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

Photo of a giant invasive goldfish

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

By L. Gunther

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Scientists and Local Champions:

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

Special Guest Feature

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

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

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

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

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

By L. Gunther

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week’s Feature – Is Fishing Sustainable?

By L. Gunther

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

Scientists and Local Champions:

Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW)
Access the ISAW Toolkit and the full Invasive Species Awareness Week Campaign Toolkit! Together, our actions can help raise awareness about the importance of preventing the spread of invasive species. In the spirit of education and discussion, from February 20th to February 26th, 2023, let’s get #InvSpWk trending!

Coming Up:

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

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

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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

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

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

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

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

Use the discount code “FOF2330” for 30% off

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

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

This Week’s Feature – Save The River and Fishes

By Editor Lawrence Gunther

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

Scientists and Local Champions:

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

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

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

Field Technician (Deadline: Feb. 10, 2023)

Coming Up:

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

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

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

Invasive Species Center

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

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

  • Establishing four Bait Management Zones (BMZs) to limit the movement of baitfish and leeches in Ontario.
  • Restricting the transportation of baitfish or leeches, whether live or dead, into or out of a BMZ with some limited exceptions.
  • Anglers fishing outside their home BMZ must purchase baitfish and leeches locally, retain a receipt and use or dispose of their bait within two weeks from when they were purchased.
  • Harvesting of baitfish and leeches by anglers may only occur in their home BMZ.

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

About us:

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

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

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

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

By L. Gunther

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

Scientists and Local Champions:

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

Coming Up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Read back issues of the Blue Fish Canada News
Please rate The Blue fish Radio Show on Apple Podcast.
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In the Jan 9, 2023 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with an editorial on a new report that assigns responsibility to anglers for spreading invasive species. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, Habitat and other news you need to know.

Photo of Editor Lawrence Gunther’s truck and boat at the launch.

This Week’s Feature – Tracking Invasive Species with Fishbrain

By Lawrence Gunther

Like most, my knowledge of how invasive species spread is based on two well-known sources, the first being the ballast of container ships entering the Great Lakes, and the second being the escape of Asian carp into the Mississippi River. Both stories underscore how easily we reconfigure nature by failing to anticipate what we all now know to be obvious risks. Yes, ships that take on ballast water in one part of the world and release it in another transmit life along with the water. Over 185 non-native species introduced into the Great Lakes and counting. And of course, when you introduce a foreign species of fish into an ecosystem as a means of addressing water clarity issues or excessive weed growth, and then those ponds overflow during extreme storm events, these hostage pond cleaning “solutions” will most certainly move on to find other habitat, and in this case it’s the Mississippi River all the way up to and now very likely including the Great Lakes. It’s all to easy to point fingers at the sheer stupidity or willing ignorance of those who decided to set these invasions in motion, but now we have a new culprit to add to the list and, it’s us anglers.

Alright, I’m not announcing anything that others such as the experts at the Invasive Species Centre haven’t already revealed. People are now moving invasive species around with their boats, trailers, kayaks, minnow buckets, waders and boots. Our movement from one water body to another is giving a free ride to tiny life forms, whether plant or animal, to new yet to be adulterated watersheds. A claim that’s simple enough conceptually, but how do we know the extent to which this form of conveyance is reshaping ecosystems? After all, much of what is being claimed is difficult at best to be observed with the naked eye. Well, now we have proof.

Jessica (Jit) Weir, a researcher with Ball State University, has teamed up with the folks at the Fishbrain app company to do some CSI type investigating and the results are disturbing. Fishbrain has over 14 million anglers who allow their fishing destinations to be tracked using the GPS on their smartphones. I’m not talking about their favourite fishing spots, that’s another story, but simply the lakes and rivers that they fish and when. Through a bit of clever computer programming Weir was able to draw lines between where each individual angler fished and then where they fished next several days later. She was especially interested in those anglers who live near and fish bodies of water known to host invasive species. Over 250,000 anglers unknowingly participated in the research, and over 4-million points of interest were used to connect the dots. Link below to watch my interview with Jessica Weir on Blue Fish Canada’s YouTube channel – you will be amazed by the maps she’s created using the Fishbrain data: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qjbha5GHVig.

What we learn from Weir’s research is that anglers are now definitely the ones responsible for spreading invasive species. The travel maps the data generated, and were then overlayed on digital road maps, show conclusively that the spread of invasive species from one lake or river to another correlates with the movement of anglers. Not necessarily at the granular level of the individual angler, but at the macro level where known large scale invasions have been documented. Invasions that can’t be blamed on container ships because there wasn’t any, or by rivers because these are different watersheds. And to be fair, pleasure boaters are also to blame, but let’s be honest, most pleasure boaters aren’t travelling to different lakes nearly as much as anglers.

I know many of you are probably experiencing the hair on the back of your necks standing up just thinking about “big brother” tracking your movements. I agree, it’s unnerving, but name me a social media tool that isn’t tracking your movement and then passing on the details to others who are using the data for one purpose or another. The fact is, most of us risk manage our privacy only to a degree since most of us are curious how business and researchers are going to use the data to improve our lives, or in this case, safeguard native life and nature itself. It’s why I also asked Nate Roman, Partnership Manager with Fishbrain to be part of the interview to discuss how and when researchers like Weir are permitted to come in the back door and snoop around the Fishbrain database. Hey, if keeping others from knowing where you are is important to you, good luck because just about everything we do now leaves a digital trail. You would have to walk everywhere and leave your phone and credit cards at home if you wanted to be completely untraceable, and now with cameras popping up everywhere make sure you cover your face too. We cover this all in the interview, but that’s not what this editorial is about.

Look, these new rules being rolled out about checking, draining, and rinsing your boat and trailer before leaving the boat launch weren’t dreamed up by some overly fastidious clean freak. This is for real – just as real as the Asian carp about to transform Great Lake ecosystems yet again. It’s now us that are the problem. No wonder that cottage lake associations are becoming increasingly aggressive about closing public boat launches or finding other ways to deter outsiders from accessing their lakes.

Face facts, 80% of us live in urban areas, and many of us fish both local and rural bodies of water. Many of us are the same people calling for stronger measures to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes. It just makes sense that we would also hold ourselves to this same level of commitment to prevent the spread of any potentially destructive life form from invading new habitat. So, before you get sidetracked on whether or not Fishbrain should be opening up their data to researchers, remember this, it’s by studying catch logs that we regulate fisheries, so why shouldn’t we be safeguarding these same fisheries by examining our collective movements? Better we get 100% on board with measures to prevent our spreading invasive species, than to have the door slammed in our faces by angry cottage associations or local governments looking to protect the interests of their residents.

The report Weir produced using Fishbrain data is a wake-up call for anglers who like to travel to different bodies of water. It’s up to us now to take this seriously, or it will be us who people blame in ten or twenty years for ruining all those lakes and rivers that we drive to on the weekends.

And then what, people who live in the country will become the next wave of spreaders as they too transport invasive species still further into the wilderness? Where will it stop – it’s now in our hands…

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Winter Fish Fest 2023 / CFN
Canadian Fishing Network is teaming up with Angler’s Atlas to run the Winter Fish Fest using the My Catch app in addition to offering a Facebook option. Log on (or create an account on Angler’s Atlas, read the full rules, download the latest version of the MyCatch mobile app (available for iOS and Android), and submit each fish using the MyCatch mobile app.

Clam Outdoors Trap Attack / Clam
The Clam Outdoors Trap Attack Virtual Ice Fishing Tournament, hosted through the FishDonkey App, is back Jan 21-22! The Trap Attack is meant to give ice anglers an opportunity to get out on the ice and compete for a chance to win some amazing prizes. Last year over 600 anglers participated in the tournament all across the United States and Canada.

Gord Pyzer’s 50 all-time greatest Canadian fishing hot spots / Outdoor Canada
To commemorate Outdoor Canada’s golden anniversary, the Magazine’s long-time fishing editor Gord Pyzer shares his 50 favourite places across the land to wet a line.

Union critical of Ottawa’s plan to buy back Pacific salmon licences / CTV
The union representing British Columbia fishermen says a plan by the federal government to buy back commercial salmon fishing licences is underfunded, lacks transparency and doesn’t address the investments made by harvesters.

What challenges—and successes—will the next 50 years bring for hunters and anglers? That’s up to us / Outdoor Canada
What will the next 50 years bring? It’s unlikely crystal balls have improved any in the last half-century, but it’s a question worth pondering. After all, tomorrow’s hunting and fishing opportunities will almost certainly be determined by the choices we make, or avoid, today. Things of seemingly small consequence now may eventually prove to be critically important, setting us up for new conservation successes. Or failures. That’s the lesson history teaches, for those willing to learn.


John Palmore leads project to deter carp with sound / Virginia Tech
How do you stop an army of carp from invading the Great Lakes? Two Virginia Tech researchers are joining an effort to put up a defensive barrier made of sound waves.

B.C. salmon returns and fisheries 2022 season recap / Watershed Watch
Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s senior fisheries advisor, Greg Taylor, provides an update on salmon returns and fisheries in 2022.

Is road salt hurting salmon? UBC and volunteers are investigating / Weather Network
With Pacific salmon population numbers dwindling, could road salt be contributing to the decline? The University of British Columbia has teamed up with volunteer groups to find out definitively.

Why it’s time to put sustainable fish on the menu / Forbes
Nearly a third of all monitored global fish stocks are overfished, and almost two-thirds (60 per cent) are being fished to the maximum sustainable yield.

Green light for $100 million fish farm on former Gold River pulp mill site / Business Examiner
The Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has granted an Aquaculture Permit for Gold River Aquafarms, which has plans to develop a $100 million land-based steelhead fish farm.


Canada made big promises at COP15. Will it follow through? / Narwhal
196 countries set new global targets to stop the biodiversity crisis. The test now is to put words into action.

Cop15 in Montreal: did the summit deliver for the natural world? / Guardian
This past Monday, the Convention on Biological Diversity concluded in Montreal, Quebec with a global commitment to protect 30 percent of land and sea by 2030, while respecting Indigenous rights. The United States, the only country besides the Vatican that isn’t a member of the convention, made a similar 30 by 30 pledge and is about to ban the buying and selling of shark fins. While many people applauded the final text around Indigenous territories, language in other sections from consumption to plastic was watered down. (The Guardian)

How microplastic kills plankton. / The Slate Group
Plastic has become so pervasive that even tiny plankton are ingesting it. And since marine creatures from fish to whales eat plankton, plastic is harming species all the way up the food chain. New research shows that sea urchin larvae don’t even have to eat plastic to die from developmental problems; they just have to be reared in waters containing it.

Scientists: atmospheric carbon might turn lakes more acidic / Castanet
The Great Lakes have endured a lot the past century, from supersized algae blobs to invasive mussels and bloodsucking sea lamprey that nearly wiped out fish populations.

Climate change: rivers and lakes need better protection, says report / Phys
The effects of climate change are increasingly affecting rivers and lakes and threatening the ecological balance in these waters. Adaptation measures are needed. However, in order to implement them in a targeted manner, more knowledge is needed about the complex interactions in aquatic ecosystems.

