In the December 20th, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we look back on what we have learned over the past year. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, water quality and other news you need to know. Our Special Guest Resource includes a look at sustainability claims made about the sustainability of open pen salmon aquaculture and the wild salmon commercial fishery.
This Week’s Feature – Enjoy the Music!
I’ve been thinking about the year that just passed. What changed this year may not seem obvious, but I honestly believe that if we look inside the differences are clear. Yes, the year may have started with hopes for the end of the pandemic with new medical break-through treatments and vaccines, and yes, these hopes remain largely unmet as successive waves continue to sweep across Canada and the world. But even if our lives have yet to return to our pre-pandemic routines, it hasn’t stopped other more profound processes from occurring.
One of my brothers recently shared with me the travel diary he kept during a recent 60-day tandem bicycle trip that began in western Canada and ended in San Francisco. I was struck not so much by the feat itself, but by the number of positive encounters with friendly, considerate and giving people he and his wife met along their journey. I believe much of this had to do with their hearts and minds being open to not only new experiences, obviously, but meeting new people. And, that the people they met were also willing to open their lives and minds to strangers. It got me thinking about the resilience of people in the face of adversity.
As someone who has experienced gradual and now total sight loss that began at an early age, many regard me as an unusually optimistic and positive individual. They assume that I must be this way as how else could I avoid being drawn in the opposite direction and become one of those “hideous disfigured and disabled” villains who literature and the media love to portray. Like most everyone else, I’m just a man who struggles, who experiences the occasional success, who wonders if I truly deserve the good things that have happened in my life, and who often questions life’s meaning. Fortunately, I’m also someone who’s not easily distracted, and therefor capable of long stretches of listening, contemplation and analysis. Meeting others who also take time to reflect are moments I cherish.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a young singer / song writer, Brett Kissel. This amazing Canadian has produced five records, 15 top-ten songs, three number one radio hits, and has received 22 Canadian Country Music Awards and three Junos. He’s already accomplished all this and he’s only 31.
With the start of the pandemic Brett and his family moved back to Alberta from Nashville. His three kids are now enjoying wide open spaces on their farm, and Brett is finally finding the time to reconnect with the things that shaped his life – hunting, fishing, and spending time with family. This has all led to his latest record, “What is Life” and his first single from the record “Make a Life, Not a Living”. Yes, Brett too has demonstrated resilience under pressure by turning inwards to re-examine the meaning of life, and he too has reaffirmed that there’s more to life than money, possessions and fame. Link to listen to my conversation with Brett on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e350-brett-kissel-on-living-an-outdoor-l
For obvious reasons I’m not one who can jump in their truck and keep busy travelling to-and-fro in a never-ending chase to make a living. I’m also not particularly gifted in music. Thankfully, I’ve taken a page out of history and found other ways to contribute to the fabric of society, and that’s through the application of my mind in the gathering, analysis and sharing of knowledge. My storytelling is made possible through podcasts, articles, videos, documentaries, seminars, and the publication of various newsletters. I don’t do it for fame or money, but with the hope that my careful examination of the facts and my insights will be of value to others as they reflect and take decisions – large and small. I have no hidden agenda shaping my thoughts and words, and I’m not beholding to anyone.
Blind knowledge keeper and storyteller is a role that goes back way beyond the advent of print and other recording media. People who were blind and their families were supported and respected, for it was in their hands that communities put their trust to maintain the legends and lessons that were instrumental in shaping their communities and the choices they made for the betterment of all.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of meeting a number of blind indigenous elders who had taken on the responsibility of knowledge keeper / storyteller on behalf of their communities. I’ve witnessed firsthand the respect they were shown for safeguarding the community’s history and their ability to convey this knowledge in ways that stayed loyal to the past and the imbedded lessons that these stories represent. It’s what First Nations communities call traditional knowledge.
There’s also local knowledge that rests in the hands of both indigenous and non-indigenous alike. Wisdom that comes from a compilation of first-hand experience compiled over time. Thankfully, there are many who have taken it upon themselves to accumulate and further develop this sort of geographically specific local knowledge. I very much enjoy finding these people and giving voice to their knowledge through my podcasts and videos. I also take great care when drawing on local and traditional knowledge, by comparing these findings with scientific research as I assemble evidence detailing changes underway in nature. It includes matching knowledge with both causation and outcomes. It would seem that it’s a skill that people find helpful, or so I’m told.
It’s during adversity that we make changes in our lives that are often long coming. People don’t often tinker with things that are working well. This includes our relations with one another, our connections with nature, and how our choices impact all that is important to us.
