Last week Blue Fish Canada reported on 2019 Program Highlights geared to recreational anglers seeking to enhance their stewardship and citizen science skills. Today we want to draw your attention to our recently published Report: Fish Health in the Great Lakes and Upper St. Lawrence River.
The goal of the Report is to promote fish health research, increase angler involvement, and inform policy and programs essential to ensuring the future of fish and fishing.
Water quality issues are numerous, but understanding how these issues impact fish health and the people and communities who have a vested interest in fish, are often over-looked. Blue Fish Canada will work to ensure the 17 recommendations contained within the Fish Health report are implemented. But, we can’t do it without you. It takes a community of anglers to ensure the future of fish health and the communities whose socio-economic sustainability depend on healthy fish stocks.
Although Blue Fish Canada programs rely 100% on volunteers, there are still costs associated with delivering important initiatives such as representing the concerns and views of recreational anglers and their communities. Over 17-million Canadians have tried fishing, support recreational fishing, and have plans to go fishing again. Help Blue Fish Canada raise the status of fish health to maintain this important connection with nature through the stewardship and sustainability of wild fish.
Healthy fish stocks and our connection to nature are intrinsically linked. A path forward to connect fish health stakeholders is clearly articulated in the Fish Health Report, but implementing the Report’s 17 recommendations takes resources. This is your chance to pay it forward so Blue Fish Canada can begin implementing the recommendations needed to build a Fish Health Network.
The Fish Health Report represents the views of scientists, fishers, government, conservationists and business. While the focus of the Report is the Great Lakes Basin and Upper St. Lawrence River, the Report’s methodology sets out a framework that will be replicated as we engage stakeholders across Canada.
The time to dream and plan is now over. The path forward is well defined and includes broad stakeholder engagement. It’s time to take action and begin implementing the recommendations of the Fish Health Report.
Please lend your support by getting involved or by making a tax deductible donation as we launch this next phase of stakeholder engagement with the goal of ensuring fish health and the future of fishing. Don’t forget to sign up for our Blue Fish News Letter.
Lawrence Gunther Euteneier M.E.S. M.S.M.
President / Blue Fish Canada
Word from the President: As the Founder and president of Blue Fish Canada, and Canada’s only blind outdoor writer, podcaster, TV host and film maker, I’m continuously engaging with stakeholders to track and promote Canada’s water quality, fish health and recreational fishing. This includes partnering with local and national fishing and conservation organizations, experts and centres of expertise, and anglers engaged in citizen science. At the same time, Blue Fish volunteers are busy implementing programs and reporting back on successes and lessons learned. Here’s a summary of what we accomplished this year.
Sustainable Fishing Tips cover harvesting recommendations and catch-and-release best practices:
- Fact-checked by leading Blue Fish Science Advisors;
- Adopted by fishing and conservation groups across Canada;
- Regionally customized to include fish ID information and relevant fish handling best practices.
Blue Fish Sustainable engages partner organizations and recognizes their commitment:
- Partners feature and distribute Blue Fish Tips;
- Sustainable harvesting recommendations and catch-and-release best practices become partner policies;
- Public recognition and endorsement of partners for their stewardship commitments;
TV extends the reach of Blue Fish to mainstream audiences:
- Semi-weekly 12-minute outdoor environmental stories on “Live from Studio 5”;
- Monthly 5-minute outdoor conservation segments aired on “AMI This Week”;
- Streamed on the Web and aired on basic cable and satellite TV across Canada;
Stewardship Kits available to anglers and partner members at cost:
- Includes catch-and-release sustainable fishing tackle;
- Fish ID cards and regionally relevant tips inform new anglers on best practices;
Youth and Family Fishing events inform and inspire the next generation of conservation minded anglers:
- Sponsored two family ice fishing derbies and one shore fishing event on Family Fishing Weekends;
- Provided families with shoreline clean-up kits, EagleClaw circle hooks, tin weights and floats, fish ID cards and tips for handling fish;
- Events included the Harbour Harvest Ice Fishing Derby, the Ottawa Family Fishing Ice Derby, and the Remic Rapids Family Fishing Day;
Outdoor Magazine Publications include information about Blue Fish programs and stewardship strategies:
- Seven articles published in magazines such as Outdoor Canada, Muskie Release Journal, North-East Ontario Tourism, etc.
