A declining population of Lake Erie yellow perch in the central basin has prompted a reduction in the daily limit to 10 from Huron to Fairport Harbor beginning May 1, 2021.

‘Forever chemicals’ in Lake Superior smelt results in new advisory on consumption / TBNewsWatch.com
THUNDER BAY — The discovery of harmful chemicals in Lake Superior smelt has resulted in a new consumption advisory from two U.S. states. Minnesota and Wisconsin are both telling people to eat no more than one meal of smelt per month. Ontario’s recommended limit for the northwestern part of Lake Superior ranges from four to 16.

Grass Carp: Interesting and Unusual Gamefish / Fishing Wire
Any grass carp caught in Florida must be released immediately – but they’re interesting and unusual gamefish for catch and release.

Fish:

St. Lawrence muskie population threatened by invasive gobies / Ottawa Citizen
“This is like having the New York Yankees disappear from baseball. This is the greatest fish franchise in history. Those are the biggest, baddest muskies on the planet” says Ottawa River muskie guide John Anderson

Friends of the Thousand Islands Biological Station / Save the River
Save The River Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper is pleased to announce the launch of ESF’s Friends of the Thousand Islands Biological Station’s webpage. Save The River and Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS) have been working together for many years on environmental issues affecting the Upper St. Lawrence River, including sponsoring the Dan Tack Muskie Catch and Release Tournament. Hundreds of legal sized muskie have been returned to the River after being weighed and measured by area fishermen and guides, contributing to TIBS’s knowledge of this apex predator.

Canada declares fish fraud crackdown but leaves out restaurants / The Guardian
New study released after Guardian Seascape investigation shows drop in seafood mislabelling, but campaigners argue it uses less strict methodology. In its latest report, released on 24 March, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said only 8% of the seafood it had sampled in the past two years was mislabelled, after new investments in food fraud reduction.

Atlantic cod rebuilding plan undermines scientific evidence and Indigenous Knowledge / The Narwhal
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s roadmap to save critically depleted Atlantic Cod fails to address overfishing and climate change, while blaming ‘natural causes’ for population decline.

Fisheries Biology: The Life of a Lake / Fishing Wire
Categorizing lake types involves understanding the life stages individual lakes pass through. Understanding these phases is crucial to determining a lake’s productivity and fish sustainability.

Fish farms and conservationists tussle over transfers in court / National Observer
An environmental coalition is in court to prevent salmon farm companies from securing a ruling to allow the transfer of 1.2 million fish to sites in the Discovery Islands this summer, despite a federal ban on restocking the farms.

Podcast – DFO Scientist Speaks out on Aquaculture / Mi’kmaq Matters: Episode 174
Federal stock assessment biologist Nick Kelly, based at DFO’s Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John’s, joins the Mi’kmaq Matters podcast and tells host Glenn Wheeler it’s naïve to ignore the role of aquaculture in South Coast Atlantic salmon declines and that stocking more fish in affected rivers is not the solution.

Decades of cuts to salmon monitoring leave BC scientists uncertain of fish populations / The Narwhal
Only 215 of 2,500 salmon spawning streams (less than 10 per cent) on B.C.’s central and north coast are being monitored by creekwalkers, the people who count salmon one by one. Critics say this leaves a critical gap in knowledge that could further imperil the species.

Quite the catch”: Removing invasive bass requires delicate balance / Canadian Geographic
Rotenone was applied in Nova Scotia’s Piper Lake, part of the St. Mary’s watershed, to remove invasive smallmouth bass. Illegally introduced, the bass jeopardized a major salmon restoration program for the watershed.

Salmon Eggs Hatching – Live on YouTube / ASF
A YouTube livestream of Atlantic salmon eggs being hatched as part of a New Brunswick Fish Friends program. Check back from time to time to follow developments.

5 ways fish are like you and me / EarthSky
Fish seem unlike us. They don’t speak aloud or have facial expressions. We and fish don’t even breathe the same air. But scientists who’ve studied fish – including their neurobiology, social lives, and mental faculties – say they’ve found time and time again that fish are more complex than we’ve realized. In fact, fish may have more in common with humans than we might like to admit. Here are 5 examples.

DFO under scrutiny for aquaculture impacts on wild salmon / ASF
NTV focused attention on how DFO has failed to research fully the impacts of open net-pen salmon on wild Atlantic salmon runs. This is as Conne River runs are at historic lows.

Water:

Teck Fined $60 million for Contaminating BC Rivers / CBC News
Canadian mining company Teck Coal has been assessed $60 million in fines for contaminating waterways in southern British Columbia, the largest penalty ever assessed under the Fisheries Act.

Washington legislators call on B.C.’s Premier to better regulate mines threatening international rivers / Financial Post
The letter points out that there are at least a dozen operating mines or mining exploration projects in the headwaters of rivers that flow from B.C. into Washington state.

Indigenous:

B.C. First Nations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada protect crab for Indigenous food, social and ceremonial purposes / The Narwhal
In a landmark decision, an agreement has been reached to close 17 Dungeness crab harvest sites on the central coast to commercial and recreational fishing.