So let’s not lose hope. Let’s not slip into prolonged depression. Let’s not become mean. But let us instead open our minds and hearts to traditional, local and scientific knowledge. Let’s take this time to develop new plans on how we want things to go in future. Like Brett Kissel suggests, let’s make time to make sure we leave this world in better shape than we found it. It all starts with being open to others, and their knowledge and ways. And in the meantime, if you’re feeling a little blue, lift your spirits by listening to music like Brett Kissel’s new song “Make Life Not a Living.”
The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News
Lake Erie Tributaries Experience Poor Fall Fishing / FishingWire
November is typically one of the most popular months for steelhead fishing on the Lake Erie tributaries, but the wet fall weather pattern that began in September continued, resulting in some challenging fishing conditions and below average angler effort.
Alberta’s Stocked and Aerated Lakes / ACA
Surface aeration may be great for trout, but the hole in the ice (polynya) and the thin ice that surrounds it are not great for people. Please be extra cautious and assess ice conditions before travelling on ice.
NOAA Recreational Fisheries Year In Review / NOAA Fisheries
The United States has the largest and most diverse recreational fisheries in the world. Each year, millions of saltwater anglers contribute tens of billions of dollars to the American economy while supporting nearly 500,000 jobs. Saltwater recreational fishing is an economic powerhouse, and engaging with anglers remains a top priority for NOAA Fisheries. We work with fishermen, states, and many other partners to safeguard and promote public access to healthy and sustainable saltwater fish stocks.
Operation Bait Bucket and New Baitfish Regulations
On January 13 the Invading Species Awareness Program presents Operation Bait Bucket program, some key aquatic invasive species, and will review what anglers need to know going into the 2022 angling season around Ontario’s new baitfish regulations.
More than 70 million sockeye salmon expected in Bristol Bay next year, potentially busting this year’s record / Anchorage Daily News
The 2021 run of 66.1 million fish was 32% above the state’s preseason forecast and the latest in a string of very strong sockeye returns in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
Muskoka named as top ice fishing place in Canada for 2022 / MuskokaRegion.Com
Muskoka has been selected as the top ice fishing destination in Canada for 2022 by an online fishing blog. FishingBooker, which bills itself as “the world’s largest online service that enables you to find and book fishing trips,” chose Muskoka ahead of seven other Canadian destinations on its blog.
Federal government announces closure of most Pacific herring fisheries / CBC News
Most commercial fisheries for Pacific herring on the West Coast have been closed with the exception of harvests by First Nations for food and ceremonial purposes. Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray says in a statement that this “cautious” approach to Pacific herring management is based on recently intensified risks to wild salmon.
Lengthy investigation leads to 66 halibut fishing charges in Nova Scotia / Canada.ca
In addition to the charges, a number of goods were seized, including: a 50 foot longline fishing boat and related fishing gear, two vehicles, a 28-foot enclosed trailer, a compact track loader,7,461 lbs of Atlantic Halibut valued at approximately $40,000 CAD, including 17 which were undersized, and $36,000 CAD cash.
Serial poacher nabbed with 250 illegally-caught crabs in Vancouver / Vancouver Is Awesome
Gabriola Island resident Scott Stanley Steer has found himself in hot water after catching crabs illegally and leading police on a high-speed chase through Vancouver’s harbour.
Judge Edelmann sentenced Steer to six months in jail and a three-year probation order. He was also handed a “lifetime fishing prohibition and a prohibition from being on any fishing vessel,” for the rest of his life.
Great Lakes regional poll results released / IJC
The International Joint Commission (IJC) Great Lakes Water Quality Board has released the results of their third annual poll, providing a snapshot of residents’ views on the importance of protecting environmental health and water quality for leisure and recreation, fish and wildlife, and the economy. Fishing made up 10% by recreational anglers, but scored the highest among the 500 First Nations members who participated in the survey.
Why do trout and salmon have red flesh? It’s because they are what they eat / Outdoor Canada
The reason that most salmonid species (including trout and char) have red- and orange-tinged flesh is because of what they eat. And that is typically food with plenty of carotene. Yep, the same stuff that makes carrots orange. The basis of the food chain often starts with a micro-algae called Haematococcus pluvialis that contains a blood-red pigment called astaxanthin. Not surprisingly, everything that feeds on the micro-algae—such as shrimp, krill, lobsters, crayfish and even young trout and salmon—absorbs and bioaccumulates the red pigmentation.
These holiday trees can liven a salmon’s home as well as your own / HeraldNet.com
Adopt a Stream is selling hundreds of potted trees native to Western Washington, including western red cedar, Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, western hemlock and grand fir. Customers are welcome to keep the trees, Murdoch said, but many choose to return them after the holidays. Adopt A Stream plants them near a salmon stream.
