TAKE NOTE – October 14 Webinar on “Effects of toxic substances on Great Lakes fish health, and what it means for the health and wellbeing of people and their communities”

The Toxics-Free Great Lakes Binational Network, Blue Fish Canada and the Great Lakes Fish Health Network invite you to a binational webinar on the impacts of toxic substances on the health of Great Lakes fish. Learn about past and emerging toxic substances in the Great Lakes basin, how fish health is being impacted, and what this means for human health, indigenous cultures, and the social and economic sustainability of Great Lakes communities. The webinar will engage viewers by seeking input on what federal, state, provincial and other governments need to do. Continue

Register now to hear our three guest presenters, and to make your views known!

In this October 12, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on Canada’s commitment to protect 30% of our oceans, lands and freshwater as part of the push to create Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas to advance reconciliation through the “land back” movement. We include links and summaries to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news, and close with a spotlight guest resource from the International Game Fish Association on negotiating protection agreements.

This Week’s Feature – Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas and Canada’s 30-By-30 Protection Commitment

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

Who would have thought five years ago we would be experiencing so many nature conservation and protection initiatives that keeping them all straight would become an almost impossible task? Even more confusing is trying to sort out where these various often ambitious environmental initiatives overlap. Driving these initiatives forward is a collective understanding that we need to reverse the decline in Canada’s biodiversity, mitigate climate change, and support indigenous self governance while redressing past injustices through reconciliation. But there are those who believe their interests are being overlooked in the push to get agreements in place – protection that will cover more than 30% of Canada’s three oceans and just as much land and freshwater within the next eight years.

Few would argue against conserving nature in Canada and around the world as a means to halt biodiversity loss, tackle climate change, and to help shift people to live more sustainably. Numerous experts have concluded that over a million species are threatened with extinction due to 75% of the earth’s land and 66% of the earth’s marine environment already having been significantly altered by our actions. With this in mind, Canada has pledged to join other countries around the world to protect 30 percent of our land, freshwater, and oceans by 2030. The federal government has also committed to advocate at international gatherings that other countries adopt this same 30% conservation goal, and that science, Indigenous knowledge and local perspectives be used to guide their actions.

According to the DFO website, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are defined using science. To date, Canada has established 14 MPAs under the Oceans Act, three National Marine Conservation Areas, one marine National Wildlife Area, and 59 marine refuges. These areas contribute to protecting 13.81% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas. Each MPA can be defined differently in whether or how commercial, indigenous and recreational fishing is undertaken. For a more detailed analysis of what this means for recreational anglers, read my article published in Outdoor Canada Magazine in March 2018 “Why Anglers should Pay Attention to Proposed Marine Protected Areas”. https://lawrencegunther.com/why-anglers-should-pay-attention-to-proposed-marine-protected-areas/

You can also listen to my conversation with Dr. Larry McKinney, a biologist who has created numerous successful MPAs along the Gulf of Mexico and an expert witness called to testify before a Parliamentary committee where he expressed serious concerns. Link below to The Blue Fish Radio Show episode: https://www.outdoorcanada.ca/blue-fish-radio-what-canadas-marine-protected-areas-mean-for-sportfishing/

Creating areas to protect nature using science alone fails to include local and traditional knowledge. According to the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, determining the future of traditional territories is at the root of indigenous nationhood. Indigenous leaders therefore believe that when negotiating Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), indigenous people should be holding the pen when lines are drawn on maps, sit at the table when decisions are made, and be the ones on the ground caring for lands and waters through Indigenous Guardians programs. To this end, the Canadian government just announced it would invest $340 million to support Indigenous guardians and Indigenous Protected Areas as part of our 30-by-30 commitment. According to Valérie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, “It is heartening to see the recognition of the role of Indigenous conservation and stewardship in achieving Canada’s ambitions in terms of its biodiversity goals and certainly in terms of keeping carbon where it is, which is in the ground.”

Many now believe that Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) represent our best chance of reversing biodiversity losses, and if they offer indigenous communities the opportunity to reclaim traditional lands along the way – the “Land Back” movement – even better.

Indigenous leadership involved in negotiating IPCAs share three essential objectives:

  1. IPCAS must be indigenous-led and give Indigenous governments primary responsibility for determining the objectives, boundaries, management plans and governance structures for IPCAs since they are seen as tied to self-determination. Thus, IPCAs may include a range of partnerships, including Crown governments, environmental NGOs, philanthropic bodies, and others such as for-profit companies.
  2. IPCAS are meant to represent a long -term commitment to conservation by indigenous People taking a multi-generational view of stewarding their territories.
  3. IPCAS elevate indigenous rights and responsibilities that reflect long-standing physical and spiritual relationships with the lands and waters within their respective territories and with the natural cycles that determine their use.

Resolving Indigenous Land rights has been a contentious issue for decades if not centuries. However, settling such claims is necessary if indigenous communities are to achieve self governance, and for Canada as a whole to achieve reconciliation. More than 70 treaties are now being negotiated including indigenous decision-making rights over whether or not development projects can take place on their traditional lands.

Many of Canada’s highest courts have already confirmed that indigenous relationships with nature have always included the right to benefit from the bounty of the natural world. Thus, indigenous leadership are asking that all IPCAs include acknowledgment that indigenous governments have authority over working with their people on how they use the land and water.

Government commitments to apply science-based conservation best practices throughout Canada continue to be a point of contention for both indigenous and non-indigenous stewards of the land, but for different reasons. Where one believes they are better suited to the task, the other wants government to do more to ensure that politics no longer influence how science is applied. Should government negotiate a departure from this important principle, the entire premise would be undermined. Finding ways to incorporate both local and traditional knowledge within science-based conservation best practices is more important than ever. At the same time, ensuring that everyone follows science-based precautions is an important issue for settler stakeholders.

Where Canada currently stands in terms of negotiating / finalising IPCAs, or the work underway to meet our 30-by-30 commitment, is difficult to determine. How many of these 30-by-30 protected areas will be governed through IPCAs is also unclear at this time. For example, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada, there are over 4,000 publicly and privately managed protected areas in Canada that cover 12.4 million hectares, or just under 1% of Canada’s territory. However, the website makes no mention of ICPAs, and talks instead about parks being the most common type of protected area. Canada is about 998.5 million hectors in size, about 89% of which is currently designated as Crown land. Without doubt many more protection areas and agreements are now under negotiation if Canada is to meet its 30-by-30 commitment.

There are those who feel that the rush to protect nature through IPCAs has something to do with politicians trying to pass off responsibility for making tough decisions. We always hear about “balancing” our economic interests against the environment, but increasingly this is becoming a no-win exercise for politicians. Say no to development and resource extraction and say goodbye to good jobs. Say yes to “business as usual” and you run the risk of being persecuted by environmental groups and First Nations communities in the media. Pass all this decision-making authority to indigenous communities, similar to what B.C. has done in terms of old growth forestry practices (e.g., Fairy Creek), and the problem no longer rests with politicians.

The vast majority of Canadians who live in cities (81%), see the move to strengthening environmental stewardship through either direct government action or by passing on responsibility to indigenous communities as preferable to more-of-the-same. However, for people who grew up on the lands and waters about to be designated as protected under 30-by-30 or through an IPCA, it’s not so straightforward. These “settlers” although few in number comparatively speaking are not only not being included in decision making and negotiation processes, but worse, they are being made the “scapegoats”. These are the people who directly take part in what are now considered to be unsustainable economic activities such as forestry, mining, commercial fishing and fossil fuel extraction.

Many settlers who live and work in rural, remote or northern communities can trace back their connection to their communities over multiple generations. These are also people who hunt, fish, trap, and who spend considerable time in the outdoors doing recreational, social, and foraging activities. They know their forests, lakes and rivers, and have learned from previous generations how to be responsible stewards. Disappearance of their jobs is one thing, but to stop them from pursuing their outdoor lifestyles or evict them from the land is quite another.

A love of nature and feelings of stewardship is not just restricted to non-urbanites. There are also plenty of people who live in cities but who spend their free time exploring and experiencing nature. The growth in fishing alone among urban women, youth, people of colour and new Canadians over the past two years has been extraordinary. Combined with those who grew up outside Canada’s cities, and you’ve got a lot of people with a personal stake in accessing outdoor spaces

Our rush to meet the 30-by-30 deadline and increasing pressure to achieve reconciliation through the establishment of IPCAs does not excuse leaving non-indigenous Canadians out of these crucial negotiating processes. Such talks always find space for environmental NGO representatives, but environmental activists don’t necessarily speak on behalf of non-indigenous people who harvest fauna in the outdoors. They may have knowledge about environmental issues and the measures needed to repair past damages inflicted on nature, but in many cases, they are against foraging by non-indigenous people, which is odd since most all environmental groups fully support the rights of indigenous people to do the same.

Failing to engage non-indigenous stakeholders in processes intended to protect the environment from unsustainable activities, to fight climate change, or to further reconciliation and self-governance goals through IPCAs, is not only wrong, but deeply insulting as it completely dismisses their local knowledge and connection with nature. It’s one thing to recognize indigenous land rights in areas of Canada inaccessible and unutilised by non-indigenous Canadians, but when such rights mean terminating long-standing and highly valued access to lands and waters enjoyed by non-indigenous Canadians, it’s undemocratic. Advancing reconciliation and protection goals without securing the buy-in of non-indigenous stakeholders could also undermine the long-term success of the agreements.

If we learned anything from the last election, it’s that all of Canada’s federal parties and the vast majority of Canadians are interested in moving forward on addressing environmental and reconciliation issues. The debate is no longer about whether we take action or not, it’s now about how we get to the finish line. If you want the negotiations to go fast then go alone, but if you want these agreements to go far wee need to work together.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Couple Captures Walleye Crown at Lake of The Woods / NPAA
To say Brent Knutson and his fiancée, Shawna Erdmann, experienced a full range of emotions during the Minnesota Tournament Trail (MTT) Championship, held on renown walleye sweet spot Lake of the Woods, would be an understatement. On day one the couple’s five fish limit included a 31.75” beast, a 30.25” trophy, and three more in the 27-to-28” class.

Invasive Pink Salmon found near Iqaluit / ASF
This invasive species has been expanding from rivers in northwest Russia and then Norway, and its spread is a concern for the future of wild Atlantic salmon. Anyone in Nunavut who finds a pink salmon is asked to send the fish to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. By examining a fish’s DNA and muscle tissue, DFO researchers may learn where the fish has been and where it’s migrated from. That in turn may help them better understand the species’ impact on the North.

How to save an endangered fish? Eat their enemies, say N.S. conservation groups / CBC News
Conservation groups are encouraging Nova Scotians to chow down on smallmouth bass and chain pickerel in hopes of saving the nearly extinct Atlantic whitefish.

The magnificent trout waters of southwestern Alberta’s Crowsnest Country / Outdoor Canada
The trout rivers of Alberta’s Crowsnest region are under threat by plans for new coal mines. It’s not clear how destructive the impacts will be or when we’ll see them, but any degradation of these pristine waters would be tragic. Here’s a guide to fly-fishing rainbows, browns and bulls of the Crowsnest, Castle and Oldman Rivers—at least while you still can.

To Kill or Not to Kill / In the Bite
There have been some great debates between tournament committees, competitors and conservationists on whether kill tournaments are good or bad for our sport. Although recreational anglers are legally allowed to harvest billfish, post a photo of your crew with a dead marlin and get ready for the keyboard warriors to attack. The truth of the matter is that many of the teams you see bringing fish to the scales probably release over 99 percent of the billfish that they catch. Attending almost every kill tournament in the U.S. are biologists eager to take samples of any fish brought to the scales. The scientific impact is undeniable and the amount of marlin that are harvested is well below the annual quota of 250 marlin allowed for Atlantic recreational fishermen in the U.S.

Salmon/Steelhead Action on Lake Ontario Tributaries / FishingWire
With higher-than-average water levels, good runs of migrating salmon and trout are expected in Great Lakes tributaries this fall. Anglers can expect quality fishing opportunities for Chinook and coho salmon from now through early-November, but the first two weeks of October is when it typically peaks. Steelhead fishing turns on later in the season, usually in late October through November when water temperatures are around 45-58 degrees F. And lest we forget brown trout where world-class waters such as Niagara River provide peak fishing opportunities in November and December.

Experts await details on feds’ new strategy for B.C. salmon / Q107 Toronto
As a teenager, Murray Ned was accustomed to fishing for salmon three days a week all year round on the Fraser River in southwestern British Columbia. Ned is a long-time Sumas First Nation councillor and member of the joint U.S.-Canadian Pacific Salmon Commission. “Salmon are in crisis,” he said, while Indigenous, commercial and recreational fishers await details on the federal government’s latest plan to recover plummeting stocks. “We’re literally losing our food security, but also our cultural security and integrity and connection to the Fraser River and the salmon species that go along with it,” Ned, who’s also the executive director of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance.

Fish:

Ts’eketi, the 100-year-old B.C. sturgeon that’s here to save her species / MacLean’s
Deep in British Columbia’s Nechako River, the eggs of one ancient mama fish might be among the last hope for these endangered sturgeon. Genetically unique from other sturgeon, the Nechako white lives in the waters upstream of the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser rivers at Prince George. Conservationists say the fish hasn’t changed much since before the time of the dinosaurs, but its numbers have dwindled alarmingly over the last 50 years.

The goldfish invasion of Hamilton Harbour / MacLean’s
Goldfish flourish in Hamilton Harbour’s low-oxygen conditions, growing up to 40 cm long by feeding on algae blooms that other fish species can’t eat.

‘It’s amazing’: Chinook salmon are returning in surprising numbers to Cowichan River / CHEK
Thousands of Chinook salmon have returned to spawn in the Cowichan River this fall. Biologists are hopeful that the run is bouncing back from near extinction in 2009.

Why you might not be getting the salmon you paid for / National Geographic
Mowi, which supplies a fifth of the global demand for farmed salmon, is accused of misleading consumers by marketing its Ducktrap River smoked Atlantic salmon as “all natural,” “sustainably sourced,” and “from Maine.” Court documents state that the company acquires its salmon from industrial farms outside the United States where fish in crowded marine pens are often treated with medicines and chemicals, including formaldehyde-based formalin and bleach, to prevent disease and sea lice infestations.

‘This is ridiculous’: BC Hydro questioned after mass stranding of salmon on Cheakamus River / Global News
“The amount of dead and dying fish was something I’d never seen before in the adult phase of life of these pink salmon.”

Summer of Low River Levels in some Newfoundland / Labrador Rivers / ASF
Extreme weather could impact wild Atlantic salmon in several NL rivers long into the future. We need to look at land use practices, forestry practices, areas that need to be protected, cold water pools and tributaries and streams that are important fish habitat, where fish take refuge. We need to make sure they’re as resilient as possible. So, we need to really look at our rivers much more closely in terms of how to respond to climate change impacts.

Surrogacy Across Species / Hakai Magazine
Scientists can now borrow the bodies of one fish species to produce another—whether they should, though, is an open question.

Skeena Steelhead Update / Greg Knox
The SkeenaWild Conservation Trust’s Executive Director, Greg Knox, lays out the critical situation with Skeena Steelhead, which is already the worst return in history. The Skeena is the last best large steelhead system in the world, but in 2021 these fish are returning at record low numbers.

Recorded Webinar: Protecting our Great Lakes from Carp Invaders / DFO
Watch the webinar featuring Fisheries and Oceans Canada presented by the Federation of Ontario Cottage Association about the threat posed to the Great Lakes by Asian Carps. Think you could identify a Grass Carp if you saw one? Learn how!

A New Squamish Study Puts an Actual Price on Nature / The Tyee
The 150-hectare Squamish estuary runs roughly five kilometres along the town’s western flanks. A new report places a monetary value on natural assets in the Squamish River estuary, tallying local and global benefits, direct economic contributions derived from use, and the value of not using some resources at all. Its conclusion: The Squamish River estuary is worth over $12.6 million a year.

Water:

Lake levels lower than ‘historical’ values, international commission notes / The Star
If you were thinking Kootenay Lake right now looked lower than it has ever been, your analysis would be correct. The lake level is sitting nearly three feet below its normal height, said Merrell-Ann Phare, Canadian commissioner with the International Kootenay Lake board of control.