Scientists, First Nations team up in fresh attempt to revive struggling B.C. herring stocks / CBC News
Commercial fisheries have been cut back while scientists and First Nations attempt to bring them back to some areas by transplanting fertilized herring eggs.

Climate Change:

Climate Change Raises Risk of Prey Mismatch for Young Cod in Alaska / NOAA
For a young Pacific cod, first feeding is a life-or-death moment. Cod larva are nourished by a yolk sac after they hatch. Once the yolk sac is depleted, they must find food within days to survive. If there is no prey available during that critical window for first feeding, young fish face starvation.

Anglers and Boaters Support Offshore Wind Development / Fishing Wire
From boat enthusiasts to anglers, researchers found surprisingly widespread support with close to 77% of coastal recreation visitors supporting potential offshore Wind development along the New Hampsure Seacoast.

Industry:

Shimano Varsity Scholarships Return for 2021 / The Fishing Wire
If you’re passionate about the sport of fishing and are training for a career in fisheries biology and management, then you are invited to apply to a unique scholarship program, created through a partnership between Shimano North America Fishing and the conservation arm of B.A.S.S.

”It’s at our core”: new report underlines Costa’s commitment to conservation / Angling International
International eyewear brand Costa is celebrating more than 38 years of protecting the environment with the release of its first-ever Protect Report which highlights its achievements over three-plus decades. These include supporting coastal communities, cleaning coastlines and waterways, eliminating single-use water bottles and much more.

Simms CEO: newcomers will need educating / Angling International
Simms new CEO Casey Sheahan says gains in numbers of new fly fishers will be lost if rivers are not respected. We need to take care of and respect this environment, or people will be turned off. We need to welcome newcomers but spread the message of how to take care of the resource. One pet peeve of mine is people holding fish out of the water for an Instagram post. That stresses the fish. We need to tone it down and keep the fish in the water.

Boating:

BRP to Introduce Electric Models By 2026 / Fishing Wire
BRP announced its five-year plan, which will offer electric models in each of its product lines by the end of 2026.

Boat Builders Struggle to Fill Back Orders / Fishing Wire
2020 was both a historic year for retail boat sales and a disruptive year for boat builders working to meet the heightened demand and replenish record low inventories amid challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Lower Cost Electric Outboard from Torqeedo
The two-horsepower-equivalent, direct-drive, short shaft motor is the lightest in its power class, weighing just 15.5 kg (34 lbs.) complete, including battery.

Brunswick Corporation announces major expansion of its iJet Innovation Lab / Fishing Wire
Brunswick Corporation today announced a major expansion of its iJet Innovation Lab at the University of Illinois to support an acceleration of the Company’s ACES (Autonomy, Connectivity and Electrification) strategy and vision to use technology and design to enhance the recreational boating experience.

Arts:

Seaspiracy Harms More Than It Educates / Hakai Magazine
The appeal of the Netflix hit is that it suggests there’s one solution to the ocean’s woes. That’s not true. A marine ecologist explains.

Special Feature: Interview with Alexandra Morton on her new book “Not on My Watch”

Dr. Alexandra Morton has dedicated her life to researching and understanding B.C.’s complex and interconnected coastal ecosystems. Her new book “Not On My Watch” chronicles Alexandra’s effort and ultimate fight to get the truth out about the ruinous impacts of open pen salmon farming on wild pacific salmon. Her commitment to conduct science in the face of overwhelming opposition, and to speak truth to those in power bent on silencing her voice, is not only turning the page on an exploitative and destructive industry but serves as a shining example of what it means to put nature first. Link below to hear what Alexandra Morton sacrificed personally and professionally on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/not-on-my-watch-with-alexandra-morton/

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.

April 15 is coming soon

Blue Fish Canada is hosting the premier streaming of the Canadian documentary “What Lies Below”. Fresh off it’s 3-year run on CBC’s Doc Channel, What Lies Below explores ten stories of threats to fish and fishing, including the guides who came to the defence of Fraser River Sturgeon. Please let others know about this “must-see” event!

Link here to watch the trailer
Link here to set a reminder for April 15, 7: p.m. EDST.

In the March 29, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with a focus on Fraser River sturgeon including the latest analysis, research and local knowledge. As always, we include a specially curated list of summaries and links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news, and close with a spotlight guest article by sturgeon champion Kevin Estrada guaranteed to inform and inspire our readers.

This Week’s Feature: Angler Champions of Fraser River Sturgeon

My first mission when filming the documentary What Lies Below was to meet the anglers behind the conservation movement to conserve and protect Fraser River sturgeon. This iconic freshwater giant has come close to meeting it’s demise numerous times over the past 100 years due to unregulated and often illegal commercial fishing. The sturgeon being harvested in the early 1900’s were so big that they used steam-driven giant winches on shore to haul in these behemoths measuring up to five meters in length and weighing as much as 700 kilograms. The conservation movement was born in the 1990’s when high profile anglers such as the “Man in Motion” himself, Rick Hanson, rallied anglers when upwards of 34 adult white sturgeon were found dead along the banks of the Fraser River.