‘Warrior’ sturgeon displaced by B.C. floods rescued from pump station / CBC News
Volunteers helped save several sturgeon which ended up at the Barrowtown Pump Station after the Sumas dike breached in Abbotsford, B.C., during the floods. “They had to go through a broken dike. They had to end up in a farmer’s field. They had to end up in a ditch. I’m guessing some of them literally swam across the freeway,” said Kitt.
Fish can recover from mercury pollution faster than thought – Great Lakes Now / Great Lakes Now
Mercury pollution remains a problem in many parts of the Great Lakes, but new research from Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario shows that efforts to reduce the amount of mercury going into a lake can have quick and dramatic effects on the levels of the pollutant in fish populations. Earlier studies that tracked individual fish had found that they held on to mercury in their tissues for a long time. But now they saw that the rate of change in the population allowed overall mercury levels to fall fast.
Restoration Efforts for West Coast Salmon, Steelhead / NOAA Fisheries
Nearly 30 populations of salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened or endangered in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California—largely due to habitat loss and over harvesting.
Researchers Examine White Shark Migrations in North Atlantic / Sentinel
OCEARCH and its collaborative research team in a “landmark” study have shown that this population of white sharks make predictable annual migrations between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. The sharks spend summer and fall primarily in coastal waters off Cape Cod and Atlantic Canada, feeding on seals, before heading back south to warmer winter waters off the southeast U.S. from South Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico.
Aquaculture escapees detected in rivers with endangered wild salmon / ASF
Last week ASF sounded the alarm on escaped aquaculture fish that were discovered in rivers in Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Aquaculture salmon have previously penetrated the live gene bank.
Forty Percent of North Atlantic Right Whale Population Using Gulf of Saint Lawrence as Seasonal Habitat / NOAA
Researchers have identified 187 individual North Atlantic right whales—about 40 percent of the catalogued population—in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence during the summer. They used photographs of North Atlantic right whales collected during surveys conducted between 2015 and 2019. Many of the right whales remain in the area through the summer and autumn, feeding and socializing primarily in southern parts of the Gulf. Almost all of these whales return every year—a pattern not seen elsewhere—and stay for up to 5 months.
Marineland charged with using dolphins, whales for entertainment without a licence / CBC News
Marineland, a theme park in Ontario, has been charged for using captive dolphins and whales to entertain crowds without a license from the provincial government. Local police began investigating after a US-based nonprofit filed a complaint at the end of September. Under Canada’s Criminal Code, captive cetaceans can’t be used for entertainment purposes without authorization, but Marineland has posited that the performances were educational. (CBC)
Ghost gear removal initiative brings fisheries together to save white sturgeon / Talking Energy
Altogether, teams have removed more than 4,800 feet of net from the Fraser River to protect the endangered white sturgeon.
The climate crisis could be driving the hybrid salmon population / The Independent
The hybrids of Chinook and coho salmon were discovered in the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Federal minister to provide money to fight aquatic invasive species in mountain parks / National Post
The work is also expected to support the recovery of species at risk, including westslope cutthroat trout, Athabasca rainbow trout and bull trout.
The great pacific garbage patch hosts life in the open ocean / Smithsonian Magazine
The 14 million tons of plastic entering the world’s oceans each year are a known threat to wildlife, and the latest research shows marine trash could have new consequences for marine animals. Scientists have discovered that coastal critters and plants like crabs, anemones and seaweed have found a way to survive in the open ocean by colonizing rafts of floating plastic debris. An accumulation of trash known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is acting as a new type of ecosystem, ferrying species hundreds of miles from their usual coastal habitat into the high seas.
More than 700 tonnes of ‘ghost gear’ removed from Canadian waters / CBC News
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says 739 tonnes of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear has been removed from the waters off Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts in the last two years.UNBC study finds rivers flowing more consistently near hydroelectric dams / My Prince George Now
A recent UNBC study looked at 500 rivers across North America to learn about hydropeaking in rivers with hydroelectric dams. Dery said the hydropeaking cycles are starting to diminish in intensity across North America, which he thinks will be beneficial to aquatic life, such as fish, insects, and other animals.
Tropical fish…up north? How ocean physics play a role in altering water temperature and salinity / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
A study led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists is explaining why warm and salty water along with warm water fish species, such as the deep-sea dwelling Gulf Stream flounder and Black Sea bass, were found far inshore in New England in the middle of winter 2017. How did this happen? Researchers say it is due to an intrusion of offshore water from the open ocean onto the Northeast U.S. Shelf, caused by eddies (a circular current of water) and wind.
B.C. holding out on federal conservation targets and large-scale protected areas / Narwhal
B.C. has protected 15.5 per cent of its land and 3.2 per cent of marine and coastal areas, putting it far ahead of many other provinces and territories. However, it hasn’t established any new large-scale protected areas for a decade, adding just one percentage point over that period through a series of smaller designations. Canada pledged to protect 25 per cent of land and water by 2025. Many say Indigenous protected areas are the way forward. Will the province agree?