PFAS Are Everywhere / Siera Club
Some of the most hazardous chemicals to human health and the environment are in just about everything we purchase and consume, whether it’s personal-care products, food packaging, cookware, or clothes. Known as PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are commonly used to make surfaces nonstick and resistant to water and grease. PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, do not naturally degrade. They are found in the blood of 99 percent of Americans. And there’s no way to remove them from our bodies.


Behind the long wait for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas / Narwhal
Canada needs to protect more land. There’s 500,000 square kilometres in proposed Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas. So what’s the holdup?

Tribes seek U.S. help to curb Canadian mining threats to Northwestern states / Bonner County Daily Bee
Indigenous leaders from the Northwest renewed their call this week for the federal government to pressure Canada to stop additional mining activity in British Columbia, which they say contaminates waters and threatens Native American ways of life in Alaska, Montana and Idaho.


EFTTA Board member: Angling could become a dying activity if we don’t lobby the EU / Angling International
European Fishing Tackle Trade Association member Gerard Bakkenes is under no illusions as to the importance of lobbying for the future of recreational fishing. EFTTA, which is based in Brussels and represents the industry at the highest echelons of the EU, has this week reiterated its resolve to fight for the sport. And Bakkenes (left) has told Angling International: “Without lobbying angling could become a dying activity. It is crucial to the survival of the sport.


Brunswick Launches New Electric Boat Brand / Brunswick Marine
Veer is an all-new boat brand designed to support electric propulsion and appeal to the next generation of boaters.


“Managing to Zero – The Thompson Steelhead Travesty”
Read author Bob Hooton’s latest book “Managing to Zero – The Thompson Steelhead Travesty”. Once a fishing bucket list experience that brought anglers to B.C. from around the world, Their slow but now surely immanent demise has been excruciating to witness. Bob Hooton, a retired fish biologist, explores how such a world-famous fish has been reduced to the point of near extinction, and the politics responsible for this preventable disaster. You can order your copy now from Amazon.


Blue Fish Radio: IGFA’s new youth fishing program is coming to Canada
In this episode of Blue Fish Radio, producer/host Lawrence Gunther talks to Lisa Morse (above left), Education Programs Manager with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). With Lisa’s support, Blue Fish Canada is the first Canadian partner chosen to help deliver IGFA’s Passports to Fishing program for youth, their families and mentors. Lawrence and Lisa discuss this exciting youth program—which includes education on conservation, stewardship and safety, as well as angling skills—and the importance of growing interest in sport fishing.
To listen to the episode now, press PLAY below. To download this podcast to your device, go to the Blue Fish Radio home page. Play episode IGFA Global Partners Deliver Youth Programming


PFAS Are Everywhere. We Need Systems Change to Fix That. / Sierra Club
This year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that there is virtually no safe level of PFAS in drinking water. Even so, the federal government has still not established limits for PFAS in water, food, or consumer products, leaving states to set their own. Some organizations look to Denmark’s PFAS threshold: no more than 20 parts per million in paper foodware. Fortunately, there is momentum for change in the US. Some states have banned PFAS in products such as food packaging, cosmetics, textiles, and carpets. And thanks to a raft of new studies, we now know a lot more about what products are safer than others.

Coming Up:

Little Program, BIG Responsibility!
Overland transportation of watercraft between waterbodies is one of the most notorious pathways responsible for the accidental spread of harmful aquatic invasive species across North America. Saskatchewan’s mandatory Watercraft Inspection Stations are fundamental to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. On Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023 join the Saskatchewan Aquatic Invasive Species team to learn about the “6 W’s” of watercraft inspection and get a behind the scenes look at how Saskatchewan manages it’s watercraft inspection program.

Registration is Now Open for 2023 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
This year’s Invasive Species Forum theme is Invasive Species Action in a Changing Climate. The February 7-9 Forum presents the opportunity to learn from a variety of dedicated sessions including Ecosystem Resilience; Vectors, Pathways, & Threats; Indigenous Communities; and more.

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

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Have you heard our new addition to the Blue Fish Radio Show line-up? Starting last week we are now releasing live audio from the Canadian Fishing Network Monday Night Live featuring Blue Fish Canada’s President Lawrence Gunther discussing the latest fish and fishing news with CFN host Scottie Martin. Lawrence is a regular contributor since March 2020 on the weekly CFN program streamed over Facebook and Youtube. Download The Blue Fish Radio Show on any of the podcast streaming services, and if you like this new weekly feature along with our biweekly interviews with people making a difference for fish and fishing, leave us a ranking and 5-stars on Apple Podcast or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. It’s through these rankings that others learn about the show.

Editor Lawrence Gunther broadcasting from his home studio

In the December 19, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we start by exploring just what it means to become a steward of nature and the future of fishing, and why this now needs to include being a champion for biodiversity and resilience. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Guest Feature chosen to inform and inspire our readers is a curated list of draft research and implementation priorities recently released by the Great Lakes Executive Committee.

This Week’s Feature – Champions for Biodiversity and Resilience

By L. Gunther

I want to share with you my own close call with a severe windstorm that crashed through eastern Ontario on May 21, 2022. I and a friend were minutes away from launching my Ranger boat on the Ottawa River when the storm struck. None of our weather apps predicted the storm despite its incredible size and strength. We learned later that storm tracking computers had never been programmed to recognise this form of fast-moving storm now referred to as a derecho.

The storm hit hard. No fewer than 11 people died in-around Ottawa that day including an angler on the river within a kilometer of where we were about to launch. The loss of human life and the destruction of property was both unprecedented and tragic, as it was when four months later hurricane Fiona would slam into eastern Canada. These storms brought home for me how important it is that we strengthen nature’s resilience in addition to mitigating climate change.

Scientific studies report that the variety of life on the planet, including plants, invertebrates, and ocean species are declining at rates not seen in human history. An intergovernmental scientific panel forecasts that a million species are in danger of extinction. In response, during the biodiversity conference in Montreal, Canada announced it would spend $800 million to develop four new Indigenous protected areas as part of its international commitment to protect 30% of its oceans, land, rivers, and lakes by the year 2030. That’s terrific news, and represents another step towards reconciliation, but what about the other 70% of Canada?

Ten years ago, with the support of a few close friends, I founded the charity Blue Fish Canada to ensure the “future of fish and fishing”. The goal was and remains to this day to inform and inspire people, young and old, to form personal connections to nature through fishing. More importantly, to do so by following science-based sustainable fishing best practices, and by becoming stewards of nature through citizen science.

Looking back, one of the most inspiring guests ever featured on The Blue Fish Radio Show was Alexandra Morton. Her dedication to wild salmon on Canada’s west coast truly exemplifies what it means to advocate on behalf of nature’s biodiversity and the need to ensure it’s resilience. A true Canadian hero! Link below to hear Alexandra Morton in conversation with Editor Lawrence Gunther on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.outdoorcanada.ca/blue-fish-radio-renegade-biologist-alexandra-morton-reflects-on-her-decades-of-fighting-for-wild-salmon/

For over 150 years anglers in North America have been championing conservation measures. The waterkeeper movement itself was founded by three anglers fishing on the Hudson River who witnessed a fish kill, took water samples, and successfully sued the company responsible for releasing noxious chemicals into the river. It made sense therefore, that Blue Fish Canada documents, celebrates and promotes our conservation values, and to implement programs that pass on this tradition to youth as part of their learning to fish experience.

Growing up I spent considerable time at my family’s pond learning how ecosystems function. This included the natural reproduction of the brook trout we introduced into the pond not long after it was formed to take advantage of a year-round natural spring. I witnessed how the trout cope with acid rain, ozone depletion, invasive species, and even my own fishing pressure. The trout demonstrated tremendous resilience, but it was nature that sealed their fate in the end by slowly filling back in that pond through erosion and decomposition. There’s one thing those trout never had to contend with though, and that’s unusual and repeated extreme weather-related threats to their existence and habitat. Weather related events that local outdoor enthusiasts and Indigenous knowledgekeepers alike describe as going far beyond what can be explained as natural phenomena.

Politics and opinions aside, it’s more important than ever that we as anglers continue to be conservation-minded in all we do. This includes documenting what we have through measurements, catch-logs, water quality observations, and the early identification of changes to fish and their habitat. Establishing baseline data is crucial to documenting change so effort and resources can be secured and assigned to mitigate such changes and strengthen resilience. Blue Fish Canada is now championing several habitat enhancement initiatives and long-term fishery studies.

Ensuring Canada’s tremendous biodiversity is resilient is an absolute imperative. Canada has more nature than any other country with our longest coastline, largest contiguous forest, and a stake in the world’s biggest freshwater basin. Strengthening nature’s resilience is essential to sustaining our biodiversity. Given our incredible size and small population, making sure nature is resilient is going to take all of us working together.

The new year will see Blue Fish Canada expand our youth programs at dedicated research and exploration sites geared to supporting long-term fish habitat enhancement and research. Youth will take part in implementing fish conservation measures and a long-term evaluation of the effectiveness of these interventions. Sites include both urban and rural locations in Ontario and Quebec, with plans for expansion into more provinces in the works.

If you are already finding ways to strengthen the health of your favorite watersheds and the ecosystems they support, terrific. If you are still looking for opportunities or want to do more, reach out and Blue Fish Canada will be pleased to include you as a volunteer, or, make a one-time or monthly charitable donation through our secure on-line donation service provided by Canada Helps and receive a tax receipt.

To date, the work of Blue Fish Canada has been paid for with donations from anglers, conservationists, and grants from private foundations. More recently, celebrities like Canadian country music star and outdoor TV host Bret Kissel have stepped up and become long term supporters. We are thankful for the recognition of the work Blue Fish Canada is receiving. However, addressing threats to Canada’s biodiversity and the growing need to strengthen nature’s resilience is essential. Now is the time to support Blue Fish Canada.

All the best to you and yours over the Holidays. Remember, if you ever need a little bit of “me time” and you’ve already blown through your collection of gift cards and spending money, download one of the 65 episodes of “Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther”, or any of the 375 episodes of “The Blue Fish Radio Show” – new episodes of both podcasts drop every two weeks. And remember, if there’s a story that needs telling, reach out and let Blue Fish Canada help make that happen.

Yours in conservation,
Lawrence Gunther

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


COVID-19 reduced recreational fishing effort during the black bass spawning season, resulting in increases in black bass reproductive success and annual recruitment / Fisheries Research
During two non-pandemic years (2019 and 2022) the hook-wounding rates from recreational angling observed among nesting male largemouth bass (LMB), and nesting male smallmouth bass (SMB), were quite high, but typical of those observed in the lake being monitored over the last 20 years. That level of illegal, preseason angling resulted in very low percentages of both LMB and SMB nesting males being successful at raising their broods to independence, rates comparable to those observed for this lake in previous years. In 2020 and 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, access to fishing in Ontario was severely limited during the bass spawning season, which serendipitously provided a natural “whole-lake bass spawning sanctuary” to study. Not surprisingly, the hook-wounding rates for nesting male LMB and SMB were the lowest rates ever observed over the last 30 + years. Concomitantly, the percentage of nesting male LMB and SMB that were successful at raising their broods to independence was approximately 3–4 times greater than that in the non-COVID years. Not unexpectedly, those increases in nesting success translated to similar increases in LMB and SMB reproductive success (production of post parental care, independent fry). More importantly, those increases further resulted in large increases in the annual recruitment of both LMB and SMB. This unanticipated COVID-driven experiment revealed that using bass spawning sanctuaries would be more efficient than closed seasons as a management strategy to conserve levels of black bass annual recruitment.