The angler-driven conservation movement is one of Canada’s premier citizen science success stories. One of its leaders is Kevin Estrada, owner of Sturgeon Slayers guided fishing. Kevin is one of over 100 guides focussing their operations on “Catch, Record, Release”, collecting valuable data on both adult and juvenile sturgeon. A former board member of the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society, and now Director of the Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association, Kevin’s leadership includes gathering 60,000 signatures in support of the first-ever parliamentary bill on sturgeon. The bill calls for the transition away from using gill nets in the Fraser River by non-recreational salmon harvesters, to more sustainable forms of salmon harvesting that prevent indiscriminate harm to fish like juvenile sturgeon and steelhead. Kevin is also leading a new citizen science initiative that involves guides supervising high school students to tag and track juvenile sturgeon. Link below to hear Kevin speak about his passion and work to conserve Fraser River sturgeon on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/fraser-river-sturgeon-champion-kevin-estrada/

Lots has happened since I was in B.C. in 2011 filming with guides on the Fraser River catching, tagging and tracking adult sturgeon. At the time, tagging equipment was costly and in short supply. Guides focussed their limited resources on tagging adult sturgeon, which meant juvenile fish such as the half-dozen I caught my first day on the Fraser went unreported. Never-the-less, it’s through their citizen science that these same guides, often independent of government, have established seasons and sanctuaries, and fish handling best practices. For example, captured sturgeon measuring over 150 cm can no longer be lifted out of the water at any time including during hook release, measuring, scanning or tagging, even when the guide and angler are standing in the water with the fish. Specially developed boat-side cradles now keep fish calm and submerged until their release.

Thankfully, data gaps such as the tagging and tracking of juvenile sturgeon is now being addressed by the guides. Evidence has been collected showing why sturgeon in-around the 100 cm length are lower in number compared to smaller and larger fish. However, numerous other threats outside the control of these dedicated conservationist anglers remain. Gravel extraction at sturgeon spawning sites, habitat destruction throughout many of B.C.’s rivers, dams and forestry causing siltation and erosion, development and hardening of shorelines, climate change, and more continue to threaten sturgeon survival throughout much of B.C.

Whether the conservation and citizen science being demonstrated by anglers along the lower Fraser is responsible for preventing the demise of sturgeon in this free-flowing section of the river is difficult to say. What is certain though, angler advocacy and actions prove that the fait of sturgeon is not written in stone. There is now science and substantial local knowledge on how best to study and conserve sturgeon, thanks to these dedicated anglers who refuse to accept defeat.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Fraser fish finders: Chilliwack kids join in sturgeon data collection – Vancouver Sun
Conservation, education and science tied into one – students were out on the water with volunteers from the Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association. A two-decades-old group, the FVAGA are guides who are passionate about keeping the fishing of Pacific salmon, steelhead trout and sturgeon sustainable.

Attempting to explain a lifelong passion – Salmon Arm Observer
“Fishing was a part of my growing up. It is a part of who I am. I make no excuses for finding a simple pleasure in the catching of a fish.”

Pressure on B.C. gov’t to fix trespassing laws that favour landowners – Vancouver Sun
A B.C. Court of Appeal ruling allows one of the world’s richest men to continue to stop anglers from accessing two lakes on his mammoth cattle ranch near Merritt even though the lakes are publicly owned. “Unlike other jurisdictions, British Columbia does not have public access legislation,” says judge, inspiring people to call for action.

Sturgeon Retention Closes on Columbia’s John Day Pool – Fishing Wire
Sturgeon retention fishing closed in the John Day Pool of the Columbia River (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam) on March 18.

Sturgeon Fishing Opens May 10 in Columbia River Estuary – Fishing Wire
Starting May 10, anglers will have an opportunity to catch and retain legal-size white sturgeon in the lower 40 miles of the Columbia River.

Michigan’s Black Lake Sturgeon Season Over in Hours – The Fishing Wire
After only two hours of fishing, this year’s sturgeon season on Michigan’s Black Lake ended slightly after 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6. The season, which included spearing and hook-and-line fishing, was scheduled to run Feb. 6-10, or until the harvest limit quota of six lake sturgeon had been reached. More than 500 registered anglers, including a good number of supervised youth, took part in the 2021 fishery.

N.L. fisheries minister calls for pause of south coast fishery decision as feds float idea of moratorium – CBC News
Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Minister is calling on the Federal Fisheries Minister to pause the decision to possibly shut down the 3Ps cod fishery, citing concerns over modelling and the science used.

New event: The Presidential Women’s World Virtual Fishing Challenge
While dates have not been set at this time, it’s scheduled to occur in early 2022 and will be open to women anglers around the world, with no age limit. Since the event is virtual, scoring will take place using the CaptApp application, which verifies catches using video and geo-location. Eligible species will include all billfish species (100 percent release) as well as mahimahi and tuna, which may be weighed or measured. To encourage females of all skill levels to participate, the rules will include a “hook and hand” provision. According to coordinator Joan Vernon, “each team will fish for a set number of hours in their home waters anywhere in the world”. For more information email joan@preschallenge.com

Fish:

Salmon society calls for moratorium on vehicle access to gravel bars near Chilliwack – Chilliwack Progress
The Fraser Valley Salmon Society is calling for a moratorium on vehicle traffic on two gravel bars that have seen a barrage of use and environmental abuse.