Banned for decades, releasing oilsands tailings water is now on the horizon / CBC News
The federal government has begun developing regulations to allow oilsands operators in northern Alberta to begin releasing treated tailings water back into the environment, something that’s been prohibited for decades. Currently, companies must store any water used to extract oil during the mining process because it becomes toxic. The massive above-ground lakes are known as tailings ponds, which are harmful to wildlife and have resulted in the death of birds that land on the water.
Study Assesses Vulnerability of Coastal Habitats to Climate Change / NOAA
NOAA Fisheries and partners assessed the vulnerability of coastal habitats in the Northeast United States to climate change and the findings were recently published in PLOS ONE scientific journal. We found salt marshes, shellfish reefs, deep-sea corals, seagrasses, kelp, and intertidal habitats to be among the most vulnerable. The coastal habitats with the highest climate vulnerability are also those most often at risk from degradation. The assessment highlights the importance of prioritizing habitat protection and restoration to support resilience and adaptability to future conditions under climate change.
Coastal First Nation declares protected area to preserve salmon and grizzly bear populations / CBC News
The Mamalilikulla First Nation has declared an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area in Knight Inlet north of Powell River to exert a stronger stewardship role in its traditional territory in order to protect starving grizzly bears, declining salmon populations and a unique coral reef. Roberts says the reef has also been damaged by fishing activity and they want to ensure they’re able to protect what remains. The Mamalilikulla say the IPCA declaration is intended to help it take the lead when it comes to planning and use of the area as it works to restore its traditional governance.
First Nations land dispute breaks out at open house for proposed fish farm site / Campbell River Mirror
A proposed fish farm off northern Vancouver Island has sparked controversy among First Nations communities. Two open houses were held on November 30 to provide information and answer questions about a proposed Chatham Canal fish farm as a joint venture between Tlowitsis First Nation and Grieg Seafood British Columbia Ltd. The first session, held virtually, began with remarks from Tlowitsi leader John Smith on the proposed farm and what it would mean for the nation. The new salmon farm is located in Chatham Channel, east of Minstrel Island, on what is the nation’s unceded territory, Smith said. If approved, it will join three other farms already operating in the nearby Clio Canal, which have helped the Tlowitsis Nation thrive, he added. “It was a boon to our tribe,” Smith said. “Before we got income from fish farms and forestry, we had next to nothing. “
A look at the Shuswap’s globally unique organic coho salmon and cannabis farm / Revelstoke Review
In the heart of Turtle Valley, B.C. there is a state-of-the-art agricultural operation that is the only one like it in the world.
First Nation, Métis leaders raise concerns about plans to release treated tailings into Athabasca River / Fort McMurray Today
“We have to be 100 per cent sure that it’s not going to be toxic. The decisions we make today is going to affect our future generations.”
Fish-in-Schools program faces upstream effort to expand / Yahoo!
A First Nations-run program that’s taught a generation of school children about sockeye salmon, their lifecycle and importance to the environment and Indigenous culture is hoping to restart this year stronger than ever.
IGFA International Auction Set for Jan. 29 / IGFA
On Saturday, January 29, 2022, guests from around the world will gather at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale to bid on various items.
How Global Disruptions Are Affecting The Fishing Industry / FishingWire
Worldwide supply chain disruptions continue to present major challenges for the fishing tackle industry. Lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic combined with increased consumer demand have strained the supply chain to the point of breaking.
IGFA APP Update
Several years ago, the IGFA launched a mobile app that focused primarily on providing real-time updates on IGFA World Records. However, due to increased maintenance costs and a lack of downloads, the IGFA has made the decision to permanently delete the IGFA mobile app. Today, the IGFA website features a mobile friendly interface that allows anglers to access a variety of features from their mobile devices, including world record catch details that are updated daily. Additionally, IGFA will soon be adding functionality to our online world record database that will allow anglers to download PDFs of current and pending records directly to their mobile devices or computers.
Lake Simcoe: Aquatic Invasive Species and New Boater Regulations
On January 27 OFAH’s Invading Species Awareness Program presents Lake Simcoe key invasive species, including their impacts, identification, distribution, and how to report them. Moreover, the presenters will highlight the new boater regulations for 2022 and what anglers and boaters need to know.
The Science and Spirit of Seaweed
This book is an anthology for the seaweed curious. Like a compendium, this book by seaweed harvester Amanda Swinimer comes at seaweed from a myriad of directions. Part memoir, part field guide, part cookbook, part reference manual, the book is packed with information and anecdotes for those seeking practical knowledge about seaweed biology and ecology, but also for those interested in wild harvesting, natural history, the medicinal and therapeutic attributes of algae, or what it means to be a professional seaweed harvester.