Ocean heat waves could wipe out half of Pacific salmon catch by 2050 / Times Colonist
“It’s scary but it lines up with what people have been seeing in their streams and rivers across B.C.,” says Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

Federal election: what Liberal minority means for environment and climate / The Narwhal
From eliminating fossil fuel subsidies to support for nature-based climate solutions and protected areas, here are some key things we can expect from the new federal government. In June, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society released a report card on conservation efforts which gave Ottawa an A- on land protection and a B+ on ocean protection, while assigning failing grades to many of the provinces. The report card speaks to the challenges the new government will face in securing provincial and territorial commitments to increase Canada’s protected areas — an accomplishment that would also address Canada’s growing biodiversity crisis.

The Liberals pledged to create 10 new national parks and 10 new national marine conserved areas in the next five years. They also promised to create 15 new urban national parks by 2030. The party also promised to create a $50 million B.C. old-growth nature fund — something advocates for old-growth have been calling for to help resolve conflicts such as the Fairy Creek blockades.

The Liberals promised to support Indigenous communities to enhance their capacity to establish more Indigenous protected areas and programs for Indigenous Guardians, which the Liberals began funding in 2017. Finally, the party also made a vague commitment to “restore and enhance more wetlands, grasslands, and peatlands, to capture and store carbon.”

Indigenous:

These Indigenous fishers hold DFO accountable for B.C.’s shocking salmon decline / Canada’s National Observer
Salmon stocks on the Fraser have tumbled in the past decade, leading Fisheries and Oceans Canada to limit Indigenous food fisheries on the river, even as some recreational fishing is allowed. “You don’t play with fish. You don’t play with food. That’s where there’s challenges seeing recreational fishers,” added Murray Ned, executive director of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, a coalition of 23 First Nations working to manage and restore their fisheries. While he has sympathy for sport fishers, many of whom he knows care for the fish and the river, their relationship to the salmon is incomparable to the deep ties between First Nations and salmon.

Marine Protected Area network off B.C. Coast could provide a template / Canadian Lawyer
First Nations, federal and provincial governments are looking at a proposal.

Gitanyow Wilp Wii launching indigenous protected area for salmon populations / CFNR Network
The Gitanyow Wilp Wii Litsxw has launched an Indigenous Protected Area in order to protect salmon populations.

Done waiting on B.C., Gitanyow declare new protected area: ‘this is all our land’ / The Narwhal
After waiting for years for support from the provincial government and in the face of declining salmon stock, the Gitanyow are independently forging ahead with new protections under traditional law and custom for some 54,000 hectares of land and water, which are threatened by potential mining projects. This includes Gitanyow territory covering large portions of the Kitwanga and Nass River watersheds and significant sections of the upper Kispiox River, a tributary of the Skeena River.

Nunavut Inuit suing feds overfishing licence allocations to Mi’kmaw company / CBC News
Inuit in Nunavut are suing the federal government over a decision to hand over a sizeable portion of fishing quotas off its coast to a coalition of Mi’kmaw fishers in Atlantic Canada. The lawsuit describes how Nunavut fishers have only held about 50 per cent of total fishing quotas for all species off Nunavut’s coast, which Inuit argue is disproportionately low compared to the 90 per cent that fisheries in Atlantic provinces have off their own coasts — an acknowledgement the federal government and DFO have made on several occasions.

Industry:

Best Weather Apps for Fishing / Best on Tour
Check out this collection of weather apps from Best on Tour that can make your fishing safer, more comfortable and more productive.

StrikeMaster® Lithium 24v Auger Delivers / NPAA
When ice anglers requested a lighter, more mobile battery-powered auger, StrikeMaster® delivered with the new Lithium 24v, a tough “little brother” to its legendary 40v auger. Fitted with an 8-inch auger, StrikeMaster’s new Lithium 24v weighs 14.3 pounds and can punch as many as 50 holes on a single charge. Fitted with a 6-inch auger, a Lithium 24v weighs only 13.3 pounds and can punch as many as 65 holes on a single charge.

Boating:

6 Tips for Boating Safely with Your Dog / Mercury Dockline
A family boating outing can be even more fun if you bring your dog along. It certainly makes for some great photo ops! There are many dog breeds that absolutely adore being on the water. But it’s just as important to put safety first for your pet.

Canada Election Will Impact Recreational Boating / FishingWire
As NMMA Canada continues its countering of the luxury tax unveiled in the last federal budget, the team has begun proactive outreach to the various Ministers and their staff. NMMA Canada has commissioned strong economic analysis that will bolster the case for scrapping the tax, showing the tax will ultimately harm good-paying jobs in the recreational boating industry. Similarly, NMMA Canada and the U.S. team are working together to bring attention to the harmful effects a luxury tax would pose to U.S. marine manufactures and small businesses.

Arts:

New Video – Connected Waters / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Connected Waters is Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s campaign to reconnect over 1500 km of salmon habitat currently blocked by outdated flood infrastructure. This issue requires the collaboration of all sorts of different people and their video aims to capture perspectives from the many people and communities working to improve the way we manage for floods. Use their letter-writing tool to send Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Horgan, your MP and your MLA a letter asking them to address one of the biggest habitat issues facing Fraser River salmon.

Fish Art Contest Now Underway / FishingWire
The free international art and writing competition is the perfect way to inspire youth in kindergarten through 12th grade to discover the outdoors through creative art and writing.

Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis / Safina Center
Much of what you’ve heard about plastic pollution may be wrong. Instead of a floating island of trash, the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of manmade debris spread over hundreds of thousands of square miles of sea— more like a soup than a floating garbage dump. Less than 9% of all the plastic we’ve made to date has been recycled, and microplastic fragments are found almost everywhere, even in our bodies. In Thicker Than Water, Cirino brings readers on a globe-hopping journey to meet the scientists and activists telling the real story of the plastic crisis.

Up Coming:

Watershed Stewardship Quiz – How much do YOU know about what affects water quality? / FOCA
Take the Federation of Ontario Cottage Association’s quiz about stewardship actions and water quality and get YOUR personalized rating!

Watershed 2021
Join Wellington Water Watchers on October 16 for Watershed 2021, a digital convention to deepen the water justice movement in Ontario! With plenary sessions, special guests, workshops, working sessions, networking, on-demand content, and an Expo Area featuring digital booths from local organizations, we’ll come together to restore environmental protections for water security and help build the movement for water justice in Ontario.

2021 Ask an Expert Series / Lake of the Woods
Join the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation this fall for a series of free “Ask An Expert” lunchtime webinars, as we study our watershed and learn how to protect our natural resource assets.
October 12 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Cathy Eimers, Trent University” Nutrient Export in the Canadian Tributaries”
October 19 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Jesse Anderson, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency “Minnesota’s Plan to Identify and Address Excess Phosphorus Pollution in Lake of the Woods and its Watershed, 1999-2021”
October 26 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Caren Binding, Environment and Climate Change Canada, “Lake of the Woods from Space: Satellite Observations for Algal Bloom Monitoring”
November 2 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Adam Heathcote, Science Museum of Minnesota, “Lake of the Woods: A Story of Pollution, Recovery, and the Road Ahead”
November 9 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Scott Higgins, IISD – Experimental Lakes Area, “Climate Change and it’s Effects on Lake Ecosystems in Northwestern Ontario”

NOAA Fisheries Slates MRIP Seminars / NOAA
NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program will kick off a series of educational seminars next month. The training sessions will provide stock assessors, fisheries analysts, and other data users with best practices for accessing, analyzing, and using recreational fishing data. Equipping data users with this information is an important step in the phased implementation of the agency’s Recreational Fishing Survey and Data Standards. The seminar schedule includes: Introduction to MRIP Data (October 26, 2021), Statistical Methods and Procedures (November 30, 2021), MRIP Query Tool (January 25, 2022), and Custom Domain Analyses (February 22, 2022).

Special Feature – The 30×30 Initiative: What Anglers Need to Know / The IGFA

In recent years, the discussion over our changing climate and loss of biodiversity has caused governments, the scientific community, and the general public to focus on what can be done on an international scale to protect terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The movement brought about by this habitat and biodiversity issue is the 30×30 initiative. Originally proposed by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the concept is to protect 30% of the planet (land and ocean) by 2030.

As anglers, conserving habitat is obviously in our best interest. Healthy habitats translate to more and better fishing opportunities. Conservation efforts that result in clean water, productive habitat, and sustainable fisheries are supported and advocated for by the majority of recreational anglers and angling groups, including the IGFA. The 30×30 initiative seeks to provide these benefits. However, the methods to achieving these end goals are yet to be determined, as well as what habitat “conservation” actually means.

A 2020 report published by The Campaign for Nature, a partnership between National Geographic and the Wyss Campaign for Nature, discusses the ecological and economic benefits of expanding conservation areas to 30% of the earth’s surface by 2030. The report states that economic output is greater if the 30% target is implemented, than if it is not implemented.

A key question in the 30% target is whether this will include aquatic habitats that already have some form of protections in place. The IGFA believes that habitats that already have significant protections in place should count towards the 30% target. Furthermore, instead of just shooting for a target of 30%, we believe that habitat conservation efforts should be prioritized toward protecting habitats that have been documented as having high risk of degradation.

The IGFA believes that habitats that already have significant protections in place should count towards the 30% target. Furthermore, instead of just shooting for a target of 30%, we believe that habitat conservation efforts should be prioritized toward protecting habitats that have been documented as having high risk of degradation.

Aquatic habitats are “natural resources” and, as such, have important ecosystem functions. However, natural resources such as habitat also have important and intrinsic value to humans as well. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a natural resource as “Any of the materials such as water, coal and wood that exist in nature and can be used by people.”

So, it is clear that recreational anglers not only rely on aquatic habitats, but they actively contribute to conserving them. However, one of our biggest concerns is how “conservation” will be defined in the 30×30 initiative. The Cambridge Dictionary defines conservation as “carefully using valuable natural substances that exist in limited amounts in order to make certain that they will be available for as long a time as possible.”

The keyword in both natural resource and conservation definitions is “use.” As such, the IGFA is supportive of the 30×30 initiative, as long as conserving or protecting habitat still allows for sufficient access for recreational anglers. What we do not support is the arbitrary creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that completely ban angler access without credible scientific merit for doing so. Unfortunately, there are some organizations that view no access MPAs as the first solution to achieving habitat protection, when, in reality, they should be viewed as the last.

Anglers should be supportive of regulatory actions that have the goal of conserving aquatic habitats. Indeed, anglers inherently understand that healthy habitat directly translates to vibrant fisheries. As such, the IGFA is supportive of the 30×30 goal of conserving aquatic habitats, as long as it does not unjustly or unfairly limit opportunities for recreational angler access. The IGFA believes in taking a proactive approach to the global 30×30 initiative by participating in this process at the regional, national and international level to best represent recreational anglers’ interests. Our specific objectives are to:

  • Demonstrate to the broader community that recreational anglers are not anti-regulatory in nature and are among the biggest proponents for protecting habitat.
  • Achieve adequate habitat protection/conservation that will benefit fisheries resources and angler opportunities.
  • Demonstrate that leading recreational angling organizations believe in utilizing sound science to drive management actions.
  • Ensure that angler access is not significantly affected in the 30×30 process, unless sound science indicates that recreational angling prohibits habitat protection goals.
  • Clearly define what habitat conservation/protection means and determine if the overall 30×30 goal includes habitat protection measures currently in place.

The 30×30 initiative is already underway. Only by taking an active part in this process can we ensure that recreational anglers’ interests are accurately represented. For more information about 30×30, visit the Hunt Fish 30×30 website, which represents the thoughts of leading hunting and fishing organizations, including the IGFA.

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TAKE NOTE – October 14 Webinar on “Effects of toxic substances on Great Lakes fish health, and what it means for the health and wellbeing of people and their communities”

The Toxics-Free Great Lakes Binational Network, Blue Fish Canada and the Great Lakes Fish Health Network invite you to a binational webinar on the impacts of toxic substances on the health of Great Lakes fish. Learn about past and emerging toxic substances in the Great Lakes basin, how fish health is being impacted, and what this means for human health, indigenous cultures, and the social and economic sustainability of Great Lakes communities. The webinar will engage viewers by seeking input on what federal, state, provincial and other governments need to do to address toxic substances and risks to fish and human health. Register now to hear our three guest presenters, and to make your views known!

In the September 27, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on putting a stop to Contaminating Great Lakes Fish and the need to use fish consumption advisories. As always, we include summaries and Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news, and close with a spotlight guest resource featuring the International Joint Commissions committee to address fish consumption advisories.

This Week’s Feature – Contaminated Great Lakes Fish Consumption Advisories:

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

Great Lakes contaminants in the form of pollution, plastics, waste, run-off, mercury, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and more, while unseeable, are increasingly worsening. And while we seldom if ever hear about governments issuing water drinking advisories, the same can’t be said for the consumption of fish. These advisories measure the accumulated toxins within fish and attempt to determine the amount of toxins in fish that’s safe to consume based on your age, gender, and whether you’re a pregnant or nursing mother. But, what about the fish themselves?

It’s been a while since the media reported on highly contaminated dead beluga whales washing ashore along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, or the decline of Bald Eagles when the shells of their eggs could no longer support their weight. But we hear almost nothing about the impact contaminants are having on the health and welfare of Great Lakes fish. We also have little awareness of both the cultural and health impacts contaminated fish are having on First Nations, Tribal, and Métis communities, not to mention the threat contaminants pose to the future of the most valuable freshwater commercial fishery in the world. And when Combined with the much more economically valuable Great Lakes recreational and indigenous fisheries, the total annual value is over $8 billion. For these fisheries to continue, must we accept that fish consumption advisories are here to stay?

With the support of the Healthy Great Lakes Advisory Committee, a group of like-minded individuals that I’ve been part of since 2017, I conducted consultations with stakeholders throughout the Great Lakes to document their concerns and hopes for the fish and fishing in the Great Lakes and Upper St. Lawrence River. It came as no surprise to learn that their concerns are numerous and varied but share a common thread – someone needs to recognize just how important fish and fishing are to people and their communities. These consultations led to the formation of the Great Lakes Fish Health Network in 2020, for which I serve as Chair. Link below to read the report: https://bluefishcanada.ca/resources/fish-health/

One of the Healthy Great Lakes Advisory Committee’s greatest challenges throughout the past five years is forming collaborations between water quality advocates, fish health experts, and those people and their communities who depend on fish and fishing for the social and economic sustainability of their communities. And most of all, in the case of indigenous people who are experiencing the negative impacts contaminated fish have on their cultural identity. The International Joint Commission is listening and formed a committee in 2020 to look into the concerns of Mohawk communities along the Upper St. Lawrence River. Their findings will serve as a template on how fish consumption advisories should be developed throughout the Great Lakes Basin. You can read more about the work of this IJC committee in the Special Guest Feature in this September 27 2021 issue of the Blue Fish News.

Last year I spoke with John Jackson, one of the co-chairs of the Great Lakes Toxic Free Binational Network. We are fortunate to have John as a member of the Fish Health Network as well. He’s also a member of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission’s advisory committee, and the Healthy Great Lakes Advisory Committee. John explained to me the process Canada and the U.S. follows to recognize chemicals that are emerging concerns, and then, if the science can prove a chemical meets certain thresholds, how these chemicals are then designated as a “chemical of mutual concern”. It’s at this point that governments are expected to take action. What this all means in real terms can best be expressed by John himself. Link below to hear my conversation with John Jackson on the Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.outdoorcanada.ca/blue-fish-radio-the-great-lakes-are-under-threat-from-chemicals-again/

Dr. Michael Murray, a Senior Biologist who worked for the National Wildlife Federation for over 20 years, has been tracking and studying fish consumption advisories throughout the Great Lakes. He’s identified: numerous serious shortcomings of the rules used to establish such advisories; the lack of mutually recognized rules for determining such advisories by different governments; their often-contradictory advice issued for the same fish; their lack of clear, plane and consistent language; the gaps in science that often lead to advisories being out-of-date; and more. What also concerns me is the relatively low-key approach these advisories take to convince those who catch and eat Great Lakes fish to demonstrate caution. Link below to hear my conversation with Dr. Michael Murray on The Blue Fish Radio Show where we talk about what needs to be done to bring fish consumption advisories into the 21st century, and more importantly, to end our need to issue such advisories in the first place: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e344-great-lakes-fish-consumption-adviso

Collaboration means identifying shared values. This includes recognizing and documenting stakeholder Concerns over our continuing to contaminate the Great Lakes in spite of what we know and the importance of the Great Lake’s fresh water, fish and the people who’s lives, cultures and communities rely on the quality of the water and health of the fish. On October 14 the Toxic Free Great Lakes Binational Network and the Great Lakes Fish Health Network, with the support of Blue Fish Canada and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, will hold the first in a series of webinars featuring expert panelists. There will also be ample opportunity for participants in the webinar to voice their concerns and recommendations. Our goal is to bring together both scientific experts and people with local knowledge needed to move forward on ending our reliance on fish consumption advisories now and forever. More details on how to register for the October 14 introductory / engagement webinar can be found at: https://cela.ca/webinar-effects-of-toxic-substances-on-great-lakes-fish-health-and-what-it-means-for-the-health-and-wellbeing-of-people-and-their-communities/.