Lillooet, B.C. ‘fishway’ project pushes forward despite some snags – Journal of Commerce
Construction crews have begun laying the groundwork for a 100-metre-long covered highway for salmon that is to be installed along the Fraser River at the site of the Big Bar landslide. The structure, aptly called a fishway, will enable salmon and steelhead populations to swim northward through a concrete and steel tube to reach their spawning grounds in the upper part of the river.

Miscounted Fish May Be Skewing Population Sizes – Hakai Magazine
By catching and counting the same tagged fish multiple times, researchers may be overestimating how many fish there are.

Herring integral to B.C.’s ecological health and preservation of Nuu-chah-nulth traditions – The Star
Out of five regions on B.C.’s coast where the fish are monitored, only the Strait of Georgia experienced a biomass volume capable of having a commercial herring fishery this year.

Returning Fundy’s Fish to the Wild – Hakai Magazine
From the gene bank to the wild, a novel conservation effort has brought the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon back from the brink.

Canada is failing its freshwater fish populations – Globe and Mail
Canada needs to better value freshwater fish and recognize their roles in ecosystems and the diverse ways in which they benefit residents, experts say.

Sacrificing wild Atlantic salmon for gold – Halifax Examiner
A PROJECT THAT IS UNDOING ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE FROM ACID RAIN FINDS ITSELF UNDER THREAT FROM A GOLD MINE PROPOSED on Nova Scotia’s Moose River about 30 kilometres from Beaver Dam.

NB maps out protection for Atlantic salmon habitat – ASF
Conservationists are feeling hopeful that the new Nature Legacy initiative will lead to protection of ten per cent of the province’s land, up from the current 4.6 per cent. It’s good news for wild Atlantic salmon, as many important headwaters and cold-water features are slated for protection.

Anglers tell aquaculture industry to prove it doesn’t harm wild salmon – ASF
The Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland wrote to the NL aquaculture industry’s association asking their members to fund studies of salmon rivers surrounding Placentia Bay, to gauge the impact of the net-pen industry.

Industry body backs move to close last US driftnet fishery – Angling International
The US sportfishing industry is backing efforts to bring an end to the last remaining driftnet fishery in the US. The Californian fishery ranks among the most destructive in the nation, says the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). The mile-long, large mesh nets still being used in California waters indiscriminately catch anything in their path. Less than half the catch is non-marketable and is discarded back into the sea as dead waste.

Diversity of Fish Species Support Killer Whale Diet Throughout the Year – NOAA Fisheries
Endangered Southern Resident killer whales prey on a diversity of Chinook and other salmon. A new analysis shows the stocks come from an enormous geographic range as far north as Alaska and as far south as California’s Central Valley. “If returns to the Fraser River are in trouble, and Columbia River returns are strong, then prey availability to the whales potentially balances out as the whales have evolved to move rapidly throughout their range,” said NOAA Fisheries wildlife biologist Brad Hanson.

Water:

A Coastal Squeeze – The Tyee
Where the Fraser River meets the Salish, Sea lies British Columbia’s largest—and most important—estuary. Caught between infrastructure built to counter sea level rise around the cities of Vancouver and Richmond to the east, and rising seas from the west, the estuary is facing what’s called a coastal squeeze.

Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako calls on restoration of the Nechako River – Terrace Standard
RDBN chairperson and Vanderhoof Mayor said, “Local communities, First Nations and non-Indigenous communities alike have suffered from the impacts of the Nechako water management regime which has prioritized energy production over a healthy river and fish populations.”

Salmon farm reapplies for three-year permit to dump sea lice pesticide in B.C. coastal waters – The Narwhal
Cermaq has applied for a new permit to dump almost 3,000 bathtubs of a sea lice pesticide in Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve waters, as companies head to court to challenge a federal decision to terminate salmon farming in the Discovery Islands.

NS to Pull Plug on Annapolis Tidal Power – ASF
A Nova Scotia tidal power plant that largely blocked fish migration has long been a source of concern for conservationists. Now it is likely to be removed.

Indigenous:

Tsilhqot’in Nation fights B.C.’s approval of Gibraltar mine’s waste discharge into Fraser River – The Narwhal
A provincial permit allows the mine to discharge the equivalent of nearly 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools of wastewater into the river daily during select months.

Indigenous fishers charged during closure to argue in court – Williams Lake Tribune
Closures had been declared by the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council Fisheries Department and Tsilhqot’in Nation Council of Chiefs, who said the Big Bar landslide along the Fraser River had created a crisis for returning salmon. “It’s a communal right, not an individual right,” Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse told Black Press Media.