Get Crafty with 2021 Woods Hole Science Aquarium Snowflake Templates / NOAA
This winter, get your craft on with these snowflake templates. Enjoy four new designs that celebrate a few past and present residents of Woods Hole Aquarium: angelfish, seals, thorny skate, and wolffish.
Fish Art Contest Breaks the Winter Blues / FishingWire
Wildlife Forever is proud to offer the Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest. Winners are awarded in each state and country, where the top contestants win prizes and worldwide recognition. The contest deadline is March 31.
Audio and Video:
Audio: Canada’s “moderate livelihood” ruling complicates fishing for the Mi’kmaq people / NPR
A tense conflict between Indigenous fishermen and commercial lobstermen flared up in Nova Scotia in the fall of 2020. Listen to how it all got started.
Video: Running Dry -Alberta’s Shrinking Rivers / Conserving Our Special Places
Alberta doesn’t run on oil. It runs on water. Our families, farms, businesses and communities all rely on water from rivers that rise on the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains. But that water is running low. This new documentary explains why authorizing coal mining along the Eastern Slopes in Alberta is a bad idea. This in spite of Benga Mining, the Piikani Nation and the Stoney Nakoda Nations appeal to the court to overturn the Alberta Energy Regulator’s decision to deny the Grassy Mountain Coal project.
Video: Salmon Use Flooded B.C. Road as a River / Globalnews.ca
On Nov. 28, salmon were spotted swimming along the road connected to Little Campbell River in Surrey.
Video: Resilient Waters project / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Advancing the goal of reconnecting and restoring salmon habitat in the Lower Fraser River takes political will and action. Learn more about fish-friendly changes to flood management and the Resilient Waters project by viewing the following two videos.
Link here to watch the new Resilient Waters video.
Link here to watch the Connected Waters video.
Video: Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food
Two centuries ago, nearly half the North American diet was found in the wild. Today, so-called “wild foods” are becoming expensive commodities, served to the wealthy in top restaurants. In Feasting Wild, geographer and anthropologist Gina Rae La Cerva traces our relationship to wild foods and shows what we sacrifice when we domesticate them — including biodiversity, Indigenous knowledge and an important connection to nature. Along the way, she samples wild foods herself, sipping elusive bird’s nest soup in Borneo and smuggling Swedish moose meat home in her suitcase. Thoughtful, ambitious and wide-ranging, Feasting Wild challenges us to take a closer look at the way we eat today.
Webinar: Deep-Sea Mining Demystified. / Hakai
The International Seabed Authority is racing to draft regulations for the nascent deep-sea mining industry. Hakai Magazine organized a webinar discussion of the topic with leading experts.
Link here to read the Hakai Magazine’s feature story “My Family’s Pacific Island Home Is Grappling with Deep-Sea Mining.”
Webinars: Latornell Conservation Symposium
Latornell hosted a series of informative webinars about a range of topics including: watershed management, Indigenous-led land conservation movements, ecological monitoring tools, nature-based climate change solutions and more.
Special Guest Resources – Which Salmon to Buy
The Monterey Aquarium’s Seafood Watch recently down-graded the consumption of much of the salmon raised using open pen aquaculture in Canada from “Yellow” to “Red”. The red designation means consumers should avoid purchasing and consuming such fish, whereas the yellow designation signifies a “good alternative”. Many who have concerns with open pen aquaculture in Canada support this move by SeaFood Watch, but question why salmon produced using the same methods in Nova Scotia and Main continue to be listed as yellow.
The Atlantic Salmon Foundation and the SeaChoice program out of the Suzuki foundation are just two of many organizations that are questioning SeaFood Watch’s decision not to down grade salmon raised in Nova Scotia and Maine. According to the ASF, All open net-pen aquaculture salmon is environmentally unsustainable. In specific, ASF says the decision by SeaFood Watch to label as “good” sea cage salmon produced in Maine and Nova Scotia is misleading, when salmon produced in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador are now assessed as “’red”.
Bill Taylor, President of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, says “a yellow label for open net-pen aquaculture salmon from Maine and Nova Scotia is simply unacceptable.” The position of ASF is that escaped fish from these operations put critically endangered wild populations at risk, and that everywhere the industry operates there are negative ecosystem effects.
So what about wild caught salmon? In 2017 the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) recertified the B.C.’s commercial salmon fishery subject to DFO addressing outstanding conditions where the fishery does not meet its standard. They required improvements to fishery monitoring, better stock assessments and reducing impacts on wild salmon populations from hatchery-raised salmon. An independent 2018 audit reported that 40 percent of these conditions were behind target. This led to the industry choosing to pre-emptively withdraw from the international certification in 2019 to avoid failing its upcoming audit and having its certification removed. Without the certification the industry loses out on the sale of wild salmon to the EU.