I know I spend a lot of time thinking, writing, researching and speaking to people about the health of Great Lakes fish, but for good reason. Please don’t get me wrong by assuming that there aren’t plenty of amazing and influential people out there who share my concerns. The number of officially sanctioned commissions and committees alone underscores our collective commitment. However, after having spent considerable time tracking the work of these bureaucratic / political bodies made possible by their move to meet on-line during the pandemic, you should be pleased to know that there are many significant stakeholders whose issues are being discussed and responded to with millions of dollars in research and remediation. What’s missing though are the voices of the people who live by and from the water. People who catch fish, but don’t necessarily sell fish. People whose culture, social and often economic decisions are linked to fish. And unlike most all other stakeholders, people who sincerely care about the actual health and welfare of Great Lakes fish. Not because they need to fill quotas, but because they feel connected to the fish in ways that can’t be quantified.

We have now determined the economic value of the actions people take in relation to non-commercial fishing related activities, and it’s humongous, but that’s not the point. Fish health should not be measured solely by determining their economic value in terms of their capture or sale. The health of these fish means so much more. Their health and wellbeing mirror our actions or inactions, level of awareness and commitment, but most importantly, the state of our connection with nature. Having to follow guidelines to determine what fish is sufficiently healthy enough for us to consume represents an unhealthy relationship. We are putting our own needs ahead of the health and welfare of the things we love. We need to do better.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Enhanced Fishing Opportunities on Lake Ontario Tributaries / FishingWire
The New York State Canal Corporation releases water from the Erie Canal into Lake Ontario Tributaries in Western New York for an extended period each fall to create a longer season and even better angling experience.

Cold Water Fisheries Survey on Great Lakes / FishingWire
While large lake trout – some weighing in excess of 22 lbs. – were the main species caught during the 2021 survey, the highlight was an abundance of lake whitefish. Lake whitefish populations in Lake Erie are increasing in recent years due to several good hatches. Worth noting was the capture of one large lake whitefish that weighed in excess of 11 pounds – larger than the state record by over half a pound!! Lake Erie is well known as a destination for its walleye and smallmouth bass fisheries, but anglers looking to catch trophy-sized lake trout that average over 10 pounds might want to add the deep waters of the Eastern Basin to their fishing wish list.

Kootenay Lake fishery in peril, B.C. Wildlife Federation says / CBC News
Biologist warns the Kootenay Lake ecosystem is ‘òut of balance’ and requires aggressive provincial intervention to save freshwater salmon and an important sport fishery. A ministry update published in January shows estimated kokanee populations swinging sharply over the last decade, from 1.25 million in 2012, to a low of 12,000 in 2019, to 90,000 in 2020.

Can new film breathe life into fly fishing industry? / Angling International
Simms and Sage are among brands backing Mending The Line. The film, Mending the Line, is currently in production, with companies including Simms Fishing Products, RO Drift Boats, Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, Bozeman Reels and Sage all contributing to the project. Like A River Runs Through It, the project is being shot in Montana, the home of script writer Stephen Camelio who, together with director Joshua Caldwell, secured Brian Cox, an Emmy Award-winner, and Sinqua Walls for the leading roles.

Election Promises and Anglers / OFAH
Amid a pandemic, a polarized nation, plenty of campaign bluster, and a wave of lofty promises, many people are wondering where things stand for anglers, hunters, and trappers post election. The OFAH breaks down who promised what.

Learning to share / Fishermen’s News
“As some who have been part of the commercial fishing industry on the West Coast can attest to, it’s not just luck and Mother Nature that fishermen and women have to contend with while plying their trade.” And with so much competition for fish within the animal kingdom, particularly sockeye salmon returning from the ocean, sometimes there isn’t enough to go around for everyone, as some parties take more than their fair share. Such a scenario led to the Wuikinuxv (pronounced “Oh-wee-key-no”) Nation indigenous people on the coast of British Columbia teaming up with scientists to collaborate on how to strike a balance between the needs of people and the needs of grizzly bears when divvying up the annual supply of spawning salmon.

Here’s what angling guides mean to the Sea to Sky economy / Squamish Chief
Corridor guides create Sea to Sky Fishing Guides Economic Study in an effort to get more sway with DFO. The recently published Sea to Sky Fishing Guides Economic Study, by Big River Analytics, concludes that the “economic benefits of guided angling in the Sea to Sky region are relatively high compared to its impacts on populations of coho and chum, spring steelhead, pink salmon and other fish. This is largely due to the sustainable, catch-and-release model of guided angling, and its growing popularity as a tourism sport in the Sea to Sky.

B.C. halibut daily catch limit increases / The Star
Daily halibut catch limits have been increased for recreational anglers, Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced. Prince Rupert recreational anglers may now catch up to one halibut measuring 90 cm. to 133 cm. or measuring 69 cm. to 102 cm. with the head removed, or up to three halibut measuring under 90 cm. in length, or under 69 cm. without the head. “It’s a huge deal. There’s a lot of halibut consumed in this town,” David Lewis, Prince Rupert committee chair for the Sport Fishing Advisory Board, said. “A lot of people in this town hunt and fish for sustenance. They eat what they catch [and] they eat what they hunt. So, this helps put food on the table.”

After cod, shrimp. After shrimp? Mud / The Tyee
‘The Ocean’s Whistleblower’ tells the fascinating story of biologist Daniel Pauly’s life and work to save the world from overfishing. Pauly had played instrumental roles in the development of both Ecopath, an open-source ecosystem modelling program, and FishBase. a global fish species database. With these two tools at his disposal, he now had all he needed to study fisheries on a planetary scale over a period of several decades. But Pauly also needed lots of data to feed those tools, which ran on information laboriously gleaned from the scientific literature, and his resources in Vancouver were limited. He applied for funding from the Canadian government several times without much success. “I stopped asking them the day I received a response that said my application was excellent, but they still couldn’t give me any funding,” he says

Fish:

Plastics Abundant in Great Lakes, but Questions Remain on Fish and Human Health Effects / IJC
While we know more than ever about how tiny plastics are moving through the Great Lakes and the atmosphere, there are still questions on how they affect wildlife and people. That’s according to Dr. Sherri Mason, a professor of chemistry and sustainability coordinator at Penn State Behrend. “Enough plastic has been produced to cover Argentina ankle deep,” Mason said. “Of that, only 11 percent has been recycled, 15 percent has been incinerated and maybe a third of it is still in use. The rest has been lost to the environment.”

New Great Lakes Initiative Aims to Promote Sustainable Economic Development in the Region / IJC
The Great Lakes Impact Investment Platform aims to promote investments in projects that foster sustainable economic development and acknowledge the importance of the long-term management of the ecosystem to support a growing regional population. The platform was launched in January 2020 and is a collaborative effort of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, The Nature Conservancy and the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability and Center for Smart Infrastructure Finance.

Is Ottawa breaking a promise to close fisheries to protect wild salmon? / Toronto Star
Watershed Watch’s Greg Taylor says it’s unclear if DFO is reneging on their promise, or if they are trying to preserve the status quo. In an apparent contradiction to the closures announced by former Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan at the end of June, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) opened a commercial fishery for Fraser River pink salmon on Wednesday until Sept.18, said Misty MacDuffee, wild salmon program director at Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

New report on the importance and vulnerability of a critical nursery habitat for BC salmon / Phys.org
A new report on the value and vulnerability of juvenile salmon habitat in the Skeena River reveals how climate change and development are critically impacting the region. Collaborators from the Lax Kw’alaams Fisheries Program, the Skeena Fisheries Commission and Simon Fraser University say proactive stewardship will be key.

The lessons for British Columbia in Alaska’s epic Bristol Bay sockeye run / The Narwhal
The world’s most abundant sockeye fishery is teeming with 10 million more fish than anticipated this year. Experts on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border are wondering if the six uninterrupted river basins of the Bristol Bay watershed — free of fish farms and hatcheries but currently threatened by the proposed Pebble mine — might hold key insights for salmon populations dwindling all across the province of B.C.

Community Hatchery Program: Raising and Stocking fish through the COVID-19 pandemic / OFAH
Community hatcheries have weathered the many challenges of operating during a pandemic, continuing to raise and stock fish into Ontario waters. In 2021 the Community Hatchery Program (CHP) has been focused on helping hatcheries get through this unprecedented time while continuing to recruit new volunteers and improve their aquaculture practices.

Amended Plan Leaves More Salmon for Endangered Killer Whales in Low Return Years / NOAA
Following nearly 40,000 public comments, NOAA Fisheries is approving an amendment to the fishery management plan for Chinook salmon off the West Coast. It will make more fish available for endangered Southern Resident killer whales in years when salmon returns are low.

Miramichi Smallmouth Bass Project Delayed / ASF
More than four weeks since the effort to eradicate invasive smallmouth bass from the Miramichi watershed was interrupted by people paddling canoes in the project area, Working Group partners have decided to suspend operations until 2022.

Kokanee salmon interpretation program returns to Mission Creek and Hardy Falls / Kelowna Now
Interpreters will teach people about the importance of the spawning season, the life cycle of the Kokanee salmon and the journey they embark on each year.

Why is fish habitat important? A two-day workshop in Maple Ridge to teach it all / Maple Ridge News
Event to be organized by the B.C. Wildlife Federation. According to the BCWF, “Maintaining and restoring riparian and fish habitat is very important for the survival of fish, recharging ground water, flood protection, and supporting a diverse wildlife.” The two-day workshop will be held on Oct. 2 and 3 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will cover topics such as importance and traditional uses of the Alouette River, stream values and classification, assessing stream quality and fish health, riparian planting and invasive species control, stream and fish passa.

Shopping for New Species / Hakai Magazine
Scientists are still landing new discoveries at fish markets.

Mowi Announces 450,000 Caged Salmon Died in Southern NL site / ASF
The company is involved with another messy cleanup of a large number of caged salmon at a relatively new site called “The Gorge” in southern Newfoundland.

Water:

CN fined $2.5 million for spraying pesticides near the Skeena River in B.C. / CBC News
The Canadian National Railway Co. has been fined $2.5 million for spraying pesticides along a rail corridor that runs along the Skeena River.

Oil Leaks into St. John River from Mactaquac Dam / ASF
Cleanup underway of lubricating oil from machinery associated with the massive dam.

When in Drought” – What the reality of drought looks like in B.C. / The Narwhal
British Columbia has been hard hit by extreme dry conditions this past summer. B.C. has been scrambling to deal with dangerously low water levels that put watersheds under threat. The Narwhal has launched a “When in Drought” series to look at how people are working to keep water flowing to communities and ecosystems across the province.

Campbell Creek in Fredericton Flows Free / ASF
For the first time in a century, a sparkling tributary of the Nashwaak River is cascading down to that river. It now offers migratory fish a connection between spawning areas and the ocean.

Scooping Plastic Out of the Ocean Is a Losing Game / Hakai Magazine
Open ocean cleanups won’t solve the marine plastics crisis. To really make a difference, here’s what we should do instead.

Lake Links 2021 agenda now available! / Watersheds Watch
Celebrate 20 years of Lake Links Saturday, October 23rd as we learn about connecting our values with our actions so we can protect our lakes and rivers! Highlights from this year’s event include case studies from Lake Simcoe and from Dog and Cranberry Lakes, and a keynote presentation from Dr. Nathan Young, Environmental Sociologist at the University of Ottawa.

Tracking Wetland Conditions from Space / IJC
A binational group of agencies, organizations and universities has been developing a method of tracking the health of Great Lakes wetlands from space. This effort is designed to help aid wetland managers as they work to protect and restore these vital pieces of habitat for aquatic life. The satellite monitoring project uses optical photos and radar maps captured with orbiting satellites, and couples those with in-person sampling and computer algorithms.

Indigenous:

First Nations group hopes feds stick with plan to shut down Discovery Islands fish farms / Times Colonist
Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan lost her seat in the federal election. The head of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance hopes her order to close Discovery Islands fish farms by next year will stand.

Federal officials changed tactics as lobster fishing fight heats up in Nova Scotia / Globe and Mail
Federal fisheries officers have been removed from the water in a part of Nova Scotia where a Mi’kmaq fleet is harvesting lobster outside the commercial season. The effort was meant to ease tension in the showdown over Indigenous treaty rights and fisheries regulators as tight election races unfolded in several ridings around the Maritimes – including for former federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan. Mi’kmaq leaders say their communities will no longer support the Liberals because of what they see as heavy-handed enforcement measures in the treaty fisheries.

Indigenous Knowledge Helping Answer When and Where Lake Sturgeon Spawn / IJC
Lake sturgeon are one of the most iconic species of the Great Lakes. The massive fish can live as long as 150 years along the bottom of the lakes, tributaries and rivers in the system, gobbling up snails, crayfish, mussels and insects. Once they are adults, they begin looking for suitable spawning habitat. But what are they looking for? “It’s primarily three major characteristics: flow, substrate and water temperature,” said Justin Chiotti, a fish biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Both Western and Indigenous knowledge contribute to scientists’ understanding of the timing of, and changes to, these key factors affecting sturgeon reproduction.

B.C. fishermen say Ottawa has cast them adrift / Times Columnist
“At the swipe of a pen, the minister took all these fisheries off the table and eliminated the income for all these fishermen,” said Andy Olson, executive director of the Native Fishing Association. “It was clearly politically motivated. “There’s an election this year, and they felt that they could get some political ground by making this decision and making it seem like they were protecting salmon. Well, they didn’t protect the salmon from all the recreational fishers. Those fisheries still happened.”

Industry:

Chart the Course for Future of Fishing / FishingWire
Businesses that market to multi-cultural audiences are likely to thrive in the future as demographics continue to change.

Boating:

Yamaha HARMO System Advances Electric Outboard Design / FishingWire
Yamaha Marine’s new HARMO® is a complete electric boat control system that combines advanced propulsion technology, environmental awareness, future vision and proven joystick control to provide high thrust and maneuverability. While rim drive motors have been deployed for thrusters and other marine applications, this is the first application in an outboard motor.

Mercury Racing Partners with E1 to Develop Electric Powertrain for Racing Outboards / FishingWire
Mercury Racing has announced a partnership with the E1 Series to support the development of an electric powertrain for use in a future E1 Series powerboat racing championship.

Arts:

Fish Art Contest Season Opener! / Future Angler
Wildlife Forever is proud to announce the 2022 Fish Art Contest is officially open and accepting entries. The free international art and writing competition is the perfect way to inspire youth in kindergarten through 12th grade to discover the outdoors through art and writing. Young people across the world can use their artistic talents while learning about fish, fishing, and aquatic conservation. Participants can win prizes; national and even international recognition. The Art of Conservation® programs ignite a life-long appreciation of fish and wildlife and serves as a powerful outlet for self-expression.

New book pays homage to North America’s rivers, including the ‘soul of BC’ / UBC Science
The UBC zoologist and avid angler’s new book, Rivers Run Through Us: A Natural and Human History of Great Rivers of North America, weaves together the social and ecological stories of some of the continent’s most important waterways.

Special Feature – IJC Project Aims to Create Fish Consumption Resource for Indigenous Anglers

By the International Joint Commission

Fish are a major resource for residents around the Great Lakes, particularly First Nations, Tribal, and Métis communities. Many Great Lakes residents support their diets with local fish, gaining an important source of essential nutrients such as polyunsaturated fatty acids and protein. But fish also accumulate toxic chemicals from the environment. Potential health impacts are not restricted to anglers, as many species of Great Lakes fish such as trout, walleye and perch are available for sale in commercial markets. In addition to facing potentially higher health impacts due to higher fish consumption rates, First Nations, Tribal and Métis communities also may experience distinct cultural, economic, and spiritual impacts, particularly in Lake Superior.