Ottawa aims to reduce size of salmon fishing industry by buying licences / Global
The federal government is offering to buy Pacific salmon commercial fishing licences from those looking to get out of the declining industry as it tries to protect the fish that remain. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has earmarked $123 million for the voluntary retirement program and two future initiatives that will dispose of derelict vessels and allow Indigenous communal commercial licence holders to switch to another species. The funding is part of a nearly $650-million Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative announced last year. Jeff Grout, a salmon resource manager with Fisheries, says about 1,300 licences are eligible for the program, which will buy them at market rate and take them out of circulation.

Arctic char from Nunavut finds a market in Thunder Bay, Ont. / CBC
Eat the Fish is part of a project called Lake to Plate, and co-owner Paul Drombolis says the partners in the effort include the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Laval University and Project Nunavut. The Arctic char is caught in a lake nearly 2,000 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. It’s flash frozen on sight, and then shipped south.

Teaching 100,000 youth around the world to fish / IGFA
In 2018, the International Game Fish Association set an ambitious goal of teaching 100,000 youth around the world how to fish ethically. In June 2022, the 100,000th child was taught during our IGFA Day celebrations. Although the initiative is complete, the work will continue around the world to establish future generations of ethical anglers.

Unearthing the Original Mediterranean Diet / Hakai
Archaeologist Dimitra Mylona’s odyssey to reveal the Mediterranean Sea’s lost bounty. When Greek archaeologists applied the same methodology to coastal sites in the Aegean and even in many inland locations, fish bones were uncovered by the hundreds or thousands in nearly every location. Fish were clearly an important part of the ancient Greek diet: a vast underestimation of the importance of the sea as a source of food had taken place.

“Dollar Dog” features in International Fly Fishing Festival / ASF
The story of a four-legged Cape Breton salmon guide is an official selection in the 2023 International Fly Fishing Film Festival. The ASF x Orvis production, produced by filmmaker Tim Myers and ASF’s Nova Scotia program director Dierdre Green tells the story of Ella, a golden retriever mix from Cape Breton who walks alone every day to Dollar Pool on the Margaree River where she watches people fish and points to where salmon are laying. The short documentary features legendary Margaree Guide Robert Chiasson and Ella’s family, telling the story of their remarkable pooch.


Herrings are swimming back to the Salish Sea / Crosscut
The fish almost disappeared from Howe Sound in the mid-1970s. Now, the Squamish Nation and citizen scientists are welcoming them home. The spectacle of herring spawn—adult fish returning to these shores to blanket tens of thousands of eggs with a milky, turquoise cloud of seminal fluid known as milt—is over in a matter of days. Some of the eggs, glommed onto vegetation such as rockweed, will be fertilized, and if the waves that wash across them are gentle and predators stay away, larval fish will emerge. To me, the clear bubble-like eggs the size of millet that Williams searches for seem too minuscule to be of much consequence in Átl’ḵa7tsem. But to Williams and the four other citizen scientists who make up the core herring search team, knowing where these eggs land and flourish enables them to put a finger to the pulse of a waterway that environmentalists once declared dead. The ghosts of resource extraction surround us: two pulp mills that choked the sound with logs and bleaching agents like chlorine dioxide, chemical plants that leached mercury, underwater dump sites from dredged sediment and a beachfront copper mine that was once the biggest source of toxic metals in North America’s waterways.

Concerns feds reversing promise to end B.C. fish farms by 2025 / Narwhal
“They’re not talking about a transition from open-net salmon farms anymore,” says Stan Proboszcz of Watershed Watch. “They’re talking about just producing a plan by 2025, to transition existing open nets into some other open-net form, that may or may not reduce interactions with wild fish.”

Miramichi smallmouth efforts lifted up in New York / ASF
The Atlantic Salmon Federation remains committed to eradicating illegally introduced smallmouth bass from the Miramichi watershed. In September, ASF successfully treated Lake Brook and a portion of the SW Miramichi River to remove these invasive fish. However, ASF was unable to treat Miramichi Lake with a rotenone project as planned. ASF is working on finishing the job in 2023, and at their annual fund-raiser in New York, ASF raised over $400,000 to begin strategizing for next year and to complete the project.

Thousands of salmon return to spawning grounds after channel dug around Coldwater River logjam / CBC
One year after the floods of November 2021 left coho salmon stranded behind a logjam in the Coldwater River, recovery efforts have cleared the way for 2,000 of the fish to swim upstream to their spawning grounds.

Berlin’s giant AquaDom hotel aquarium containing 1,500 fish explodes / BBC
A giant aquarium containing a million litres of water in the lobby of the Radisson Blu in Berlin has burst, flooding the hotel and nearby streets. The “AquaDom” – home to 1,500 fish – is 15.85m high (52 ft) and was described as the largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium in the world.

Endangered salmon are left to flounder as Canada hosts COP15 / National Observer
Ottawa has “abandoned” endangered salmon and steelhead trout despite its biodiversity promises, says Watershed Watch, B.C. Wildlife Federation and the B.C. Federation of Fly Fishers. More than 40 salmon populations have been assessed as endangered or threatened, but only one is legally protected under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

ASF researchers have big year in Greenland / ASF
The ASF flagship research program, tagging and tracking Atlantic salmon in the North Atlantic, achieved a breakthrough this year in Greenland, where salmon from more than 2,000 rivers in North America and Europe migrate to feed and grow. The ASF crew, working with local fishermen and scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, caught and tagged 215 adult salmon with satellite and acoustic tags. It was the fourth and most successful year of this current five-year program. The satellite tags are tethered to the backs of the fish and programmed to release in early May. They will float to the surface and connect with passing satellites to transmit data on depth, water temperature, and position. The acoustic tags are implanted in the stomach of the salmon and have batteries that can last up to two years. They emit soundwaves that are detected by receivers placed along known migration routes home from Greenland. The data captured identifies the unique fish and when it passed by. This work at Greenland compliments ASF’s long-term research on juvenile and adult salmon leaving their home rivers, detailing for the first time in history the exact route and timing of their homeward migration.

Tacoutche Tesse, the Northwest’s great ghost river — Part 3: saving wild salmon versus the net pen industry / Salish Current
“The dominos are beginning to fall,” according to Stan Proboszcz, senior scientist at B.C.’s Watershed Watch Salmon Society. Alexandra Morton put it even more bluntly: “I think this industry is in its last days.”

Many myths about the N.L. salmon aquaculture industry / SaltWire
“The history of the NL salmon aquaculture industry is a dark one, with many bad decisions made by both DFO and the province to help the industry get established.”

Progress is possible: Cowichan River Reaches Tipping Point! / Salmon Steward Magazine
In 2003, the Cowichan River reached a tipping point. After weeks of drought conditions, salmon had to be trucked upstream to reach their spawning grounds. After reaching a low of 500 Chinook in 2009, over the last four years the average annual return has increased to more than 23,000. The resurgence is due in part to Cowichan Watershed Board’s successful local governance model where collaboration and shared action guides the way, discussed at PSF’s Pacific Action Dialogues as we work First Nation Fisheries Council of B.C. to develop a framework for collaborative action.

‘A cry for help’: Yukon River Chinook salmon take priority in high-level talks on Parliament Hill / Yukon News
Cheyenne Bradley explains how her ancestors relied on Chinook salmon to help them survive in fish camps along the Yukon River. Now she refrains from harvesting that species for the benefit of the fish and the people who rely on it.


There’s Something in the Water / Ohio Sea Grant
Lake Erie is a vital resource to Ohio, supplying drinking water, recreational opportunities and employment to millions of people. The lake is weathering its fair share of problems, from harmful algal blooms to industrial pollution, but it also faces new potential threats to its health. One of those threats is quickly gaining more attention from scientists, and it’s also one that residents can play a large role in addressing: contamination from pharmaceutical products. There’s not a lot of research on the long-term impacts of pharmaceuticals at very low concentrations. Pharmaceutical compounds are treating diseases at pretty high concentrations, but when hundreds of different compounds are all together, we don’t know how they interact with each other. In small animals and invertebrates some impacts even at very low concentrations are observed, where some of the animals might develop tumors or behavior problems.

B.C. vows to reverse ‘short-term thinking’ with pledge to protect 30% of province by 2030 / Narwhal
Advocates say Premier David Eby’s conservation mandate is an ‘important step’ in the fight against biodiversity loss in B.C., which is home to nearly 700 globally imperilled species.

B.C. to add protections for ‘high profile’ endangered species / Narwhal
With plants and animals rapidly disappearing, B.C. and the feds are close to a new agreement to protect nature. But some environmentalists question just how strong protections will be.

Rethinking the Resilience of Salt Marshes / Hakai
The painstakingly slow recovery of an Oregon marsh raises new worries about how delicate these ecosystems can be. The discovery that salt marshes can be so slow to re-establish suggests some may be less resilient than scientists tend to think—a grim finding in a world where sea level rise is threatening to gradually drown coastal marshes around the world.

Wild Salmon Watersheds up and running / ASF
Atlantic Salmon Federation’s new Wild Salmon Watersheds program has advanced from concept to pilot stage. Memorandums of understanding have been signed by ASF and groups in three places; the Nepisiguit River in New Brunswick, the Margaree and Cheticamp rivers in Nova Scotia, and the Terra Nova River on the island of Newfoundland. Working with local partners like the Nepisiguit Salmon Association ASF will help build a long-term plan for conservation action and deliver the money and expertise required to execute. As a facilitator, ASF will connect these local groups at annual conferences where best practices are shared. Learn more or nominate your river for the Wild Salmon Watersheds program by contacting Kris Hunter – khunter@asf.ca.

2022 Status of U.S. Marine and Great Lakes Ecosystems Released / National Centers for Environmental Information
The website provides a holistic view of important ecosystem data and has been newly expanded to the Great Lakes in 2022. New indicators such as the number of days an ecosystem experiences a marine heatwave and changes in the distribution of species have also been added. For the first time, the National Marine Ecosystem Status website includes indicators for each of the Great Lakes as well as the Great Lakes Region as a whole. Each lake has distinctive basin features, circulation, and ecology. In total, 13 ecosystem indicators are available for the Great Lakes, including lake ice cover and coastal population. The indicators show that the Great Lakes ecosystems are stable with the exception of increasing intensity of marine heatwaves, frequency of billion-dollar disasters, and value of the coastal tourism sector. The indicators were developed in partnership with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, and the data used on the website comes from a collection of NOAA, state-level, and international resources.