Industry:New Enviro-Friendly Fishing Lines – Angling International
Fishing tackle manufacturers bring new more environmentally friendly fishing lines to market. Green brands TUF-Line goes biodegradable and Rapala unveils 100% recycled mono line

Boating:

Abandoned Boats webinar – FOCA
On Wednesday, April 7 from 4-6pm EDST FOCA’s partners at Boating Ontario are hosting a webinar about abandoned boats, including Transport Canada speaking about the ‘Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act’. No registration is necessary for this free event. Click here to join the webinar at the start time above

Books:

“Not on My Watch” By Alexandra Morton – The Star
“I have spent the past three decades exhausting every means possible to protect the wild salmon of the B.C. coast from what seemed like their inevitable demise from the impact of salmon farms. My research made it painfully clear: wild salmon were simply not designed to survive the level of pathogens seeping out of the floating salmon farms.”

Arts:

Coastal Job: Fish Print Artist – Hakai Magazine
Visual artist specializes in making prints from fish, honoring a Japanese tradition known as gyotaku – meaning “fish” (gyo) and “rubbing” (taku). A technique developed around 200 years ago as a way for fishermen to document their catches.

Special Guest Feature: What Does Conservation Mean To You

By Kevin Estrada
(Extracts from the March 2, 2021 article in BC Outdoors Magazine)

In this modern era of aware fishermen and women, conservation has been re-defined. The Fraser River sturgeon fishery and the angling community have been a shining example of what leadership, change and conservation looks like.

Over the past 25 years, the angling community on the Fraser River have gone above and beyond in redefining what the word conservation means. Significant cultural change has taken place over the last decade, which has shown the upmost care and respect for sturgeon. In the meantime, sustained advocacy will continue to push forward for funding for science and change for the future.

There are some uniquely positioned individuals involved around sturgeon that have the influence and knowledge to push for change in the gill net fisheries. They have thus far turned a blind eye or at the very least downplayed the impacts. There is no more time available to play politics around their survival and that of our wild stock species. The public is becoming aware of the issues and if progress isn’t made, then it will be well known the tactics (failure) that have been taken to minimize their impacts.

The most recent attempt was the DFO Recovery Potential Assessment review for the listing of white sturgeon under the Species at Risk Act this past September. A group of individuals were asked to participate in reviewing science, and I was invited to this discussion. Despite gill nets being the scientifically most well-known cause of the decline in specific size classes, gill nets were given a medium threat level instead of high. This is a problem. Politics. In my opinion, we are too worried about social issues instead of the clear science. Nobody is saying stakeholders cannot have salmon, we are advocating to harvest them sustainably.

Like many issues we see today in our world, science gets drowned out by the loudest and most influential voice (publicly or behind closed doors). That is called politics, and a species that has survived 200 million years does not deserve the fate of politics. They supersede humans.

To be honest, I don’t know what the word conservation means anymore. It’s been twisted and turned as something government and the private sector can point to and say, “We’ve done something, look at how good we are.” For me, it’s probably more of a way of life, a guiding star, and maybe even a word to challenge people on. When the virtue signalling starts on conservation, I ask, “What have you actually done for the word conservation to mean something?” If the answer is just an Instagram post, then sorry, you don’t make the cut. Do more.

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.

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST! Blue Fish Canada is about to host the premier streaming of the award-winning Canadian documentary “What Lies Below”. The 79-minute documentary first featured at the Hot Docs Theatre in Toronto during the Planet in Focus Film Festival. It went on to screen at numerous film festivals across Canada and around the world before being licensed by both CBC’s Doc Channel and AMI TV. These exclusive licensing agreements have now just expired. Won’t you help us get the word out?

Join Blue Fish Canada on April 15 at 7p.m. EST for the premier streaming of the Canadian documentary What Lies Below. Follow Lawrence Gunther and his guide dog as they reveal ten stories impacting water, fish, and diverse Canadians who live by and from the water. Discover what is truly taking place out-of-sight beneath the surface of Canada’s many rivers, lakes and oceans.

Link here to watch the teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaiyC8ZEVC4

In the March 15 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with a focus on the fastest changing lake in the world, Lake Superior. As always, we include links and summaries to news about fishing, fish, water and more, and close with a spotlight guest feature – the NOAA’s Great Lakes restoration work.

This Week’s Feature: World’s Fastest Changing Lake – Lake Superior

The Great Lakes have a combined 244,106 square kilometers of surface area, the largest freshwater system in the world. Lake Superior itself is also the world’s largest freshwater lake. But the Great Lakes are also imperiled by no less than 43 “Areas of Concern” (AOC)defined as environmentally sensitive or damaged. Twelve of these AOCs are in Canada, 26 in the U.S. and five more are shared between the two countries. You can learn more about what the U.S. is doing to address the AOCs on their side of the border in our Special Guest feature at the end of the News.

So how do we know Lake Superior is the fastest changing lake in the world, and what does it mean for water, fish, and the people who live by and from the water? IN a recent IJC report, “Assessing Progress: Climate change and algal blooms in Lake Superior”, Dr. Jay Austin of the University of Minnesota’s Duluth Large Lakes Observatory reports on his team’s research to measure how fast summer lake water temperature is warming, and the decrease in duration of winter ice cover. We also learn that blue-green algal blooms are now a concern, as are the number of storms causing record erosion and shoreline infrastructure destruction.