Balancing the risks and benefits of Great Lakes fish consumption is an ongoing challenge for fish consumers. Fish consumption advisories on certain species of fish in some water bodies are required as a result of chemical contamination from environmental pollution.
A wide variety of ethnic, cultural and socio-economic factors influence fishing practices, consumption patterns, and importantly, compliance with fish advisories. Many populations are concerned about fish advisories, particularly high consumers such as indigenous communities, anglers and their families.

Health advisories are also of great concern to those who are most vulnerable to the impact of toxic substances, such as women of child-bearing age and children. However, “advisories that restrict meals of local fish can have unintended adverse health consequences for First Nations, Tribes and Métis, such as loss of culture and identity, obesity and diabetes,” says Laurie Chan, Canada co-chair of the IJC’s Health Professionals Advisory Board (HPAB). Although not considered in current jurisdictional fish advisories, the board believes that the impacts of fish consumption restrictions include the perception of those being advised, site-specific data, and cultural and socio-economic factors.

Despite extensive work by many jurisdictions, fish consumption advice for the shared waters of the Great Lakes varies widely. This has impacted everyone who consumes fish. For example, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and the New York Department of Health have detailed fish advisories issued on different fish species and different water bodies. However, the advisories are often different even for the same waterbody. For example, for small mouth bass caught in the St. Lawrence River near Massena, New York, the province of Ontario suggests two to 16 meals for the general population and zero to 12 meals per month for women of child-bearing age depending on the size of the fish. In comparison, New York suggests up to one meal per month for the general population and “don’t eat” for women of child-bearing age. A Great Lakes Sport Fish Advisory Task Force developed protocols for a Uniform Great Lakes Sport Fish Consumption Advisory in the early 1990s that need to be updated.

There are multiple human health factors associated with consuming fish, such as nutrient benefits. But exposure to and effects of multiple contaminants on fish and humans, cultural values, and the availability and quality of substitutes are not evaluated as part of current Great Lakes fish advisories. Elaine Faustman, US co-chair of HPAB, notes “an integrated and balanced framework for fish consumption advisories could include many relevant risk and benefit factors.” This is why the HPAB and the IJC’s Great Lakes Science Advisory Board are partnering with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne’s Environmental Program, along with Ontario and New York officials, to explore approaches supporting a fish consumption advisory framework that considers a wider set of factors and address the concerns of fishers and First Nations around the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern (AOC).

The collaborative project is a unique effort to provide unified guidance on balancing the risks and benefits of fish consumption advice. This unified guidance is distinct from the current constellation of advisories that overlap across borders and populations with variations in recommendations.

The St. Lawrence River AOC was selected for the case study because it is a multi-jurisdictional AOC with multiple chemicals of concern in fish. These include mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Ontario and New York, dioxins in New York, and furans in the Mohawk Council community.

The Mohawk Council community has experienced significant confusion over conflicting fish consumption advisories, which results in community reluctance to engage in traditional cultural practices involving water, fish and land. Akwesasne is subject to five different fish consumption advisories: from New York, Ontario, Quebec, the Mohawk Council (governing body in the northern portion of Akwesasne), and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (governing body in the southern portion of Akwesasne).

This project will serve as a case study for exploring potential approaches that can help reduce confusion over fish consumption advisories in a multi-jurisdictional setting and assist in ensuring culturally appropriate advisories. The project aims to explore a fish advisory framework for the St. Lawrence River; examples of recommended communication messages on fish advisories including First Nations’ perspectives and a list of recommended science and policy priorities to support collaborative fish consumption advisory frameworks for other Great Lakes regions.

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In this special election edition of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with Ten Blue Fish Canada Fish Health Election Questions anglers should be asking their local federal candidates. 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 more on the federal election with several spotlight guest resources to inform and engage our readers.

This Week’s Feature – Ten Blue Fish Canada Fish Health Election Questions:

As a registered Canadian charity dedicated to fish health, water quality, and the future of sustainable recreational fishing, Blue Fish Canada has consulted with over 100 of its Angler Experts and science advisors from across Canada to draft the below ten fish health questions for Canadian voters to ask their local federal election candidates. With so many election issues that touch on recreational fishing and the fish we love, it’s more important than ever to ensure local candidates are aware of these issues and are able to provide meaningful answers. Please feel free to share the Ten Fish Health Election Questions and responses from your federal candidates with others using the hash tag #FishHealth2021. Link to the PDF version of the Ten Fish Health Election Questions.

Ten Fish Health Election Questions / Blue Fish Canada

  1. Responsible fishery management is vital to ensuring wild fish species are sustainable and thriving for generations to come. How will your government ensure all fisheries (commercial, moderate livelihood, “food social and ceremonial”, and recreational) are: managed using science-based precautionary principles; enhanced using marked hatchery fish when necessary; and protected by reducing illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing?
  2. Recreational fishing is a key contributor to the social and economic sustainability of many communities and regions across Canada and is a positive influence on the mental welfare of anglers. At the same time, angling organizations across Canada have dedicated significant human and financial stewardship resources to conserve the fish upon which they depend. How will your party recognize this interdependence, and what supports will be made available to ensure the fish and the communities who depend on them are sustained for generations to come?
  3. Water quality remains a crucial issue with respect to both fish health and the safe consumption of fish by people and other life forms. How will your party ensure that both emerging and mutual chemicals of concern are identified, acknowledged, and addressed in a timely manner, with the goal of eliminating the need to issue fish consumption advisories? What steps will be taken to update water quality regulations and strengthen their enforcement?
  4. Defending and rebuilding wild fish stocks under Canada’s modernized Fisheries Act means developing and implementing official recovery plans for endangered wild fish populations. How will your party address the shortfall of recovery plans called for since the law came into effect two years ago?
  5. Canada has committed to protect 30% of its oceans, land, and freshwater by the year 2030. What steps will your party take to ensure recreational fishing communities are included in the iteration, selection and implementation of these protected areas, and will you commit to using science-based precautionary principles when considering the application of protective measures specific to all forms of fishing?
  6. In the name of reconciliation and self governance, Canada is moving forward on establishing “indigenous protected and conserved areas”. What steps will your party take to ensure the interests of recreational fishing communities are included in negotiating the transfer of responsibility for these crown lands back to First Nations?
  7. Commercial, moderate livelihood, “food social and ceremonial”, and recreational fishing often share a common interest in the same fish. How will your party ensure recreational fishing communities are included in negotiating equitable access to these fish?
  8. Changes to earth’s climate are impacting fish health through warming water temperatures, alterations to seasons, more extreme weather, and the shifting north of fish and other aquatic and marine life. Given that Canadians produce more greenhouse gas emissions per person than any other G20 economy, how does your party propose to improve the resilience of Canada’s wild fish species while mitigating climate change?
  9. Under the Fisheries Act, the federal government must consider cumulative impacts to fish habitat such as Orphan dams, obsolete flood control structures, and the loss of coastal and shoreline wetlands. Given that federal, provincial, territorial, and now many First Nations share responsibility for fish habitat protection and restoration, how will your party ensure the local knowledge of recreational anglers is reflected in decisions taken to protect and restore fish habitat?
  10. Open-pen aquatic farms are recognised globally as contributing to the spread of harmful viruses and parasites to wild fish. What is your plan and timeline to move open-pen aquaculture operations on to land, and what steps will be taken to ensure the industry sources feed that is sustainable, and respects the welfare of farmed fish?

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Bassmaster Northern Open at Thousand Islands Sept. 9-11
Competition days took place Sept. 9-11. Daily takeoffs were from the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, N.Y,

Great Ontario Salmon Derby
The Largest Fresh Water Fishing Derby in North America, profits generated from the Great Ontario Salmon Derby are donated to projects that help the Salmon fishery. The Derby has been running for the past 23 years across the North Shore of Lake Ontario, with 10 weigh-in stations, attracting over 22,000 participants over a 57-day period. The 2021 GREAT GRAND PRIZE winner is Brad Turner with a King salmon weighing 34.55 lbs.

Silver Salmon Challenge
With over $350,000 in cash and prizes to win, the derby, running for two years now, donates 100% of purchase price to local hatcheries. Winner of the ten-week salmon derby is Jon Manners with a 42.86 lbs King salmon.

Canadian Fishing Network Fish Off — Fall Brawl 2021
Enter your fish (3 easy steps)
Step 1 – Read full tournament rules.
Step 2 – Post your video submission with tournament code “I’ll see you at Camp McIntosh!” on the CFN Fish Off Facebook page
Step 3 – ENTER YOUR FISH onto the FALL BRAWL tournament chart.

Atlantic Anglers Challenge / Angler Atlas
Atlantic Anglers Challenge is an organized angling event and fundraiser for Covid-19 relief. It aims to engage citizen scientists in contributing fishing data for conservation. Prizes are awarded to increase awareness and value to your experience. Check out the fall challenge winners.

Retired NHL Goalie Catches a Half-Ton White Sturgeon / Outdoor Life
Retired National Hockey League great Pete Peeters and his buddy Jake Driedger took turns reeling in an 11-foot-6-inch-long white sturgeon (measured from tip to tail fork, as is the standard on the river) with a pectoral girth of 55 inches. Using a length and girth formula to estimate the big fish’s weight, the anglers discovered the sturgeon would likely tip the scales at 890 pounds, or almost half a ton. That would make it a Canadian provincial record for the species. By law, no fish that measure more than five feet long are allowed to be lifted from the water. The anglers could get a great look at the fish while they taped it and posed with it in the water before unhooking and releasing it unharmed.

How to safely hold big fish for a great trophy shot / Outdoor Canada
For big fish bad holds cause spinal injuries which usually means death. Ironically, some muskie and pike anglers will tell you that the reason they hold their fish in a vertical position, without supporting the belly, is because it calms down the fish. The vertical hold puts so much pressure on the fish’s vertebrae, that it literally paralyzes it.

New FASCINATING NUMBERS ABOUT FISHING AND HUNTING IN CANADA / Outdoor Canada
$647 million – The federal government’s financial commitment to the Pacific Salmon Strategy, a five-year plan to save and rebuild collapsing Pacific salmon stocks.
83 – Percentage of native prairie that has been lost in Saskatchewan, due primarily to agriculture.
998 – Kilometres travelled in less than a year by a muskie implanted with a transmitter.

958-Pound Blue Marlin Leads MidAtlantic Tournament / FishingWire
When the tape was stretched out the big blue measured 135”, a full five inches longer than any blue marlin ever weighed in the MidAtlantic’s 30-year history. Some of the boats with notable billfish releases on Day Three include Jamie Diller’s Canyon Lady with seven white marlin and David Bowen’s Big Stick with five. Dave Anderson’s Krazy Salts and Luke Blume’s C Boys each released four white marlin. John Dougherty’s Outrage, Pat Healey’s Viking 80, Sid Gold’s Can Do Too, Andrew Kevlahan’s Dorothy Marie and Adam Youschak’s Reelin’ Feeling’ each released three white marlin today. George Robinson’s Polarizer and Jim Walker’s Conspiracy each released a blue marlin.

Johnston Wins Toyota Series Event on St. Lawrence / FishingWire
Toyota Series angler Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 27 pounds, 6 ounces to win the three-day Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. at the St. Lawrence River in Massena, New York. Though he’s a former FLW Tour and B.A.S.S. Elite Series champion, Chris said he’s been foiled by Toyota Series events on the St. Lawrence and the associated waters too many times over the last several years. After running hundreds of miles over the three-day event, from Massena to Lake Ontario each day, he said he was excited to finally get the win.

MLF Bass Pro Tour visited Lake St. Clair / FishingWire
Major League Fishing’s (MLF) Bass Pro Tour wrapped up the 2021 season on St. Clair, Sept. 10-15, with the seventh and final regular-season tournament of the season.

Bass Pro Tour Anglers Will Participate in Smallmouth Study / The Fishing Wire
Anglers competing on ST. CLAIR will use their livewells to help scientists study largemouth and smallmouth bass by collecting smallmouth that have skin lesions as part of the ongoing look into the prevalence and clinical signs of Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV) in the Great Lakes system.

Great Walleye Action on Lake Erie / FishingWire
Fishing for Lake Erie walleye has never been more exciting thanks to several exceptional years of fish production in the western basin. Fisheries biologists reported the 2021 walleye hatch was the fifth largest recorded over the past 35 years.

Fish:

Update from The Billfish Foundation
The Billfish Foundation maintains the largest private tag and release database in the world, with 260,000 records by 150,000 anglers. In 2020 alone, TBF anglers and captains tagged, released, or recaptured 7,000 billfish and tuna across the world.

THE OTHER EPIDEMIC: WHAT’S KILLING THE WILD SALMON? / The Walrus
A virus that flourishes in fish farms is now threatening wild populations. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, are business interests leading to government inaction?

Scapegoat or scoundrel? Why scientists want to clear the air about the role of seals and focus on ecosystems / The Globe and Mail
Skipper Dwight Russell says there’s “no shortage of seals” in the North Atlantic Ocean, where he and his crew fish off the coast of Labrador. DFO estimates the Northwest Atlantic harp seal population at 7.6 million – the highest on record (based on 2017 data), at more than triple the population of 50 years ago and still steadily increasing. But Mr. Russell’s concerns are at odds with DFO science, which says the harp seal population is not a major factor in declining fish stocks. Instead, DFO officials offer a different explanation, one that’s harder for local fishermen to accept: that climate change is at the root of the problem. DFO officials held a technical briefing at the end of June to address what they described as “misinformation” about the impacts of seals on fish such as Atlantic cod and capelin in Newfoundland and Labrador waters. During the one-hour briefing, geared toward media, the officials presented the North Atlantic seal as less of a scoundrel and more of a scapegoat.

Where to See Salmon Spawning / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
With the changing climate, and the many pressures wild salmon face, the numbers of salmon returning to B.C. streams are changing. Help build a picture of salmon returns around the province. How to participate:

  1. Go see the salmon spawn, or where you expect them to spawn.
  2. Use your phone to take pictures or make a short video. Film the water and environment if you like. Or better yet, film yourself describing where you are, what day it is and what you observe. (If there are no salmon returning, and you expect them to, that is an important observation too!)
  3. Post on social media (whatever platforms you use) with the hashtag #salmonspawnwatch. Tag Watershed Watch for good measure.
  4. When you post, please include the date and location in the text of your post, along with any observations.

Genetic Mapping of Lake Trout Completed / FishingWire
Scientists have traced the genetic makeup of lake trout, a feat that should boost efforts to rebuild populations of the prized fish in the Great Lakes and other North American waters where they’ve been hammered by invasive species, overfishing and pollution, officials said. U.S. and Canadian researchers completed a reference genome, or digital genetic map, for lake trout that will help explain characteristics that enabled the species to evolve and spread.

Protecting Largest, Most Prolific Spawners Would Boost Fisheries / FishingWire
New studies indicate better protection of older, larger marine fish of many species would result in greater overall productivity of many fisheries. “It is a fundamental question in fisheries management—how much reproduction can you count on?” said Dustin Marshall of Monash University in Australia, lead author of the research. “When you are expecting smaller females to produce the same number of eggs per body mass as larger, older females, you’re not going to have an accurate picture.”

Slippery Business: The American Eel / FishingWire
Although the American eel is the continent’s only native eel and the source of a once-robust commercial fishery, exactly where the species spawns is a mystery. First, it’s a fish, and one that spend most of its adult life in fresh- and brackish waters before returning to the sea to spawn, a complex cycle called catadromy. Adults reaching sexual maturity – about five to 25 years – migrate from lakes, rivers and streams to spawn somewhere in the Sargasso Sea, a massive swath of the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas. Canada has banned their harvest, and the U.S. Great Lakes Fishery Commission has deemed their decline “severe” and urged a coordinated response.

Lake of the Woods’ walleye fishery in jeopardy, / Outdoor Canada Magazine
The once plentiful walleye population in Ontario’s Lake of the Woods is in trouble, with the current fishery now unsustainable, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. In April, officials said walleye numbers have become “approximately half of what is needed to sustainably support current levels of harvest.”

Plea for More River Guardians on Newfoundland / Labrador Rivers / ASF
Poaching is an issue on many NL rivers. More River Guardians are urgently needed to stem the tide of illegal fishing.