What Is “Urbanized Knowledge Syndrome”? / Hakai
Survey research suggests people who live in highly built landscapes tend to think more simply about coastal environments. It represents a broad trend “urbanized knowledge syndrome”—a pattern of linear, homogenized thinking about coastal ecosystems that grows worse with increasing urban development. It suggests that as coastal environments become more built up, people lose their appreciation and understanding of the complexity of the natural world.


Trudeau announces $800M for Indigenous-led conservation initiatives / CBC
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced $800 million in funding for large Indigenous-led conservation projects covering almost a million square kilometres of land. The prime minister made the announcement in Montréal, which is hosting the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, also known as COP15. The four projects in Ontario, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and British Columbia that will be funded starting next year are meant to conserve land and protect coastal and inland waterways. Trudeau said the initiative will help Canada reach its target of conserving 25 per cent of Canada’s land and waters by 2025, rising to 30 per cent by 2030. The project is being funded with the help of Project Finance for Permanence, PFP, a funding model that channels contributions from Indigenous communities, all levels of government and the philanthropic community to provide long-term protection for land and water. In the Great Bear Sea on B.C’s coast, the initiative will support a group representing 17 First Nations working to protect the Northern Shelf Bioregion, which includes a number of islands, rocky shorelines and deep fjords. In the Northwest Territories, funding will be directed to a partnership of 30 Indigenous groups working to protect boreal forests, rivers and other lands. The third region being protected is in Qikiqtani, the northernmost region of Nunavut, home to sensitive habitats for marine mammals, birds and fish. In Ontario’s far north, the initiative will fund conservation and protection activities in western James Bay, southern Hudson Bay and the Hudson Bay lowlands.

Michigan, native tribes reach new Great Lakes fishing deal / Vancouver Is Awesome
The tentative deal involves contentious issues for groups wanting shares of a valuable resource as populations of some species — particularly whitefish and salmon — have fallen over the past two decades. A proposed order submitted to a federal judge would extend for 24 years a system overseeing commercial and sport fishing in areas of lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior covered by an 1836 treaty. Those sections of the lakes are entirely within the U.S. and under Michigan’s jurisdiction. The agreement, like its predecessors, sets zones where tribal fishing crews can operate and areas where commercial fishing is off limits. It deals with topics such as catch limits, and which gear tribal operations can use. Particularly controversial is tribes’ use of large-mesh gill nets, an effective tool that hangs in the water column like a wall. Critics say they indiscriminately catch and kill too many fish. The new deal let tribes use the nets in more places, with restrictions on depth in the water they’re placed, the times of year they’re used and how much netting is deployed.


Blue Fish News now Live on The Blue Fish Radio Show!
In addition to our usual biweekly Blue Fish Radio Show special guest features, you can now listen to Blue Fish Canada President Lawrence Gunther discuss all the latest fishing and fish news with Canadian Fishing Network Scottie Martin every week.


Life on the edge: Wildlife and change in the Hudson Bay Lowlands / OMNRF
Access the recording of the seminar featuring Glen Brown presenting on wildlife and change in the Hudson Bay Lowlands. For more detailed information about the content of the presentation, feel free to contact Glen Brown from Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Coming Up:

Registration is Now Open for 2023 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
This year’s Invasive Species Forum theme is Invasive Species Action in a Changing Climate. The February 7-9 Forum presents the opportunity to learn from a variety of dedicated sessions including Ecosystem Resilience; Vectors, Pathways, & Threats; Indigenous Communities; and more.

SAVE THE DATE: Great Lakes Day 2023 / Great Lakes Commission
Save the date for Great Lakes Day, including the annual Great Lakes Day Congressional Breakfast Reception, to be hosted by the Great Lakes Commission and Northeast-Midwest Institute on March 9, 2023. The Breakfast Reception includes dialogue on Great Lakes priorities by regional leaders and members of Congress who play a critical role in shaping Great Lakes policies.

Special Guest Feature – Great Lakes Binational Draft Priorities for Science and Action(2023-2025) / Great Lakes Executive Committee

The following are some of the draft priorities being considered for further research and implementation by the binational Great Lakes Executive Committee. Public comments are still being sought:

  • Conduct monitoring and surveillance in Great Lakes environmental media to track trends of Chemicals of Mutual Concern and other priority chemicals, enhance these efforts through the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative, communicate results, and implement strategies to reduce Chemicals of Mutual Concern.
  • Recognizing that fish consumption is the major Great Lakes route of exposure for bioaccumulative CMCs, U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions will provide fish consumption advisories and raise awareness about the risks to minimize potential impacts to human health, including vulnerable populations.
  • Improve our understanding of factors affecting nuisance and harmful algae growth in the Great Lakes, particularly in nearshore areas.
  • Improve tracking and reporting on phosphorus loads to Lake Erie and the extent of harmful algal blooms and improve hypoxia assessment methods.
  • Develop and evaluate early AIS detection technologies and methods, including eDNA and genetic barcoding, and research and develop technologies and methods for control and eradication of AIS. Prevent introductions of new invasive species into the Great Lakes, including silver carp, bighead carp, and black carp, and other species identified through risk screening and assessment.
  • Enhance early detection for invasive carps and for other high-risk aquatic invasive species.
  • Conduct response actions to prevent the establishment of grass carp and other high-risk species in the Great Lakes.
  • Identify gaps in current AIS policies and regulations and reduce the risk of pathways into and within the Great Lakes basin.
  • Assess coastal environments, with a binational focus on coastal wetlands through the U.S. Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program and the Canadian Coastal Baseline Habitat Survey to support protection and restoration efforts and other actions that increase resiliency of native species and their coastal habitat.
  • Through existing programs, including Canada’s Nature Fund and the U.S. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, implement actions to protect and restore the resilience of native species and their habitats with a focus on activities that restore and maintain natural hydrology and water quality.
  • Produce and share climate information with the Great Lakes community, including regularly issuing the binational Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook report and the Annual Climate Trends and Impacts Summary for the Great Lakes Basin.
  • Increase understanding and consideration of opportunities to integrate Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in collaboration with Tribes, First Nations, and Métis, with a focus on updating, as appropriate, the Guidance Document on Traditional Ecological Knowledge Pursuant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and explore conducting educational opportunities on TEK.

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Featured Blue Fish Radio guest Tom Rowland

In the December 5, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with an exploration of evolving fish handling best practices, including a podcast featuring TV host, podcaster, tournament angler and guide Tom Rowland. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Guest Feature is chosen to inform and inspire our readers’ concerns.

This Week’s Feature – Catch – Care – Release

By Lawrence Gunther

The practice of returning caught fish back to the water alive is a very recent development; however, when you consider the big picture, deriving enjoyment from fishing began long before this conservation ethic came into practice. For sure, fishing goes back many thousands of years. In fact, it may be one of the first predator-prey relationships involving humans where we weren’t the prey. There is however, growing evidence that using more “sporting” methods of catching fish date back at least 3,000 years according to paintings discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs. Images of people fishing with long supple rods appear alongside people depicted hauling in nets filled with fish. If fishing was regarded solely as a harvesting activity, then what was the person doing with the fishing pole?

It was in the 1980s that bass fishing tournaments first began the practice of releasing fish alive after the weigh-in on shore. Until then all fishing tournaments, and pretty much all forms of fishing in general, included harvesting one’s catch. The concept of releasing fish alive was promoted as a conservation measure.

Many anglers still prefer to keep a daily limit of fish and that the fish selected for harvest represent the largest of their catch that day. Still others prefer to keep just enough to provide for a fresh meal. In either case, both often voluntarily suspend fishing once their harvest goals are met.

Whether you enjoy fishing and return all you catch alive, or you prefer to harvest fish for food, most jurisdictions mandate daily harvest limits. The increased use of slot sizes has also made releasing fish a part of the selective harvesting process.

Most anglers know that the largest fishes are the ones that are responsible for the majority of the successful spawning, and choose instead to let these fish go, even if a slot size limit isn’t in affect. Fish consumption guidelines also often recommend returning the larger older fishes, suggesting instead to harvest younger smaller fishes that have absorbed fewer toxins from their environment. All this to say, anglers have become increasingly selective about how and when they harvest fish.

Among certain cultures or countries, it’s mandatory to keep every fish caught. This is partly due to the act of fishing being regarded by some as an act of cruelty, making it necessary to limit the number of fish caught by recreational anglers. Restricting catch-and-release can also be regarded as a means of eliminating post-release mortality, allowing for more accurate tracking of the number of fish being removed from an ecosystem.

Often hybrid models exist that limit the harvest of a certain species, while allowing other fishes in the same ecosystem to be harvested without limits or requirements. And still the harvest of other fishes is sometimes encouraged, or the removal of a species altogether, as a means of re-establishing balance in ecosystems.

My point in describing the many variations of harvesting by recreational anglers is to justify why it’s necessary as anglers to be prepared to apply both catch-and-release best practices, and the sustainable and humane harvesting of fishes. Simply focusing on efficiency in harvesting, or the act of releasing fish as the only two modes of fishing no longer take into consideration the many forms of sound conservation.

Our fishing ethic now extends beyond deciding whether to keep or release fish, to how we choose and use fishing gear. We now select equipment that is both sporting, in that fish have a chance of escaping or avoiding capture, and at the same time ensuring fish aren’t overly exhausted leaving them vulnerable to predation when released. There are still those times when we choose gear that makes escape almost impossible, such as during competitions or when fishing for food, but even these choices are often made within mandated parameters that limit our tackle options such as the number of hooks we can use at any one time. When our goal is to catch and release fish by causing the least amount of stress or injury, we select gear that also has a much higher chance of fish coming off during the capture process, or gear that gives fish more chance of avoiding being caught altogether. Gear limitations such as single barbless hooks, one-to-one ratio reels, artificial baits only, or restrictions on the use of nets, gaffs or spears after a fish is hooked. Even strict limits on hook design are being implemented when fishing for certain species of fishes such as limiting anglers to using non-offset circle hooks when fishing for billfish. Limits on how we handle fish after being caught such as lifting fish into the boat, and even lifting fish out of the water are also growing in popularity. While some of these self-imposed choices may seem excessively restrictive when first being championed, at some point they can become moral imperatives such as prohibitions on catching or keeping any fish hooked anywhere other than in the mouth – what is now referred to as “snagging”.

As mentioned, sorting out the ethics of recreational fishing is still relatively new. Many who fish today may have personally experienced the transition from fishing solely to fill a personal harvest limit, to the goal of releasing all fish in good health, and everything in between. It’s no wonder that the intersections between the two forms of angling are still being sorted out.

The state of Florida in the United States offers some of the best sport fishing in the world year-round. Numerous guides, outfitters and fishing resorts operate 365 days a year throughout much of the lower parts of Florida. To better manage the impacts recreational catch-and-release fishing is having on fish populations, an increasing number of rules and best practices are emerging. Everything from the use of descending devices to assist fishes to return to the depths from where they were caught, to fish handling guidelines designed to minimize fishes from experiencing exhaustion and then falling prey to sharks and other predators post-release.