- Topics included anglers as citizen scientists, Muskie catch-and-release best practices and reporting on fish kills;
What Lies Below feature film introduces viewers to water quality and fish health issues across Canada:
- Ten water quality / Fish health stories told by anglers and fishers from across Canada;
- 79-minute Feature documentary airs on CBC television;
- In April 2020 will begin airing on YouTube;
- Funds raised through screenings go to Blue Fish Canada;
Blue Fish Tips for integration with 3rd-party audio content:
- 52 1-minute audio stewardship tips available for listening and downloading;
- Leading fishing podcast producers include Tips as PSA’s.
Feel the Bite Videos explain why we all need to be stewards:
- 12 viewable and downloadable 5minute video stewardship tips;
- Used by schools, outdoor shows and 3rd-party websites;
Urban Fishing Nodes create fishing access and fish habitat:
- Working with city officials and Indigenous leaders to build fishing access into shoreline development projects;
- Provides urban youth with low-cost outdoor experiences;
- venues for Blue Fish volunteers to mentor new recreational anglers;
Sustainable Fishing Seminars showcase Canada’s diverse and rich natural abundance and the stewardship roles anglers’ play:
- 17 seminars ranging from 30 to 60 minutes;
- Venues included: Ottawa Boat Show’s CSFL Super Tank, Toronto Sportsman Show’s Outdoor Seminar Stage, high schools and fishing / conservation clubs;
Mainstream Media coverage:
- Twice featured on Outdoor Journal Radio;
- Featured on podcasts including Tom Rowland, Ugly Pike and Fish Nerds;
- 4-minutes on CTV Morning news;
Outdoor Shows allow anglers to learn about Blue Fish programs and to provide feedback:
- Exhibited ten days at the Ottawa Boat Show, the Toronto Sportsman Show, and the Musky Odyssey;
- Distributed free shoreline clean-up kits, fish ID cards and stewardship tips;
- Over 150 original Posts shared with groups and influencers across Canada;
- Twitter and Facebook accounts include:
Conferences and Webinars provide venues to promote water quality, fish health and recreational fishing:
- Participated in 11 conferences, symposiums, stakeholder consultations, annual meetings and webinars;
- Representing angler issues over fish health and concerns regarding access;
Fish Health consultations and report directly links fish health concerns to issues such as water quality:
- Authored the consultation report “Fish Health in the Great Lakes Basin and Upper St. Lawrence River”;
- Stakeholders included recreational anglers, indigenous fishers, scientists, recreational fishing industry, and government;
Blue Fish Radio sponsorship of the podcast continues:
- 52 new Blue Fish Radio episodes aired by 18 podcast broadcasters;
- Reflections and advice on conservation by “giants” of the Canadian fishing industry (Bob Izumi, J.P. DeRose, Dave Mercer, Peter Bowman, Angelo Viola, Jeff Gustafson, and more);
- Expert guests covered everything from the Striped Bass / Atlantic Salmon controversy on Canada’s east coast, to the struggling salmon populations on the west, and everything in between including Walleye on Lake Winnipeg and fish kills on the Ottawa River;
- The podcast now ranks in top-30 fishing podcasts by Feedspot, and is the official podcast of Outdoor Canada Magazine;
Summary: Blue Fish Canada continues to serve an increasingly important role in the future of fish and recreational fishing across Canada thanks to dedicated volunteers and the funds provided by donors and foundations. Please think of Blue fish Canada the next time you want to show how much you love the tremendous fisheries Canada has to offer.
Blue Fish Canada
Tired of hearing about climate change and how it’s going to destroy the world as we know it? Well, try doing some of the following and let’s put a halt to climate change and all that bad news. These New Year’s resolutions have nothing to do with losing weight, and everything to do with the health and wellbeing of us all. The following are 12 actions experts recommend each of us can do to prevent further climate change:
- Measure Up: There’s some truth to the saying “What gets measured gets managed,” and quantification has become something of a cultural obsession. Oroeco, an app available on both Android and iOS, takes that zeal and applies it to tracking personal carbon emissions. Oroeco helps quantify the carbon emissions associated with purchases, investments, dietary choices and preferred modes of transport. It allows users to set goals, track performance and even compare their performance with friends.
- Reduce Consumption: Reuse everything possible, fix and repair items, recycle those items that can’t be used again.
- Conduct an Energy Efficiency Audit and develop an improvement plan: Weatherizing, using energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, and unplugging devices top the list for reducing your energy usage.
- Consider Solar: Take advantage of government programs or join a Solar Power Club to add the power of solar energy to your home or business. Whether it’s a solar heater to complement your regular water tank, or a solar panel to generate electricity, or simply using passive solar energy to heat your home, it will all help to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.
