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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Water:

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

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

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

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

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

Indigenous:

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

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

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

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

Industry:

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

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

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

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

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

Special Guest Feature – MUSKIES CANADA @ WORK ODYSSEY SCHEDULE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of Blue Green Algae along the shoreline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Water:

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

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

Indigenous:

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

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

Climate Change:

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

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

Industry:

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

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

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

Boating:

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

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

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

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

Arts:

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

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

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

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April 15 is coming soon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Water:

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

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

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

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

Indigenous:

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

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

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

Boating:

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

Books:

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

Arts:

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

Special Guest Feature: What Does Conservation Mean To You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Water:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indigenous:

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

Industry:

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

Boating:

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

In Memory:

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

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

Arts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In this March 1st, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News the focus is on BC’s shoreline communities and the threat to their sustainability and the fish upon which they depend. Included is a list / summary of relevant timely fishing, fish, water and other news. The Special Guest Feature is the open letter to DFO’s Minister from BC’s Public Fishery Alliance. 

This Week’s Feature — BC’s Public Fisheries and Coastal Communities

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

For years I’ve been interviewing people knowledgeable about the pacific salmon decline along Canada’s west coast. Go back through The Blue Fish Radio Show archives and you will find dozens of episodes dating back as far as 2012. I’ve spoken with conservationists, environmentalists, guides, First Nations leaders, DFO representatives, engineers, anglers, and scientists. I even featured Pacific salmon in my 2016 documentary “What Lies Below”. All this to say, I can say with confidence that there’s no “smoking gun” that has brought about the decline of wild Pacific salmon stocks.

Without doubt, there are a whole lot of people and stakeholder groups that want wild Pacific salmon stocks to recover. Unfortunately, there’s also no magic solution. It’s going to take a concerted effort on numerous fronts including resources and a commitment by our political leaders. In the meantime, there are coastal communities, indigenous and non-indigenous, who are searching for ways to sustain their way-of-life. Communities who are more than willing to work together and do what’s necessary to ensure the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon.

Here’s what we know about the economic importance and sustainability of BC’s public salmon fishery. According to the latest available economic data, in 2016 the public fishery contributed $1.1 billion to the BC economy, accounted for 9,000 jobs, and ranked as BC’s single most economically important salmon fishery. And yet, from a sustainability perspective, the public salmon fishery was responsible for harvesting only 10 per cent of the total salmon harvested in 2016. More importantly, the public fishery harvest included less than 0.5 per cent of endangered wild Chinook salmon. For DFO to be able to come up with these numbers, they depend on an extensive system of tracing, tracking and reporting based on seasonal salmon runs broken down by region, by species, and by origin. Or in other words, which fish are heading for which rivers and when. Unfortunately, this level of granularity isn’t available when measuring the impact of commercial purse seiners and gill netters responsible for 75 per cent of BC’s total yearly salmon catch.

As someone who participated as a hand-line fisher in the North Atlantic Cod fishery up until it’s closure in 1992, another story that featured in the documentary What Lies Below, I have first hand experience of a fish stock exploited to the point of no return. The Cod stock collapse was a massive ecological crisis precipitated by politics, economic pressure, scientists being ignored, corporate greed, poorly conceived economic stimulation policy, and the voices of artisanal and indigenous fishers going unheard. In many ways, a crisis like the one we are now witnessing on Canada’s west coast, starting with the river gill-net fishery and the salmon canneries over 100 years ago, the current state-of-the art purse seiner and gill netting   commercial fishing fleets, and exacerbated by climate change. Pacific salmon continue to be exploited by corporate and political interests, and it’s the coastal communities and the ecosystems upon which they depend that are paying the price.

Last summer I interviewed David Brown for an episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show. David had just received the highest civilian honour Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans can bestow. The award recognized David’s work to restore West Coast salmon. Never one to fear speaking truth to power, David’s growing frustration with DFO policies led to his founding the Public Fishery Alliance, and his leading a protest during the summer of 2020 in front of DFO’s Vancouver headquarters. Link below to listen to my conversation with David Brown shortly after the protest took place: https://bluefishradio.com/public-fishery-alliance-protests-dfo-pacific-salmon-closures/

Public fishers are frustrated with DFO’s approach. In 2017 DFO reduced the daily harvest limit of Chinook salmon by BC’s public fishery from two to one. In April 2019 and again in 2020, DFO eliminated retention of spring Chinook by the public fishery altogether.

Once again, the Public Fishery Alliance is asking DFO to allow carefully managed science-directed local public salmon fisheries to take place. They have been assured by DFO scientists that such a sustainable public fishery is possible by focusing on hatchery fish and avoiding endangered wild Chinook. On February 16, 2021 the Public Fishing Alliance issued an open letter to the Minister of DFO asking that the department follow their mandate as stipulated by the Prime Minister in his mandate letter to DFO in 2019. You can read the open letter to the Minister – I’ve included it at the end of the Blue Fish News as our “Special Guest feature”.

I’ve spoken with numerous amazing and dedicated people over the years who know intimately the plight of the Pacific Salmon. People who have spent their life safeguarding and angling for Pacific salmon, and who are now advocating for a complete embargo on salmon fishing. Many other concerned groups and members of the public are demanding the same. To allow crucial economic and social fishing related activity vital to coastal communities will mean more work, the engagement of stakeholders, and an element of risk. What’s being asked for is considerably more involved than simply slamming the door.

The people putting forward these proposals want salmon fisheries to be restored to their former glory as much as anyone. Their social and economic future, and for many their cultural identity, are dependent on their being salmon. Can the same be said for the large commercial fishing companies that scoop salmon up by the tens-of-thousands with no regard for wild salmon vital to stock rebuilding efforts? And yet, those offshore large-scale fisheries continue.

The Public Fishery Alliance is hoping for a last-stitch effort to sustain the socio-economic viability of BC’s coastal communities and avoid what happened on Canada’s east coast. It prioritizes sustaining wild Pacific salmon stocks, and artisanal and other small-scale fisheries vital to the health of BC’s coastal communities – indigenous and non-indigenous alike. And, if it turns out scientists can’t find a reliable way to bring this about, taking into consideration local knowledge, these communities are willing to stop fishing. Putting a stop to public fisheries without first having tried to find a viable solution may be expedient, but it’s short sighted.

No doubt, we all need to step up and take responsibility for the decline in Pacific salmon our actions or inactions have set in motion. We can manage our way through to reversing this downward spiral, but because the issues are numerous and well entrenched, it’s going to take a concerted effort and time. The risk of doing too-little-to-late can only lead to nature setting its own course, and once nature has determined a new shape for the North Pacific ecosystem, it can’t be easily undone., Just look at Canada’s east coast where scientists are still scratching their heads over why Cod stocks haven’t returned despite a 28-year fishing embargo. In short, take all necessary actions to rebuild BC’s wild Pacific salmon stocks, but don’t abandon BC’s coastal communities along the way.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

B.C. anglers pan federal response to salmon petition | The Star
Minister Jordan reminded anglers that new management measures in 2019 and 2020 were designed to allow for recreational fisheries in times and areas where stocks of concern can be avoided. Not satisfied, a Parliamentary petition, tabled Dec. 4 with 2,654 signatures, was initiated by retired Surrey resident and angler Bill Braidwood over DFO’s sweeping recreational closures of Fraser River chinook. The petition called for an amendment to the 2020 management measures that acknowledge the existence of abundant chinook runs, augmented by marked hatchery fish, that could be caught safely away from endangered populations. DFO is now considering a pilot recreation fishery on hatchery origin chinook, similar in structure to the petition request, which were tested in pilot projects last year, and is conducting a post-season review to potentially include more marked-selective fishing opportunities in the spring.

Watch your Step when wading BC’s salmon rivers | Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Between fall and spring, spawning grounds are full of vulnerable salmon redds. Studies on trout redds show that trampling can cause mortality rates between 43 – 96 per cent. A similar rate applied to wild salmon redds could be disastrous, especially for endangered populations. Find out how to identify and avoid them.

Fish:

Decades of cuts to salmon monitoring leave B.C. scientists uncertain of fish populations | The Narwhal
Less than 10 per cent of spawning habitat on B.C.’s central and north coast is being monitored by creekwalkers; the people who count salmon one by one. Critics say this leaves a critical gap in knowledge that could further imperil the species.

Blue Economy sessions kick off with roundtable marathon | Welland Tribune
Canada’s fisheries minister has wrapped up her first week of roundtable discussions with stakeholders on the development of Canada’s first Blue Economy. Jordan said she heard about the importance of B.C.’s fisheries and coastal tourism from the Pacific region, the level of importance of having reliable, timely, and accessible data on the oceans from ocean scientists and professors, and the need for collaboration between communities, First Nations and industry to produce a strategy that considers economic, social and environmental factors.

Salmon runs in B.C. are depleting — but some have the potential to come back, report shows | National Observer
The report, released by the Salmon Coast Field station, a field research base and charity near Echo Bay, analyzed more than 150 salmon populations in the Broughton Archipelago and inlets on northeast Vancouver Island and the central coast. They assessed fish in 92 river systems for abundance and 24 for resilience. “Rebuilding plans are required for depleted populations under the new federal Fisheries Act, the report shows where we need to get going on that.” said Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch.

How global warming is affecting B.C. salmon | Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Research shows global air temperatures are trending hotter than expected in recent decades. Five of the last six years were the hottest on record. The situation gets more dire as you move closer to the north pole, as temperatures are increasing more rapidly than they are at the equator. The effect global warming has on salmon populations will be widespread, long-lasting and irreversible without urgent action.

Hundreds of fish species – including many we eat – are consuming plastic | EarthSky
Trillions of barely visible pieces of plastic are floating in the world’s oceans. Microplastics are making their way into fish and shellfish, and potentially into humans. What are the effects of this plastic diet on fish and the animals that eat them?

Report lays bare the true costs of open net pen salmon aquaculture | ASF
The Changing Markets Foundation and Just Economics have released a new report called Dead Loss that examines the externalized costs placed on nature and the public from open net-pen salmon aquaculture in Canada, Norway, Scotland, and Chile. The numbers are staggering: 100 million salmon have escaped or died of disease since 2013 and unaccounted costs placed on the public are worth nearly $50 billion.

Washington State Pacific Salmon Future Grim
The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office has released a report on the state of salmon populations in the state’s watersheds—and the findings predict a grim future. The once prolific salmon populations in Washington State have been declining for years, and populations are now estimated to be at about 5% of historic highs.

In Search of BC Resident Killer Whales | Marine Mammal Research Unit UBC
In August 2020, nine people set sail aboard the M/V Gikumi to determine whether there are enough chinook salmon to support southern resident killer whales in the Salish Sea.  For 30 days, the team used electronic fish finders, biologging tracking devices, and drones to document the abundance and distribution of salmon – as well as the feeding behaviours of two populations of resident killer whales-one that is declining (the southern residents) and one that is increasing (the northern residents). Read the research groups diary entries.

Water:

DFO letter says City of Pitt Meadows is wrong on Kennedy Pump Station | Watershed Watch Salmon Society
The pumps at Kennedy Pump Station are aging and need to be replaced. Conservation groups have been demanding that the city replace the old fish-killing pumps with fish-friendly pumps such as those used in other places around the lower mainland. A recent letter sent from DFO says that non-fish-friendly infrastructure can violate the prohibition of harm to fish under the federal Fisheries Act. Pitt Meadows responded by doubling down on their commitment to use fish-killing pumps and declaring there are little to no native fish or salmonids in the waterway.