Mr. Tom Rowland is a Florida based executive producer of three TV fishing shows, host of a highly popular podcast, and a former guide and competitive professional angler. I reached out to Tom to learn more about the best practices now in use in Florida, the fishes they are intended to benefit, and why. We discussed how best to teach and enforce new fish handling rules, and what it has meant for both the fishes and the fishing business. Link below to hear my conversation with Tom Rowland on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/catch-care-release-with-tom-rowland/.

Florida anglers and their guests aren’t the only people evolving their fish handling skills. Sturgeon fishers on Canada’s west coast continue to introduce new best practices designed to ensure the future of their highly profitable and popular catch-and-release sturgeon fishery. Salmon fishers on Canada’s east coast also have numerous practices that are either expected or mandated by their Atlantic salmon anglers. Across Canada social media tools like Facebook, and angler apps like My Catch are promoting catch-photograph-release fishing for fun and during tournaments. And researchers too are benefitting by anglers who volunteer to serve as citizen scientists by catching, tagging, and releasing fish in the name of science.

So much has changed in the world of recreational fishing in the past four decades, and so much more change is still to come as people learn from other anglers and the research of fish biologists. The charity Blue Fish Canada is constantly documenting these best practices to share with our partner organizations like Canadian Fishing Network, Earth Rangers, and the International Game Fish Association, to name a few. Link below to access Blue Fish Canada species-specific fish handling best practices developed with input from expert anglers and verified by our science advisors: https://bluefishcanada.ca/resources/blue-fish-sustainable-fishing-tips/

Underscoring the necessity to continually nuance our recreational fishing practices are the exponential advancements in fishing technology that now continually improve our efficiency on the water. But probably the biggest influence behind the evolution of recreational fishing is the desire among anglers themselves to become ever stronger stewards of the resource. There is growing awareness that the health we derive from fishing is predicated on the health of the fishes and their ecosystems. It’s what many involved with animal husbandry refer to as a “one health” relationship. Growing awareness and understanding of indigenous people’s food, social and ceremonial relationship with food harvested from nature, and traditional indigenous knowledge and values are also influencing broader social norms.

For millennia most all cultures around the world have sourced their protein from seafood. What hasn’t been part of our collective experience are the many advancements in harvesting technology, that when combined with alterations to seasonal patterns brought about by increasingly extreme weather, requires that we mitigate in many ways our real and potential impacts on nature. This includes measures to improve the resilience of Canada’s fish stocks and the habitat upon which they depend. To this end, Blue Fish Canada is also implementing and evaluating the long-term benefits of a number of habitat and resource enhancement strategies in collaboration with a broad cross-section of stakeholders. However, research of this nature requires resources, both financial and human, so please consider becoming a Blue Fish Canada volunteer and/or making a donation. Link below to explore your charitable donation options: https://bluefishcanada.ca/donations/.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Historic Management Procedure for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna / FishingWire
The 2022 annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas takes landmark decision to adopt the first management procedure for Atlantic bluefin tuna. There is also a new bycatch mitigation measures for sea turtles.

Manitoba’s wild-caught fisheries pursue new markets with sustainability push / Narwhal
Once dubbed the worst in the world, Manitoba’s commercial fisheries were facing millions in lost sales. But following the leadership of Indigenous fisheries, the province is eyeing a future of more sustainably caught fish — with eco-certification and a new initiative to bolster the industry.

O Canada / Craig Medred
“As if Canadian commercial fishermen didn’t have it bad enough with precipitously declining salmon runs and Alaska interceptions of Canadian-born fish, now they’ve lost Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of their sockeye, chum and pink salmon fisheries.”

California’s Slightly Less Gray Laws on White Sharks / Hakai
Starting on January 1, 2023, recreational anglers in California will face new fishing restrictions that make it illegal to use shark bait, shark lures, or shark attractants, known as chum, “within one nautical mile [1.9 kilometers] of any shoreline, pier, or jetty when a white shark is either visible or known to be present.”

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP slams Liberal government over foreign ownership of B.C. fishing licences / Prince Rupert Northern View
MP Taylor Bachrach was met with applause over the ongoing controversy surrounding the monopolization of B.C.’s fishing industry and foreign ownership.

Ask MRIP: Answering Your Questions About For-hire Data / NOAA
Saltwater anglers, for-hire captains, and other members of the recreational fishing community often ask how and why we collect recreational fishing data. They also want to know how we use that data to estimate total recreational catch. Our Ask MRIP web series answers your questions about the science and statistics that support sustainable fishing.


The federal government is less likely to protect an at-risk fish if people like to eat it / Narwhal
When a fish is listed under the species at risk registry, federal protection measures kick in. But the vast majority of at-risk fish that are commercially valuable never get that designation, data shows. Less than one-tenth of commercially valuable fish species assessed as at risk in Canada are listed under the Species At Risk Act. That’s compared to more than 50 per cent of non-commercial fish species assessed as at risk being listed under the act.

More than 5,000 wild species are at some risk of extinction in Canada / Narwhal
More than 5,000 wild species are at some risk of extinction in Canada, according to the most comprehensive survey of the country’s biodiversity ever undertaken. The Wild Species 2020: The General Status of Species in Canada report, released Tuesday, found that one in five wild species — ranging from sea stars and slime moulds to mammals and moths — is in danger of disappearing from Canada. The at-risk wildlife includes 24 mammal species, 43 fish species, nine amphibian species, 17 reptile species, 50 bird species, 230 lichen species, 25 species of dragonflies and damselflies, 195 beetle species, 15 bee species and 188 butterfly and moth species.

As Shark Numbers Plummet, Nations Seek Ban on Devastatingly Effective Gear / FishingWire
Famed undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau had a favorite shark: the oceanic whitetip, or Carcharhinus longimanus. He said they were the most dangerous of all sharks, more so than the great white (Carcharodon carcharias). Some researchers believe the species used to be one of the world’s most abundant vertebrates longer than 6 feet (1.8 meters).

Fhit-Chips provide salmon health insight / PSF
A made-in-B.C. technology offers a new window into salmon health. A team of researchers deploys Fit-Chip technology to understand infectious disease and environmental stress in salhmon. Using cutting-edge genetic tools that can test up to 96 fish at once, researchers can rapidly draw conclusions about health, stress, and disease in salmon that we only imagined 20 years ago.

The Catcher in the Sturgeon / FishingWire
Lake Sturgeon were once found across the Midwest in strong populations and during the 1800’s were looked at as useless and left to die. This act was so common that the railway started to use dried sturgeon carcasses as fuel for their steam engines. Later, when caviar became popular, female sturgeon were highly sought after for their eggs.

Learn how the Percy Walkus Hatchery helps conserve Chinook salmon. / PSF
The Percy Walkus Hatchery is known for helping to preserve and enhance the enormous Chinook salmon that return to Wuikinuxv territory each fall. At the “egg take” Chinook eggs are collected and used for salmon enhancement efforts. Thanks to more than $600,000 in donations from generous Percy Walkus Hatchery supporters including Duncanby Fishing Lodge, Good Hope Cannery, Bridgeview Marine, and many others, hatchery team members and volunteers facilitated a successful egg take. The crew caught 81 fish – 39 females and 42 males, hand incubated nearly 300,000 eggs this year despite delayed rains and late salmon runs.

Salmon, cod and the plight of at-risk fish in Canada / Narwhal
The number of fish species at risk is increasing in Canada. If existing federal practices continue, scientists say more species and populations could face decline — and even extinction.

Will B.C. be next to ban open-net fish farms? / Vancouver Sun
A UBC study found samples taken from salmon waste from fish farms showed genetic traces of a virus that can harm wild salmon.


Governments are subsidizing the destruction of nature even as they promise to protect it / Narwhal
Amid a biodiversity crisis, 196 countries recently spent a week meeting in Montreal to hash out a new agreement to save nature.

Blind Bay / NYS/Watertown
Locals near Blind Bay, a small bay on the St. Lawrence River between Clayton and Alexandria Bay, have been concerned about a plan that would see U.S. Customs and Border Protection build a new, 48,000 square foot station on the very site the locals say, is a critical, rare spawning ground for muskies, keeping the ecosystem in tact. The Thousand Islands Land Trust was so worried, it actually bought the land to prevent the build.

Seagrass-associated Fish Recover Quickly From Cyclones / Coastal Review
Fish that live in the seagrass meadows of North Carolina’s Back Sound seem to recover quickly from tropical cyclones, demonstrating a capacity for resilience in the face of disruptive shocks, reports a study published last month in Plos One. The study hypothesizes that the resilience of the fish communities is tied to the integrity of the seagrass habitats that they depend on.

Federal funds will be used to restore habitat for at-risk fish species in Nottawasaga River / Simcoe.com
There’s good news for two at-risk fish species in the Nottawasaga Valley watershed.

The price of paper / Hakai
Coastal communities around the world contend with the toxic legacies of pulp and paper mills.

Predicting Winners and Losers in a Warming Arctic / NOAA
Habitat for key prey species may shrink dramatically if climate change continues on its current trajectory, new research shows.

P.E.I. gets funding to protect endangered species / CTV
Prince Edward Island’s landscape took a beating from post-tropical storm Fiona in September. Now, new funding has been dedicated to protect habitats and species on the island and across the country.

Washing away: The Arctic hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., is collapsing into the ocean / CBC
The Arctic hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., is collapsing into the ocean as it loses up to a metre of coastline each year. The people who live there are in a race against time to preserve their way of life — and their community — before it is washed away.

Widespread amounts of cocaine, painkillers found in fish habitat on Sumas Prairie after 2021 floods: study / CBC News
Fish habitat in the lower Fraser Valley was found to have an “astounding” amount of contaminants after extreme flooding last fall, according to a new study.

Feds announce another $1.2 billion for ocean cleanup and protection / Cheknews
The federal government has announced an investment of another $1.2 billion in its Ocean Protection Plan for 29 projects involving ocean safety, science and environmental safeguards.


Union of BC Indian Chiefs want more federal action on fish farm closure / Peace Arch News
The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is making their choice clear for the federal government: Get the fish farms out of the water, right now.

How a B.C. First Nation said ‘no’ to fish farms / Coast Reporter
What shíshálh Nation’s rejection of finfish farms on the Sunshine Coast means and why it was through B.C. legislation as a federal transition is pending.


Boating Immersion Stories
Help fellow Canadian Boaters by sharing your boating experiences! The Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) is looking for boaters who are interested in participating in a study regarding the importance of lifejacket wear in the event of falling overboard and accidental immersion.


Renowned Salmon Arm wildlife artist puts her stamp on prestigious contest / Maple Ridge News
Her painting, Rapid Ascent, is the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s winner of its Salmon Conservation Stamp Art Competition for 2023-24.


“Managing to Zero – The Thompson Steelhead Travesty”
Read author Bob Hooton’s latest book “Managing to Zero – The Thompson Steelhead Travesty”. Once a fishing bucket list experience that brought anglers to B.C. from around the world, Their slow but now surely imanant demise has been excruciating to witness. Bob Hooton, a retired fish biologist, explores how such a world-famous fish has been reduced to the point of near extinction, and the politics responsible for this preventable disaster. You can order your copy now from Amazon.