- Switch Diets: By switching to a diet full of nuts, beans, fish and less meat, global warming could be reduced by up to 15 percent by 2050. By eating fish instead of steak, you’ll produce an eight-fold reduction in emissions, and switching to beans or lentils drops your footprint to almost zero.
- Waste Not: Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. We can help slash emissions by simply wasting less food. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about a third of the food produced worldwide never gets eaten. North American consumers and restaurants are some of the worst — throwing away almost 40 percent of the food they purchase.
- Compost: Whether you have a backyard bin, vermiculture (worm) bin, or utilize curbside pickup, composting benefits the environment. Food scraps and yard waste are typically about 30% of the waste going to landfills and incinerators. There is a two-fold climate benefit to composting by reducing the amount of methane gas released into the atmosphere.
- Install a Rain Garden: Climate change means more dramatic weather events, including flooding. Rain gardens are beautiful additions to any size yard and will relieve burdens on municipal water treatment systems, filter runoff pollutants, and protect local waterways.
- Plant a Tree: All residential communities should adopt the goal of 60% tree cover. Trees will clean the air, capture carbon and provide habitat and food for native wildlife.
- Use Transit: The transportation sector contributes over 1/3 of our carbon emissions. Use alternative transportation, such as biking, walking, taking the bus, and carpooling. Or, go electric. By committing to walk or bicycle distances under 1 km, about roughly 20% of car trips, you will eliminate 611 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. That’s the equivalent of the weight of a football or a can of soup.
- Step it up: Talk to people about the unraveling Arctic, extreme weather, rising temperatures and oceans, and all the rest that adds up to climate change. Challenge people who still think it’s nothing more than another of nature’s phases, but be respectful when presenting the facts.
- Get Civically Involved: Find and join a local climate change or conservation group. Phone and email your government representatives. Ask questions of store managers when making purchases.
Blue Fish Canada has partnered with leading Bass tournament organizations to promote conservation.
- Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation
- B1 Fishing
- Orleans Boat World Fishing Invitational
Support from Blue Fish Canada includes providing each competitor with a shoreline clean-up kit and a handy reference guide detailing “Ten Bass Tournament Conservation tips”.
Blue Fish Canada also sets up a Fishing Tackle Recycler on site to collect and recycle used fishing tackle such as line, lead weights and jigs, soft plastic baits, and other terminal tackle.
Many of Canada’s top bass anglers compete in these tournaments, and Blue Fish Canada is there to lend a hand to ensure bass experience minimum stress and are returned healthy.
Blue Fish Canada is pleased to announce its support for the 2018 Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation Hank Gibson Provincial Qualifier. Support for the annual BASS tournament includes providing each competitor with a shoreline clean-up kit and a handy reference guide detailing “Ten Bass Tournament Conservation tips”. “It’s an honour to support such an important “catch & release tournament” says Lawrence Gunther, President of Blue Fish Canada and former OBN competitor himself.
Blue Fish Canada and the North Bay Bassmasters will also be joining forces to collect and recycle used fishing tackle such as line, lead weights and jigs, soft plastic baits, and other terminal tackle. As well, Blue Fish Canada is pleased to provide each angler with a $20 Cabela’s coupon to put towards their next purchase – thank you once again Cabela’s for supporting another Blue fish Canada conservation initiative!
Hosted by the North Bay Bassmasters, this year’s Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier will include over 90 teams competing for the right to represent Ontario at the regional level. “Many of Ontario’s best bass anglers will be competing in the Qualifier for the chance to go on to compete for what many consider to be the world’s most coveted bass tournament prize – the “Bassmaster Classic”, Says Jason Barnucz, Conservation Director for the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation.
The provincial qualifier event will be held over the weekend of August 25 on Lake Nipissing. It’s a lake known for both its tremendous fishery and volatile nature” says Mathew Koprash, tournament organizer and Conservation Director for the North Bay Bassmasters.