Massive Landslide Cools Fjord | Hakai Magazine
The landslide happened in a remote area, about 200 kilometers northwest of Vancouver, British Columbia. Researchers think that melting permafrost and a retreating glacier destabilized the steep slope until it gave way on November 28, 2020. The slide pushed an estimated nine million cubic meters of debris into a lake made from the glacier’s meltwater, creating a wave that may have reached as high as 110 meters.

Shuttered Glencore B.C. mines threaten Babine Lake salmon: report | The Narwhal
New research finds lax provincial regulations allow companies to discharge toxic wastewater with metal concentrations hundreds of times higher than what’s considered safe for aquatic life.

The Environmental Threat You’ve Never Heard Of | Hakai Magazine
It’s called coastal darkening, and scientists are just beginning to explore it. As phytoplankton form the base of the ocean’s food web, this could have stark implications. Some species of zooplankton, for instance, have adapted to eat one kind of phytoplankton. Any change in phytoplankton composition could result in winners and losers throughout the ecosystem.

U.S. Coalition on 30 by 30 Initiative Grows | NPAA
So far 42 U.S. hunting, fishing and conservation organizations have taken a significant step forward for conservation by officially joining as signatories to the “Hunting and Fishing Community Statement on the 30 by 30 Initiative.” The coalition was established to ensure the interests and contributions of fishers and hunters are incorporated into policies intended to advance 30 by 30 goals.

Indigenous:

Government of Canada and the A-Tlegay Member Nations Sign the Reconciliation Framework Agreement for Fisheries Resources | Cision News
Five First Nations have a long history of marine use and stewardship in the northern Gulf of Georgia and the Johnstone Strait region. The Framework Agreement commits the Parties to work together through a common fisheries negotiation table between the Government of Canada and the A-Tlegay Member Nations (AMN). The goal is to expand the Nations’ access to the commercial industry, including aquaculture, develop community fisheries, and create a mechanism for collaborative governance of fisheries resources.

New UBC Indigenous fisheries centre aims to uplift community rights | Salmon Arm Observer
The UBC’s Centre for Indigenous Fisheries focusses on bringing Indigenous communities in as full partners. One of the centre’s first initiatives is a multimedia project called Fish Outlaws, documenting the criminalization and dispossession of Indigenous fisheries around the Salish Sea.

Raising awareness of Indigenous water rights in B.C. | The Discourse

Industry:

Navico Appoints Chief Sustainability Officer | FishingWire
Navico, parent company to the Lowrance®, Simrad Yachting, B&G® and C-MAP® brands, announced the hiring of its first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer this week as the company has made sustainability one of its core strategic pillars globally across its brands, products, operations and production.

Boating:

Outboard Engine Sales Report show continued increase | NMMA
NMMA’s 2020 U.S. Recreational Boating data shows outboard engine retail sales rose for the ninth consecutive year in 2020 to a total of 330,000 units. It’s the highest annual sales volume in 20 years and up 18% from 2019.

Arts:

Alberta’s Ice Fishing Photo Contest | Alberta Conservation Association
Submissions from Alberta anglers are being accepted until the end of February, 2021. Enter in one of three categories: most Excited Angler; best Fish Photo; and, atmospheric Photo. Enter by visiting the Alberta Conservation Association Facebook page or via Twitter or Instagram. Post your photo as a comment, or post a photo on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #IceFishingPhotoContest2021. Prizes include ice Fishing Prize Pack (valued at $285)and $50 gift cards.

Special Guest Feature — Extracts from the Public Fishery Alliance’s Open Letter To DFO Minister Jordan (Feb 16 2021):

Dear Minister Jordan,

For the past two years your department has prevented the Public fishery from keeping any Chinook in critically important Southern BC salt and freshwater angling areas, even when no Fraser River Chinook stocks of concern are present. Furthermore, between April 1st and July 31st, keeping abundant US hatchery Chinook has also been off limits in areas where they make up a very high percentage of the Chinook stocks present. These actions have had devastating consequences for the Public fishery. Many hard-working Canadians in the public fishing sector are now without jobs and the infrastructure that supports angling is struggling. COVID-19 has magnified these social and economic impacts.

In early 2020, the Federal Fisheries Minister’s Sport Fishing Advisory Board submitted a fishing plan that included opportunities to catch and keep abundant Chinook salmon. It was developed with DFO staff specifically to avoid wild Fraser River stocks of concern using DFO’s latest scientific data. It also offered a minimal, but sustainable, opportunity for the Public fishery during these extraordinary times. Yet, your department refused to implement the entire proposal, devastating Georgia Strait, Juan de Fuca Strait and lower Fraser River Public Fisheries. Not adopting this fishing plan defies logic, runs contrary to science-based fisheries management and to your mandate.

Specific Fraser River Chinook stocks are undeniably in trouble. The strongly supports the immediate implementation of a comprehensive recovery program. The BC angling community has been pursuing this objective with your department for fifteen years. Yet, since 2008, increased fishing restrictions including closures are the only tools the department has used. The recovery so far, is a wretched failure.

The Public Fishery Alliance recognizes Fraser Chinook recovery will take many years. We also understand recovery of these wild Chinook is attainable, as is providing sustainable fishing opportunities without detriment to stocks of concern. These dual objectives are critically important. Our sector must have some form of meaningful access to Chinook stocks that are not in trouble, in order to maintain hope for surviving these extremely difficult times. These fisheries are defensible because:

  • This fishing plan allows anglers to keep Chinook in areas where weak runs of Fraser River Chinook do not occur based on decades of DFO data.
  • Retaining identifiable hatchery Chinook and releasing wild Chinook produces a known conservation benefit. This conservation and fishery saving tool is currently in use in Washington State.
  • Hatchery Chinook account for greater than 70% of the salmon present in JDF in April and May and it has been identified as a viable fishery candidate.
  • Wherever the 2019 & 2020 Chinook Public fishery restriction applied, no coded wire tags were turned in, significantly compromising data recovery programs. Allowing anglers to keep hatchery Chinook will result in the recovery of coded wire tags for critical scientific assessment.

Continuing your department’s heavy handed and overly broad Chinook regulation for a third year will systematically dismantle the Public salmon fishery. The PFA strongly recommends your department allow anglers to keep Chinook as described. Failure to do so reinforces the common view that science-based fisheries management and your mandate letter from Prime Minister Trudeau are not guiding your actions. Canadians deserve to know how your department operates and where it stands with respect to their interests, especially as a general election seems close at hand.

Yours truly,

“Public Fishery Alliance – Board of Directors”

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In this February 8, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News our focus is on Atlantic Canada fish health and the Ocean Tracking Network. As always, we offer a curated list of summaries and Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. We close with a call to action to protect Muskie issued by the Chair of the St John River Muskie Canada Chapter.

Lawrence Gunther with Art Geaton fishing Blue Sharks for scientific tagging

This Week’s Feature: Atlantic Canada’s Fish health and the Ocean Tracking Network

I first visited Atlantic Canada with my parents and three brothers in 1969 and new then I would be back. In 1986 I purchased a small cabin on a 5-kilometer-long gut that connected the Catalone River with the Atlantic Ocean. I’ll never forget the sound of Atlantic Salmon following the shoreline each night as they moved into the river for their summer spawn. By the time I sold the cabin 14 years later, the salmon had stopped coming and the Cod fishery was closed. Worse, scientists couldn’t even agree on what happened. Thanks to satellite tagging technology and the Ocean Tracking Network, we know a lot more now.

Oceans are warming, fish are moving, so what can Canada’s Ocean Tracking Network tell us? We speak with dr. Frederick Whoriskey Executive Director of the Ocean Tracking Network from Dalhousie University. Fred brings us up to speed on everything from Atlantic Salmon and Arctic Char, to Greenland and Great White sharks, and more. Link below to find out how Canada’s east coast fish species are fairing, and why Striped Bass numbers are on the rise, on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/canadas-atlantic-fish-species-and-the-ocean-tracking-network/

Speaking with Fred teleported me right back to my cabin on Cape Bretton Island – I could almost smell the ocean spray and hear the roar of the surf. It would have made for a great spot to hunker down this past year for sure. Can’t wait to go back — plenty of old and new friends to visit, and a much stronger stewardship capacity to celebrate. Fred’s right, it takes a combined effort from a wide cross-section of experts and people with local and indigenous knowledge to turn things around, and Atlantic Canada has plenty of both.

The Latest Fishing, fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

100 Mile House man catches massive 27-pound lake trout – iNFOnews
A 100 Mile House resident, known by his family as “the fish whisperer” got the catch of his life this week when he found a 27-pound lake trout. The angler estimated at that size, the freshwater char was roughly 50 years old. “I put it back down in the hole to be caught another time, who knows, maybe when it’s even bigger,” he said.

Manitoba RCMP, fishing guides issue warnings with lakes ‘busier than ever’ – Granthshala Canada
Members of the ice fishing community near Selark are still recovering, as a couple was found dead in their camp on the Red River at St Clements’s RM, north of CIL Road. Carbon monoxide being the likely cause. A local guide says several incidents have occurred in the past month near Winnipeg, with fishermen needing airlift to those trapped on ice overnight. A spokesman for the Manitoba RCMP said officials are reporting an increase in the amount of ice fishing. “It pissed me off, I was really surprised,” said Todd Longley, a professional fishing guide from the Winnipeg area.

2020 Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation Member Of The Year – OBN
The Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation is proud to announce that our 2020 Member of the Year is Mark Rorke from the St. Catharines Bassmasters! Mark is and has been an outstanding member of the Ontario BASS Nation for many years now. Mark is always giving back at the club and Team Ontario levels. Notably in the last few years by growing the St. Catharines Bassmasters Youth Program.

New winter fishery presents fun challenge for P.E.I. anglers – CBC News
Anglers on P.E.I. are being given a chance to fish for perch through the ice this year, in an experiment to see if a regular fishery is viable. The licence is free, but you must apply and report all you catch. Because the perch are coastal, the province is partnering with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the project.

Ontario Provincial Police say ice fishing allowed, but no staying overnight in ice huts – CBC News
Regulations imposed by the provincial government have left many anglers wondering if they are able to stay at their ice shacks overnight. The quick answer is no. During the day, fishing is allowed, said Sgt. Mike Golding, with the OPP in Thunder Bay. He said if you are outside, anglers must be in a group of five or less. However, once an ice shack gets involved, the answers are a little more complex. “You have to be there for less than 24 hours, you cannot spend the night, and then travel back,” said Golding. He said the rules apply to anglers who have their own ice hut or those who had booked a rental prior to the lockdown.

EU-wide ban on lead in fishing sinkers and lures looms closer – Angling International
The European body investigating the effect of lead in fishing tackle on the environment and health has concluded that an EU-wide restriction on its use would be justified. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has also called for an immediate ban on the use of lead sinkers when they are deliberately dropped to the waterbed – a technique commonly known as lead drop-off and popular with carp anglers. A ban on the sale and use of lead sinkers and lures is being proposed period of three years for those weighing under 50g and five years for those over 50g from the date the ban is brought into force. Health and environmental risks posed by the use of lead in outdoor sports puts an estimated 127 million birds at risk each year, and that citizens are also exposed to lead when making fishing sinkers and lures at home. Exposure lead is especially harmful to the neurological development of children.

Fish Health:

On the Briny Ocean Toss – ASF
Research gets physical, especially in the whipped-up seas of the Strait of Belle between Labrador and Newfoundland. The strait is the highway to the North Atlantic for juvenile and adult salmon leaving the Gulf of St. Lawrence and it where ASF researchers meet them to gather data about survival and migration in warming water. Here’s the story of one season on the water.