Recreational Fishing—Policy and Partnerships / NOAA
Recreational fishing is a key part of the social and economic fabric of our coastal communities. Explore how policy and partnership are working to ensure U.S. recreational fishing remains vibrant and sustainable for the future. On this episode of Dive in with NOAA Fisheries, we talk with Russell Dunn, the National Policy Advisor for Recreational Fisheries, and Alex Atikinson, a policy analyst with NOAA Fisheries.


Incredible video shows endangered orca ‘superpod’ in Salish Sea / CHEKNEWS
Scientists say a strong chum run could be keeping all 73 endangered southern resident killer whales in the Salish Sea for an extended period.


Healing Our Connection to Water and Place through Habitat Creation / Latornell
The second event in the Latornell Re-imagining Conservation Webinar Series, Healing Our Connection to Water and Place through Habitat Creation.

Scientists and Local Champions:

The Government of Canada appoints Dr. Robert Hecky and Mr. Earl Provost to the Commission’s Canadian Section, filling two vacancies

Coming Up:

Registration is Now Open for 2023 Invasive Species Forum / ISC
This year’s Invasive Species Forum theme is Invasive Species Action in a Changing Climate. The February 7-9 Forum presents the opportunity to learn from a variety of dedicated sessions including Ecosystem Resilience; Vectors, Pathways, & Threats; Indigenous Communities; and more.

SAVE THE DATE: Great Lakes Day 2023 / Great Lakes Commission
Save the date for Great Lakes Day, including the annual Great Lakes Day Congressional Breakfast Reception, to be hosted by the Great Lakes Commission and Northeast-Midwest Institute on March 9, 2023. The Breakfast Reception includes dialogue on Great Lakes priorities by regional leaders and members of Congress who play a critical role in shaping Great Lakes policies.

Special Guest Feature – Oceana Canada releases sixth annual Fishery Audit 2022

The audit found that less than one-third of wild fish and invertebrate stocks can be considered healthy, and most critically depleted stocks lack government plans to rebuild them. The number of healthy fisheries has decreased since 2017, with no significant improvement to many of the indicators of good fisheries science, monitoring and management.

The federal government has made significant investments, developed new policies and most importantly changed the law to improve fisheries management. But these changes have not yet led to healthier fisheries. Given rising threats from overfishing, biodiversity loss and climate change, urgent action is required to see change where it counts, on the water.

Oceana Canada is calling on Fisheries Minister Murray to address the most critical gaps in Canada’s marine fisheries science, monitoring and management by prioritizing the following actions:

  1. List all remaining critical and cautious fish stocks, including those currently classified as uncertain, under Canada’s amended Fisheries Act and make management decisions that are consistent with its rebuilding
  2. Meaningfully engage with Indigenous communities and organizations to make decisions about wild fish that are informed by Indigenous Knowledge Systems, as well as the best available science.
  3. Integrate ecosystem-level considerations into fisheries decisions, prioritizing rebuilding depleted forage fish that other species rely on as prey, and addressing vulnerabilities to climate change.
  4. Improve fisheries monitoring by counting everything caught in a fishery — including for recreational and bait purposes.

About us:

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

As the founder and on-going president of Blue Fish Canada I’m pleased to report that 2022 witnessed our return to offering direct in-person programming. On-line program delivery will continue due to its effectiveness and cost efficiency, but in many cases actual outdoor experiences are irreplaceable for building real and lasting connections with nature. You can call what we do a hybrid delivery model, but in reality, it’s a strategy Blue Fish Canada embraced ten years ago when we were first registered as a Canadian charity. All this to say, Blue Fish Canada is growing forward!

Invasive Species: In partnership with the Invasive Species Centre, Blue Fish Canada produced a series of invasive Grass Carp and Goldfish public service advisories including videos, audio inserts, and alternative format (braille / large print) hand-outs. A social media campaign to disseminate these important messages and best-practices continues.

Podcasts: Another 28 episodes of “The Blue Fish Radio Show” and 26 episodes of “Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther” were produced. Both podcasts are now ranked top-ten in their respective categories in Canada and abroad.

Youth Fishing: Continued partnerships with Earth Rangers, CNIB, the St. Lawrence River Institute, the International Game Fish Association, Ottawa Youth Fishing School, Scouts, Girl Guides and more, extends Blue Fish Canada’s reach to a diversity of youth. Specially curated training materials ensures young anglers have the tools and inspiration to become stewards of nature and citizen scientists. Over 137 youth were directly engaged by Blue Fish Canada, and a further 300,000 families benefited from accessing Blue Fish Canada content.

Newsletter: Over 6,000 subscribers receive the biweekly Blue Fish News. A further 127,892 unique visitors accessed the News through the Blue Fish Canada website. Each issue includes a timely editorial with supporting podcast interviews, links and summaries to media reports, and a guest feature article.

Fish Health: President Lawrence Gunther continues to chair the Great Lakes Fish Health Network. Book submissions, academic articles and research papers are being produced with support from Network members and partner organizations such as the St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Sciences, Queen’s University, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the Great Lakes Network and others.

TV: Over 6,000 subscribers receive the biweekly Blue Fish News. A further 127,892 unique visitors accessed the News through the Blue Fish Canada website. Each issue includes a timely editorial with supporting podcast interviews, links and summaries to media reports, and a guest feature article.

Stakeholder Engagement: Nature Canada tasked Blue Fish Canada with facilitating dialog on the topic of fish and fishing concerning a proposed National Marine Conservation Area including the eastern basin of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte. To date, conversations have been held with seven stakeholders representing fishery researchers, commercial fishers and processors, indigenous fishers, recreational anglers and guides, and government officials. Their views and knowledge are being shared in summative reports and podcasts.

Facebook Live: Canada Fishing Network’s Monday Night Live Facebook stream includes President Lawrence Gunther’s 30-minute weekly segment featuring insightful commentary on fish and fishing in the news with the show’s host Scotty Martin.

Field Research: Working in collaboration with governments, the private sector, research organizations, shoreline property associations, indigenous communities and expert anglers, Blue Fish Canada is establishing a series of longitudinal research projects to assess measures to strengthen fish habitat and resilience throughout west Quebec and eastern Ontario. Research sites provide youth with training and opportunities to work alongside researchers.

Accessibility and Diversity: Growth in fishing participation is being driven by women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, people with disabilities and youth living primarily in urban centers. Blue Fish content and programs are inclusive, bias-free, and accessible. Guest experts reflect Canada’s diversity and include collaborations with indigenous communities.

Documentaries: Three new Lake2Plate 30-minute documentaries featuring fishing in Quebec’s Pontiac were released in 2022. A documentary short featuring President Lawrence Gunther and the work of Blue Fish Canada aired at the Ecological Society of America’s AGM and has been uploaded to the Water Ranger website. BFC provided CBC with archival content for their documentary “The last Guide”. Our documentary What Lies Below released on the BFC YouTube channel in 2021 has now been viewed over 30,000 times.

Blue Fish Certification: As outfitters, lodges, resorts, and other outdoor tourism operations recover from pandemic related impacts to their businesses, our sustainable training resources and certification programs grow in popularity. Be sure to look out for our Blue Fish logo on certified 3rd-party websites and social media, and please reward them with your business.

YouTube: Nine new videos have been uploaded to the BFC YouTube channel featuring live panel discussions produced by BFC on topics such as angler apps and fish research, and safeguarding St-Lawrence River muskie habitat. Another four invasive species PSA videos were produced and uploaded. Blue Fish Radio is also now producing more video content in addition to the audio podcasts.

Presentations / Seminars: A total of 17 in-person and live streaming presentations and seminars were provided by President Lawrence Gunther at outdoor shows like the Toronto Sportsman Show, an OceanWise evening at the Museum of Nature, schools, youth camps, science symposiums, government conferences, and conservation events.

Traditional Indigenous Knowledge: Indigenous Leaders like Chief Scot MacLeod and Chief Donald Maracle continue to share with Blue Fish Canada their traditional knowledge and values, allowing Blue Fish Canada to advance reconciliation by sharing more broadly their historic perspective and unique expertise.

Angler Champions: High profile angler experts, advocates, and influencers such as Canadian country music star and TV host Bret Kissel and Iron Maiden lead guitarist Adrian Smith lend their support to Blue Fish Canada. These champions also play a key role in amplifying the reach of our programs and the stewardship best practices and values they represent.

Science Advisors: Collecting, documenting, and sharing local and traditional knowledge is crucial. Ensuring this information and guidance is accurate rests with Blue Fish Canada’s many science advisors. Whether it be catch-and-release best practices, sustainable harvesting, or precautionary principles, we ensure all Blue Fish Canada guidance documents and program policies are factually accurate and scientifically valid.

Guest Appearances: President Lawrence Gunther featured in 11 live streaming events, expert panels, conferences, symposiums, and podcasts over the past 12 months. Recordings of many of these events are now on YouTube or available as podcasts.

Partnerships, Sponsors and Affiliates

AMI Audio and TVMaitland TowerOttawa River KeeperNature Canada
Pontiac TourismOttawa Region Walleye LeagueOutdoor Canada MagazineDoor #1
Public Fisheries AllianceSail OutdoorsRanger BoatsOceana Canada
B.C. Federation of FlyfishersKeep Canada FishingSaskatchewan Angler Research GroupShimano
Canadian Fishing NetworkMasters Production Ltd.Save the RiverOrleans Boat World
Canadian Environmental Law AssociationSt. Lawrence Institute for Environmental ResearchLowranceCanadian Sportfishing Industry Association
Mohawk Council of AkwesasneStriper CupCarp Anglers Group OntarioSalus Marine
Four Wheel Campers CanadaThe Blue Fish Radio ShowDestination Northern OntarioMuskie Canada Inc.
Now with Dave Brown TVTom Rowland PodcastEarth RangersScotty Fishing
Nature and Outdoor Tourism OntarioWatershed Watch Salmon SocietyFish’n CanadaEagleClaw
Ontario Bass NationWorld River DayGreat Lakes Fish Health NetworkCNIB
B.C. Anglers CoalitionHumanWareGreat Lakes Toxic Free NetworkWater Rangers
Anglers AtlasFishingWireWatershed Watch Salmon SocietyMuskies Canada

Social media





Summary: Blue Fish Canada continues to serve an increasingly important role in the future of water quality, fish health and recreational fishing across Canada. Using a combination of online tools, print resources and traditional storytelling is proving highly effective at engaging the next generation of recreational anglers and their mentors. While our on-line strategies continue to generate strong results, our shoreline access sites combined with fishery and habitat research and youth training ensures Blue Fish Canada programs are nature based.

About us:

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

Yours Sincerely,
Lawrence Gunther Euteneier M.E.S. M.S.M.
Blue Fish Canada

Blue Fish Radio Show Guest Highlights

Lawrence’s “Field research’’

What’s New at Blue Fish Canada: Snow is flying, boats are being stored, and ice fishing gear readied. A perfect time to take stock on how 2022 unfolded. Stay tuned for Blue Fish Canada’s yearly up-date and plans for 2023 – coming soon. Thanks for your support – please keep it coming – none of what we do would be possible without you.

Oceana Canada’s Science Director Dr. Robert Rangely.