Blue Fish Canada is a registered Canadian charity dedicated to the future of fish and fishing. Programs inspire and equip outdoor enthusiasts to promote conservation through citizen science. Link here to learn more about Blue Fish Canada: www.BlueFishCanada.ca
The Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation was founded in 1995 and is made up of 24 clubs from across the Province of Ontario. The Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation is a grass-roots organization designed for everyone from beginners to seasoned tournament anglers. Link here to learn more about the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation and the Hank Gibson Provincial Qualifier: www.ontariobass.com
Lawrence Gunther, Blue Fish Canada, 613-882-3028
Mathew Koprash, North Bay Bassmasters, 1-249-358-0402
Blue Fish Canada was pleased to be asked to take part once again in the 25th Anniversary of the annual science symposium organized by the St. Lawrence River Institute on Environmental Research. Our presentation focused on the citizen science work Blue Fish Canada inspires and informs through our Fish Stewardship and Citizen Science program. It was a packed room, and the presentation received strong positive feedback. More about the symposium follows:
For Immediate Release
May 28, 2018
Sharing Knowledge and Linking Science on the St. Lawrence River
by Karen Douglass Cooper, St. Lawrence Institute of Environmental Sciences
The St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental SciencesSt. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences will pay homage to its history while looking ahead towards the future when it hosts the 25th Anniversary Great Lakes / St. Lawrence River Ecosystem Symposium this May 30 and 31 at OPG St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre. The conference began in 1993 in Cornwall, Ontario (one year before the River Institute was founded) as a means of bringing scientists and communities together to discuss fresh water issues. IAGLR has been held conjointly with the River Symposium twice, in 2000 and again in 2012. Twenty five years on, River scientists and community members from Ontario, Quebec, Akwesasne, and New York State will come together to re-visit the original conference theme, ‘Sharing Knowledge – Linking Sciences’.
The theme celebrates the River Institute’s founding partners and neighbours, the Mohawks of Akwesasne, and highlights projects and programs that link ecosystem science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). River Institute Executive Director, Dr. Jeff Ridal says, “Our collective responsibility to protect the environment is from an indigenous perspective and is laid out at the beginning of each conference with the “The Words that Come Before All Else” which is the traditional Mohawk Thanksgiving Address.”
Over the past two and a half decades the Institute has evolved into a unique nucleus for fresh water research, education, and community engagement throughout the Great Lakes – St Lawrence River ecosystem. That uniqueness comes in part from its connection to community and a desire to develop an enhanced awareness of the value of TEK by integrating it into scientific research. This integration is playing a vital role on the upper St. Lawrence River where public involvement plays such a vital role.
River Institute Board Chair Walter Oeggerli says, “Our experience at the River institute has been that the stories that define our history are important pathways to engage people in environmental issues and also serve to inspire scientific inquiry and research.”
Over the course of two information packed days, the 2018 Symposium will also feature three keynote speakers that exemplify scientific inquiry and community engagement.
On May 30, the Symposium’s Community Science Day, Canadian explorer and Order of Canada recipient, Dr. Geoff Green of Students on Ice and Canada C3 fame will join local high school students. He will speak on the epic 25,000 km. Coast to Coast to Coast research and reconciliation expedition that he led along Canada’s coastline in 2017.
The next day will highlight fresh water research and remediation. Tony David, Water Resources Manager with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe of Akwesasne and winner of the 2017 Environmental Champion Award from the U.S. EPA, will discuss his work in the decommissioning and removal of the Hogansburg Dam. The first project of its kind for a Native American Tribe, the removal has opened up over 500 miles of river and streams as spawning habitat for migratory fish.
Dr. John Smol, professor in the Biology Department at Queen’s University and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, as a guest speaker, will round out the day River Ecosystem discussion. A Co-director of Queen’s Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL), Dr. Smol’s talk is entitled appropriately enough, “Looking Back to Predict the Future”.
For more details or to RSVP please contact:
Karen Douglass Cooper
Community Outreach Officer / Remedial Action Plan Coordinator
St. Lawrence River (Cornwall)
St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences
situated on the traditional lands of the Kanien’keha:ka
2 St. Lawrence Dr.
Cornwall, ON. K6H 4Z1
(613) 936-6620 (ext. 229)
I’m proud to have the honor of being the first Canadian to take part in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 3-day Fisheries Science and Management for Recreational Anglers Workshop. The fact the NOAA offers such a Workshop demonstrates that the National Marine Fisheries Program understands the social and economic value of recreational fishing.
The 3-day workshop took place in Hanover Maryland and included guides, outfitters, headboat captains, outdoor writers, conservationists, and even someone from the American Sportfishing Association. I learned a ton about recreational fishing through the course materials and presenters, and conversations with NOAS’s scientists and Workshop participants. I walked away with a wealth of information and new connections that will support Blue Fish Canada to contribute even more to improving the science -based management of Canada’s recreational fisheries that coexist alongside our commercial fishing industry.