Muskie Canada calls on anglers to take action to save New Brunswick Muskie at Risk – MCI
Currently and in past years, New Brunswick DFO kills up to 60 Muskies per year at the Saint John River dams fish ladders. The Muskie stomach content research by Canadian Rivers Institute has shown zero predation of trout or salmon, and yet the NB Department of Natural Resources offers no protection, has no set fishing season, and limits are 5 muskies per day of any size any day of the year. Please complete this survey to help the Musky Fishery in New Brunswick whether you are a resident of New Brunswick or not.

Consultation: Lake Simcoe Protection Plan 10-year review – Ontario.ca
Lake Simcoe is the largest inland lake in southern Ontario and is home to more than 450,000 people. Ontario residents are invited to take part in a Virtual town hall will to be held on February 11, 2021, at 12:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Learn about the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and hear highlights of progress made to protect and restore the lake. Share your perspectives on the plan and suggest ideas that could help protect and restore the health of the lake and watershed.

Campaign launch: #peopleforsalmon – ASF
Listing some populations of Atlantic salmon under the Species at Risk Act in Canada might sound positive, but upon closer inspection, evidence and experience shows this bureaucratic measure will hamper conservation and close rivers unnecessarily. Learn more and add your voice to keep rivers open and conservation alive:

Aquaculture companies take Canada to court – National Observer
Following DFO’s termination of 19 open net-pen salmon aquaculture licenses in BC waters, Mowi, Cermaq, and Grieg have filed suit. The soon-to-be-shuttered farms are on key migration routes for wild juvenile salmon, and eliminating operations in the Discovery Islands was a recommendation made by the 2012 Cohen Commission investigating the decline of Fraser River sockeye.

Scientists puzzled by 30,000 chinook that seem to be missing from Yukon River – CBC News
There’s a mystery in Yukon and Alaska and it involves about 30,000 missing chinook salmon.

Magnuson-Stevens Act Update in Process – Fishing Wire
The Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the U.S. federal fisheries law, has not been reauthorized since 2006. And with a robust new draft bill to amend it, House lawmakers are breathing new life into the conversation about managing U.S. fisheries.

DFO is making new fishing rules. Will they work? – National Observer
In 1992, Canadians watched in horror as Newfoundland’s once-thriving cod stocks collapsed, leaving thousands without jobs and ecosystems transformed. Yet despite the horror, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has not been legally required to rebuild depleted fish stocks even as others, including the iconic salmon runs in B.C., have hit historic lows. That soon might change. Earlier this month, the federal government proposed a suite of changes to Canada’s fishing regulations that will force DFO to bring depleted commercial fish stocks back to abundant levels.

Harbour seals respond differently to pulses of out-migrating Coho and Chinook salmon smolts – Marine Mammal Research Unit
Predation by harbour seals is believed to significantly impact juvenile Coho and Chinook salmon as they enter the ocean. Biologging data from foraging harbour seals shows less impact on out-migrating salmon than expected. A few seals in the study population targeted juvenile Coho, and exerted less pressure on chinook—appearing instead to target other fish that are feeding on juvenile chinook.

Hundreds of goldfish in Fredericton duck pond present major risk – CBC News
Goldfish are highly predacious on native species, so they could clean up a population of juvenile trout, salmon and other fish in short order.

Trout Unlimited Supports Climate Change Initiatives – Fishing Wire
As President Biden signed an executive order aimed at beginning to address climate change, Trout Unlimited applauded the administration’s leadership on this issue of critical importance. These ambitious initiatives will help the nation protect sources of cold, clean, fishable water, and recover nature’s resilience to the more intense floods…

Water Quality:

Nova Scotia Announces Provisional List of Protected Areas – ASF
The province released a list of areas that will help reach its goal for protected lands, one proposed area that could secure the St. Mary’s River from Atlantic Gold’s proposed Cochrane Hill project didn’t make the list this time.

New Map Shows Dozens of Mine Pollution Threats In BC – SkeenaWild
SkeenaWild and the BC Mining Law Reform network released a new map pointing to over a hundred known and potentially contaminated mine waste sites that threaten to pollute waters, fish habitat and communities across the province. Concerns over mining have been growing since the 2014 Mount Polley disaster and 2016.

Even in Alaska: Fish Harvest Closed on Fairbanks Lakes Due to PFAS – Fishing Wire
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is continuing the restrictions on Bathing Beauty Pond and Kimberly, Bear, Moose, and Polaris lakes. In 2019, surface water in Kimberly Lake tested to exceed EPA and DEC actions levels of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Sport fishing at Kimberly Lake remains closed. For Bathing Beauty Pond and Bear, Moose, and Polaris Lakes, all fish species caught may not be retained and must be released immediately (catch-and-release only).

Atlantic Gold in Court facing environment charges in Nova Scotia – ASF
The company faces 32 charges under the Nova Scotia Environment Act, most related to heavy soil runoff from the company’s Moose River gold mine.

Bid to Overturn Tanker Ban on North Coast Fails – The Tyee
After 40 years’ debate, proponents are still pushing for oil exports via BC’s ports. And residents are still pushing back. Canada put in place a moratorium in 1972 following the U.S. construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which was expected to bring two million barrels of oil down the west coast each day in tankers. The moratorium was a way to pressure the U.S. government to avoid the Canadian coastline. Bill C-48 was passed in 2019 now prohibits tankers carrying more than 12,500 tonnes of crude oil from stopping at B.C. ports between the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the southern tip of the Alaskan Panhandle. A Conservative MP’s attempt to reverse the ban on oil tankers on British Columbia’s north coast was defeated in the House of Commons on February 3 2021.

The Looming Threat of the World’s Aging Dams – Yale E360
Tens of thousands of large dams are reaching the end of their expected lifespans, leading to a dramatic rise in structural failures and collapses. These deteriorating dams pose a serious threat to hundreds of millions of people living downstream, yet, as the new report claims, safety inspectors cannot keep up with the workload. Globally, there are an estimated 19,000 large dams more than 50 years old, which is beyond the typical lifespan before a dam needs major repairs or removal. According to the report, “By 2050, most of humanity will live downstream of large dams built in the 20th century” that are “at increasing risk of failure.”

Indigenous:

This serene B.C. island beach with Indigenous cultural ties is now a protected nature reserve – Coast Reporter
A serene beach on an island in Howe Sound, with remarkable biodiversity and First Nations cultural significance, is now a protected nature reserve.

Living with Water project explores coastal adaptation plans to address rising sea levels – Martlet
Indigenous communities will partner with researchers and governments to explore cutting-edge solutions.

Nisga’a scholar launches new Centre for Indigenous Fisheries at UBC – UBC News
A new Centre for Indigenous Fisheries is being launched at University of British Columbia.

Industry:

Bass Pro Shops founder announces huge amateur tournament – Angling International
More than $4million – the biggest payout in the history of fishing – is being offered by a new amateur tournament announced by Johnny Morris. And a further $1million will be donated to conservation. Following a series of U.S. regional qualifying rounds starting this Spring, 350 two-angler teams will compete in a three-day championship finale in autumn on Table Rock Lake.

Getting Back to Business at ICAST 2021 – ASA
This July, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show is headed back to Orlando. This year marks the 64th consecutive recreational fishing trade show produced by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) for its members and the recreational fishing industry. ICAST 2021 is scheduled for July 20 – 23. While the health, safety and security of exhibitors and attendees continues to be our top priority,” emphasized ASA President Glenn Hughes, “we are all looking forward to getting back to business.

The IGFA International Auction is Now LIVE! – IGFA
The 37th Annual IGFA International Auction is now open! Place your bids now on incredible trips, tackle, artwork, jewelry and more, until the silent auction closes on February 14, 2021. New items will be added daily. On Saturday, February 13, the virtual LIVE auction will feature a limited number of world-class angling adventures!

Boating:

Brunswick Adds Boat Capacity to Meet Unprecedented Demand – Fishing Wire
Brunswick will reopen its 225,000 square-foot Palm Coast, Florida boat manufacturing facility to expand dedicated manufacturing capability for Boston Whaler products by an additional 40 percent. In addition, Brunswick is expanding boat manufacturing capacity at its Reynosa, Mexico facility. The Reynosa facility, which manufactures Bayliner, Heyday, Sea Ray and Lund fiberglass boats, will increase capacity by 58 percent over the next 18 months.

Arts:

Kids’ Fish Art Contest – MNRF
Ontario students are invited to enter the Kids’ Fish Art Contest. This free annual contest lets you show off your artistic talents and learn about Ontario’s native fish and their habitats. If you win top prize, your winning image will be on the cover of the 2022 Ontario Fishing Regulations.

Memoir explores Nova Scotia rivers and glory days of fishing – The Chronicle Herald
In his new memoir, Harry Thurston meditates on the curious and beautiful ways that fishing, rivers, and the people he has fished with have shaped his seven decades of life.

Special Feature: New Brunswick Muskies in the Saint John River need your Help

Marlon Prince is the Chair of the Saint John River Muskie Canada Chapter. He recently sent out the following call to action.

WE NEED YOUR HELP PLEASE!

Please take 5 min for the attached survey to help the Musky Fishery in New Brunswick. Whether you are a resident of New Brunswick or not.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfdIROaj4ftCEtT3FKxaZvKHImuIcE2UcHmZiVigKuFpQybTQ/closedform

  • Currently and in past years, New Brunswick DFO kills up to or over 60 Muskies per year at the Saint John River dams fish ladders
  • DNR has no protection, no set fishing season and limits are 5 muskies per day at any size

As a Muskies Canada chapter chairman, I am working with UNB Biologists and DNR to create a management plan with the goal of protecting our resource. I could go on forever on this topic, but bottom line is:

  • these Muskies have been in the system for nearly 60 years and continue to thrive as a now naturalized part of the ecosystem. We are well past the point of them being considered invasive
  • we have a trophy fishery that continues to draw in new anglers, support guides, businesses and a Muskies Canada Chapter present since the early 2000s
  • there is ZERO evidence that the muskies are having a negative effect on the dwindling and mismanaged populations of native species in the river such as trout and salmon
  • on the contrary, stomach content studies by Canadian Rivers Institute have shown zero predation of those species.

This is a pivotal point in our goal to embrace and seek protection for this fishery and your help would be very much appreciated

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

For more about Lawrence Gunther, North America’s only blind professional angler, conservationist, writer, blogger, podcaster, film maker and TV personality, visit: www.LawrenceGunther.com

Gunther founded the charity Blue Fish Canada in 2012 and launched the podcast Blue Fish Radio in 2013.

Please rate The Blue Fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

In this issue of the Blue Fish News, we begin with a focus on Alberta’s troubled native trout and government actions underway that will either save or further imperil the fish and the cold clear mountain rivers upon which they depend. As always, we present summaries and links to a curated list of timely fishing, fish, water and related news articles and research publications. We end with a spotlight resource selected to inform and inspire readers in the art of sustainable angling.

Editor Lawrence Gunther with a rainbow trout caught in the Rockies

This Week’s Feature: Alberta’s Famous Trout Under Threat

Westslope Cutthroat Trout, bull trout and Athabasca rainbow trout are native trout species found in Alberta that need help. Restoring and protecting these native species and the diversity they represent is crucial if Canada is to maintain its world-class fisheries. Of course, all of this is moot if Alberta’s newly announced open pit coal mining is to commence in the headwaters of the rivers that these fish inhabit.

Native trout populations across the East Slopes of Alberta have experienced severe declines in population size and distribution. The Government of Alberta supports the Westslope Cutthroat Trout Recovery Program and the North Central Native Trout Recovery Program as stipulated by provincial Fisheries legislation. According to Alberta’s government the Recovery Programs are designed to “provide a comprehensive, consistent and progressive framework towards fish species recovery”, and “facilitate cross-ministry partnerships on fish recovery strategies”.