While neither the SeaFood Watch ranking or MSC certification are mandatory standards, they do mean much to those who take the time to make sure they are consuming seafood that is being harvested or produced sustainably. Canada’s down-grade of much of it’s fin-fish aquaculture sector two years after the loss of MSC certification of it’s wild pacific salmon commercial fisheries for many is concerning both environmentally and economically.
According to DFO Canada’s seafood exports in 2019 were valued at $7.44 billion, and involved 6,800 tons of seafood. Loss of certification or downgrading by NGO’s doesn’t mean an end to Canada’s seafood exports, but it does undermine consumer confidence, a growing issue for all food sectors as people become increasingly concerned over climate change and environmental sustainability – both of which are linked to how we catch and produce seafood.
Is it all bad news for these industries? It depends how you look at the situation. Some believe the majority of consumers make food choices based on value and food trends. However, consumers are becoming increasingly discerning and the industry knows this. The old adage of supply and demand is forcing industry to change, and with government support and regulations, positive progress is being made. However, it’s up to all of us to take the time to understand how our choices influence markets and governments, so if sustainability is important to you, than be part of the growing movement and purchase sustainably caught and produced seafood – it’s not hard.
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In the December 6, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on public opinions about salmon being sold in stores, and why seafood lovers are increasingly choosing to purchase from artisanal fishers direct through community based seafood distributors. As always, we include links and summaries to the latest fishing, fish health, water quality and other news you need to know. Our closing Special Feature provides several LocalCatch.Org choices for buying seafood direct from Canada’s artisanal fishers.
This Week’s Feature – Aquaculture Versus Community Supported Fisheries – Your Choice
Recently, Dalhousie University, in partnership with Caddle, released a report on salmon consumption in Canada. The online survey was conducted in June 2021 with a sample of 10,008 Canadians. Unfortunately, the survey does not include opinions about the rapid growth of community supported fisheries brought about by the pandemic, nor does it include what people think about consuming wild salmon caught by indigenous fishers or recreational anglers. The survey’s focus on salmon purchasing trends in grocery stores seems to be a deliberate attempt to position pen-raised salmon as a reasonable alternative to commercially caught wild fish. For a growing number of consumers however, knowing what fish to purchase is becoming increasingly obvious – a trend that clearly has the salmon aquaculture sector concerned.
I’m one of those who prefer to eat fish that are safe to eat and that have led a relatively stress-free life up until and including their harvest and euthanization. I also want to know that the fish I’m eating are being harvested sustainably in that the fish stock is healthy, and in the case of salmon supplied through the aquaculture sector, that their production is also sustainable in terms of operations and environmental footprint. These are the concerns of many who follow and care about the future of both wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon along Canada’s west and east coasts, and the impact open pen aquaculture operations are having on the environment around the world.
Not everyone views the consumption of fish through an environmental and sustainable lens. There are those who experience food insecurity issues and make choices based on affordability, and others who believe that aquaculture can provide jobs in communities that have experienced economic down-turns due to closures in commercial, indigenous and recreational fisheries. Politicians, governments and First Nations understand what’s at stake, and are looking for solutions that don’t necessarily default to stopping human activity in the interest of ensuring nature is preserved. The question is how to go from zero to 100 without making mistakes along the way.
Artisanal fishers live and breath many of these issues every day and have so for generations. Indigenous fishers and recreational anglers are also closely connected to their fisheries in their own ways. For those who don’t have the time or opportunity to form these bonds directly, many have turned to community supported fisheries because of shared stewardship values.
Dr. Hannah Harrison from the University of Guelph shares her learnings gained through numerous interviews with commercial fishers through her podcast “Social FISHTancing”. Topics include such as where community supported fisheries are now, and what we the public need to do to ensure these artisanal fishers have the respect and support essential to their continued operations such as working waterfronts. Link below to hear my conversation with Hannah about her podcast and the many other research projects she’s working on such as defining what it takes to resolve resource sharing conflicts, on The Blue fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e349-hannah-harrison-on-covid-19-and-com
Unfortunately, we are learning from experience that long term consequences aren’t always a key consideration when profits are at stake. We have experienced all too often these sorts of “balanced” decision-making outcomes when it comes to making economic decisions that have environmental consequences. Who doesn’t want a job that pays better than welfare or a lot more, and few if any investors / banks would accept substantially less profits if it meant fewer impacts to the environment? Governments and First Nations exist to serve their people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean putting the protection of the environment ahead of all else in every situation. If it were, I wouldn’t be writing this editorial.
Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m simply trying to provide perspective with respect to the results of the public opinion research findings. It’s easy to dismiss results that go against our own opinions as being the views of misguided or ill-informed members of the public, but dismissing their opinions isn’t necessarily the wisest approach – especially since it’s not how key decision makers view the opinions of their constituents. Instead of ignoring or dismissing such views, it’s better that we acknowledge their validity, and open our minds to what it means for people interested in advancing conservation.
The surprising news coming out of the survey is that almost eight in ten (79%) of Canadians eat salmon, and that 10% do so weekly. Obviously, a lot of people believe eating fish is good for them, and that they enjoy the experience. But what about those who don’t eat salmon?
Of those who do not eat salmon, over four in ten (42%) do not like the taste, three in ten (30%) do not consume any fish, and just over 1 in 10 (11%) say it is too expensive. These are all legitimate reasons, but what about those who refuse to buy and consume salmon over environmental and sustainability concerns.
Just under half (49%) of Canadians prefer wild salmon to farmed, however over four in ten (42%) do not have a preference. The primary reason provided for the preference for wild salmon was eating a product produced in a natural habitat (62%), followed by lower risk of contaminations (37%), it’s more nutritious (29%), and method of production is more sustainable (23%).
I think we would all prefer to eat wild grown fish if it were possible. The fact that many have accepted the reality that the cost of doing so is prohibitive, and have decided instead to make their choices based on what’s available and affordable is more realistic.
Here’s where the survey seems to run into trouble. It claims Canadians have a stronger preference for ocean-based farmed salmon (39%) to land-based (21%). Why is this – price, availability, taste? Given that there is almost know land-based farmed salmon currently available in the market, and that the price of these rare salmon is 2-3 times higher than other salmon, cost may have more to do with this “preference”. However, the survey then reports that over half (54%) of Canadians believe that aquaculture is a sustainable way to harvest salmon in Canada, but offers no analysis of how this result breaks down in terms of land-based versus open-pen operations. I think the results here are less valid since it could very well be that advocates of land-based aquaculture have had their positive views of the approach merged with those who are appreciative of having access to reasonably affordable fresh fish.
So up until now the survey results seem to be either neutral or positive in how Canadians view aquaculture raised salmon in Canada. Of course, we know that reporting such rosy results would lead most to conclude that the research is bias. To deflect such criticism, researchers report that over half (55%) of Canadians would be more inclined to buy farmed salmon if it were fed a diet that is environmentally sustainable and nutritious. Researchers blame this unmet consumer demand on the fact that only one quarter (26%) of consumers are aware that organic salmon exists.
I think what these last few survey results fail to consider is the issue of affordability. Current aquaculture raised salmon are far less expensive when compared to other more sustainable environmentally friendly safe choices because their cost of production is far less expensive. The industry knows this to be true, but is looking to improve their image since no company wants to be known for offering a cheaper but inferior product.
The takeaway from the results show that more work needs doing if Canadians are to say no to their tax dollars being used to build and support a segment of the aquaculture sector that continues to be unwilling or unable to address serious issues with their methods of production. More than 95% of aquaculture around the world is already taking place using closed recirculating systems. It’s not all perfect, but compared to open pen aquaculture, the issues associated with closed containment aquaculture seem insignificant.
Around the world companies are building closed containment salmon aquaculture facilities – over 70 at this time. The Canadian government is supporting such developments. Those facilities that are operating now are unable to meet demand. But let’s not forget that Canada also has a strong artisanal fishery and increasingly more indigenous moderate livelihood fisheries coming online. These fisheries have fed humans for thousands of years and can continue to do so if carefully managed. Eating sustainably and responsibly harvested wild fish also represents a commitment to ensure that nature is thriving, and we remain part of this amazing circle of life. Ending this relationship for many would mean severing their last direct connection with nature, and then who would care?
The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News
Why do we value some fish more than others? It’s time to reconsider “rough” fish / The Counter
New study makes the case for asking anglers to reconsider which fishes have value and are worth conserving for the good of our ecosystems.
How Gamefish Tagging Programs Work / FishingWire
Maybe you’ve heard about game fish tagging programs and wondered, “What is fish tagging and how does tagging work? Fish tagging supplies, including measuring boards, plastic tags (with unique id numbers), and instructions, are issued to tagging volunteers usually during training workshops.
Fishing Guides React to Shark Depredation on Hooked Fish / Science Direct
In a broad-scale study recently published in Fisheries Research, over the course of six months, a detailed survey was distributed to recreational saltwater anglers and guides in North America generating over 541respondents. The survey asked a number of questions, including which species of fish had been depredated, how the experience of depredation affected the angler or guide and whether or not the experience changed the angler or guide’s subsequent fishing behavior.