Without doubt, the NOAA is working hard to develop resource management and stock sharing policies, and data collection and analysis programs that provide a framework to ensure their science-based stock management decisions balance the interests of both commercial fishers and recreational anglers. National Marine Fisheries Program regional advisory Commissions now include representatives for both sectors, along with other stakeholders interested in contributing to short and long-term planning decisions on how stocks are managed. Wouldn’t that be great if Canada opened up the decision making process to include recreational fishers as well?
Follow the links below to access a few of the NOAA recreational fishing resources provided:
Marine Resources Educational Program website: https://www.gmri.org/our-work/fisheries-convening/mrep-northeast
Link Link to workshop materials: https://www.gmri.org/our-work/fisheries-convening/mrep-northeast/workshop-materials
I want to thank the folks at NOAA for making it possible for me to attend this Workshop. By including a representative from Canada, they have planted the seeds of change that will hopefully see Fisheries and Oceans Canada do more to recognize recreational fishing as a significant socio-economic contributor equal to if not greater than commercial fishing.
As part of the Blue Fish Canada exhibit at the 2018 Ottawa Boat Show, BFC volunteers set up and ran the Kid’s Casting Zone – a 20’x40’ area complete with life-like fish silhouettes and actual fish-holding structure. Kids learned fish species identification and the different types of structure each species prefers, as well as precision casting.
CTV Morning News was there to feature the Blue fish Canada exhibit and the Casting Zone: http://ctv.news/oS7C4gd
While the late and stormy spring may have delayed the start of the open water season, it meant more time for Blue Fish Canada volunteers to promote sustainable outdoor traditions. The following are 2017 Blue Fish Canada activity highlights.
Talking computers are just one of many innovations for the blind that allow Blue Fish Canada’s blind President Lawrence Gunther to lead and represent the charity. Articles published in 2017 include:
- “Review of the Algonquin land claim” (spring “Fish Hunt and Ride”);
- An op-ed piece co-authored with the Suzuki Foundation on fish health in the Rideau Canal; and,
- “6 Ways that Canadian Anglers and Hunters are Helping Wildlife Populations” (March “Outdoor Canada”).
Of course, rain snow or sun never prevents a new episode of Blue Fish Radio from being produced – 162 episodes to date with an average weekly audience of 100,000.
Episodes focus on what people are doing across Canada to protect water quality, ensure fish health, and to make sure there are fish around for future generations to catch.
To further promote sustainable fishing, bi-weekly “Sustainable Fish Friday” 1-minute tips are heard and shared by thousands over social media. Additionally, over-20 “Blue Fish Canada Stewardship Tips” continue to be aired as public service announcements over streaming web broadcasts. We continue to distribute at no charge print and on-line stewardship guides and shoreline clean-up kits.
Six years of hard work on creating the documentary What Lies Below came to fruition. Over 18 festivals around the world have now featured the 79-minute film. Numerous published reviews and interviews can be found on line. Both CBC and AMI TV are now licensed to broadcast the doc, which premiered on CBC’s Documentary Channel Sept 6. All revenues generated by this documentary are going to Blue Fish Canada. Our 2018 plans include distributing an educational program to high schools and post-secondary institutions developed using the 11 stories told in the documentary.
Behind the scenes Blue fish Canada is working closely with numerous research facilities and water activist organizations to promote water quality and fish health. Last May, in partnership with the University of Ottawa and the St. Lawrence River Institute, we organized and chaired a half-day River Symposium including six presentations to over-90 researchers and policy makers in attendance. Ensuring fish have access to suitable habitat also includes leading discussions on fish health in venues such as the Great Lake Network and the People’s Great Lakes Summit series.
Canada is far from being a land of doom-and-gloom. We have much to take pride in and celebrate. It’s therefore with considerable excitement that we celebrate the launch of a new video series Lake2Plate.
The video features Lawrence, his guide dog Moby, and a celebrity chef fishing and preparing shore-side feasts featuring sustainably and selectively harvested fish and wild forage. It’s a true celebration of the traditional shore lunch intended to inspire others to reconnect with nature.
In the spirit of carrying forward the tradition of blind people serving as story tellers, Lawrence always makes time to speak to fish and game clubs, conservation groups and at outdoor shows. Exhibiting at outdoor shows remains a priority for Blue Fish Canada, and 2018 will witness a fresh new look to our exhibit space and offerings, including a new skill-testing stewardship quiz and prizes.