I learned about Alberta’s dedication to restoring native trout species by visiting the Alberta Conservation Association website, and those of their many local stakeholder partners involved in the government-funded recovery programs. I also spoke with senior Alberta Conservation Association biologist Mike Rodtka. Listen to my conversation with Mike Rodtka on this episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/rescuing-albertas-native-trout/

In June 2020, Alberta rescinded its watershed protection policy opening sensitive habitat to strip mines. There was no public consultation. Coal companies from Australia were quick to secure leases and have already begun building roads and conducting exploratory drilling.

Alberta isn’t the only province permitting open pit coal mining to take place in the Rocky Mountains. Canadian mining company Teck Resources operates five coal mines in BC’s Elk valley, the largest being the Fording River mine. In 2014 Teck was warned about increasing toxic selenium pollution emanating from its five Elk Valley mine sites and undertook steps to mitigate the issue. In April 2020 Tech reported an increase in selenium pollution and a 93% decline in the West Slope Cutthroat Trout population in the Fording River. Despite their best efforts, the Tech mining company is unable to prevent selenium associated with their mining waste from entering the ecosystem.

Following calls from a broad cross-section of vocal stakeholders for Alberta to reverse its unilateral position to allow open pit coal mining, Alberta recently announced a temporary moratorium on issuing any new leases but has yet to reverse its decision to remove the decades-old protections that once safeguarded these lands. Kevin Van Tighem is one of many Albertan’s speaking out about the government’s need to reinstate protections of these watersheds and is our guest on The Blue Fish Radio show. Link below to hear my interview with Kevin about what the potential loss of these trout and their habitat would say to Albertans and the rest of the world, and whether the jobs associated with foreign owned coal mines that would operate on average for 20 years justifies their sacrifice: https://bluefishradio.com/albertas-native-trout-versus-coal/

It’s not unusual for a government to operate with apparently contradictory goals. What’s happening in Alberta, pitching economic growth against the future viability of its natural bounty, is one that has played out across Canada and the rest of the world for decades. The difference now is that the stakes are far higher given our technical capacity to affect change on scales that 100 years ago were unimaginable. What else has changed is that people now have the tools to learn of such proposed changes, and to communicate and organize opposition in real time. Gone are the days of politicians banking on the assumption that they can operate with immunity based on the “trust us” principle. They must now instead engage their electorate and stakeholders meaningfully or lose the public’s trust. Special interest groups are also finding that they too must now gather and share the science and knowledge used to formulate their positions. It’s a level of transparency and accountability people now expect during these sorts of economic / environmental balancing questions. Hopefully, the days when the short-term interests of a few trumps the future reality of all the rest is becoming a thing of the past. But, it only works if people are engaged.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Lake Erie Steelhead-Winter is Prime Time – The Fishing Wire
If you think the winter months are only for ice fishing rods, you might need to reconsider. Angler surveys regularly conducted on Lake Erie tributaries typically show that the highest catch rates for steelhead occur during the winter months. Coincidentally, this is also when the lowest angler effort also occurs. This is especially true during mild winters, such as the one we are currently experiencing.

Rare Under-Ice Behavior Captured on Video – The Fishing Wire
Burbot might as well be the groundhogs of the fish world. Each winter, almost like clockwork, burbot (aka eelpout) suddenly become common catches among ice anglers. Intriguing about the enigmatic eelpout is that for the rest of the year, no one particularly knows where they go. Saskatchewan fishery scientist Jeff Matity is working hard to solve the mystery.

Get Hooked on Alberta Fishing – Alberta Conservation Association
There are 21 aerated lakes across Alberta that are stocked with trout. The Alberta Conservation Association has created a map that showcases the combined stocking efforts of ACA and Alberta Environment and Parks. With over 130 lakes and ponds stocked with trout across Alberta, you can easily find an ice fishing haven near you.

Great Slave Lake winter fishery reopens – Cabin Radio
For the first time in 15 years, Hay River -in the Northwest Territories- winter fishery is opening as part of efforts to revitalize NWT commercial fishing. Under the program, the Hay River packing facility will receive and grade fish from commercial fishers in Yellowknife and Hay River. The fish will then be shipped to the federal Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation in Winnipeg for processing and sale.

Keep Fish Caught Deep in Winter – Fishing Wire
Keep fish caught from deep waters due to low survival rates for released fish. Catch-and-release fishing, no matter the time of year, is discouraged for fish caught in 30 feet or more of water, because fish reeled in from those depths have a greater chance of dying if released. Fish caught in deep water won’t likely survive because of the extreme change in water pressure, which causes the swim bladder to expand. Fish can no longer control their balance in the water column when this happens. Other internal injuries, such as rupturing of organs and bleeding, are also likely. Anglers targeting fish in deeper water make the commitment to keep what they catch. And once they reach their limit, anglers should stop fishing at that depth to avoid killing more than their limit of fish.

Recreational Fishing Booms in Hawaii During Pandemic – The Honolulu Star
Since the novel coronavirus made its way to Hawaii in March, Brent Young, owner of Brian’s Fishing Supply in Honolulu, has observed more interest in fishing. Some of his customers are new fishers who want to learn, and others are seniors who haven’t fished in decades, but have had more time to do so. And while many of them are looking to fish just as a hobby, Young has also noticed more customers who are out of work and need to fish. “We’ve had a lot … of people come in to say they catch the food because they’re not working, and they’ve been very thankful that we’ve been open”.

Pandemic has new and returning anglers hooked around Kamloops fishing holes – iNFOnews
As people look for outdoor recreation through the pandemic this winter, it appears many are choosing to dunk a lure into the region’s many fishing holes.

Debate Continues About Catch and Release Impact on Salmon Populations – VOCM
The debate continues among salmon anglers and conservation groups about catch and release and the impact on salmon populations. Junior Downey is with the Salmon Watchers Assistance Group or SWAG. His group is one of a few in the province which is against catch and release, and acknowledges that salmon groups in the province are divided on the issue. A federal petition has also been launched asking that catch and release be banned. Downey says most groups agree there is a 10 per cent mortality rate when it comes to catch and release in ideal conditions, but that rises as the water temperatures rise. His concern is that there are no controls over catch and release.

Fish:

Labrador’s Arctic char vulnerable to climate change, says new study – CBC News
A new study paints a troubling portrait of potential climate change impacts on Arctic char in Labrador, amid calls for more research to better understand what the future holds for the species that occupies a place of immense value in Canada’s North. The study, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the result of years of field and laboratory work by a team of Canadian scientists. The study analyzed the fish’s genetic data and, combined with climate modelling from 2050, concluded the southernmost fish are the most vulnerable and “may be unable to adapt to pervasive warming in the Arctic.”

Atlantic salmon in eastern Cape Breton could be added to list of species at risk– CBC News
Ottawa is considering listing Atlantic salmon in the region as endangered under its Species at Risk Act (SARA). But even if the salmon population is listed as endangered, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it won’t automatically stop recreational fishing. Bill Haley, president of the Margaree Salmon Association, said successful salmon stocking programs and hatcheries are helping conservation efforts. “The weak link in most of this is the investment in science hasn’t been there where DFO are concerned for almost a few decades,” Haley said.

Gizzard shad swarm in Thames River for once in a decade show – CBC
A shoal of gizzard shad, the size of which hasn’t been seen in nearly a decade, have congregated in an estuary along the Thames River in London, Ontario. Watch now!

Restoration Dollars Bring Six Times the Return on Investment – NOAA
A 2020 follow-up study confirms 2011 projections by calculating that a $10 million NOAA investment in habitat restoration is powering up local economies in Michigan by at least $57 million, with more benefits every year.

Canada’s ecosystem hotspots – The Narwhal
In 2017 conservation scientist Aerin Jacob was invited to join an expert team charged with advising the Canadian government on ways to meet its conservation targets. The team was asked to identify areas that provide important ecosystem services — such as landscape-based carbon storage, flood prevention, fresh water and food resources and outdoor recreation — so they could be taken into account when deciding where to put new protected areas. But there was just one problem: that information didn’t exist.

Invasive Species will be Winners and Losers Under Climate Change – IJC
Researchers who model climate change in the Great Lakes predict the waters will become warmer and subject to more intense storms in the decades ahead. These conditions will benefit some species and hurt others, including native and invasive creatures. If Asian carp invade Lake Michigan, for example, they may find more suitable habitat thanks to warmer waters, while invasive zebra and quagga mussels may have more trouble forming their shells.

I’m blue da ba dee da ba daa (and so are B.C. salmon) – The Narwhal
Remember when wild salmon in B.C. were plentiful? Changes to the farmed salmon industry could help bring back the good ol’ days. Critics have long charged that a big part of the problem lies within the province’s massive farmed salmon industry, whose open-net pens have been found to spread disease and sea lice to wild populations. The industry begs to differ and insists its operations pose no harm.

We’re Running Out of Seafood, Yet We Waste Billions of Pounds of It – Sierra Club
A 2015 study published in Global Environmental Change estimates that every year, almost half the seafood supply is lost. Globally, we lose 110 billion pounds. Considering it’s recommended that the average person consume at least 1.7 ounces of protein per day, that’s enough food to feed 2.8 billion people for a year. Here’s how commercial and social enterprises are making a dent in fishy food waste.

Water:

Five things the federal government must do for Lake Winnipeg – Lake Winnipeg Foundation
The Lake Winnipeg Foundation, in collaboration with the Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective, recently released a position paper on how to achieve meaningful results in decreasing blue-green algae in Lake Winnipeg.

Microplastics found in Arctic Ocean could be from clothing – The Narwhal
A new study shows that the synthetic fibres being found throughout the Arctic Ocean are threatening wildlife and Indigenous ways of life. Who would have imagined that the clothes we wear might be contributing to the problem? Evidence increasingly shows that tiny synthetic fibres are permeating the Arctic Ocean and finding their way into zooplankton, fish, seabirds and marine mammals.

The Sixth Great Lake is Under Your Feet – IJC
Between 20-40 percent of the water budget of the Great Lakes (the total water flowing in and out of the system) originates as groundwater. Without this unseen water, the Great Lakes would be dramatically different from those we know. Although the exact influence of groundwater on the quality of the surface waters of the Great Lakes has not been pinpointed, plumes of contaminated groundwater often discharge to lakes and streams. Strengthening public appreciation of and public policy protecting groundwater is a fundamental part of Great Lakes stewardship.

Where did the Deepwater Horizon oil spill go – NOAA
NOAA Sea Grant partners in the Gulf of Mexico released a short video that provides a clear explanation of where oil went after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The spill occurred at a depth of 5,000 feet and lasted 87 days.

The Big Picture: The biggest freshwater reserves – The Guardian
Water is necessary to life on Earth, but some countries have very little and others have enormous endowments. It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s population is at risk of water shortages, a problem only exacerbated by climate change. Countries like Qatar, Israel and Lebanon are among those most at risk of “water stress.” Meanwhile, other countries have more water than they need — including Canada. This country ranks third worldwide in freshwater reserves, which is generally considered to be water with low concentrations of dissolved salts. It can be found in lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, bogs, ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers and even underground (known as groundwater). While Canada’s resources are immense, they are only about half of those found in Brazil, the world leader in freshwater reserves.

Indigenous:

A letter from Henry Lickers – IJC
I write this letter to share my experiences as an Indigenous scientist. On the reserve, I had always wondered what job and who would pay me to play in nature. I was naturally drawn to the water, which seems to link everything together, and I decided to become a biologist. I, too, have had problems talking to and understanding the knowledge of my people, the Haudenosaunee. I hope that by sharing my story, you will become more aware of and curious about Indigenous ways and the importance of drawing from multiple knowledge systems.