Link below to hear Dr. Austin discuss his research with editor Lawrence Gunther on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/fastest-changing-great-lake-superior/

According to the IJC, “the high resource value of Lake Superior needs to be protected to maintain public trust that important resources can be saved”. While much work remains to mitigate climate change, thank goodness scientists like Dr. Austin and his team are being supported to document the rate of change Lake Superior is experiencing. Their research is essential to improve the resilience of the lake, the life that depends on its ecosystems, and the Lake’s shoreline communities. After-all, Lake Superior still represents an almost perfect example of “one-health”, or what nature intended as a winning trifecta of water, fish, and people. Unfortunately, we also now know that no where else in the world is this interdependency being undermined as fast as Lake Superior.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson Goes Wire-To-Wire on the Tennessee River — NPAA
It was a spectacular showing by Northland Fishing Tackle and Shimano pro, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson, who went wire-to-wire to win the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite on the Tennessee River in Knoxville, Tennessee with 63 pounds. Gustafson caught a limit of smallmouth all four days of the event, something no one else accomplished. Winning by just over seven pounds, it was the first career Bassmaster Elite Series victory for the Keewatin, Ontario native.

Ice Fishing Tips for Lake Superior — Northland
Lake Superior’s acres are tabulated in millions, 20.288, in fact. Of those, however, only a fraction is chonsidered ice fishing territory. But in aggregate, when you compile Canada’s portion with shoreline zones in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, we’re still talking hundreds of thousands of hardwater acres.

Aqua-Vu: Gussy Talks Underwater Cameras — NPAA
“It’s always in my boat,” affirms Bassmaster Elite Series angler, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson, referring to a particular fish-finding tool that’s been popping up in recent conversations among hardcore bass fans. “A lot of the anglers have figured out that an Aqua-Vu is a mandatory piece of equipment at places like the St. Lawrence River”.

Maine Biologists Encourage Fish Harvest in Some Lakes — The Fishing Wire
If you have ever been fishing, either open water or ice fishing, it is likely you have heard someone say, “let them go and watch them grow.” While this catch and release message was important several decades ago when we saw more fishing pressure and higher harvest rates by anglers (and may still help some fisheries), other present-day fisheries, (and in Maine’s case many fisheries), rely on harvest by anglers to maintain healthy fish populations and to achieve size quality management goals.

Northland Tips on Side-Imaging — NPAA
Structural anglers are used to locating a spot of interest via high-definition contours, then picking those locations apart with traditional down-sonar in an effort to locate fish, catch them, and store location (GPS) information in order to return to that spot someday down the road. A staple amongst tournament bass anglers these days is Side-Imaging that map both structural elements, and individual fish to target.

‘Trapped’: Women working as fishery observers allege sex harassment, assault at sea — Vice
Four women who worked on the front lines of fisheries monitoring in Canada, often alone on a boat full of men, allege their jobs were a hellish grind of sexual harassment, assault, intimidation, and threats.

Fish:

Kiyi Eyesight Gives Researchers Insight into Restoring the Fish in the Great Lakes — IJC
A species of fish called kiyi has evolved to see particularly well in deep parts of Lake Superior, giving it a significant advantage at those shadowy depths, according to recent research by the University of Buffalo.

Tidal Wave-Like Seiches Could be Drying out Northern Pike Eggs in Lake Erie Wetlands
Northern pike are among the top predators in the Great Lakes and a prized sport fish. They are even known to happily eat invasive common carp, potentially providing an ecological control in great enough numbers. But in recent years, the species has had problems successfully reproducing in western Lake Erie. An ongoing study suggests wild winds and waves could be having an effect.

Tracking the Spawning Grounds of Invasive Grass Carp
The vast majority of grass carp in the Great Lakes basin are reproducing in Ohio’s Maumee and Sandusky rivers, a recent study has found. Grass carp are an invasive species in North America known for eating large amounts of aquatic plants. This in turn can destroy habitat that native fish, amphibians, insects and birds rely on.

AN EEL LADDER AT CARILLON DAM COULD HELP SAVE THE AMERICAN EEL — Ottawa Riverkeeper
The American eel has seen a 99% decline in its Ottawa River population since the building of major dams. The greatest obstacle is the Carillon Dam, right at the mouth of the Ottawa River. As Hydro Quebec prepares for a $750 million renovation of the dam, the Ottawa River Keeper is advocating to have an eel ladder added as part of the dam’s renovation.

East Coast Aquaculture vs West Coast Aquaculture — ASF
Leo White, President of the Salmonid Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, draws attention to the ways DFO is treating net-pen operations differently on Canada’s two coasts. In particular, he notes the grants to subsidize operations in NL compared with requirements to remove cages in the Discovery Islands in BC.

Fisheries minister congratulated on Discovery Islands decision — BC Local News
“Indeed, problems began from the moment the salmon farming industry arrived in British Columbia’s coastal waters.”

Ottawa backs $27M open-net salmon farm, ocean sensor project in Atlantic Canada — CBC News
A Norwegian company’s proposal to open a salmon farm and hatchery in Placentia Bay, N.L., got a major boost Thursday from Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, a federal innovation funding organization.