In the November 21, 2022 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we explore the challenges, opportunities and commitments needed to rebuild Canada’s fish stocks, including a discussion with Dr. Robert Rangely, Science Director with Oceana Canada. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, habitat and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Feature chosen to inform and inspire our readers concerns the Ontario Government’s Bill 23 and its potential impacts on fish habitat.

This Week’s Feature: Rebuilding Fisheries

By Lawrence Gunther

I recently spent a day with about 140 highly intelligent and motivated people representing all aspects of marine commercial fishing organized by Oceana Canada. Even the Minister of Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans spoke to us at the end and took questions, in addition to a number of DFO officials taking part.

Like Ocean Wise, Oceana Canada is not philosophically opposed to fishing. In fact, Oceana believes that if managed properly, the ocean could supply the world’s population with sustainably harvested wild fish.

The following three priorities shaped the discussions during the Symposium:

  1. Potential for rebuilding abundance in Canada’s oceans in the next decade.
  2. Growth opportunities for food security, income, and livelihoods in coastal communities.
  3. Required changes to ocean governance and investment over the next five years.

My reason for attending the Symposium, in addition to satisfying my curiosity, was to learn what lessons could be applied to recreational fisheries. Turns out commercial fishing could take a lesson from the recreational fishing handbook, and I pointed this out during A Q/A session with panelists, touching off an interesting little debate – more on that to come.

We heard from indigenous representatives who shared advice on moving forward together using a “two eye” perspective, or in other words, by drawing on both science-based best practices, and indigenous traditional knowledge and values. We listened to a lot of scientists discuss research that examined environmental, social and governance issues associated with commercial fisheries, and we heard from representatives from the fishing industry itself, including those promoting community supported fisheries that link artisanal fishers directly with consumers.

My general sense is that Canada is on the right track in terms of rebuilding marine fisheries, even if we have been a bit slow to get started. Unfortunately, not much has changed in terms of how we regard ocean fishes as distinct “crops” that continue to make a handful of people a lot of money.

Having participated in the North Atlantic cod fishery prior to the moratorium coming into affect throughout Atlantic Canada in 1992, I understand all too well just how important fishes like cod are to people trying to make a living. It worked for those who chose to migrate to North America over 500 years ago, and continued to do so for many subsequent generations. The environment, society and the governance of the people and the fish stocks never seemed to be an issue for much of this time. The question of indigenous participation in commercial fisheries is another matter that I really don’t know that much about other than barriers to accessing fisheries evolved to become problematic. What I did witness on Canada’s east coast however, was the use of significant technological advancements that led to significant impacts to fish stocks. It was my sharing this observation that touched off a lively debate among the panelists.

My question to the panelists was: “Why do we blame solely the large-scale factory trawlers for the depletion of the cod stocks off North America’s north Atlantic coast? No doubt, these large-scale fish harvesting and processing machines were to blame for much of the collapse, but it was also my experience that even independent artisanal fishers were constantly upgrading their boats and fishing technologies to maximize efficiencies?”. Nothing that could compete with the mega factory off-shore trawlers that exemplified “economy-of-scale” fishing, but modifications to smaller in-shore vessels that exponentially improved their catch-to-effort performance. In short, I wanted to know why more research isn’t being conducted on how to scale back fishing pressure, instead of trying to discover a social engineering solution to the problem.

There were those who felt that the solution was to turn back time to when many of these technical innovations such as sonar, GPS, machine driven winches, nylon nets and lines, on-board freezers, etc. became the norm. Others argued that fishing technologies designed to maximise economy of scale fishing is essential to minimise time on the water and the expenditure of fossil fuels. To me, I think about all the restrictions I need to know when I go fishing recreationally or when competing in tournaments, and wonder why commercial fishers aren’t being required to “dial it back” as well?

Recreational angling, whether with a guide, on your own, or in a tournament, functions within a broad scope of rules that limit how much fishing pressure we are permitted to apply. Things like how many hooks we can have tied on our lines at any one time, how many lines we are allowed to use at once, the types of baits we are allowed to use, whether we are allowed to set lines and then leave, or if we can use nets to do more than trap a fish already hooked, or whether we are allowed to use fish attractants like chum, lights at night or sounds. This is all on top of increasingly complex rules governing what size fish we are allowed to harvest, when and where we are allowed to fish, and how many fish of any one species we are allowed to have in our possession.

Fishing tournament organizers expand on recreational fishing regulations with many more restrictions meant to ensure that each angler has no unfair advantage over their competitors before and during the competition. Things like the size of our motors on our boats, a ban on soliciting information from locals on where to fish, and now in some cases, what types of electronics are allowed on board. In short, rules, both legal and situational, meant to ensure recreational fishing is both sustainable and equitable.

The concept of sustainability is only recently become an important consideration to those who manage and participate in commercial fisheries. The principle of equitable access is also an issue, and in many cases, has been deliberately undermined. When you have one man who owns virtually all the commercial fishing boats on Canada’s West Coast, and now much of the processing capacity as well, what’s fair about that?

I’ve personally witnessed one of his large saining vessels force hundreds of recreational, guide and First Nations small watercraft from the water in order to deploy their nets. They simply deploy their net by circling the school of migrating salmon without regard for other vessels that need to quickly move away to avoid being caught up in the “set”. To make matters worse, they then leave with the fish without even stopping to buy gas or lunch. It can take days for the next school of migrating salmon to replenish the local waters, and that’s never guaranteed.

It’s not just western Canada where you see this type of domination of a fishery by one person or corporation. Iceland’s Atlantic salmon fishery is one, the menhaden fishery off the U.S. East Coast is another. However, it’s not the issue of equitable access that’s causing fish stocks to decline, it’s the lack of regulations meant to ensure the sustainability of our fish stocks by limiting the way these resources are harvested.

One example of achieving sustainability by restricting the application of technology is the Bluefin tuna fishery on Canada’s East Coast. Bluefin tuna can be caught using rods and reels equipped with a single hook, a “tended line” with a single hook attached directly to a fishing vessel, and in certain limited situations, the use of Trap net/weirs that fish swim in to but then can’t find their way back out. Unfortunately, Bluefin can also be legally harvested as bycatch by off-shore vessels that use Pelagic longlines used to harvest swordfish and other tunas. These longlines are a mainline suspended by floats equipped with 600 to 1100 baited hooks on a line measuring from 50 to 90 kilometers in length. Incredible commercial fishing technology for sure. Fortunately, all Bluefin tuna caught are tallied each day in order that set quotas can be respected.

Some argue that the problem lies with DFO being responsible for both managing fishery sustainability, and the commercial success of the industry. That managing these two areas of responsibility presents a conflict of interest resulting from DFO placing more emphasis on helping Canadian commercial fishing businesses to succeed by ignoring the harvest limits recommended by their own scientists. These critics point out the long list of fish stocks being over-exploited, such as the crash of the North Atlantic cod stock off the east coast of both Canada and the United States. Thankfully, both nations have since strengthened their respective rules that now put fish stock sustainability ahead of corporate profits.

Personally, I’m not convinced that focussing DFO to manage fishing pressure exclusively is the answer. In the end, no matter what the department’s other responsibilities might include, they still need to consult with stakeholders when formulating and implementing harvesting regulations. Forcing DFO to forgo their role in promoting Canadian fishery businesses would simply hand responsibility over to some other department that would do much the same.

Unfortunately, large companies have had an advantage in past that allowed them to focus lobbying efforts to influence those in power responsible for making the rules. This wasn’t the case with small-scale entrepreneurs or what many now refer to as artisanal fishers. It’s not so easy to consult thousands of independent and diverse commercial and indigenous fishers who may or may not belong to national associations. It’s much more convenient and intoxicating to sit down with a handful of powerful ultra-rich industrial magnates to politely portion out the windfall. It’s this history of excluding local and indigenous commercial fishers that concerns many who presented at the Oceana Canada symposium.

So once again, there’s no one answer that will rebuild the abundance of Canada’s marine ecosystems. Yes, we need to reduce the level of fishing pressure, and yes, we need to make sure those who want to be part of our commercial fisheries can do so. Regardless, large players in the commercial fishing industry will argue that putting limits on the use of harvesting technologies will price Canada out of the market. Other than boutique-style markets, we won’t be able to compete internationally on price if we don’t employ the same economy of scale approaches used by our competition. But aren’t these same people the ones responsible for the overfishing and excess fishing capacity the world now finds itself in? There you go, another piece to the puzzle, ensuring fair and competitive competition, which I’m happy to say Canada is also now working on addressing.

The most recent round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization saw Canada successfully put forward a limited number of proposals to ensure small scale commercial fisheries are protected and sustainable. More work to do indeed, but it seems we are moving in the right direction, with that one nagging exception — the lack of restrictions on fishing technologies to manage fishing pressure.

Hey, if placing restrictions on the use and application of certain fishing innovations is considered fair when regulating recreational fishing, why not apply restrictions to commercial fishers regardless of their routes or the pray being pursued. It has nothing to do with who’s doing the fishing, it’s about the tools in hand and their unimaginable destructive potential – a relatively new power that reaches well beyond the prior experience of all humans.

If you want to know more about what came out of the Rebuilding Abundance symposium, listen to my conversation with Oceana Canada’s Senior Science Director Dr. Robert Rangeley. Dr. Rangeley and I took time not long after the symposium concluded to discuss the points raised concerning the three identified priorities, and the applicability to recreational fishing. We also discussed why it makes sense to invite recreational anglers to join the table when fish stock research reports are being presented and harvest limits set – especially when the fishes in question are of interest to both recreational and commercial fishers. This inclusion already took place on Canada’s West Coast when it became apparent that the economic contribution of recreational fishing far outweighed the contribution of commercial fishing. Link below to hear Dr. Robert Rangeley on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://bluefishradio.com/rebuilding-abundance-with-oceana-canada/.

The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Fish Habitat News


Are Canada fisheries officials failing to protect their most iconic fish? / Sport Fishing Mag
An environmental report says Fisheries and Oceans Canada lacks staff to adequately enforce the nation’s laws to protect over a dozen species, including Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, bluefin tuna and Atlantic cod.

Canadian operation uncovers illegal fishing in North Pacific / SeafoodSource
As part of Operation North Pacific Guard Canadian fishery officers flew 29 patrols over 247 hours, and covered a total of 44,200 nautical miles. The multinational maritime surveillance mission uncovered a number of violations on the high seas such as sharks being caught and kept , and noted a large number of vessels with improper identification.

Fishermen take federal government to court over right to sell Class B licences again / Global
Donald Publicover, 71, wants the ability to sell or transfer his Class B fishing licence to ensure the financial stability of his family.

After record haul, Bristol Bay sockeye harvest forecast to drop next year / Seattle Times
2022’s record harvest was 104 per cent higher than the 20-year average. These fish, as well as smaller numbers of other salmon, were collectively worth more than $351M.