Hundreds of dead fish washing up on the shoreline raises climate concerns for northern campers / CTV News
Campers at Ivanhoe Lake Provincial Park west of Timmins had a startling week after finding what some estimated to be hundreds of dead fish washed up along the beaches and shorelines. These deaths can be caused by disease, toxins, stress from spawning or changing water temperatures — or even low oxygen levels in the water, Low oxygen is the most likely cause noting that shallow waters, rising temperatures and increased plant and algae growth can all lead to decreased oxygen levels in lakes. A recent study from the University of Regina, however, argued this is an increasingly global issue exacerbated by humans.

OPG continues its support of Atlantic Salmon restoration / OFAH
The restoration of Lake Ontario’s native Atlantic Salmon, described as a cornerstone of the province’s biodiversity strategy, will be supported for another five years through an agreement with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) as the lead program sponsor.

Water:

Disappearing Sea Ice Means Stronger Arctic Tides / Hakai Magazine
With climate change, Arctic communities—already threatened by sea level rise, permafrost melt, and erosion—will also face longer seasons of more extreme tides.

LOWWSF Releases Report on “What We Heard”
The seasonal algae bloom on Lake of the Woods is underway and has progressed up into the north end of the lake. The Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation (LOWWSF) has released a report summarizing what we heard from the public during engagement sessions with Environment and Climate Change Canada on its set of proposed lake ecosystem objectives and potential phosphorus reduction scenarios to improve water quality for Lake of the Woods. Hundreds participated in ten webinars and online via ECCC’s Lake of the Woods engagement website. The messages were clear and a call to action — “get on with it”:

  • Adopt a 20% phosphorus reduction target
  • Set binational phosphorus targets
  • Ensure ongoing core monitoring
  • Act without further delay

IJC Meeting to answer questions about the recent confirmation of zebra mussels in Rainy Lake / International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board
The International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board invites you to attend a virtual public meeting with the Board on September 14th, 2021, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Central Time. Hear from and ask questions of the IJC Watershed Board and its Committees. Minnesota DNR will have a representative at the meeting to answer questions about the recent confirmation of zebra mussels in Rainy Lake. This follows equally concerning confirmations by MN DNR in 2019 and 2020 of zebra mussel larvae at several sites in the southern portion of Lake of the Woods.

World Rivers Day September 26 / Mark Angelo
World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and hopefully encourage the improved stewardship of rivers around the world. It runs across 6 continents, in what has become one of the planet’s biggest environmental celebrations. This year’s theme is once again “waterways in our community” with a number of sub-themes, such as the need to maintain or restore stream connectivity.

Fishers worried after invasive zebra mussels detected in Lake Manitoba / CBC News
A longtime commercial ice fisher is concerned for his livelihood and the future of the fishery after the province announced juvenile zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Manitoba’s narrows last month. The presence of the young mussels were detected in nine water samples at the narrows, the part of the lake that separates the south basin from the north basin.

Kenney government should reject new coal mines without review / The Narwhal
The Alberta government should not allow any new coal mines around the North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton’s only source of drinking water, until it completes a “scientifically rigorous” review of all the risks, says the city’s water utility company in a new report. Beginning in the Columbia Icefields in Banff National Park, the river is not only Edmonton’s only source of drinking water, but it is also a vital wildlife corridor.

4 ways anglers & hunters can reduce the spread of invasive species / Outdoor Canada
Each year, unsuspecting anglers and boaters give these unwelcome hitchhikers a free ride, inadvertently spreading them from one waterbody to the next. Fortunately, there’s a relatively easy process to kill these aquatic saboteurs and stop their colonization of new waters.

Indigenous:

Norwegian company plans large new salmon farm for B.C.’s coast as others phased out / The Narwhal
First Nations who successfully fought to remove open-net pen salmon farms are speaking out against a proposal by Grieg Seafood and the Tlowitsis First Nation, saying they have not been consulted and fear wild salmon stocks will suffer if a new farm is approved. The company’s application to regulators, submitted jointly with Tlowitsis First Nation, has angered other Kwakwaka’wakw Nations, who say they were not consulted and do not consent to a fish farm in disputed territory close to wild salmon migration routes, after years of “blood, sweat and tears” to phase out fish farms immediately to the north and south.

Boating:

ePropulsion Smashes 2021 Growth Target in Just Eight Months / FishingWire
ePropulsion, a global leader and market challenger in marine electric propulsion systems and services, announced today it has reached 100% growth in sales revenue in 2021, achieving its growth forecast in a remarkable eight months. Over 10,000 units have already been sold across the globe in 2021, with the largest markets being the United Kingdom, United States and Germany.

Yamaha Rightwaters™ Launches Plastic Recycling Pilot Program
Working in conjunction with Nexus Fuels® of Atlanta, Ga., and Tommy Nobis Enterprises, of Marietta, Ga., Yamaha Rightwaters aims to return 10,000 pounds of Polyethylene and Polypropylene sheet plastics back into their base materials before the end of the calendar year. “Yamaha’s support of conservation action began almost three decades ago with the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) and its efforts to conserve the Kenai and other rivers in Alaska,” said Martin Peters, who leads sustainability initiatives for the Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit. Aquatic Invasive Species are an ever-growing threat that endanger the health of our lakes and rivers across the globe. Fortunately, watercraft cleaning stations are rolling out across the country to help stop the spread. Wildlife Forever, an integral partner of CD3, General Benefit Corporation, is proud to announce over one million watercraft cleaning station tool uses to date and counting. First deployed in 2017, over 100 watercraft cleaning stations have been installed at access sites across the United States and Canada. Cleaning stations are equipped with tools that boaters and anglers can use to remove invasive plant material and debris from their boat, as well as any standing water that may harbor microscopic invasive species.

Arts:

4th Annual Skeena Salmon Art Festival / SkeenaWild
The People’s Choice Awards presented by SkeenaWild Conservation Trust are still up for grabs! Visit the exhibitions to vote on your favourite artwork! The Skeena Salmon Art Show Exhibition will be in Old Hazelton at the Misty Rivers Arts Centre from September 2-25, and at the Smithers Art Gallery from October 13-November 13!

Special – Federal Election Guest Resources: 7 questions to ask your candidates about salmon & water / Watershed Watch

Aaron Hill and the folks at Watershed Watch Salmon Society have put together a list of seven questions specific to B.C. wild salmon and its watersheds. They also make the following suggestions on how to take action:

  • submit questions at virtual town halls, debates and all-candidates meetings;
  • when you’re phoned or visited by your candidate or someone on their team;
  • on social media;
  • on radio phone-in shows; and,
  • by visiting a candidate’s campaign office (in a COVID-safe manner).

National Fishing and Hunting Collaborative Political Party Responses / OFAH
The National Fishing and Hunting Collaborative (NFHC), reached out to all major federal political parties seeking commitments to address five key issues: promotion of fishing and hunting, firearms policy, chronic wasting disease, conservation funding, aquatic invasive species, as well as the re-establishment of the Hunting and Angling Advisory Panel (HAAP). Track party responses for a comparison of fishing and hunting-related topics.

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In the August 30, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on the work of NGO’s like Watersheds Canada to naturalise shorelines and restore fish habitat. As always, we include summaries and links to the latest fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. Our closing guest feature outlines five policy election campaign topics being asked of Canada’s national political parties by the National Fishing and Hunting Collaborative.

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther with a couple Lake Erie Smallmouth
Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther with a couple Lake Erie Smallmouth

This Week’s Feature – Natural Shorelines and Fish Habitat

By Lawrence Gunther

Hard to believe, but as much as 95% of wetlands have been erased in southern Ontario, including most all coastal wetlands. This fate is not limited to Ontario alone, but is an unintentional aspect of the way we have developed our communities and industrial enterprises across Canada. Measuring the loss of this important habitat has become a preoccupation of numerous water quality organizations in recent years, but few have turned their attention to the loss of fish habitat, which is strange since much of this type of destruction can be linked to those same projects that erased coastal wetlands.

Watersheds Canada is taking an ever-expanding role in addressing the loss of natural shorelines and the fish habitat that extends beyond these shores. Their approach has been to engage property owners through customized presentations that show how their shorelines, lakes and rivers can be enhanced in ways that won’t necessarily detract from either the value or appearance of their property. Not only do property owners learn how they can apply their love of their lakes and rivers in ways that benefit nature, Watersheds Canada’s staff and their partners often provide and undertake the changes on their behalf. Word quickly spreads among home and cottage owners, and before long, their collective mind-set of what constitutes appropriate development and stewardship shifts.

The goal of the Watershed Canada Natural Edge program is to achieve 75% naturalized shorelines – a percentage determined to be essential for establishing a sustainable and healthy ecosystem. The organization claims that these buffers provide critical habitat and shade for 90% of aquatic wildlife and 70% of land-based wildlife at some point in their lifetime. More proof why children are drawn to shorelines.

According to Watersheds Canada, vegetated buffers are effective in removing over 90% of runoff when compared to non-vegetated shorelines. This is crucial to limiting excessive nutrients from entering water bodies and causing blue-green algae blooms. The NOAA in the U.S. has also now empirically demonstrated that naturalized shorelines are the most resilient and effective means of minimising storm related coastal damage. All said, you can’t beat nature for mitigating the effects of climate change.

A partner in Watersheds Canada Natural Edge Programs is Quinte Conservation. The partnership has taken on the naturalisation of one mighty long Bay of Quinte shoreline. The 3-year Natural Edge program goal is to naturalize the shores of farms, parks, cottages and homes. Link below to hear my conversation with Chloe Lajoie, Natural Edge Program Manager for Watersheds Canada, and Maya Navrot, Education and Stewardship Coordinator with Quinte Conservation, on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/the-bay-of-quinte-conservation-and-watersheds-canada-natural-edge-shoreline-initiative/

Watersheds Canada has evolved their Natural Edge program into an app, to make designing shoreline restoration plans more efficient. This user-friendly app allows their employees and partners to create plans on-site with the landowner in less than an hour. They have also integrated their custom Native Plant Database to ensure that suitable plants are chosen on a site-specific basis. All their program communication and education materials are provided.

Watersheds Canada continues the digitisation of their program tools with their new “Fish Habitat Enhancement Toolkit”. The free Toolkit provides grassroots organizations and community groups with project guides, updated protocols, and accompanying videos to identify suitable sites and successfully enhance various types of fish habitat. Project materials include walleye spawning bed enhancement, in-water fish habitat enhancement with woody debris, and cold-water creek enhancement. Link below to hear my conversation with Melissa Dakers, Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager with Watersheds Canada, and learn about their growing list of NGO and private partners across Canada on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e343-watersheds-canada-and-fish-habitat-

Provinces such as Quebec regulate private shoreline spaces to ensure a naturalised buffer is maintained between any landscaped areas and the shoreline. Removal of trees, shrubs and even water plants and trees that have fallen into the lake is prohibited. This protected zone needs to have a minimum width of 10 metres on shorelines with slopes of less than 30 %. For steeper slopes, this protection should be at least 15 metres. For those property owners that landscaped their properties right down to the shoreline prior to Quebec implementing this “leave it to nature” policy, they too must forgo any further landscaping activity along their shoreline. Ontario and other provinces have yet to take this approach, but based on past experience, once something becomes the norm, it’s usually not long before it’s the law. Let’s hope the approach being taken by Watersheds Canada and their partners will make the implementation of Quebec-style regulations irrelevant.

Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Shimano School Charts a Course for Lake Erie / FishingWire
At 8 PM EST on Tuesday, August 31Captain Paul Powis headlines Shimano School to discuss Great Lakes walleye and steelhead fishing.

Angler Personas / InTheBite
Start asking anglers why they fish and you’re bound to receive multiple answers – the enjoyment of being outdoors, the thrill of competition on the water, hanging out with friends and just getting away from it all. Recently, a report from the American Sportfishing Association identified seven unique personas that comprise anglers: traditionalists, occasional angler, friendly fisher, consumptive angler, social dabbler, adventurous angler and zen angler. Which one are you?

2021 Report on Global IUU Fishing and Bycatch of Protected Marine Life / NOAA
NOAA Fisheries identified 31 nations and entities with vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing activities or bycatch of protected species on the high seas. The report also negatively certified Mexico for continued IUU fishing activities.

Smallmouth Bass Catch & Release Program / Save The River
Save The River believes the bass population in the St. Lawrence River will benefit greatly if anglers keep only what they will eat that day and release the rest. Practicing catch and release fishing during bass season will help make certain there will be bass for our children and their children to enjoy. Check out Save The River’s Catch & Release Facebook page to enter a photo of your catch and release bass in our photo contest. Each month lucky winners will receive a special prize and at our 2022 Winter Environmental Conference, we will announce an annual winner to receive a Bass Pro spinning combo. Photos can also be submitted via their online form.

What I Wish My Father Had Taught Me About Fishing / Hakai Magazine
Forty-odd years ago, while aboard a fishing boat with my father on Long Island Sound, I felt a pull on my line like none I’d ever felt before. And then another. And another still. The wild world had hit my line with all its abundance. I reeled hard and with a crazy swing I swept my multi-hooked rig loaded with five big mackerel in a wide arc over the rail until the whole bloody mess landed with a chaotic thud.

Rivernotes 27 Aug. 2021 / ASF
In the best interest of the survival of Atlantic salmon, angling has been temporarily closed in much of New Brunswick and in many Newfoundland rivers with Warm Water Protocols now in place.

Tech Innovations for Anglers Challenge Fishery Managers / FishingWire
Are anglers aided by new electronic technology getting so good at catching fish that new management controls are needed to preserve spawning stocks? In a recent issue of Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, reported that technology developed for or adopted by the recreational fisheries sector (e.g., anglers and the recreational fishing industry) has led to rapid and dramatic changes in how recreational anglers interact with fisheries resources.

Million-Dollar Blue Marlin Tops Mid-Atlantic / FishingWire
Bill Fisher’s 1,135-pound blue marlin took the top prize in the category and netted the crew $1,167,762, as well as likely setting a new state record for the species.

No More Fish-Out-of-Water in T.U. Magazine / FishingWire
Throughout the entire month of July, Trout Unlimited didn’t publish a single photo of a fish that wasn’t at least partially submerged in the water in their increased emphasis on conservation during hot weather and low water.

B.C. drought: Recreational fishing closed in most of South Okanagan due to dry conditions / CTV News
Recreational fishing has been closed until mid-September in most areas of the South Okanagan due to drought.

Recreational fishing open in Babine Lake / My Bulkley Lakes Now
Recreational fishing for salmon has reopened at Babine Lake until Sept. 15, according to the DFO. As of Aug. 18 fishers will have a limit of one sockeye per day.

The end of hot weather is relief for anglers on the Island / Campbell River Mirror
“The hot days hopefully are behind us and we can get out fishing without worry about sunstroke.”

How a nurse uses fishing to help first responders with PTSD / CBC News
Even on the most hot and humid day on Charleston Lake, just northeast of Gananoque, Lapeer is all smiles. On this day, she reels in a smallmouth bass, one of the biggest fish she’s caught on this lake to date. Casting a line has become her lifeline, she says, to provide a break for her mind as she works to recover from the trauma experienced while working with Canadian inmates suffering from the most severe mental illness.

Fish:

Natural Reproduction of Lake Trout Documented in Lake Erie / FishingWire
For the first time in over 60 years, natural lake trout reproduction has been documented in Lake Erie. In July, Dr. Chris Wilson at Trent University positively identified fry as lake trout through genetic bar-coding. Overfishing, habitat degradation, and sea lamprey predation were the key contributors to the population collapse of lake trout in Lake Erie by 1965, and rehabilitation efforts to restore the species began in the early 1980s. While this finding is just the first step, it validates that these fish are capable of successfully reproducing and surviving to hatch and that restoring a wild lake trout population in Lake Erie is attainable.

Muskie Bites Swimmer at Lake St. Clair / FishingWire
Matt Gervais, who has competed in triathlons for more than 20 years, was bitten by what he believes was a muskie in Lake St. Clair last week, requiring 13 stitches. Looking at the fish through the water, he could see its teeth gripping three of his fingers and part of his hand. Gervais says it was over quickly. He managed to free himself after about five seconds, but his hand was covered in blood and badly injured.

Interior Fraser wild steelhead conservation program nets $98K in funding / Williams Lake Tribune
The program has been tracking and monitoring breeding steelhead populations for more than 40 years.