Grinding fish to feed fish — The New Yorker
A visit to The Gambia for a deep dive into the business of fish meal and fish oil, servicing aquaculture in the developed world at the expense of people in developing nations.

WWF calls for halt of capelin fishery to protect species — ASF
WWF-Canada is greatly concerned for the lack of recovery of capelin, a key species in the food web off Newfoundland and Labrador. Capelin are an important forage fish species, upon which Atlantic salmon rely heavily while feeding at sea.

Eat the Fish enters new business waters due to pandemic — CBC News
The Thunder Bay-based fish company will move to a community supported fishery sales model.

Sacrificing wild Atlantic salmon for gold — Halifax Examiner
Trading a river for someone else’s gold profit.

Canada is failing its freshwater fish populations — Globe and Mail
Canada needs to better value freshwater fish and recognize their roles in ecosystems and the diverse ways in which they benefit residents, experts say.

Watch: South Newfoundland Salmon and the Species at Risk Act — ASF
On March 4th ASF staff were joined by nearly 100-people, many from the South Coast, for a 90-minute webinar on salmon in the area and a potential listing under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Hear a presentation on ASF’s “Do Not List” position and hear the discussion that follows.

An urgent call for a new relationship with nature — Scientific American
We should pause to assess fully what we have learned from the tragedy of the past year and commit ourselves to restoring our relationship with nature. We need fundamental change to our economic systems so that financial incentives go to those whose activities result in the conservation of nature rather its destruction.

Water:

The Great Lakes Region Needs a Coordinated, Consistent Approach to Climate Change — IJC
As the global climate changes, so do conditions in the Great Lakes. In coming decades, the Great Lakes are expected to see warmer waters, more frequent and intense storms, less ice cover and greater fluctuations in water levels. The Great Lakes of 2021 are different than they were in 1960 or than they will be in 2050.

Resiliency Along the Shores of the Deepest Great Lake — IJC
Despite being the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior is the least densely populated. Its shoreline, including islands, spans roughly 4,350 kilometers and much of it remains wild and undeveloped. The harsh, rocky shoreline and northern climate are poor conditions for agriculture and settlement. About 230,000 people live along Superior’s shoreline in Canada, around half of them in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Research Needs to Address Climate Change Impacts on Great Lakes Hydrology
Large fluctuations in water levels are part of the Great Lakes’ natural cycle. Levels have been historically high in recent years but were extremely low less than a decade ago. Scientists are working to understand how climate change may dictate the severity, length and frequency of extreme lake level events. As those who live and work along the Great Lakes continue to experience the extensive impacts of extreme conditions driven by climate change, it is critical to understand the changes that are happening in the basin to prepare for the future.

Road salt levels in some creeks toxic to aquatic life — Ottawa Riverkeeper
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has established federal guidelines around the amount of chloride — which is partly what salt breaks down into when it dissolves in water — in water bodies. Those guidelines state that 120 milligrams per litre leads to chronic, long-term toxicity, while anything above 640 milligrams per litre is considered acutely toxic. Not only does chloride take a long time to break down further, but it’s also toxic to aquatic life such as fish, amphibians, invertebrates and insects. According to the Ottawa Riverkeeper, researchers found water samples containing chloride amounts five times the acute level.

9 things that haven’t changed since Alberta’s about-face on coal mining policy — The Narwhal
The United Conservative Party was backed into a corner on its decision to open up the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains to open-pit mines. But it hasn’t completely abandoned its push to allow more coal projects in the province.

B.C. under pressure as U.S. EPA releases selenium pollution standard for water near Elk Valley coal mines — Narwhal
An environmental group is calling for an official Canada-U.S. International Joint Commission investigation over pollution downstream of Teck Resources’ operations. A Kootenay conservation organization is urging the B.C. government to “stop stalling” and match a new, more stringent U.S. standard for selenium pollution in a cross-border lake downstream of Elk Valley coal mines. B.C. and Montana spent years working to develop a new selenium limit for the watershed. Montana moved to implement the new standard last year.

Tribes, fishermen slam halt to Alaska-Canada water analysis — Washington Post
American and Canadian authorities have announced they will cease data collection on three transboundary watersheds that began from concerns about the impact Canadian mining could have on Alaskan waters. “Given the existence of other sampling programs planned by state, federal or provincial agencies throughout the transboundary region, there is no need to continue the joint program,” the state and province said in a joint statement.

U.S. Sportfishing Industry Puts Support Behind Bipartisan Bills — NPAA
The American Sportfishing Association announced its support for two bipartisan bills to help restore land and water surrounding abandoned Cole mines that would otherwise threaten fisheries and nearby communities.

Quebec’s Magpie River is the first place in Canada to be granted legal rights. — National Observer
The river will now be under the protection of “nature rights,” which treat the river as a person as opposed to an object. The river is protected under nine distinct rights, including the right to sue. This kind of environmental strategy has been put in place by at least 14 other countries, including Bolivia and New Zealand.