Industry:

Lead is Dead…but Tungsten is here to stay – Clam Outdoors
There’s a quote in the tackle industry that is starting to take off…Lead is Dead. This is referring to the fact that many states are banning lead, and the trend is going to continue. Watch as Clam Pro Tackle Director John Crane talks about the benefits of tungsten tackle and talks about some of the most popular Tungsten CPT jigs on the market.

Simrad Continues Partnership with Gray Fish Tagging – The Fishing Wire
Simrad Yachting – a division of Navico and leader in the design and manufacture of world-class marine navigation, autopilot, radar, communications and fishfinding systems – announced today the continued sponsorship of Gray FishTag Research (GFR). “We have been sponsoring GFR for many years and their work is vital to the health and sustainability of our oceans and fisheries.” GFR is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, international, all species and fully interactive fish tagging program, powered by the world’s largest network of fishing professionals, consisting of approximately 10,000 charter boat captains and mates. The GFR program strives to be a fun and interactive program by introducing anglers to the world of fish tagging and tracking.

Boating:

Electric Boat Company Expands Capacity – The Fishing Wire
Ingenity Electric is increasing its capacity to build electric boats as part of parent company Correct Craft’s investment in 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space near its headquarters in Orlando. The new space will support growing demand for more sustainable boating solutions like the award-winning, 100% electric Nautique GS22E.

Ingenity President Sean Marrero stated, “The Nautique GS22E is incredible. It shows what’s possible with fully electric propulsion, but this is only the beginning.

U.S. Boat Sales Reached 13-Year High in 2020 – Fishing Wire
With heightened interest in outdoor recreation activities and ways to social distance, consumer demand for new boats surged across the U.S. in 2020. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), representing North American recreational boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, reports that retail unit sales of new powerboats increased last year by an estimated 12 percent compared to 2019. More than 310,000 new powerboats were sold in 2020. RV sales also reached their fourth highest level in 2020 with over 500,000 units sold in the U.S.

STEM:

The Coolest Teacher on Earth? – NPAA
Jean-Marc Perreault is not your average middle and high school science and technology teacher. For the past 27 years, the Canadian educator has consistently demonstrated that he will go to any length to make his courses more interesting and… In addition to teaching, Perreault is assistant scuba diving instructor and volunteer patroller for the Canadian Coast Guard. His passion for all things aquatic has led him to develop several unique learning opportunities for his students, the most recent of which involves the use of high-frequency sonar to locate and document previously undiscovered shipwrecks in the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Events:

Save The River Annual Conference
Join Save the River online for their 32nd Annual Winter Environmental Conference. ON February 6th at 10: a.m. Eastern Lawrence Gunther will be presenting “Health and Current Status of the St. Lawrence River Fishery”.

February 2nd is World Wetlands Day
Watch Blue Fish Canada’s Twitter and Facebook accounts where we’ll be sharing more information about the crucial role of coastal wetlands in fish health.

Special Feature – Blue Fish Canada’s “Youth Sustainable Fishing Training Program”

Science and Local Knowledge: The Blue Fish Canada “Youth Sustainable Fishing Training Program” ensures youth and their mentors have access to the latest regionally specific science and knowledge to fish sustainably. Program guidance documents and training modules are developed in collaboration with leading fish biologists, expert anglers, and indigenous elders across Canada.

Program resources include:

  • Fish species and size selection;
  • Bait, technique and tackle choices;
  • Disease and invasive species prevention;
  • Fish handling and release health and welfare;
  • Fish identification and biology;
  • Sustainable harvesting and euthanization
  • One health one welfare stewardship responsibilities and personal care; and,
  • Safe fish consumption awareness.

Learn more and become a program delivery partner – together we can ensure the future of fish and fishing!

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

For more about Lawrence Gunther, North America’s only blind professional angler, conservationist, writer, blogger, podcaster, film maker and TV personality, visit: www.LawrenceGunther.com

Gunther founded the charity Blue Fish Canada in 2012 and launched the podcast Blue Fish Radio in 2013.

Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

In our first issue of the Blue Fish Canada News for 2021, we start with a feature about our relationship with nature and fishing, including a deep dive on angler participation in 2020 with Dr. Steven Cooke from Carleton University. As always, we include a specially curated list of links to timely news about fishing, fish, water and related news. We conclude with part 1 of a multi-part series highlighting the Blue fish Canada “Youth Sustainable Fishing Training Program”.

Editor Lawrence Gunther with his guide dog Moby ice fishing

Special Feature on Health and Angler Participation During the Pandemic

Throughout 2020 Blue Fish Canada published 22 issues of the Blue Fish News that included special features and links to news from across Canada about fishing, fish, and water. Just as importantly, the News featured information about Covid-19 outdoor safety best practices curated from sources around the world and fact-checked as always by our science advisors and local knowledge experts. Blue Fish Canada will continue to ensure our readers have the knowledge to pursue outdoor adventures confidently and safely, and in ways that ensure both the sustainability of both our fisheries, and the environment as a whole.

If there is only one positive thing that came out of 2020, it’s that we deepened our understanding and strengthened our connection with Nature. More importantly, we gained greater awareness of just how much our health and that of nature is interdependent. It’s a connection with nature that means every action generates a reaction, that we need to be healthy to fully appreciate nature, and that we are dependent on nature for our physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.

The COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding public health mitigation strategies altered many facets of human life. And yet, little is known about how public health measures impacted recreational fisheries. Pandemic-related safety measures were introduced just as anglers were contemplating the re-opening of many recreational fishing seasons across Canada, leading to considerable speculation about the most appropriate path forward – to fish, or not to fish.

Canada’s Federal, Provincial and municipal governments all responded differently with closures, delays, barriers, or encouragement to get outdoors. Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans was one of the only governments in Canada to issue a guidance document advising west coast anglers on how to stay safe. The rest of the world was just as uncertain, but there were several U.S. states that also encouraged their citizens to get outdoors and issued guidance documents of their own. The Blue Fish Canada News reported on these angling safety best practices, and in the May 17 edition of the Blue Fish News issued a comprehensive list of tips to anglers on how to stay safe.

It wasn’t long before governments across Canada fell into line and opened fishing and access to related assets such as boat launches and fishing tackle stores. By early summer it was clear that people were turning to fishing in numbers never before witnessed. Sales of live bait, fishing tackle and boats set new records. What we didn’t know was who were the people doing all this fishing, were they able to stay safe, what was the impact on Canada’s fisheries, and was the economic activity associated with all this fishing benefitting everyone traditionally involved in fishing equally, including guides, local bait and tackle stores, fishing lodges, indigenous communities, and all the other communities that depend on angler activity.

Below are links to two reports that explore the impacts and benefits of angler participation throughout 2020. The first was conducted by Dr. Steven Cooke and his team of researchers at Carleton University’s Cooke lab, and the second is a report out of the U.S. prepared by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Both reports show that more people fished in 2020 then in any other year, based on available data, and that anglers themselves seemed to have done so without having caused the pandemic to spread, either among anglers, or the places where the fishing took place.

The study undertaken by Carleton University’s Cooke Lab went further and determined that all this fishing wasn’t being undertaken in response to food insecurity. In other words, people weren’t fishing necessarily to avoid going into grocery stores, or to feed their families because they lost their jobs. That’s not to say that there weren’t anglers who approached angling with this in mind, but the studies are clear that people were fishing because they had more time on their hands during shutdowns, they wanted to do something safe with their families where they could easily bubble outside the home, and that they found fishing to be a terrific way to maintain sound mental health. Other than ordering food and other products on-line, recreational fishing was also one of the handful of positive economic drivers during what was otherwise a troublesome year for small business.

Link here to listen to the Blue Fish Radio interview with Dr. Steven Cooke about the survey his team of researchers conducted involving close to 1,000 anglers in the province of Ontario: https://bluefishradio.com/angler-participation-in-2020-and-dr-steven-cooke/

More about the Cooke Lab survey on 2020 Impacts of “Covid-19 Restrictions and recreational fisheries in Ontario”, – Center for Open Science

Using a web-based online snowball survey, Carleton University’s Cooke Laboratory targeted resident anglers in Ontario to learn how the pandemic impacted recreational fishing and related activity. Angler perspectives on pandemic-related restrictions and fisheries management were also surveyed. Approximately 20% of the anglers who responded to the Cooke Lab survey self-identified as either beginners or as former anglers returning to the sport. Motivations to fish included free time, to maintain mental and physical health, and a desire to be more self-sufficient. Survey results underscored the value of recreational fishing for maintaining mental and physical well-being, and the overall socio-economic popularity and value of outdoor recreation during a pandemic.

And here’s a link to the RBFF Report, US Study Finds Fishing & Boating Rose to Historic Popularity in 2020 – Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation

Millions of Americans took up fishing or boating as new or returning participants during summer 2020. A 2020 research report issued by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation found that New anglers and boaters are younger, more urban and more diverse. They are also highly socially connected. Their reasons for getting started included canceled vacations and summer plans, more flexible schedules while working from home, and inspiration from family and friends.

The Latest Fishing, Fish and Water News

Fishing:

Socially distanced fishing helps life feel a little more normal – The Herald

Like many devoted anglers, I suffered withdrawal symptoms when regional waterways were declared off limits this past spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, the new normal allows for fishing, a sport whose moral principals insist on effective social distancing. Managing a polite distance from others is well-ingrained behavior for fly fishers who swing a Purple Marabou for steelhead. Indeed, most of us fly fishers would prefer never to see another person on our favorite run.

Kokanee return in droves – Kelowna Daily Courier

If you thought you saw more kokanee salmon spawning in local creeks and along the shore of Okanagan Lake than usual this fall, you were right.

When is a trout a salmon and what difference does it make? – Daily Hampshire Gazette – Earth Matters

When I was fly fishing for pink salmon some years ago in the Pacific Northwest, I hooked an enormous steelhead, which is a sea-run rainbow trout. That steelhead was twice the size of the five-pound salmon I’d caught. All salmon migrate to saltwater and many trout do as well, although only steelhead and brown trout spend long periods in the sea. Even some strains of brook trout migrate for a few months to the ocean. Some species die after spawning (the five Pacific salmon) while others return to the sea (Atlantic salmon as well as brown and rainbow trout). So, there’s no real reason to differentiate trout from salmon.

The B.C. fish you’ve likely never heard of that’s confounding trawlers and officials – CBC News.

Bocaccio rockfish have made a huge comeback in B.C. since being deemed endangered in 2013, but the success story is being met with some trepidation. Bocaccio rockfish are found off the coast of British Columbia and often captured by fishermen targeting other groundfish species such as cod, sole or halibut.

New DFO regulations ensure tougher approach to rebuilding fish stocks – CBC News.

Canada is putting rebuilding depleted commercial fish stocks into law, starting with Atlantic cod off Newfoundland, spring spawning herring in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and three Pacific salmon stocks. DFO would have up to three years to come up with a rebuilding plan once a stock has reached what is known as the “lower reference point” — the point where a population is undergoing serious, ongoing harm.

The Old Man and the New Sea – Hakai Magazine (available in print and audio)

Three generations of the Hamada family have fished British Columbia’s coast. Will the latest generation outlive the salmon they seek?

Fish:

Pacific salmon 2021 outlook – Watershed Watch Salmon Society

Greg Taylor provides a summary of DFO’s preliminary outlook for 2021 Pacific salmon returns in B.C. — and he pulls no punches. The 2020 salmon season was the worst on record for many salmon stocks. In their summary, DFO states, ‘expectations for (2021) salmon returns are low and similar to 2020.’