Moving around rocks dangerous for fish habitat, warns Alouette River Management Society / Maple Ridge News
Rivers, lakes, and trails all over the world have people re-arranging the rocks, stacking them into what’s called cairns, or reshaping the way water flows by moving around the rocks. When people move rocks in the rivers, it disturbs vital habitat essential for sheltering the base of the food web. It can also disrupt spawning or the maturation of fish eggs.

Vancouver Island drought threatens salmon, spotlights B.C.’s water problem / The Narwhal
Watersheds on Vancouver Island are particularly sensitive to prolonged drought as the region’s salmon streams are relatively short and small, says Watershed Watch’s Tanis Gower.

Rebuilding Atlantic Coast Striper Populations / FishingWire
Striped bass along the Atlantic Coast are in trouble once again—here’s a blog on what needs to be done to bring back this great fishery from Charles Witek. What’s not so clear is whether the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) intends to rebuild the striped bass resource, and if it does, how long such rebuilding might take.

“We Believe in this Project” / ASF
The Atlantic Salmon Federation is one of several proponents of a smallmouth bass eradication project in the Miramichi River system. They hope to work with Indigenous groups opposing the project to find a way to proceed. The project was put on hold to allow more in-depth consultations with First Nations Wolastoqiyik communities. Working group representatives Nathan Wilbur and Robyn Mccallum say they still hope to treat the lake, brook, and river sometime this year with a piscicide.

‘Soon, there will be no more fish left’ / Skeena Strong
Dramatic B.C. Interior steelhead declines could be a warning for Skeena salmon. “You’ve got an entire run depending on the spawning success of just a few individuals,” University of B.C. quantitative biologist Eric Taylor told the Vancouver Sun.

Cross-border Salish Sea study finds key puzzle pieces of wild salmon die-off / National Observer
A massive cross-border research and conservation effort has yielded a potential roadmap to save wild salmon in the Salish Sea. The cross-border #SalishSea survival research project found food supply and predation of young salmon are two key contributors to the declines of chinook, coho and steelhead as they enter the marine environment.

In Alaska, the salmon catch hints at the chaos of climate change / New York Times
Historically low runs on the Yukon River have devastating impacts for Alaskans who rely on the fish for sustenance and tradition, but Bristol Bay is seeing more sockeye than ever before.

Extinction of B.C. Interior steelhead runs imminent / Vancouver Sun
The number of Interior steelhead that returned to spawn last spring is lower than ever before. More than 20 other runs, including sockeye, chinook and coho, are headed for endangered status.

B.C.’s vital salmon route is seriously clogged / National Observer
Floundering Pacific salmon stocks are finding little refuge in the lower Fraser River — the lifeblood for the iconic species, and historically, the most significant spawning and rearing grounds on the West Coast of North America. Researchers have found 85 per cent of the historical floodplain habitat for salmon in the lower Fraser has been lost. The wetlands that once provided rich feeding grounds, which fattened up and sheltered juvenile salmon during spring floods before they migrated to sea, are now blocked off by dikes keeping densely populated and intensely farmed lands dry, said Riley Finn, a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Water:

Whatever we flush affects marine life / Times Colonist
“Many B.C. salmon are exposed at a young age to whatever we flush, whether it’s what we throw out, throw up or dump into our toilets.”

Understanding Harmful Algal Blooms / Ohio Sea Grant
On September 8, 2021 , attend “Understanding Harmful Algal Blooms: State of the Science Virtual Conference”. Research and outreach leaders will highlight current scientific knowledge related to algal blooms, present findings from recent studies and identify important areas of uncertainty.

New Online tool for Reporting Spills & Pollution in Ontario / Government of Ontario
In addition to the existing Spills Action Centre call line, the public now has an online option to quickly report spills or pollution like illegal waste dumping, improper pesticide use, and pollution on land, in the water or air.

What mining, oil and gas industries can learn from Sudbury, the city that went from major polluter to thriving environment / The Conversation
“40 years ago, scientists, citizens, governments and mining companies in Sudbury set out with the goal that, no matter how damaged the environment was, it was worth trying to repair it.”

Indigenous:

More than 200 illegal fishing nets seized on Fraser River by fishery officers / Maple Ridge News
Between 200 and 250 illegal fishing nets have been seized on the Fraser River so far this year, according to DFO. The problem is that illegal fishing, as well as buying illegal fish, is posing a direct threat to dwindling Fraser salmon stocks. The unlicensed fishing is mostly by individuals and the criminal element, which has prompted DFO fishery officers to increase enforcement efforts. Despite what they described as “high compliance,” from area First Nations, DFO said it has received “an increase in public reports” of illegal fishing in a few areas, as well as illegal fish sales.

B.C.’s salmon emergency highlights cultural divide between DFO and First Nations / Fraser Valley News
Representatives of Fraser River First say a fundamental disconnect between Indigenous values and DFO priorities is delaying a collaborative response to the salmon crisis. The dry rack fishery, one of the most important local FSC fisheries, involves the same sockeye that must now be thrown back into the water, dead or alive. Murray Ned, Executive Director at the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, says Nations often struggle to understand the reasons behind management actions made by the department and though an official Reconciliation Strategy and Action Plan was implemented in 2019, DFO’s relationship with First Nations remains fraught.

Ahousaht fishermen prepare to fight over right to salmon following confrontation with DFO / CHEK
Frustrations are rising off Tofino after a confrontation between the DFO and Ahousaht fisherman who say they were denied their rights to sell salmon caught in their own territory.

Coastal First Nations take steps to protect wild waters of Great Bear Rainforest / National Observer
The Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv nations signed an agreement with Ottawa and the province of B.C. to do a feasibility study for a national marine conservation area reserve.

Letter from Haida Gwaii, As History Is Made / The Tyee
On Aug. 13, 2021, the governments of British Columbia, Canada and the Haida Nation announced a new framework agreement that recognizes the nation’s inherent title and rights across the archipelago of Haida Gwaii, which translates to “islands of the people” or “islands coming out of concealment.” Haida Gwaii is a collection of more than 200 islands forming an area about a third of the size of Vancouver Island and tucked under the Alaska panhandle. The Haida possess a mountain of oral, written and archaeological evidence that shows occupation and use as far back as 12,800 years ago. Instead of having to prove title, negotiations will now begin from a place of inherent Haida title and rights, which includes the right to self-government.

The Americas’ First Ecosystem Managers / Hakai Magazine
When it comes to sea otters, modern conservation goals are overlooking the firm hand Indigenous people wielded through time. “There is a parallel between the coexistence of otters and people on the one hand, and [the] coexistence of Indigenous managers and conservation managers on the other,” says Iain McKechnie of the University of Victoria, “There needs to be some reconciliation of coexistence in management outlooks, because Indigenous communities are fighting for their livelihoods on this point.”

Illegal fishing rampant on Fraser in year of scarcity / Business in Vancouver
Fraser River sockeye returns are expected to be too low to allow for a commercial harvest this year, so if anyone sees boats on the water setting nets, or anyone selling salmon from the backs of trucks by the roadside, they are likely illegal. Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it has removed more than 200 illegally set fishing nets and other gear from the Fraser River to date, and are calling on the public not to buy salmon that is illegally caught. Asked if any charges have been laid yet, Mike Fraser, detachment commander for DFO’s Fraser Valley East, said 12 active investigations are ongoing. If last year is anything to go by, Greg Taylor, a fisheries adviser for Watershed Watch, suspects few charges will be laid.  And even if charges are laid, the Crown may be reluctant to pursue them, if First Nations are involved, since that can be a legal minefield.

Coastal First Nations in B.C. demand DFO respect their right to fish / APTN National News
Fishers with five nations on the British Columbia coast will harvest with allocations from their own fisheries plans, says Ha’wiih, the hereditary leadership of five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations. “Our Ha’wiih, in their authority over the lands and waters, issued licenses to the fishermen,” says Kekinusuqs, Judith Sayers, president of ;Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. On Aug. 4, they adopted the fisheries plan that they had in place and authorized the fishermen to go out and fish.

Local First Nation leaders affirm right to Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) harvest in Tyee Pool / Campbell River Mirror
DFO fisheries notice about possible FSC harvest in and around Tyee Pool stirs controversy. However, the release — and the commotion in response to it — was unnecessary because We Wai Kum members are not planning FSC harvesting in the Tyee Pool, despite having the right to do so, said Chief Councillor Chris Roberts, in a press release.

Ahousaht boats return from protest salmon fishing, braced for confrontation with DFO / CHEK
Ahousaht fishermen are braced for confrontations with DFO officers as they return with catches of salmon caught under the authority of their hereditary chiefs. The ongoing fight is happening during a sharp decline in salmon stocks so some accuse these First Nations of adding to the crisis, however, hereditary chiefs insist their fishers are only taking enough to support their families.

Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack arrested, traps seized as treaty fishery begins its season in N.S. / CBC News
Chief Mike Sack of the Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia was arrested by federal fisheries officers this week on the same day his Nation’s fishery launched its new season.

Industry:

Northern Ontario Tourism Fall Training Week! / Destination Northern Ontario
Destination Northern Ontario and Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario are pleased to bring you a free virtual Northern Ontario Fall Training Week, this November. COVID-19 has created challenges for tourism businesses and operators around the province. Our four-day training week is set to provide resources, tools, action plans, strategies, and connections for both today and the future. We will be welcoming tourism professionals from around the province to gather, share, and collaborate as we rebuild northern Ontario’s tourism industry.

Boating:

RBFF Releases 2021 Stakeholder Report / FishingWire
Dive into the 2021 Stakeholder Annual Report to learn how RBFF helped the fishing and boating industry overcome the challenges of the past year to reach historic participation levels.

Solar Boat Completes Emission-Free Voyage to Alaska / FishingWire
This summer, David and Alex Borton completed what they believe to be the first-ever solar-electric boat voyage from Bellingham, Washington, to Juneau, Alaska. The team was underway for 38 days And averaged 32 nautical miles per day at an average speed of 3.7 knots.

Special Guest Feature — ELECTION 2021: A vote for conservation

With the federal election set for September 20th, the National Fishing and Hunting Collaborative (NFHC) is asking each major political party to commit to the re-establishment of the Hunting and Angling Advisory Panel (HAAP) and for meaningful responses on how they will address five national priorities of concern should they form the next government. For whichever party claims the election, the re-establishment of HAAP represents a low-cost-high-impact opportunity to meaningfully capture the interests of the millions of Canadians who hunt and fish.

The NFHC election document outlines the benefits of bringing HAAP back, and presents what a new HAAP mandate, scope and membership, would look like. The NFHC has also outlined a list of five national priorities, many of which are of concern to all Canadians, whether rural or urban, new, or multi-generational.

Priorities include:

  • Promotion of Fishing, Hunting and Trapping
  • Firearms Policy
  • Chronic Wasting Disease
  • Conservation Funding
  • Aquatic Invasive Species

The National Fishing and Hunting Collaborative (NFHC) is a group of non-partisan, non-profit, fishing and hunting organizations that work collaboratively to provide national leadership on important conservation issues and a voice for more than 375,000 Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

NFHC members include: Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Manitoba Wildlife Federation, Yukon Fish & Game Association, Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Alberta Fish & Game Association, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Newfoundland & Labrador Wildlife Federation, Prince Edward Island Wildlife Federation, Fédération Québécoise des chasseurs et Pêcheurs, New Brunswick Wildlife Federation, BC Wildlife Federation, Northwest Territories Wildlife Federation.

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In this August 17th, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with a focus on public fisheries and the role of the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association during the election and beyond. As always, we include Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news, and close with a spotlight focus on BC’s Tyee Pool in Campbell River Now Open to Gillnet Fishing.

Don’t forget to have your say! If you haven’t already – Please answer our short 5 minute BFN feedback survey

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther fishing for catfish on the Ottawa River behind Parliament Hill

This Week’s Feature – Public Fisheries and the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association

Over the past nine years of producing and hosting the podcast The Blue Fish Radio Show, being associated with numerous fishing clubs, competing in over 150 fishing tournaments, and having exhibited at on average 12 days of outdoor shows each year for the past 15, I’ve met many local champions working hard to promote conservation and recreational fishing in their communities. With few exceptions, they all share a strong capacity to mobilize local people and resources in the name of safeguarding fish and the public’s right to catch these fish. Now more than ever the voice of these local champions needs to be heard at the national level.

The Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association (CSIA) and the Canadian National Sportfishing Foundation (CNSF) are non-profit organizations comprised of manufacturers, retailers, distributors and sales agencies dedicated to the promotion and protection of recreational fishing in Canada. Their programs include National Fishing Week, Catch Fishing, Keep Canada Fishing, and Bob Izumi’s Kids, Cops and Canadian Tire Fishing Days. The Managing director is Mike Melnik, and Phil Morlock heads up Government Affairs. Following a 14-year stint as the CSIA’s President, Kim Rhodes of Lucky Strike Baitworks, has now accepted the Chair position.

The New President of the CSIA and CNSF is Rob Walton, Pure Fishing’s General Manager for Canada. I had a chance to chat with Rob and while he’s worried about filling some pretty big shoes, I was more than impressed about his grasp and leadership on numerous looming issues such as 30-by-30 protection commitments, navigating the pandemic, growing the sport, support for professional anglers and outdoor shows, and his determination to assemble a broad coalition of anglers from across Canada. Link below to hear my conversation last week with CSIA President Rob Walton on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e342-canadian-sportfishing-industry-asso

As I write this editorial, news just broke that a federal election will be held on September 20th. No doubt, addressing the causes and results of climate change will be one of several front-and-centre topics of debate, as will government responses to the pandemic. Another should be how Canada plans to meet its international commitment to protect 30% of our marine and 30% of our freshwater and terrestrial territories by the year 2030. Most certainly another issue is reconciliation, and how this has been expanded to include climate change resilience, 30-by-30 commitments, and resolving land claims – a combined process now often referred to as “Indigenous Conservation Protection Agreements”, or by some in the environmental movement as “land-back”. These huge and important initiatives share another thing in common – they all have the potential of impacting public fisheries in terms of access and opportunity.

Canada’s millions of public fishers deserve to be represented at negotiation tables. Only by ensuring that discussions are both transparent and inclusive can we be assured that outcomes will be mutually beneficial. Link below to hear my conversation with Matt DeMille from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters about the coalition of provincial and territorial outdoor partners OFAH organized ahead of the 2019 federal election: https://www.outdoorcanada.ca/blue-fish-radio-what-you-need-to-know-about-canadas-new-national-fishing-and-hunting-collaborative/

The Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association is concerned with more than threats to public fisheries access. They also do a whole lot to inform and inspire people to form their own personal connections with nature through fishing. I think we can all agree, and Rob Walton is a strong believer, fishing has proven to be a huge benefit when it comes to mental health. It also builds a sense of stewardship over our rivers, lakes and oceans. Link below to hear The Blue Fish Radio Episode featuring CSIA Managing Director Mike Melnik as we discuss the Associations role in bringing the Pan American Bass Fishing Tournament to Canada in 2019: https://bluefishradio.com/canadian-sportfishing-industry-association-and-the-pan-am-games/

And for more about Keep Canada Fishing, link below to my conversation with CSIA Media Correspondent Sarah McMichael on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.outdoorcanada.ca/blue-fish-radio-how-keep-canada-fishing-is-on-guard-for-our-angling-rights2/

To assist readers with sorting out who best reflects their passion for fishing and commitment to conservation, don’t miss our next issue of the Blue Fish News for a list of questions and supporting policy statements developed by Blue Fish Champions. As a registered charity, we won’t be promoting one party over another as this would place the charity in conflict with the Canadian Revenue Agency. But we can help make sure the voices of Canadian anglers are heard across Canada, and what each political party position is with respect to public fisheries – stay tuned…

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

North American Bass Challenge Underway / FishingWire
The new format and concept on bass fishing, the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s North American Bass Challenge (NABC) bring together some of the best premier events for anglers everywhere. The Challenge offers something for everyone and all income levels. It is open to anglers from all walks of life, regardless of club or sponsor affiliation. Along with an overall annual payback to anglers well in excess of 100 percent a portion of each entry fee is donated to fisheries conservation and matched by the NABC and other conservation organizations up to 3-to-1 in support of bass conservation projects anywhere the North American Bass Challenge does business.

3 sizzling summer fishing getaways for Canadian anglers / Outdoor Canada
If you’re looking for new fishing destinations, check out the trophy trout of B.C.’s Elk River, the bruiser pike and lakers of Saskatchewan’s Ena Lake, and the multispecies magic of Ontario’s English River system.