The following quote from Lawrence Gunther published in a recent Huffington Post article sums-up the mission of Blue Fish Canada nicely:
“I started Blue Fish Canada to encourage people to find themselves a pond, river, lake or bay where they can catch a fish for dinner once in a while, and to then take responsibility for ensuring nothing bad happens to their fishing whole that could stop their great grandchildren from doing the same.”
Getting others interested in fishing sustainably is a focus of Blue Fish Canada, including organizing annual events such as: Girl Guides Go Fishing.
A shore fishing experience for 50-70 Girl Guides ranging in age from 5-16.
Yes, it’s important to make sure our water and fish are properly managed. At the same time, Blue Fish Canada is working hard to pass on the knowledge and inspiration to encourage others to carry forward the tradition of fishing. It’s up to all of us to re-engage others in this century-old practice. One we can undertake with pride knowing the resource is being managed using science and the best traditional and indigenous knowledge available.
Most especially, Blue Fish Canada is creating opportunities for children to connect with shorelines. It’s here where kids experience the abundance and diversity of life that inhabits these narrow transition strips between land and water. Life that represents more than the sum of the two parts, but a true synergy of these two vastly different terrestrial and aquatic worlds.
Please donate to Blue Fish Canada today so we can continue to provide people of all age’s access to resources so they can fish confidently knowing the tradition is sustainable for future generations.
We look forward to your on-going support, and thank all of you for helping to make 2017 a year we can be proud of.
In honour of World River Day, Blue Fish Canada’s president Lawrence Gunther took part in the official ceremony to twin the Ottawa and Potomac Rivers. The twinning recognizes the many shared attributes and challenges these two national rivers have in common.
Both rivers flow through their respective nations’ capital cities, both are significant in size, both played historic roles in the founding of their nations’ capitals, and finally, both rivers are being attended to by strong and effective River Keeper organizations.
As Meredith Brown, Ottawa’s RiverKeeper pointed out, both rivers share many of the same challenges impacting swimability, fishability and drinkability. More than 1-million people drink from the Ottawa and over 6-million from the Potomac, and yet untreated sewage and untold numbers of chemicals enter these rivers routinely. Fish kill incidents still occur, and advisories warning against swimming are not uncommon.
Rivers flowing through the capitals of nations should represent all what these two great countries represent to their citizens and the rest of the world – responsible development and usage, and a commitment to the future of fish health and fishing. Attention all anglers, your assistance is required.
Blue Fish Canada is working hard to ensure the water quality of Canada’s rivers, lakes and oceans are able to sustain fish health and our tradition of fishing. We represent your voice at numerous water quality meetings, and strive to provide a continuous source of information to anglers on how they might more effectively serve as stewards of their local fisheries. Donate today to help us with this important work, and volunteer for your local river and water Keeper organizations.
The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) recently launched a new Healthy Great Lakes program to engage a broad network of individuals and organizations in shaping, implementing, and making use of laws and policies that protect and restore the waters of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin. Lawrence Gunther, President of Blue Fish Canada, was invited to be part of the organizing committee.
The goals of the 18-month initiative include:
- elimination or reduction of toxic pollutants;
- encouraging green infrastructure adoption;
- improving water conservation and efficiency;
- protecting and restoring water quantity by responding to water diversion proposals;
- ensuring government action is distributed equitably across Ontario’s Great Lakes Basin watersheds, both geographically and in addressing needs of disadvantaged communities;
- engaging with First Nation and Métis communities in discussions of opportunities for action; and
- engaged Great Lakes citizenry that makes use of available legal tools and holds government to account for the public trust.
On May 17 the organizing committee held the “People’s Great Lake Summit” involving over 40 stakeholders representing water activists, first Nations people and fishers. The Objective of the Summit was to:
- Connect – an opportunity for individuals to meet together in person and identify potential collaborations
- Share – an opportunity to share ideas, priorities, and plans
During the May 17 Summit, Lawrence Gunther led on proposing and anchoring discussions on fish health.
Discussion items included increasing research/awareness of research on the impact of blue-green algae, plastics, sewage, invasive species, funding cuts, etc. on fish, anglers, water users and residents. More specifically: awareness of impact of blue green algae on angler safety and fish health; traditional angler fishing rights and aquatic protection zones – balance interests; fish consumption guideline research and transparency – can we trust the research; online database/Great Lakes Portal; and, online database – collaborative between multiple groups.
A second gathering is now being planned for fall of 2017. Blue Fish Canada has been identified to lead on the topic of fish health at the next summit and beyond. Consultations are now underway to ensure issues are represented thoroughly and accurately.
For more about the initiative please visit www.cela.ca/peoples-great-lakes-summit