Piscivory in recovering Lake Michigan cisco – Journal of Great Lakes Research

Contemporary conditions in Lake Michigan where cisco populations are expanding are vastly different from those encountered by the historic fish community. The top three prey items in the diet of Lake Michigan cisco now consists of non-native prey found in the Great Lakes, accounting for 87% of all observed prey mass consumed, such as round Goby, alewife, and B. longimanus.

Concern as Chinook salmon added to endangered species list in British Columbia – Angling International.

Fishery experts are concerned that Chinook salmon have been added to the endangered species list in British Columbia. Of 28 southern groups assessed in the state, only two have been identified as not at risk. Conservation groups and scientists are warning that hatchery fish will pass on inferior traits and that successive generations could be unfit for the wild.

Miramichi watershed Smallmouth eradication update – Atlantic Salmon Federation

Partners behind the effort to eradicate invasive smallmouth bass from the Miramichi watershed are awaiting a decision from the New Brunswick government that will determine if the project can proceed this year, or at all. This article offers a rundown of the major elements of the plan.

The rise of the land salmon – The Narwhal

Canada’s Narwhal online magazine recently published a 3-part series on the future of Atlantic salmon aquaculture, including an in-depth look at the growing trend to move salmon farming out of the ocean and on to land. Over 75 land-based salmon farms are now operational or being built around the world, including two in Canada, and the new operation near Miami Florida expected to meet over half of the demand in the U.S. – twice the number of salmon currently being farmed along Canada’s west coast.

BC’s Discovery Island Salmon farm sites to be removed over next 18 months – Atlantic Salmon Federation

In a major victory for the future of Pacific salmon, DFO has announced it will phase out some open net-pen salmon aquaculture sites off Vancouver Island.

Big Fish: The Aquacultural Revolution – Hakai Magazine (available in print and audio)

As the world’s population swells to 9.7 billion, industry and governments say aquaculture is the way to provide protein to the people—if that’s true, can we learn from the past and avoid screwing over the planet and each other?

Canada’s GMO salmon: frankenfish or food of the future? – The Narwhal

As the aquaculture industry tinkers with fish DNA to feed the world’s growing population more efficiently, critics say we’re moving too far, too fast without adequate transparency. Canadians with an appetite for salmon may have already consumed the world’s first genetically modified food animal without even knowing it.

Water:

Alberta to allow new coal strip mines that could kill four blue-ribbon trout rivers – Outdoor Canada.

Proposed new coal strip mines now threaten some of Alberta’s best trout streams—the Ram, Livingstone, Oldman and Crowsnest Rivers—with toxic waste. Angling and environmental groups have joined with ranchers, farmers and rural municipal governments to fight these proposals, but the outcome is far from certain.

NB Power files for removal of Milltown Dam on St. Croix River – Atlantic Salmon Federation

On December 21st the power utility submitted its Milltown Dam removal project to provincial regulators, kicking off a public and agency review process. The dam removal is a major piece of an international river restoration effort on the St. Croix which runs along the Maine-New Brunswick border.

Michigan/Illinois Invasive Carp Project Moves Forward – The Fishing Wire

The project to fight Asian carp invasion is made possible by funding from both states as well as the Federal Government. The governors of Illinois and Michigan today agreed to work jointly to protect the Great Lakes from invasive Asian carp species. The Brandon Road Lock and Dam in the Chicago Area Waterway System near Joliet, Illinois, is a critical pinch point for keeping bighead, silver and black carp – the invasive Asian carp species of greatest concern – out of the Great Lakes. The Brandon Road project would install layered technologies including an electric barrier, underwater sound, an air bubble curtain and a flushing lock in a newly engineered channel designed to prevent invasive carp movement while allowing barge passage.

Migratory fish corridors planned in dismantling of Montreal’s old Champlain Bridge – CTV News.

Workers will soon complete the construction of migratory corridors for fish in the St. Lawrence River as dismantling work on the old Champlain Bridge between Montreal and the South Shore continues. The project will reduce the impact on fish in the river. The two migratory corridors should be operational for the fish migration and the spawning season, next spring. More than forty species frequent the area where the St. Lawrence River widens between the Lachine Rapids and the Victoria Bridge, including bass, lake sturgeon, walleye and black perch. These species are all likely to inhabit the area of the river where the construction work for the jetty and the dismantling of the old bridge are located.

The Great Lakes, North America’s greatest resource, faces many threats – National Geographic.

Almost 40 million Americans and Canadians live in the Great Lakes watershed. We drink from the lakes, fish on them, transport goods over them, farm their shores, and work in cities that wouldn’t exist without the lakes. And of course, we pollute them. We’ve introduced invasive species that have permanently altered the lakes. The fertilizers we use to grow the corn we feed to the animals we eat and to make the biofuels we pump into our vehicles have contributed to the resurgence of algal blooms so large they can be seen from space. And with our ongoing emission of greenhouse gases, we’ve even managed to reengineer the weather over vast stretches of the Great Lakes watershed, increasing the frequency of severe storms.

Indigenous:

Indigenous Systems of Management for Culturally and Ecologically Resilient Pacific Salmon – Oxford University Press

Traditional technologies, harvesting practices and management systems could bring endangered populations back from the brink. More than 20 co-authors, including scientists and community leaders, conclude that revitalizing Indigenous fishing management systems and technologies — such as dip nets, fish traps and weirs — could support the sustainable harvest of salmon and strengthen Indigenous governance, unlike contemporary management systems, which have contributed to declining populations.

Industry:

Buzz Ramsey calls it a day after fifty years – Angling International.

One of the fishing tackle industry’s best-known figures has retired after five decades and three leading brands. Buzz Ramsey, 70, left his job as Brand Manager with Yakima Bait on New Year’s Day. Ramsey is an accomplished lure designer and had considerable influence on baits including Luhr Jensen’s KwikFish and Yakima Bait’s Mag Lip and FlatFish. The 30lb 5oz steelhead he caught in the Thompson River, British Columbia, was a world record at the time. In retirement, Buzz plans to continue working to find a solution for removing the four Snake River dams and recovering the fishery’s salmon stock.

Bass Pro outlines its plans for Sportsman’s Warehouse – Angling International.

The Great American Outdoors Group, parent company of Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and White River Marine, added the 112-store chain to its portfolio in a deal valued at around $800 million.

Boating:

Closure of new funding round totaling $37.5m for New Electric Outboard – Angling International.

Seattle’s Pure Watercraft first product is an electric outboard motor system with the propulsion equivalent of up to 50HP gas outboards. Its long-life lithium-ion battery has the most energy for weight of any battery pack in marine – about the same as that of a Tesla Model 3. “The quiet power offers a big advantage to catch more fish,” says TV host and pro bass angler, Troy Lindner.

Boat Licensing Changes proposed by Transport Canada – OFAH.

Do you use a boat with an outboard motor (10 horsepower or greater) that requires a Pleasure Craft Licence (PCL)? Or are you planning on applying for a Pleasure Craft Operator Card? If so, Transport Canada is proposing changes that will impact you.

NMMA Reports U.S. Boat Sales Reached 13-Year High in 2020 – Fishing Wire.

The NMMA reported today that retail unit sales of new powerboats in the U.S. increased last year by an estimated 12 percent compared to 2019. More than 310,000 new powerboats were sold in 2020. Sales of personal watercraft, including Jet Ski, Sea Doo and WaveRunner are up 8%, wake boat sales are up 20%, and sales of freshwater fishing boats and pontoons boats, which accounted for 50 percent of new powerboats sold in 2020, are up 12%.

Special Focus on the Blue Fish Canada “Youth Sustainable Fishing Training Program” – Part 1

Throughout 2021 Blue Fish Canada will continue to provide biweekly news with a focus on what we need to know and do to ensure we can strengthen and maintain our respective and collective one health relationships with nature now and into the future. This includes up-dates on actions underway to mitigate climate change, and measures being taken to improve both human and nature’s resilience to the impacts already being felt because of these changes. In addition to presenting in depth specials and links to relevant news, we will be including calls to action, both collectively and individually.

Now more than ever the future of our fisheries and nature depends on us doing things smarter. Traditions are important, but given the level of pollution, climate change, development, and advancements in innovations, it’s up to all of us to adopt science-based best practices in ways that make sense using our tremendous local knowledge. Learn more about the Blue Fish Canada “Youth Sustainable Fishing Training Program” to make sure the next generation of recreational anglers and their mentors have the tools needed to carry on the ancient practice of fishing confidently knowing that they are using the best available knowledge.

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

For more about Lawrence Gunther, North America’s only blind professional angler, conservationist, writer, blogger, podcaster, film maker and TV personality, visit: www.LawrenceGunther.com

Gunther founded the charity Blue Fish Canada in 2012 and launched the podcast Blue Fish Radio in 2013.

Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

In this final issue of the Blue Fish Canada News for 2020, we begin with an editorial by editor Lawrence Gunther “Local Knowledge Stakeholder Engagement” that explores whether the genie should be put back into the bottle post-pandemic. As always, we include a specially curated list of Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news, and close with a special resource selected to inform and inspire our readers to ice fish sustainably. 

Editor Lawrence Gunther with his guide dog Lewis, a Lab – Golden Retriever mix

This Week’s Feature

“Local Knowledge Stakeholder Engagement” – by Editor Lawrence Gunther

No doubt, 2020 was problematic for most of us at best, and far worse for many others. And while some may lament society’s pivot to webinars and video conferencing, the one bright spot is the increased participation levels and transparency that resulted.

Blue Fish Canada volunteers participated in more meetings in 2020, that prior to the pandemic, were never options due to costs and their associated carbon footprints. Our increased participation and that of many others, by this virtual throwing open of the doors, has set in motion broader collaboration and an openness to new ideas.

For years Blue fish Canada has been advocating for both greater stakeholder participation by recreational anglers and indigenous fishers, and increased consideration of fish health issues by those concerned with water quality. I’m pleased to report that we have made progress in getting fish and fishing included, if not on actual agendas in every case, as topics to be considered and discussed. Within the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence watersheds alone, the number of meetings we participated in set a new record.

Even though funding to organizations with official status flows primarily to scientific research, the introduction of local knowledge held by indigenous fishers and recreational anglers has helped to strengthen the framework upon which research findings are mapped and connected in ways that mirror this knowledge. Whether it’s the science that’s culminating in a more holistic and coherent story that people can then apply, or if it’s the local knowledge that’s identifying the gaps in scientific research that need filling, the point is that the dots are starting to be connected.

It’s now becoming abundantly clear just how important it is for researchers to collaborate with people and groups with local knowledge. The next step is figuring out ways to ensure the funding is there and applied equitably so we don’t revert to prior more insular processes that are, admittedly, a lot more predictable. Ensuring funding to groups that truly represent stakeholders with local knowledge is also imperative if we are to curb the dependents such groups now have on financing that comes with strings attached.

In my recent Blue Fish Radio interview with the co-founder of the environmental organization “Swim Drink Fish Canada”, Kyrstyn Tully speaks about how pre-loaded funding is shaping the directions taken by environmental and conservation groups who depend on grants to cover their operational and project budgets. Tully underscores the need for more stable funding so local knowledge organizations can stay true to the voices of their constituency. Even the funding needed to attend in-person meetings alone is often a hardship. You can listen to The Blue Fish Radio Show interview with Kyrstyn Tully using the following link: https://bluefishradio.com/krystyn-tully-on-the-future-of-environmentalism/

Having conducted over 300 long-form interviews with leading scientists and local knowledge experts from across Canada for “The Blue Fish Radio Show”, hundreds more with people who live by and from the water for my documentaries “What Lies Below” and “Lake2Plate”, and by simply spending time on boats fishing with amazing people, I can report that the sense of disconnection and frustration I’m hearing from people who directly experience the consequences of actions or inactions brought about by decision makers is growing. Whether indigenous fishers or recreational anglers, most now know where the science is being conducted and the decisions are being taken or not that impact their beloved fish and the fisheries that make up a big part of who they are.