The Ingenious Ancient Technology Concealed in the Shallows / Hakai Magazine
Fish traps have a long history around the world, and a vast network in a Vancouver Island estuary reveals generations of ecological wisdom. In 2002, Nancy Greene, then an undergraduate anthropology student, walked among the barnacle-encrusted stakes and thought she’d found a fascinating subject for her senior project at Malaspina College (now Vancouver Island University). She had lived in the area since 1978, raised her children here, and was up for a new challenge. Little did she know it would consume countless hours, span more than a decade, or eventually reveal the largest unstudied archaeological feature yet found on the Pacific Northwest coast—one that would tell a remarkable tale of human ingenuity and adaptation in an era of climate change.

Is There an E-Bike in Your Fishing Future? / Fishing Wire
New off-road E-bikes are an asset in getting to remote angling or hunting opportunities, including some where even 4WD can’t take us. E-bikes make it possible to travel miles into difficult terrain on trails that are too narrow for full-sized vehicles, and to do it in silence, with almost no impact on the habitat or the wildlife. This gives them a huge advantage over noisy four-wheel ATV’s, a favorite of many hunters in deer and turkey seasons.

Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Makes Four Conservation Grants / Fishing Wire
For the second consecutive year, the Board of Directors of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame announces that the Hall has awarded four conservation grants to contribute to its mission of celebrating, promoting and preserving the sport of bass fishing. The recipients were selected through a highly competitive process, and they represent a diverse group of deserving projects.

Warm Water Protocols for Miramichi / ASF
With elevated water temperatures, DFO has closed a long list of salmon pools in order to protect the species.

Fish:

Five Wild Facts About Shark Reproduction / NOAA
In the NOAA’s ongoing effort to help you know sharks better, they are sharing some lesser-known facts about how sharks make more sharks.

Higher Vessel Speeds Offset Salmon Abundance for Endangered Orcas / NOAA
Increased abundance of salmon in the inland waters of the Salish Sea increased the odds of endangered southern resident killer whales capturing salmon as prey, but increased speeds of nearby boats did just the opposite, according to new research findings. It found that the orcas descended more slowly, and took longer dives to capture prey, when nearby boats had navigational sonar switched on. The sonar from private and commercial vessels directly overlaps the main sound frequencies the whales use to hunt. This may mask the whales’ signals and force them to expend more energy to catch prey.

85% of Lower Fraser Salmon Habitat Not Accessible To Fish / The Narwhal
Using field manuals from 170 years ago, scientists have identified the monumental impact human development has had on B.C.’s struggling Fraser salmon — and what can be done to reverse it.

Scientists Forge New Path Against Invasive Carp / FishingWire
Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Missouri have identified a potential breakthrough: They are studying the complex way carp eggs move in rivers, in hopes they can kill them while still young. Carp eggs drift for miles, and, as they drift, the fish develop. If researchers can figure out where they land, and if those locations are suitable for the growth of young carp, then they can target sites and intercept the eggs.

ASF Rivernotes / ASF
Story of a well-known angler crossing the newly opened Canada/U.S. border on his way to the Miramichi, plus update on the smallmouth eradication project, numbers for Quebec rivers, and a detailed update of rivers in Newfoundland.

Predicting Future Fish Productivity by Better Understanding the Role of Habitat / NOAA
Scientists and resource managers have been successfully ensuring the sustainability of commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries primarily by managing catch levels. An innovative modeling approach considers links between environmental variables and local habitat impacts on overall fish productivity.

Major Differences in 2021 Salmon Returns to Alaska Rivers / ASF
While Bristol Bay has massive returns this year, the chinook run on the Yukon River is at historic lows.

North Van crews race to re-open Seymour River for salmon / North Shore News
Crews will be manually breaking apart large rocks on the Seymour River to open a passageway for spawning salmon. The Seymour Salmonid Society has been granted $80,000 from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to clear more boulders from the 2014 Seymour River rockslide that choked the river off and made it impassible for salmonids.

Water:

River Symposium October 27 & 28 2021 / River Institute
The River Institute’s 28th Annual Symposium provides a platform for researchers, educators, policymakers, community leaders and citizens to discuss current ecological health of our freshwater ecosystems and explore issues and challenges facing large rivers and their watersheds. Abstracts are due: September 1, 2021.

7 Years After Mount Polley B.C. Mining Rules Still Out Of Date / The Narwhal
On Aug. 4, 2014, a dam holding contaminated waste failed, causing one of the worst mining disasters in Canadian history. Despite repeated promises from the province to avoid a similar disaster, communities remain at risk and on the hook for the costs of mine pollution, according to experts.

Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Hiking Trail Proposed for Protection / Chaleur Tourism
A New Brunswick First Nation is asking for full protection of a beautiful hiking trail under construction for four years along the Nepisiguit River known for Atlantic salmon fishing. The trail, which features waterfalls and forest and brings hikers close to the river, would take at least seven days to walk.

For Artificial Coral Reefs, Time Is Not Enough / Hakai Magazine
Decommissioned ships, concrete waste, military tanks, sculptures, and even cremated human remains mixed with cement have all been purposefully sunk over the years to form artificial coral reefs. Researchers hoped that, given long enough, artificial coral reefs would grow to match natural reefs. But an examination of a 200-year-old artificial coral reef shows that’s not necessarily the case.

Teaching citizen scientists to hunt for ‘canary in the coal mine’ in Alberta’s Rivers / The Narwhal
Living Lakes Canada has been working across Canada, and particularly in the Columbia Basin of B.C., to provide training for regular citizens in community-based water monitoring. Kat Hartwig, the group’s executive director, said in a statement she hopes the organization’s work will “support Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups on the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies to better coordinate their water monitoring. “

Sound aquatic Podcast / Hakai Magazine
Binge listen to Hakai Magazine’s five-part podcast, The Sound Aquatic, on their site or subscribe through your favorite podcast app. Link below to hear an interview with the host of this podcast series, Elin Kelsey, on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e336-sound-aquatic-and-elin-kelsey

DFO plan to phase out fish farms still missing as 109 licences set to expire / The Narwhal
On the heels of a new stakeholder engagement report from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, scientists and Indigenous advocates are renewing calls to phase out West Coast fish farms and restore devastated wild salmon stocks.

Climate Change – 2021 and Beyond
Join fellow Mayors at the 2021 virtual Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Annual General Meeting to discuss climate challenges facing cities and their impact into the future. Speakers include the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, and Minister David Piccini, Ontario Minister of the Environment. KEYNOTE SPEAKERS include Environmental Activist Erin Brockovich.

Scientists spot warning signs of Gulf Stream collapse / The Guardian
Some scientists believe the northern part of the Gulf Stream is weakening because of melting ice from Greenland. This powerful water current shapes the climate on four continents, and its weakening could lead to consequences like faster sea-level rise in parts of North America and Europe, increased drought in mid-Africa and extreme weather events across the globe.

Love Your Lawn? Let It Grow. / Sierra Club
Not mowing your lawn—or that city park—as frequently increases biodiversity, reduces pest species, and decreases overall lawn management costs. That’s according to a meta-analysis of lawn data collected across Europe and North America by researchers from the University of Quebec.

Pollution expert aims to create ‘water champions’ / Times Colonist
Invisible chemicals tend to be out of sight and out of mind, but they are creating “an invisible crisis” says Peter Ross, an internationally recognized expert in water pollution. “There are 500,000 chemicals on the global marketplace,” he said. Many of those will surreptitiously make their way into the food chain.”

Lake centre looks at metals found in local fish species / Sudbury Star
The research projects aim to detect the levels of toxic and non-toxic metals in Sudbury and Killarney fish populations. When Adam Lepage first began this project as part of his undergraduate degree in Laurentian’s restoration biology program, he understood that it was common for fish species to accumulate heavy metals, like chromium and mercury, in their tissues. What he didn’t know was how many different forms these metals could take and the complexity of their interactions in a mining-impacted area like Sudbury. Although he’s still in the early stages of his research, Lepage hopes his findings will prove valuable not only in the field of ecological restoration but also from a public health perspective.

Indigenous:

Ottawa to implement historic fisheries agreement with West Coast First Nations / National Observer
On the British Columbia coast, eight First Nations have signed a Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement that will allow Indigenous people to regain rights over fisheries governance. the agreement covers the north and central coast and Haida Gwaii — whose territories make up 40 per cent of the province’s coastal waters. Heiltsuk First Nation Chief Marilyn Slett says, “Reconciliation and action in this context means restoring the rights of our community members to fish for a living.”

Saving Salmon for the Bears / Hakai Magazine
The Wuikinuxv Nation is conducting research to figure out how much salmon to set aside to help the bears. The fjord of Rivers Inlet once boasted annual returns of up to 3.1 million sockeye from 1948 to 1992. Squeezed by factors such as historical overfishing, myriad changes in the ocean, diminished spawning habitat due to logging, and receding glaciers—which result in warmer temperatures in spawning tributaries—salmon returns dropped off dramatically. They hit rock bottom in the fall of 1999, when fewer than 10,000 sockeye showed up at the Wuikinuxv village of ‘Kìtit about 400 kilometers northwest of Vancouver along the Waanukv River. Emaciated grizzlies desperately wandered the streets, prowled around homes for scraps, rummaged through garbage, and put frightened residents on high alert.

Five Vancouver Island First Nations ready to catch and sell fish on their own terms / North Island Gazette
West Coast Nuu-chah-nulth fishing nations prepared to exercise court-won access to the resource. The five Nations say their right to fish and sell fish is “second only to conservation and has priority over the recreational and commercial sectors.” “The DFO and the rest of Canada need to understand that our traditional territories, and the resources within, are ours to manage,” said Ahousaht First Nation Hereditary Chief Richard George. “We’re fighting for these resources so that our next seven generations will be able to participate in fisheries into the future.”

Canada commits $340 million to Indigenous protected areas, guardians programs / The Narwhal
The federal government announced it will provide funding over the next five years to support Indigenous-led stewardship of lands and waters under its $2.3 billion commitment to nature conservation as part of Canada’s international commitment to conserving 30 per cent of the country’s lands and waters by 2030.

Industry:

Shimano and B.A.S.S. Congratulate Shimano’s Varsity Program Scholarship Winners / FishingWire
Students who are passionate about the sport of fishing and are training for a career in fisheries biology and wildlife management enjoy access to a unique scholarship to support their studies. Shimano North America Fishing and the conservation arm of B.A.S.S. have partnered to create this program to help recruit avid anglers into the ranks of state, provincial, tribal and federal fisheries management agencies.

Popularity of Fishing expands as fishing Tackle Sales Grow / FishingWire
Tackle manufacturers report strong growth in sales in 2021. Johnson Outdoors reports their revenue increased 51 percent due to continued high demand across all product lines in Minn Kota® and Humminbird®. Shimano Tackle Sales Surge in the first half of this year to a 108.5% improvement over the same period last year, while net sales increased by 38.4%.

Boating:

Coast Guard to Approve Level 100 lifejackets Inherently Buoyant…
The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a policy letter on obtaining Coast Guard approval on Level 100 lifejackets. This policy builds upon previous efforts the Coast Guard in cooperation with Transport Canada. Level 100 lifejackets are intended for commercial vessels. However, they are acceptable for use on recreational vessels. They do provide face-up flotation with a level of support sufficient for open water use and turn most users face-up, even when the user is unconscious.

Arts:

12 of the year’s most stunning and memorable outdoor adventure photos / Outdoor Canada
Dreaming of wild places? Check out these winning photos from Outdoor Canada’s 10th annual photo contest. And if you’ve taken some great outdoor shots in 2021, please enter your photos in their current contest.

Special Feature: BC’s Tyee Pool in Campbell River Opened to Gillnet Fishing

Much to the surprise of B.C.’s marine recreational anglers, the Tyee Pool in Campbell River has just been opened to First Nations gillnetting of Chinook salmon for “food, social and ceremony”. For over 100 years anglers around the world have revered the Tyee Pool for its unique rowboat fishery experience – no motors, no bait, no downriggers – barbless Plugs and spoons trolled with “armstrong motors”. The Tyee Pool is central to Campbell River’s fishing history, BC sport fishing and tourism, and part of the inspiration for legendary writers like Roderick Haig Brown and Zane Grey.

The notice issued by DFO states, “Food, Social, and Ceremonial (FSC) harvest of Chinook may occur in Subarea 13-5, including waters known as the Tyee Pool. The FSC harvest will utilize gill nets between the hours of 10:00 PM and 4:00 AM. Recreational fishers are advised to avoid the area during these times (effective immediately until 23:59 hours September 30) and that any gear conflicts may result in restrictions to recreational fisheries while FSC harvest is occurring. FSC harvest activity (via permit issued by the First Nations and communicated to DFO) may also include the use of power boats during the daytime in the Tyee Pool and all users of the Tyee Pool are urged to use caution and be considerate of each other while fishing. FSC harvesters are requested to fish with minimal vessel wake for the safety of rowers and other human powered boats. Any safety issues or conflicts during the fishery will result in action being taken to mitigate the issues.”

Recreational fishing regulations for this area include the following: “For the recreational fishery, In Subareas 13-3 and 13-5, those waters of Discovery Passage and Campbell River, the limit is One (1) Chinook per day, no maximum size limit. The annual aggregate limit for Chinook salmon is ten (10) in all tidal waters coast wide. Barbless hooks are required when fishing for salmon in tidal and non-tidal waters of British Columbia. The minimum size limit for Chinook Salmon in Area 13 is 62 cm. Recreational fishers are reminded that the use of motors is prohibited in the Tyee Pool under Transport Canada regulations; however, access under FSC permit is exempt from this regulation.”

Note from Tyee Club President, Roger Gage. “Attention Tyee Club members and anglers, many of you are aware that Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) harvest may occur in the Tyee Pool this fishing season. As representatives of the Tyee Club, we should recognize the process that is involved in the FSC harvest. Please ensure all Tyee Club fishermen represent the Club in a respectable and safe manner.”

As First Nations continue to assert their jurisdictional fishing rights for food, social and ceremony, and to earn a moderate livelihood, the Tyee Pool represents yet another in a growing list of emerging conflicts between First Nations and public fishers over conservation best practices. First Nations often speak out against recreational anglers who are permitted to selectively harvest fish of a certain size by practicing catch-and-release, but who then often continue to fish even after harvesting their limit. Anglers on the other hand, feel that nylon gillnets used by FN fishers indiscriminately injure and kill large numbers of fish of all species. The Tyee Pool polarises these viewpoints in ways few other bodies of water can.

First Nations and recreational anglers share a desire to achieve mutually beneficial understandings about fishing. We also share a commitment to conservation, and the imperative that future generations are able to benefit from fish and fishing. Commercial fishing, tourism and guiding are just some of the ways communities achieve social and economic sustainability. Sorting out these relationships and access issues takes communications and recognition that we share many of the same values.

Understandably, engaging in such talks is made difficult when certain parties are exercising rights that others have been denied. It’s meant reverting to the courts for interventions as a last resort. However, excluding stakeholders from important discussions also sets back efforts to build trust and achieve mutually beneficial agreements. Now more than ever, anglers need to have the opportunity to be part of the discussions underway that impact both our current and future relationships with nature and those with whom we share this connection.

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In this August 3rd, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News, we begin with an invitation to have your say about how you like the News. 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 resource selected to inform and inspire our readers.

Have your Say – Please answer our short 5 minute BFN feedback survey

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther aboard his Ranger 1880 Angler with a nice largemouth bass

This Week’s Feature – Tell Us What You Think!

Editor Lawrence Gunther has gone fishing, so we want to take this opportunity to find out what you think about the Blue Fish News. What you like, what you don’t, what you want to see more of, or less, and your general impressions.

Click the link and check-off some boxes on how we can improve the Blue Fish News: Have your Say – Tell us what you think by spending a few minutes answering our newsletter feedback survey

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Anglers beyond frustrated with another season of chinook closures / Pique Newsmagazine
On July 6, the Public Fishery Alliance held a rally in protest of the closures in front of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Downtown Vancouver office. It followed an announcement by the Department of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard that the closure in place last year on Howe Sound would continue, meaning recreational anglers can’t catch either a wild or hatchery chinook, nor catch and release one. Public Fishery Alliance co-founder Dave Brown said, “Minister [of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Bernadette Jordan] and the Liberal government have demonstrated that they are not interested in working cooperatively with the public fishery.” Brown went on to say, “We are not a priority. Jordan has turned fisheries management into a political exercise to benefit the current government. She has shown no respect for the advisory process. She is not guided by data, has rejected the low-risk assessment of her own pacific region staff.”