Indigenous:

Indigenous Organization Helps Prepare for Climate Change on Public Lands — IJC
Long held up as the coldest and the cleanest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior is nonetheless seeing the impacts of climate change. Warmer air temperatures have brought more frequent and powerful storms to the region, and Superior is warming faster than the other Great Lakes. Communities that live and work along the shores of Superior are preparing for these changes by strengthening shorelines and protecting key plants and animals. For Indigenous communities, this preparation extends beyond reservations into ceded territory, specifically those on public lands. For more than 35 years, the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) has exercised authority delegated to it by its 11 Ojibwe member tribes to operate comprehensive conservation, natural resource protection, conservation enforcement and public information programs designed to implement the tribes’ treaty rights.

Industry:

Nominations Open for C.A.S.T. For Kids B.A.S.S. Humanitarian Award — Fishing Wire
B.A.S.S. and the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation are accepting nominations for their annual humanitarian award recognizing the important work being done by many anglers to support fragile populations.

Boating:

The Pro Angler’s Guide to Proper Boat Insurance — NPAA
Many of us believe we have all the coverage we need as we pursue our passion of angling, and in some cases even think we have over insured our equipment. The reality is that there are several “grey areas” that exist in most traditional insurance policies that can leave professional anglers high and dry when it comes to covering their equipment.

In Memory:

David Schindler, the Scientific Giant Who Defended Fresh Water — The Tyee
By the age of 50, Schindler was one of the world’s top freshwater ecologists. Politicians and bureaucrats feared him because he wielded scientific evidence the way a Samurai swung a sword. His ground-breaking research on phosphates, acid rain, climate change, UV radiation and transboundary pollutants had rattled governments in North America and Europe and driven important policy changes around the world. Schindler’s work, and that of his many collaborators, had also changed the daily life of Canadians. Whenever anyone added a phosphate-free detergent to a washing machine, they were honouring the work of Schindler’s team at the Experimental Lakes Area, one of Canada’s greatest science experiments. David was a truly great Canadian who was never afraid to speak truth to power — he will be missed.

Daryl Guignion remembered for strong Atlantic salmon advocacy in Prince Edward Island — ASF
Founder of the Island Nature Trust and Morrell River Management Cooperative, he played a central role in undertaking assessment of Atlantic salmon streams on the island, and in teaching a new generation of conservationists at the University of PEI. He is greatly missed.

Arts:

Fish Art Contest is Casting For Entries — FutureAngler.org
The deadline is fast approaching for the 2021 Art of Conservation™ Fish Art Contest, supported by Title Sponsor Bass Pro Shops. This free contest is open to youth in grades K-12 from across the globe. The deadline to enter is March 31, 2021.

Special Feature: NOAA’s habitat restoration work in the Great Lakes strengthens healthy fisheries and ecosystems, benefits local economies, and supports resilient communities.

The Great Lakes are an important natural, recreational, and economic resource. But they face many threats, including habitat degradation, pollution, overfishing, and the spread of invasive species. NOAA and our partners work to restore habitat in the Great Lakes region to support the fish, ecosystems, and communities that rely on them through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

11 years: NOAA has worked through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative since 2010 to restore habitat across the Great Lakes region. Our story map celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, highlighting a decade of NOAA and partners’ work in the Great Lakes.

79 projects: NOAA has supported almost 80 high-priority habitat restoration projects through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Our efforts have helped strengthen valuable Great Lakes fisheries and restore coastal wetlands that improve water quality. We recently supported habitat restoration in places like the Detroit River in Michigan and the Buffalo River in New York.

4,500 acres: The projects we’ve supported have restored more than 4,500 acres of habitat for fish and wildlife. This restoration work has improved fish passage, cleaned up debris, restored coastal wetlands, and managed invasive species.

6 states: NOAA has supported habitat restoration projects in six states: Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. You can explore projects we’ve supported in these states through the NOAA Restoration Atlas, our interactive project mapping tool.

17 Areas of Concern: Our habitat restoration work in the Great Lakes has helped improve conditions in 17 “toxic hot spots” known as Great Lakes Areas of Concern. There are currently 26 designated Great Lakes Areas of Concern in the U.S. These are areas where a waterway’s poor conditions are affecting the environment, human health, and the local economy. NOAA and partners work to address the most pressing threats facing these waterways, so that they can be removed from the list of Areas of Concern.

As the largest freshwater system on earth, the Great Lakes are one of the most important natural resources in the world. They serve as important economic resources, supporting industry, transportation, commercial and recreational fishing, and tourism. NOAA’s habitat restoration work helps strengthen valuable fisheries and coastal resources and restore coastal wetlands that improve the quality of our water. It also provides recreational opportunities and supports the resilience of Great Lake communities.

We can’t have “green” without “blue”! – Canadian Freshwater Alliance

In less than three weeks, Canada’s federal government will release its COVID-19 recovery budget: the financial backing that will help the people and institutions of this country to regain our footing after the past year of this devastating pandemic. Let the government know that investing in our watersheds is investing in a healthier, greener and more prosperous future. Send Your Letter Now!

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