For such decision-making bodies to move forward with a broader collaborative agenda, it’s no longer enough to simply include fish without also including the people who catch fish for cultural, social, subsistence, recreational, and entrepreneurial reasons. In short, we can not continue to study water without recognizing the direct relationships between water, fish, and the dependent people. Scientists need access to the knowledge these people possess, and fishers and anglers need answers and sound decisions that build on these answers, even if it involves strong medicine. It can only happen if the people responsible for taking decisions recognize the value of both, and back up this recognition with the funding and opportunities that make the science and participation by local knowledge stakeholders possible.

Let’s hope the rush to return to pre-pandemic practices in 2021 doesn’t bring an end to the inclusion and transparency many have now experienced at levels that far exceed what was once the norm. And hopefully, given the growing awareness among decision makers that science works best when combined with local knowledge, it will also mean greater financial consideration when allocating funding. To start, every scientific report should include a detailed section of how local knowledge was incorporated, the level of involvement of local experts in the actual research, and a budget line that clearly demonstrates the value of such collaborations. And then who knows, maybe directly funding local knowledge stakeholder groups to do more than plant shoreline greenery or scoop garbage. To give such organizations the breathing room to gather, sort and make available local knowledge in ways beyond providing opening and closing remarks at meetings.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News

Fishing:

Ten Ice Fishing Safety Tips by Canada’s own fishing legend Bob Izumi – Northern Ontario Travel
Proper preparation is one of the keys to ensuring a safe day on the hard water.

Fly Fishing’s Unlikely Following – Fishing Wire
Who would have guessed that old-fashioned fly fishing would captivate a whole new generation? But it’s true: the Zen-like practice is attracting millennials by the boatload.

How To Perform A Self Rescue if you Go Through the Ice – YouTube

Angling lost a legendary angler, educator, and industry icon with the passing of Ron Lindner – Angling Edge
Ron and his brother Al brought a scientific approach to angling that helped them evolve into elite tournament fisherman. The pair developed the Lindy Tackle Company and invented the Lindy Rig used by millions of walleye anglers. They went on to create a fishing media empire that began with the In-Fisherman magazine and expanded into radio, television, books and more. Then on to Lindner Media Productions which spawned Lindner’s Angling Edge and an outcropping of subsidiaries. Ron was inducted into many Sportsman and Fishing Hall of Fames. Rest in peace, Ron. Your accolades are many and varied, and changed the world through your life of service to the cause.

Minnesota’s NW Angle Businesses Unite to Save Ice Fishing Season – Fishing Wire
There is a part of the United States that as a result of the U.S. / Canada border closure, has been cut off from U.S. residents. In order to travel there, one has to drive through Canada about 40 miles before entering back into the U.S. Facing another season of virtually no revenue, the community has pulled together and come up with a solution, the NW Angle Guest Ice Road.

Fishing code of conduct being finalized for Haida Gwaii – Smithers Interior News
The recreational fishing code for fishing on Haida Gwaii is being developed by a trilateral group consisting of the Council of the Haida Nation, the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Included in the code: take only what you need, avoid unnecessary harm to untargeted species, refrain from targeting the largest fish, and ending catch-and-release practices.

Fish Health:

Discovery Islands salmon farms to be phased out of existence over next 18 months – CBC News
The controversial open-net salmon farms in the Discovery Islands near Campbell River, B.C., will be phased out over the next 18 months. Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said all 19 farms have to be free of fish by June 30, 2022, when their renewed 18-month licenses expire.

Permanent fishway to be built at Fraser River landslide – Kamloops This Week
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has awarded a contract that would see a permanent fishway built to help fish migrate past the massive Big Bar landslide on the Fraser River. The federal government has awarded Burnaby-based Peter Kiewit Sons a contract worth $176.3 million to design and build a fishway that’s expected to be operational by the start of the 2022 Fraser River salmon migration

Large-scale fish hatcheries hurting Chinook salmon populations – CTV News
New report says four Chinook populations are moving towards extinction and one of the threats to the population is large-scale fish hatcheries. “They are really struggling,” said John Reynolds, professor of ecology at Simon Fraser University and the chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered

Tofino Hatchery sets sights on restoring Chum salmon stocks – Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News
The hatchery recently launched a new project designed to boost Chum populations by collecting roughly 45,000 chum eggs.

Tire Treads Washing into Rivers Discovered to be Killing California’s Coho Salmon – SFChronicle.com 
Scientists in the Pacific Northwest say they’ve solved a long-running mystery behind the region’s dying salmon, a discovery that may explain what’s harming fish elsewhere around the globe. In recently published research, a team of university and government scientists identify a toxic material derived from tire treads that is washing into rivers and creeks as the killer of as many as 90% of the coho salmon in parts of the Puget Sound. The finding is a welcome breakthrough for Washington state after decades of losing the revered fish without a full explanation. However, it also points to a bigger problem, one that’s both difficult to solve and not limited to a single part of the country, and possibly rampant in urban areas everywhere.

Alexandra Morton: The trilogy of DFO decisions in 2020—is this the end of wild Fraser River salmon? – Georgia Straight
The North Atlantic cod collapsed because the DFO ignored critical warnings from its own scientists.

Scientists call for Fraser River Estuary Act – Business in Vancouver
More than 100 species in the Fraser River estuary could go extinct over the next 25 years, according to a new study led by University of BC scientists. About 15: of the threatened species are fish, essential to most of the rest.

Feds give more than $6M to assist species-at-risk projects in Nova Scotia – CBC News
The Nova Scotia Salmon Association will receive $3.8 million to be used in two projects, while the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq will receive up to $2.3 million. The bulk of the funds will go toward conservation planning for eight priority watersheds in several locations in mainland Nova Scotia. Work on the project started last year and will continue through to 2023.

New East Coast White Shark Research Consortium Formed – Fishing Wire
Shark research groups and government agencies from the northeastern US and Canada announced the establishment of the New England White Shark Research Consortium. With growing sightings of white sharks from Rhode Island to Canada, this is the perfect time to create a unique consortium to increase our understanding of white shark life history, including their migration, residency, habitat use, reproduction, and predatory behavior, factors that drive human-white shark interactions, and broader perceptions of white sharks by coastal communities.

Nearly 200,000 people come together in efforts to save BC wilderness – My Prince George Now
A new ‘Fish, Wildlife and Habitat’ coalition forms in B.C and has 188,000 members. The coalition is comprised of 750 businesses and 54,000 supporters from different backgrounds, lifestyles and political beliefs. The group is demanding fish, wildlife and habitat no longer take a ‘back seat’ in B.C. In 1954, BC spent approximately .63% of the provincial budget on fish and wildlife, by 2017, that number declined to .06%.

Whales to trout: Ottawa announces $50M for research into fisheries ecosystems – Kamloops This Week
The federal government is announcing more than $50 million for research into marine and freshwater ecosystems across Canada. The projects range from improving habitat for Atlantic salmon to measuring the effects of shipping on whales off the British Columbia coast to studying trout-bearing waters in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains where new coal mines and expansion of others are being considered.

Canada joins 13 nations in 100% sustainable ocean management pledge – Globalnews.ca
Canada, with over five million square kilometres of ocean area, is one of the countries to put forward a new ocean action agenda on Wednesday. Boris Worm, a professor of marine ecology at Dalhousie University, was the scientific advisor to the Canadian government and reviewer of papers written for the newly proposed oceans agenda. Worm says the world’s oceans are at a critical turning point, as some estimate a decline of 50 per cent in marine resources. “In Canada, only one-quarter of fish stocks is considered reliably healthy,” Worm says. “There’s a road to recovery we need to engage in, and we’re willing to engage, and that’s what this panel is all about — to make sure it actually happens.”

Water Quality:

Yukon wetlands at tipping point from placer mining – The Narwhal
The Yukon Water Board is asking the public to weigh in as the territory considers legislation to protect remaining undisturbed wetlands from small-scale gold mining in streams and riverbeds.

Ottawa’s Downtown tunnel finally ready to keep sewage out of Ottawa river –  CBC 
The $232-million “engineering marvel,” which began construction in 2016, is now ready to store water when the next big storm hits Ottawa. The pair of tunnels measure 6.2 kilometres in total, and include 15 underground chambers capable of holding up to 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of sewage.

13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding – Cowichan Valley Citizen
Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s executive director, Aaron Hill, applauded the investments, with a note of caution. “Much more is needed, including much stronger efforts to ensure our lands and waters don’t get trashed to begin with.”

It’s official: Alberta’s oilsands tailings ponds are leaking – The Narwhal
There are more than a trillion litres of toxic oilsands waste stored in tailings ponds near Alberta’s Athabasca River. A years-long international investigation has found ‘scientifically valid evidence’ the massive pits that store toxic waste in the oilsands are leaking, leaving Albertans wondering who’s going to clean them up

The watershed watchers: in conversation with the International Joint Commission – The Narwhal
Canada and the U.S. are bound together by waterways that transcend political borders. But what happens when industrial development changes those waters in ways that could last hundreds of years? Selenium pollution in the Elk Valley watershed, which is linked to fish and bird deformities and the collapse of treasured trout populations, is on the rise. And because the Elk Valley watershed drains into the Koocanusa reservoir, which crosses the B.C.-Montana border, the province’s selenium problem is now raising the ire of our neighbours to the south.

Government blocks proposed mine that threatened Alaska salmon fishery – The Guardian
Denial of permit to controversial Pebble gold and copper mine delights environmental and indigenous rights activists, and brings an end to the dreams of Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. The mine and it’s proposed open-pit excavation would have created a pit deeper than the Grand Canyon, threatening the headwaters of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery located in south-west Alaska.

The last undammed river of Manitoba – The Narwhal
The Seal River is Manitoba’s only major waterway that hasn’t been dammed — and five Indigenous communities have banded together to keep it that way by establishing a protected area.

Lake Partner Program News – FOCA
The Federation of Ontario Cottage Associations has entered into a new 5 year agreement in support of the Lake Partner Program carrying on their longstanding partnership between dedicated waterfront volunteers and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. Their important work together supports the shared commitment to the long term monitoring of our precious freshwater lakes.

Indigenous:

New Legacy art gallery exhibit aims to revitalize traditional W̱SÁNEĆ fishing practices – Martlet 
UVic’s Legacy Art Gallery has a new exhibit: “To Fish as Formerly,” is a powerful, educational exploration of the traditional fishing practices of the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) and Salish peoples.

Algonquin Land Claim Update – FOCA
Ontario recently undertook another phase of consultations regarding provincial land matters related to the Algonquins of Ontario treaty negotiations, expected to be completed in 2023.

Canada’s first Indigenous coast guard program is already saving lives – The Narwhal
In mid-November, a storm pounded B.C.’s central coast, 120-kilometre-per-hour winds whipping the waves into a frenzy. The newly operational Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary dispatch centre in Bella Bella started receiving a flurry of calls for help from several vessels in distress. “We had one vessel towing another vessel and he had to cut his tow loose. And we were told there was a person in the water,”. “We live on the coast, we live on the water and we will respond to any call for help,” said Johnson, who’s been a responder for more than a decade. Roger Girouard assistant commissioner for the Canadian Coast Guard says “the first step  was building relationships with the First Nations along the coast”.