Record Smallmouth Bass Caught On Lake Erie! / WFN
Gregg Gallagher’s goal during a last-minute fishing trip with his son on Lake Erie was to “catch a giant smallmouth bass, 7 pounds or better.” The huge smallmouth caught Nov. 3 was not only a personal-best for Gallagher, it was likely the largest smallie ever caught in a Great Lake, pending certification, incredibly weighing in at more than 10 pounds. The behemoth broke the 68-year-old smallmouth record for the province of Ontario, Canada.

Ask MRIP: Answering Your Questions About For-hire Data / NOAA
Saltwater anglers, for-hire captains, and other members of the recreational fishing community often ask how and why the NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program collects recreational fishing data. They also want to know how the MRIP uses that data to estimate total recreational catch. Our Ask MRIP web series answers your questions about the science and statistics that support sustainable fishing.

Menhaden Harvest Increase Approved As Anglers Petition To Close Chesapeake Bay Fishery / FishingWire
East Coast fishery managers have approved increasing commercial harvests of Atlantic menhaden from Maine to Florida. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which regulates near-shore harvests of migratory fish, voted Wednesday to set a new ceiling on the coastwide menhaden catch of 233,550 metric tons, a 20 percent increase over the current quota.

Salmon’s Arctic Expansion Has Communities Worried / Hakai
Inuvialuit fishers are adapting to rising numbers of Pacific salmon in the western Canadian Arctic, but fears remain about impacts on native species.

Learning More about “Dark” Fishing Vessels’ Activities at Sea / FishingWire
Fishing vessels can “go dark” by turning off Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders that broadcast their location to satellites and terrestrial receivers. What they do during those invisible hours has long been a mystery. New research funded in part by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement analyzes where, when, and potentially why vessels disable their AIS broadcasts systems.

A complex case of murders on the high seas haunts a Canadian investigator / Walrus
When video of a grisly shooting on a fishing boat circulated online, one determined investigator went on a quest for justice

New Ocean Order / Craig Medred
The salmon fishing industries of Alaska and Russia look poised to continue as the big beneficiaries of global warming with Canada and the U.S. West Coast the big losers.


Canada proposes 62 fish stocks for sustainability protection / CBC
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has proposed adding 62 stocks to a regulatory list that binds the minister to rebuild them if they become depleted. Regulations that went into effect earlier this year as part of the Fisheries Act created a list of so-called prescribed fish stocks. In April the first batch of 30 was added.

We Saved These Tuna. We Can Save Some Sharks Too / Sierra Club
The data on tuna goes back the farthest. The first international tuna data-collection agreement was signed in 1949, between the United States and Costa Rica, just as motorized fishing boats and power block winches began to drastically increase the volume of fish that a single fishing vessel could bring in. Today there are five Tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) in which member nations try to hammer out catch limits, data collection, monitoring, and best practices for fishing.

Scientists Call for Setting Limits and a Possible Moratorium on Fishing in Antarctica / Phys.Org
This week, an international group of 10 scientists is calling for protective limits on fishing in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, reporting in the journal Science that current levels of fishing, combined with climate change, are taking a concerning toll on a diverse ecosystem of global importance.

Welcoming Herring Home / Hakai
In Howe Sound, British Columbia, a new generation of stewards is keeping careful tabs on the comeback efforts of a tiny fish with big cultural value.

Washington won’t renew leases for Puget Sound fish farms / Global
The Washington state Department of Natural Resources said Monday it will not renew a fish-farming company’s last remaining leases on net pens in Puget Sound.

Will aquaculture solve our seafood problems? Not likely, say these UBC researchers / VanIsle News
“Aquaculture has a role to play but we shouldn’t give up on our wild fish, and that means rebuilding and conserving them. We need aquaculture, we just need to manage it wisely, and not oversell its potential.”

Will Lab-Grown Fish Save Alaska’s Wild Salmon Stocks? / KDLG.Org
Although wild salmon remains one of Alaska’s most lucrative seafood industries, it’s also one of the state’s most vulnerable, as climate change and population growth increase pressure on the world’s oceans. As it looks more and more likely that demand will eventually outstrip the productivity of salmon and other wild seafood stocks, researchers have turned to another method for producing protein from fish by culturing it in a lab.


The real reason global fish stocks are declining — and what you can do about it / Discover
Although the oceans are already changing, advocates say it’s not too late to do some serious damage control. This includes halting the decline of global fishing stocks.

The World’s Biggest Marine Reserve Seems to be Doing it’s Job / National Geographic
Fishing boats around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawai’i are catching more tuna than they used to, suggesting local populations are growing again.

A deeper dive into the marine protected network plan on Canada’s West Coast / National Observer
There’s much to celebrate in the proposed plan to create a string of marine protected areas stretching Canada’s West Coast from northern Vancouver Island to Alaska, experts say. But the lack of information on specific protection measures for the BC Northern Shelf MPA Network means the blueprint to preserve sensitive ocean ecosystems risks becoming a string of “paper parks” — legally designated areas that don’t actually have effective conservation or stewardship measures.

Pristine alpine lake contaminated by dust from mountaintop B.C. coal mines, study shows / Vancouver Sun
New Alberta government research has found windblown dust from mountaintop removal coal mines in B.C. has polluted a pristine alpine lake to the point where its as contaminated as lakes downwind from the oilsands.

Ottawa considers crackdown on cruise ship industry for using B.C. coastal waters as ‘a toilet bowl’ / West Coast Now
Each year cruise ships dump tens of millions of tonnes of concentrated acidic sulphates, metals, and other toxins dumped into B.C. waters.


How the Kenney Dam broke the Nechako River / Tyee
First Nations want B.C. and Rio Tinto Alcan to save the river. Is it too late?

West Coast First Nations, feds reach tentative understanding on vast offshore region / Salmon Arm Observer
Off the west coast of Vancouver Island is an area spanning 133,019 square kilometres characterized by deep sea hydrothermal vents and seamounts surrounded by vibrant coastal ecosystems. Identified by authorities as the ‘Offshore Pacific Area of Interest’ and also known as Tang.ɢwan-ḥačxʷiqak-Tsig̱is, it’s future has been the focus of intense, groundbreaking discussions between West Coast Indigenous peoples and the federal government, discussions that may have hit a milestone.

Salmon’s Arctic expansion has communities worried / Hakai
Inuvialuit fishers are adapting to rising numbers of Pacific salmon in the western Canadian Arctic, but fears remain about impacts on native species.


New awards added to recognize outstanding achievements in the worlds of freshwater and fly angling. / IGFA
Named after the individual that many consider the biggest influencer in the history of fly fishing, the newly announced IGFA Joe Brooks Fly Fishing Award acknowledges anglers who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the world of fly fishing. There are few names if any, that carry more weight in the world of recreational angling, especially freshwater angling, than Johnny Morris. The newly announced IGFA Johnny Morris Freshwater Angling Award will acknowledge anglers who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the world of freshwater angling.


ePropulsion Expands Electric Inboard Motor Line-Up With New I-Series / FishingWire
Available in 10KW, 20KW and 40KW input power, the I-Series electric inboard motors are ideal for leisure marine and commercial applications on small and medium size boats. All products in the I-Series have been designed for ease of use and space-saving. The models have a compact design that integrates the motor, gearbox, motor controller, system control unit and cooling system into a small area that requires 60% less space than a typical combustion engine. The I-10, I-20 and I-40 are also 65% lighter than a typical combustion engine and feature an easy-to-maintain, high-performance and durable lithium iron phosphate battery.


Kids Art Contest / PSF
The Pacific Salmon Foundation’s 2nd Annual Kids Salmon Art Contest is accepting salmon themed entries until December 5. Award winning entries will receive a prize pack worth up to $150 each! AND each submission from a classroom/ on behalf of a school, either individual or class, will be entered to win one of three $1000 cash prizes towards Pacific salmon education and resources for your classroom or school.

Guy Harvey Foundation Renews Support for The Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest / FishingWire
White Bear Lake, MN – Wildlife Forever is excited to announce The Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest has partnered with the Guy Harvey Foundation for the 2022-2023 contest. The partnership will continue to spotlight the Guy Harvey Shark Award, featuring four critical shark species. Art eligible for the Guy Harvey Shark Award must depict a Mako, White, Bull, or Tiger Shark, and include a written component relevant to the chosen species. The Fish Art Contest is open to youth Kindergarten – 12th grade from anywhere in the world.


Subscribe here to Alberta’s 2023 Discover Guide! / ACA
The 2023 Annual Alberta Discover Guide is coming in January – sign up today for this FREE guide and get it delivered. Over 790 conservation sites for hunting and angling including sites from Ducks Unlimited Canada and Alberta Fish & Game Association.

Special Issue of Fisheries Shines Spotlight on Citizen Science / NOAA
A special issue of Fisheries magazine highlights citizen science and other nontraditional data sources in fisheries science and management. This issue includes papers, project information, and discussions based on a symposium held at the 2020 American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting. Access to the special issue is free for the next 2 months.

Special holiday Subscription Rate for Outdoor Canada magazine / Outdoor Canada
A one-year subscription includes 6 issues per year, featuring Canada’s only national fishing and hunting magazine. First subscription: $19.95, each additional subscription $14.95.


Rebuilding Abundance With Oceana Canada / Blue Fish Radio
Oceana Canada believes that if managed properly, the ocean could sustainably supply the world’s population with sustainably harvested wild fish. Ensuring Canada is doing its part is their mandate and the theme of their recent symposium “ Rebuilding Abundance”. Over 140 experts and stakeholders met to discuss Canada’s potential, opportunities and needed investments. An invitation and professional Curiosity about how all this might apply to recreational fisheries led to my attending, and a subsequent conversation with Oceana’s Science Director Dr. Robert Rangeley. Check out this episode of The Blue Fish Radio Show to hear Dr. Rangeley discuss what we learned and what needs to come next.


White Shark Necropsy / Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark
Check out “White Shark Necropsy October 2022” filmed near Halifax N.S.” by Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark.

Scientists and Local Champions:

Nature Inspirations Awards – Fishing for Success / Canadian Museum of Nature
These annual awards, now in their ninth year, recognize individuals, businesses, and not-for-profits that show leadership, innovation and creative approaches to sustainability in order to connect Canadians with nature and the natural world. One of the eight 2022 winners is “Fishing for Success”, a community social enterprise in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland for its program that introduces women and girls to sustainable fishing practices.

Special Feature – The Ontario government’s “More Homes Built Faster” Bill 23

Bill 23 is the Ontario government’s plan to immediately build 1.5 million new homes by 2031 by bringing in changes to ten provincial Acts relevant to the protection of freshwater and shorelines. Blue Fish Canada provided the following submission to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“As a registered charity dedicated to the future of fish and fishing, Blue Fish Canada is concerned that Bill 23 may result in the destruction of important fish habitat. Shoreline wetlands are crucial to fish during spawning and development, and provide a source of prey for adult fish. Should these shoreline wetlands be impacted, entire eco systems may be put at risk. Such impacts to the Great Lakes alone can cause harm to the $8.5 billion freshwater fishery and the food and income upon which many people are dependent. Please modify this bill to ensure important wetlands are preserved to ensure the future of fish and fishing in Ontario. The 1.4 million Ontario fishing license holders and their children and grandparents will thank you.”

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