The office of fisheries minister Jordan issued the following statements: “Pacific wild salmon are disappearing, and our government is taking strong, consistent action to reverse that.” The minister said she approved a new mark-selective fishery opening in area 16—portions of Sechelt Inlet and Jervis Inlet—” based on low risk of impacts on wild chinook stocks of concern. Areas 12, 13, 15, and 20 to 25, which were opened last year based on their low risk to Fraser stocks, will open again this year.” “The public fishery is a significant economic driver, and we want to ensure that there are opportunities for them where stocks will allow. This decision was not made lightly, but with the best available science and after consultation, and careful consideration of all mark selective fishery requests. We will continue to take a precautionary approach to all fisheries management decisions, but we know that is not enough,” the statement read, adding that $647 million from budget 2021 is earmarked for projects that will conserve and revive pacific wild salmon populations. “While we are proud to make this historic investment, the need to do so reflects how serious the decline of pacific salmon is right now,” the statement continued. “We will continue to work with First Nations, the public fishery, conservationists and other partners to protect this iconic species, and the communities and livelihoods that depend on it.”

‘Virgin’ sturgeon caught in Fraser River more than 11 feet long / Saanich News
The (never before caught) 11’5” length and 56” girth white sturgeon was caught in the Fraser River. Catches like this are extremely rare, according to folks at the Fraser River Lodge that guided the anglers responsible for the catch-and-release sturgeon.

Young anglers time to get trout heads in the KLAIP game / Nelson Daily
The first Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program for younger anglers wrapped up at the end of July. Kids had to submit their rainbow or bull trout heads to one of four local depots to participate in the draw. By fishing for rainbow and bull trout in the main body of Kootenay Lake, kids 15 and under are actively contributing to local conservation efforts to protect the iconic kokanee.

Cape Breton guide breaking barriers for women learning to fish / CBC News
A Cape Breton woman became a fishing guide on the Margaree River after receiving many messages asking her to show other women how to fly-fish. “Women were approaching me to [teach] them how to get into the sport,” said Gioia Stanley. “It can be intimidating. I think being a woman helps break down that barrier of someone who’s new and not sure how to enter an industry such as fishing, where it can be typically very male-dominated.”

The IGFA Expands Release-Based Record Category / IGFA
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) All-Tackle Length program now offers a specific fly-fishing category. The All-Tackle Length record program requires the potential record catch to be released alive. Due to the growing popularity of this program and the request from numerous IGFA constituents, the IGFA is expanding this popular program by adding a fly-fishing category, therefore creating both conventional and fly-fishing categories within the IGFA All-Tackle Length record program.

Have Fun, Win Big with North American Bass Challenge / NPAA
The new format and concept on bass fishing, the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s North American Bass Challenge (NABC) bring together some of the best premier events for anglers everywhere. Competitions provide the opportunity to fish with family and friends and are open to anglers from all walks of life, regardless of club or sponsor affiliation. Along with an overall annual payback to anglers well in excess of 100 percent, a portion of each entry fee is donated to fisheries conservation and matched by the NABC and other conservation organizations up to 3-to-1 in support of bass conservation projects anywhere the North American Bass Challenge does business.

Huskey Makes History as First Woman to Win a Major Walleye Tournament / Mercury Dockline
Marianne Huskey has been blazing trails in the competitive walleye world for a dozen years. While the old adage that the fish don’t know who’s angling for them is true, it’s been historically rare for women to compete at the highest levels of tournament fishing. But overcoming adversity and long odds is nothing new for Huskey. However, her latest achievement at the Head2Head Fishing® Pro Walleye Series may be her most remarkable.

OPTIMISM ON ATLANTIC SALMON MIGRATIONS / ASF
Although drought conditions persist on some rivers, overall Atlantic salmon returns are creating a sense of optimism across eastern Canada. In Quebec, the government has released details of rivers that will allow harvest of large salmon.

Draft Report on Recreational Fishing Data and Strategies to Support In-season Management / NOAA
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has completed its draft report, “Data and Management Strategies for Recreational Fisheries with Annual Catch Limits.” NOAA Fisheries appreciates the hard work of the National Academies in conducting a comprehensive study and providing recommendations on a challenging and important topic.

IGFA Releases 2021 Program Report / IGFA
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) announced today the release of the 2021 IGFA Program Report; a comprehensive outline of the various programs and initiatives that the organization is executing around the world to ensure the future of sport fishing.

Subsistence Salmon Fishing Opens On Yukon River For First Time This Season / KYUK
Alaskan state managers opened subsistence salmon fishing at 1 p.m. on July 22 in the lower Yukon Coastal District until further notice. Fishermen can use dip nets and hook and line to target salmon species including pink, sockeye, and coho salmon. Chinook and chum salmon cannot be targeted.

Fish:

Anglers and researchers delve into fish guts to save salmon / Toronto Star
Squeezing out stomachs and poking through intestines seems like distasteful work, but it’s part of a wider collaborative effort by researchers and recreational fishermen to save endangered B.C. salmon. Analysis of the chinook and coho stomachs reveal three forage fish are the foundation of their diet: Pacific herring, northern anchovy and the Pacific sand lance, commonly known as needlefish.

Salmon are getting cooked by climate change. Here’s how they could be saved / CBC News
In 2016, warm temperatures were blamed for the lowest number of returning sockeye in B.C.’s Fraser River on record, and two years later, officials warned that the river was so warm that migrating sockeye salmon might die on their journey. In 2019, there were heat-related salmon die-offs blamed in Alaska and at a fish farm in Newfoundland. “The heat makes it harder for them to swim and can stress salmon migrating to their spawning grounds, said Sue Grant, head of the state of salmon program at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. As a result, some don’t survive to spawn, and those that do may produce less healthy offspring”.

Dalhousie University professor co-authors ‘good news, bad news’ study on global fish stock health / Global News
A new study co-authored by a Dalhousie University professor finds nearly half of global fish stock recovery targets are trending in the wrong direction. The database contained information for some 800 species harvested by humans around the world. Researchers used two metrics to come up with their findings: the number of fish that exist in the water, and how intensely the species is being fished relative to what’s considered sustainable.

Wildfires, floods and rockslides force pause on permanent fishway project at Big Bar landslide site / CBC News
Originally, the federal government estimated a $176 million permanent fishway would be completed by May 2022, but now, officials say that timeline is “no longer possible” and further costs are unknown.

DFO’s closures of Pacific coast salmon fisheries leave workers reeling / The Narwhal
The scale of the B.C commercial Salmon fishery closures, which include five species of salmon and multiple fishing methods, such as seine, gillnet and troll, is unprecedented; previous closures were either shorter or targeted a single species such as coho. The DFO minister said the department would implement a compensation program for commercial operators who decide to get out of the industry for good. The department estimates that there are around 2,100 licence holders in B.C. and Yukon although not all licence holders are considered to be active. The voluntary salmon licence retirement program will provide harvesters with the option to retire their licences for fair market value and will facilitate the transition to a smaller commercial harvesting sector. DFO will determine details of the program after consulting First Nations and the commercial sector in the fall.

2021 B.C. salmon forecast amongst widespread closures / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
This 2021 salmon forecast may be my last one after some 35 years, for who needs forecasts if there are no fisheries? Although it captures why this bold action was necessary, please read closely. Our salmon are still out there, in streams throughout our province. Their numbers and diversity are a shadow of what they once were, but salmon are highly adaptable and given half a chance, they will recover. We owe it to our fishermen to see that they do.

Virtual reality experience lets viewers ‘swim’ with Pacific salmon / CBC News
Watershed Watch co-hosted a screening of Uninterrupted, which brings the journey of the Pacific salmon to city dwellers through a 24-minute interactive virtual reality experience.

Using “Crispr” Technology to Protect Wild Salmon / ASF
In an attempt to prevent escaped fish from interbreeding with their wild counterparts and threatening the latter’s genetic diversity, molecular biologist Anna Wargelius and her team at the Institute of Marine Research in Norway have spent years working on ways to induce sterility in Atlantic salmon. Farmed salmon that cannot reproduce, after all, pose no threat to the gene pool of wild stocks, and Wargelius has successfully developed a technique that uses the gene-editing technology Crispr to prevent the development of the cells that would otherwise generate functioning sex organs.

Extreme heat waves are putting lakes and rivers in hot water this summer / The Conversation
Coldwater fish, such as trout and salmon, are being squeezed out of their cool, well-oxygenated, deep-water habitat. By the same token, invasive fishes such as smallmouth bass are thriving in warmer temperatures and displacing native Canadian fishes like walleye and lake trout.

Province looking into possible ‘chemical treatment’ of goldfish in Terrace area lake / Terrace Standard
Goldfish are commonly thought of as a harmless household pet, but once they are introduced to B.C. waterways they can grow in size, wreaking havoc on local populations.

Water:

How healthy is the Salish Sea? / Pique Newsmagazine
A joint Canada-U.S. report on the health of the Salish Sea has found either an overwhelming decline or stable trend in nine out of 10 environmental indicators tracked by researchers.

Trawlers Are Pushing into the High Arctic / Hakai Magazine
As the extent of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean shrinks, commercial trawlers are moving in, rapidly expanding fishing operations into areas previously covered by multiyear ice. In the high Arctic, benthic communities have historically been relatively undisturbed. These organisms play an important role in the larger marine food web, supporting huge numbers of whales and other animals. Disturbing them with trawl nets could have far-reaching consequences.

Most Invasive Marine Species Swim Under the Radar / Hakai Magazine
A new study reviewed the existing scientific literature to show that of the 975 species considered to be marine invasive species, 55 percent have only been studied once, and a mere seven percent have been studied more than 10 times. The paper shows that in invasive species research there are some poster children garnering everyone’s attention while most invaders swim in the darkness, untouched by scientific knowledge.

Blue beaches: St. Lawrence River stewards looking to address plastic pollution from floating docks / ABC50
While walking on beaches or shorelines of the Great Lakes or St. Lawrence River, finding pieces or pellets of blue or white polystyrene, or Styrofoam, is not an uncommon sight. However, local advocates are calling for action as they say it is making its way through marine ecosystems and harming animals such as fish, birds and even humans.

California Dog Owners Cautioned About Salmon Poisoning Disease / FishingWire
Salmon Poisoning Disease can be contracted by dogs that come into contact with fish from infested waters throughout the Pacific Northwest. Thousands of dogs are infected every year with Salmon Poisoning Disease after eating raw or cold-smoked fish infected with the parasitic fluke. All fish caught or originating from streams in northern California, Oregon and southern Washington could potentially be infected with disease-carrying flukes harmful to dogs.

A future different from the past, BC needs a ministry that puts watershed security and communities first / The Province
Trouble is mounting in BC’s waters. Communities are trying to protect drinking water sources from the negative impacts of logging, water bottling, contaminated soil dumps, mining, and other activities at odds with good watershed health and security. It’s time to put healthy watersheds ahead of short-term economic gains.

Conservation Ontario Tackling Climate Change with $9M in Federal Funding / Conservation Ontario
Conservation Ontario is receiving $9 million over three years to support conservation authorities to use their watershed management expertise to implement nature-based solutions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and restore and protect wetlands, riparian areas, grasslands and other lands across Ontario to address climate change impacts. The projects provide a number of co-benefits for the environment, economy and human well-being, such as improved access to natural and semi-natural ecosystems for cultural practices, nature appreciation and recreational activities, including hunting, fishing and other gathering and foraging activities.

Conservation:

Blue Fish Canada donates fishing tackle receptacle / Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority
Blue Fish Canada has donated a receptacle for discarded fishing tackle at Morrison Dam Conservation Area east of Exeter. Acceptable items include fishing line, soft plastic baits, hooks, lead sinkers and jigs. Matt Fryer, of Lucan, is the Vice-President and Conservation Director of the Forest City Bassmasters and installed the Fishing Tackle Recycler on July 26, 2021 near the fishing dock.

Indigenous:

First Nation declares sovereignty over Saskatchewan River Delta / Star Phoenix
“We see it as a protection of our homeland, and a utilization to benefit our people, to get them out of poverty,” Chief Rene Chaboyer said. The Saskatchewan River Delta stretches over roughly one million hectares along the Saskatchewan and Manitoba border. Its declining vitality is threatening traditional ways of life. The declaration comes roughly a year after he expressed concern over a lack of consultation on a massive provincial irrigation project at Lake Diefenbaker that he says could affect water flows into the delta. He said he remains hopeful for a solution that could satisfy all parties.

Groups call for mutual respect while fishing rivers of Fraser Valley / Mission City Record
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and your local Fishery Officers would like to remind the public that Indigenous communities and recreational anglers will be fishing and recreating in local rivers this summer and fall, according to a July 25 news release issued jointly by DFO, First Nations, and recreational fishing leadership. “We have seen a lot of negative comments on social media about both the Sumas First Nation and Sts’Ailes First Nation fisheries taking place in the Chilliwack and Chehalis Rivers,” stated DFO fishery officer Mike Fraser, detachment commander, Fraser Valley East. “These fisheries are limited fisheries with restricted gear to help First Nations obtain some food for the communities. Normally there are more opportunities in the Fraser River but limited returns in a mixed-stock fishery are providing very limited harvests. These are the main issues stirring up conflict that we are trying to curtail,” Fraser said.

Canada’s First Nations Do Conservation Their Way / Sierra Club
The Misipawistik Cree wanted to protect their lands, but they wanted to do so on their own terms. “We don’t really have to manage moose, we have to manage people” says Heidi Cook, an elected of the Misipawistik Cree. So last year, the Cree did something that they’d been talking about for a decade: They started an Indigenous guardian program.

Industry:

Guy Harvey Enters ICAST Product Showcase / FishingWire
Created by renowned artist Guy Harvey, the entire apparel collection is designed for ocean enthusiasts and anglers with a portion of all proceeds going towards scientific research and marine education through the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF).

Boating:

Be #WakeAware / FOCA
The Federation of Ontario Cottage Associations is very pleased to announce the release of a new video and companion website with information for all water users about the impacts of wakes, and educational resources to use and share.

Boat Safety message from the Ontario Provincial Police / OPP
We are saddened by recent tragic boating accidents on Ontario’s waterways. In the words of Provincial Marine Coordinator Sgt. Dave Moffatt, the 2021 season has been “terrible”. Watch this important video message from Sgt. Moffatt posted to Facebook.

Arts:

4th Annual Skeena Salmon Art Festival / SkeenaWiold
The Skeena Salmon Art Show is back, with its annual exhibition and sale touring from Terrace Art Gallery to Misty Rivers Arts Centre in Hazleton, and Smithers Art Gallery. The 2021 exhibition is an opportunity for artists from across the Skeena region and beyond to showcase their talent in any medium and celebrate salmon as a life sustaining species that is of critical importance to our cultures, communities, and ecosystems.

Special Feature – Blue Fish Sustainable Bass Fishing Tournament Conservation Tips

  1. Keep boat livewells clean and free of mold. Ensure pumps and aeration systems are operational.
  2. Avoid fishing bass at depths below 25-feet. Make sure you have the training and tools required to fizz Bass showing signs of Barotrauma.
  3. Use knot-free rubber nets to prevent scale and fin damage. Hold bass away from clothing and boat decks to protect fish slime.
  4. Use pliers to quickly remove fish hooks. Cut off deeply set hooks to minimize injury instead of attempting their removal.
  5. Use non-puncturing weighing and culling technologies. Release culled Bass below gunnel height to avoid stressing or stunning bass.
  6. Maintain constant livewell temperatures by adding just enough non-chlorinated ice to ensure stable water temperature. Avoid replacing livewell water when transiting warm shallow bays.
  7. Keep bass in livewells until invited by tournament officials to approach the weigh-in station. Keep bass in weigh-in bags for no longer than 2 minutes.
  8. Dispose used soft plastic baits, fishing line, and lead weights and jigs responsibly.
  9. Empty and clean boat livewells, bilges and boat trailers before departing the launch to prevent transporting invasive species.
  10. Report tagged fish, unethical behaviour and water quality issues to relevant authorities

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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.

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