Climate Change:

Increasing Ocean Surface Temperatures along West Coast – NOAA
Record marine heatwaves continue to build reservoirs of toxic algae Off the  West Coast and continue the spread of harmful algae forcing the closure of valuable Dungeness crab and other shellfish seasons every year since 2015.

2020 Was a Record Year for Hurricanes – Sierra Club
The most active Atlantic hurricane season on record began two weeks ahead of schedule and ended on November 30, 2020. This season surpasses the previous record holder set in 2005, and marks the second time in recorded history when meteorologists ran out of names and had to resort to the Greek alphabet.

IJC invites public feedback on high water impacts
The International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management (GLAM) Committee and partners are gathering input from property owners who have been directly affected by high water levels on the Great Lakes or along the St. Lawrence River shoreline over 2019 or 2020. Impacted property owners can participate in a voluntary online questionnaire, and are able to upload photos.

Sluggish start for Arctic sea ice freeze-up – EarthSky Voices
After the spring and summer melt season, the cap of frozen seawater floating on top of the Arctic Ocean begins to refreeze. In 2020, the annual freeze has been slow, When Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum in September 2020, it was the 2nd-lowest in the satellite record, and the sea ice extent for this October was the lowest on record for any October.

How climate change is making winter ice more dangerous – StarTribune.com
Sapna Sharma, an associate professor of biology at York University in Toronto and a lead author of the study, said people don’t realize how global warming is increasing the risks that come with winter traditions like skating, ice fishing and snowmobiling. Northern Canada and Alaska have higher rates of drowning, even in very cold temperatures. “It may not be as safe now as it was 30 years or 40 years ago.”

Boating:

Boat Manufacturing Momentum Slows in September – Fishing Wire
The NMMA reports new boat manufacturing activity in September pulled back for the second consecutive month following a summer of elevated growth, according to its latest Monthly Shipment Report (MSR).

Torqeedo Deep Blue Electric Power Boat that “Flies” – Fishing Wire
Propelled by the Torqeedo Deep Blue 50i, the Candela Seven is 7.is a 7 meter long boat with a top speed of 55 km/h and a range of 92 km when driven at 37 km/h.

Registering your Boat – Transport Canada

Canadian Marine Advisory Council continues to consider changes to the Pleasure Craft License (PCL), to better identify boat owners for emergency purposes, and to track abandoned vessels. Currently, PCL are valid for 10 years but TC is considering a shorter (e.g., 5 year) renewal period.

Special on Ice Fishing – Blue Fish Canada

Ice fishing is one of the fastest growing recreational fishing segments in Canada. If the growth in fishing witnessed throughout 2020 continues, the 2021 ice fishing season promises to be even more popular. Quality how-to articles on equipment, tackle, techniques and safety are prolific, but here’s something you don’t often hear about – tips on how to ice fish sustainably. Blue Fish Canada relies on top Canadian fish biologists and experts with local knowledge to fact-check all our Blue Fish Sustainable Fishing Tips.

  1. USE ROD AND LINE SIZED APPROPRIATE FOR EACH FISH SPECIES Using the right strength rod and line for each fish species ensures fish are captured without causing undue fatigue. Properly matched hook strength and size increases your hook-to-landing ratio and helps ensure fish go back healthy. The use of leaders when targeting toothy fish prevents their breaking off with your tackle in tow.
  2. KEEP HOOK CUTTERS AND REMOVER HANDY Needle-nose plyers and hook removers make hook removal efficient and safe by keeping hands away from the mouths of toothy fish and hook points. When hooks are difficult to remove, hook cutters can quickly and safely separate fish from lures.
  3. AVOID REMOVAL OF FISH-PROTECTING SLIME Bacteria found in fish slime serve as a protective coating. Make sure your hands are wet and hold fish away from clothing. Do not put fish you intend to return on dry ice or snow to avoid removing slime.
  4. SUPPORT THE BELLIES OF LARGE FISH USING YOUR HANDS Fish are anatomically designed to move through water with minimal resistance and live in a constant state of neutral buoyancy. They do not possess the stomach muscles required to support internal organs when out of the water and subjected to gravity.
  5. MINIMIZE THE TIME FISH SPEND OUT OF WATER Avoid subjecting fish to extreme cold or wind that can cause frostbite or damage to their eyes. Remove fish-hooks quickly and minimize the amount of time a fish will spend out of the water.
  6. HARVEST FISH LOWER ON THE FOOD CHAIN Alpha predator fish are similar to lions; they claim territory and live solitary lives. By targeting fish considered by apex predators as prey, you are harvesting fish that grow quicker and in greater numbers.
  7. HARVEST FROM PUT-AND-TAKE FISHERIES AND SUPPORT FISH STOCK REBUILDING EFFORTS Some ecosystems are routinely planted to ensure adequate supplies of adult fish for harvest. Other ecosystems may have experienced a significant decline, and efforts are underway to rebuild their stocks to self-sustaining levels. Put-and-take fisheries are intended for harvesting individual limits. Fish stocks at below sustainable levels should be treated as catch-and-release only.
  8. HARVEST FISH SPECIES IN PLENTIFUL SUPPLY Each unique ecosystem experiences yearly fluctuations in fish species abundance. Local anglers generally know which bodies of water are supporting an abundance of fish, and which fish species are at low numbers. Set harvesting goals by consulting local anglers familiar with the water you intend to fish.
  9. LIMIT HARVESTS TO ONE MEAL OF FRESH FISH Just because you can doesn’t mean you should fill your daily fish harvesting limit each time you go fishing. Many regulations include maximum numbers of fish you possess including what’s in your freezer. Frozen fish lose up to 30% of their flavor and can suffer freezer burn after six months. Fresh is always best!
  10. EXERCISE RESTRAINT WHEN HARVESTING FISH NEAR URBAN CENTRES Fishing locations situated near-by highly popular ice fishing locations experience higher fishing pressure than do more remote less-frequented locations. Not all fish harvesting regulations consider proximity to urban populations. Limit your harvest or practice catch and-release when fishing popular waters.

About us:

You can read current and back issues of Blue Fish Canada’s Newsletters by visiting: www.BlueFishCanada.ca

For more about Lawrence Gunther, North America’s only blind professional angler, conservationist, writer, blogger, podcaster, film maker and TV personality, visit: www.LawrenceGunther.com

Gunther founded the charity Blue Fish Canada in 2012 and launched the podcast Blue Fish Radio in 2013.

Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast so others will learn of this unique Canadian resource by visiting: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blue-fish-radio-show/id1090189487?uo=4

Should you have a podcast suggestion or resource you would like to share, please send us a message to: Admin@BlueFishCanada.ca<

Blue Fish Canada is a federally incorporated registered Canadian charity. Please consider making a small monthly donation to off-set the costs of this Newsletter and our other Blue Fish Canada programs by visiting: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/

While 2020 may have started off to be one of the charity’s most productive to date, the pandemic caused us to take a pause. Not because our programs were forced to shut, (this was only the case in a very few instances), but because we felt our beneficiaries had other more urgent issues at the time. Thankfully, the pause did not last long.

Photo of Blue Fish Canada President Lawrence Gunther and his new guide dog Lewis
Photo of Blue Fish Canada President Lawrence Gunther and his new guide dog Lewis

The Pivot: By early April our expert scientific advisors, citizen scientists, and local knowledge experts were advising us that more than ever people needed to get outdoors. In response, Blue Fish Canada began releasing weekly newsletters with information about the state of recreational fisheries across Canada, the United States, and around the world. More importantly, we sought out and developed angling and boating safety protocols to inform those contemplating a return to the outdoors. While careful not to encourage people to disregard stay-at-home orders, we also wanted to support people to begin thinking, planning, and dreaming about being in nature.

Angling Participation: We are pleased to have done our part to make 2020 a year that saw the highest levels of angling participation ever in Canada’s history. Just as importantly, we are proud of the angling community that pursued their outdoor lifestyles in ways that are respectful, safe, and healthy for both body and mind but, we didn’t stop there.

On-line Program Delivery: We continued to produce audio and video content to educate anglers who were turning to the internet in numbers never before seen. Our informative programming materials reached new and old anglers alike at rates that far exceeded our 2020 program delivery goals.

Video / Audio Content: so far in 2020 we have produced/released:

  • 29 hours of audio podcast con tent;
  • 325 minutes of TV content;
  • 179 minutes of online video; and,
  • 18.5 hours of live Facebook streaming video.

Print Format: people can’t seem to get enough reading material that has to do with fishing sustainably. Compelling Blue Fish Stewardship program material outputs include:


Fish Health: our research, citizen science and advocacy activities included:

  • 3 outdoor show exhibits;
  • 11 in-person and live-streamed presentations;
  • 27 on-line video conferences specific to water quality and fish health;
  • 2 on-line fish facts surveys; and,
  • Launching and chairing the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Fish Health Network.

Diversity and Inclusion: fishing is an activity of universal appeal. More than that, it’s essential to the healthy development of youth of all backgrounds and abilities. Blue Fish Canada continues to work closely with indigenous, women, disability and multicultural groups and youth to make sure accessibility to recreational fishing is the norm across Canada. Programs such as Girl Guide Fishing, Blind Fishing boat, Earth Rangers, Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther, Scouts Canada, and Urban Family Fishing remain high priorities.

Outreach Partners: active partnerships include:

AMIAudio and TVFishNerds PodcastOttawaRiver Keeper
AtlanticAngler ChallengeGreatLakes Fisheries CommissionOutdoorCanada Magazine
B.C.Anglers AllianceGreatLakes NetworkOttawaAdventure Film Festival
B.C.Federation of Fly FishersKeepCanada FishingSaskatchewanAngler Research Group
CanadianFishing NetworkMastersProduction Ltd.Savethe River
CanadianEnvironmental Law AssociationSt.Lawrence Institute for Environmental ResearchCanadianSportfishing Industry Association
MohawkCouncil of AkwesasneStriperCupCarpAnglers Group Ontario
MuskieCanada Inc.TheBlue Fish Radio ShowDestinationNorthern Ontario
Nowwith Dave Brown TVTomRowland PodcastEarthRangers
Natureand outdoor Tourism OntarioWatershedWatch Salmon SocietyFish’nCanada
OntarioBass NationWorldRiver DayUglyPike Podcast

What we learned: using a combination of online tools, print resources, and traditional storytelling is highly effective at engaging the next generation of recreational anglers, indigenous fishers, and their mentors and elders., These strategies achieve results. Even though our direct interface programs such as outdoor show experiences, Fishing Tackle Recyclers, urban shore fishing access, and kids fishing days, had to be scaled back in 2020 for safety reasons, our other engagement programs, delivered through strategic partnerships, far out performed our 2020 expectations.

Contact: Please continue to contact us with your suggestions or with any concerns. If you are looking for new volunteer challenges, we have opportunities. Otherwise, keep doing what you do to stay healthy, including getting out to fish as your wellbeing and that of the welfare of Canada’s watersheds and fish populations ar linked.

Donate: Blue Fish Canada is a registered Canadian charity and is 100% reliant on volunteers. There are programming related costs that depend on external funding. Please consider Blue Fish Canada in your donations for Giving Tuesday. You will also soon receive a short explanation of our program priorities for 2021.

Yours Sincerely,
Lawrence Gunther Euteneier M.E.S. M.S.M.
President: Blue Fish Canada
Email: Director@BlueFishCanada.ca
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BlueFishCanada/
Twitter: @BlueFishnews
Web: BlueFishCanada.ca