Early Ice Can Be Dangerous Ice / FishingWire
Where there is ice, its thickness this time of year is highly variable and subject to the whims of Mother Nature. And where ice hasn’t formed – or where it freezes at night and opens during the day – the water temperature is so low that an unexpected fall in can be deadly.
College Kids Take Home $1 Million in Bass Pro Shops US Open National Bass Fishing Championship / FishingWire
Logan Parks, 23, and Tucker Smith, 20, fishing buddies and Auburn University students from Shoal Creek, Ala., saw their life-changing dreams come true on Sunday on the waters of Missouri’s Table Rock Lake, claiming the $1 million first-place prize at the Johnny Morris Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships. Logan and Tucker bested a field of 350 teams that qualified for the three-day National Championship, hauling in five fish for a Sunday-best 16.41 pounds.
Canada’s fishing has never been better. Or has it? / Outdoor Canada
As I’ve mentioned in the past, it can be particularly problematic for species such as walleye, smallmouth bass, pike, yellow perch and crappies that spawn in the spring in large lakes, where prime spawning grounds are often limited. Major portions of the breeding population will often over-winter in a limited number of locations. So, the fish that might have been scattered along miles of shoreline during the open-water season, are now concentrated in a handful of winter spots.
Archaeology breakthrough after discovery of ancient human fishing rod / Express
ARCHAEOLOGISTS encountered a breakthrough find after discovering ancient humans used sophisticated fishing tools akin to those today some 12,000 years ago. 19 bone fish hooks and six grooved stones were found in the Jordan River Dureijay in the Hula Valley, northern Israel. Researchers believe that the grooved stones were used as weights for the rods.
Meet the families working to keep fisheries alive on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie / The Narwhal
Kendall Dewey has been a commercial fisherman for over four decades, and served on the board of directors for the Ontario Commercial Fisheries’ Association for years. He used to sell his fish to local restaurants. “It was remarkable how many eyes we opened up in this area [from people] who said ‘wow, there’s actually a viable commercial fishery and you’re catching this here and it actually tastes really good’,” he says. “If we didn’t accomplish anything else, I’m happy we were able to do that.” Now, at 69, Dewey feels uneasy about the future of commercial fishing due to the lack of interest from young people and the general public.
Will Reviving B.C.’s Declining Salmon Stocks Require a Rethink of Hatcheries? / The Narwhal
It’s been well-established for more than a decade that BC’s wild salmon populations are in trouble, but the province first addressed the issue in 2018 when it announced its wild salmon strategy, a plan for implementing policies to reverse the decline. The original strategy included a call for more investment in salmon hatcheries, Finn Donnelly, BC MLA and parliamentary secretary for fisheries and aquaculture explains. Donnelly is among a growing number of scientists, fishermen, and politicians who have changed their minds about hatcheries. After 150 years of experimenting with hatcheries, it’s becoming clear that just pumping more baby fish into the ocean may actually be making the problem worse.
Fallout from Newfoundland Labrador Gold Rush on Atlantic Salmon / ASF
Mine effluent endangers salmon rivers. This week, ASF’s Don Ivany on why he fears it will have negative impact on vulnerable fish populations.
B.C. researchers, advocates consider impacts of catastrophic flooding on Fraser River / Hope Standard
Biologist Marvin Rosenau, a fisheries lecturer at B.C. Institute of Technology, said stranded Fraser salmon could end up trapped in flooded areas, coming from the flooded Nooksack River, along Sumas Prairie, or the Chilliwack-Vedder River system. But it’s the pink salmon, he said, that were likely the hardest hit of all Fraser salmon populations, along with the millions of juveniles and salmon eggs flushed out of the gravel with raging flood waters.
Flood-stranded sturgeon pushed, pulled and carried back to the Fraser River / CBC News
Professional angling guides Tyler Buck and Jay Gibson volunteered to move the giant fish two kilometres, returning it to the deep water of the main stem of the Fraser River.
Calls for Enhanced Monitoring of Aquaculture Impacts / ASF
ASF notes the deficient Nova Scotia government oversight of an aquaculture cage site led to the company having far too many cages and more caged salmon than the site was ever meant to have.
Rockfish can live for 10 to 200 years / Scientific American
Different species of rockfish can live for 10 to 200 years, making them an ideal model organism for studying the genetics behind longevity. In a new study, scientists sifted through the genomes of 88 rockfish species and found 137 specific genes associated with prolonging life spans.
Humans Have Broken a Fundamental Law of the Ocean / WIRED
One phenomenon that has long applied to marine life is the “Sheldon spectrum,” the observation that the size of an organism is inversely correlated with its abundance. Basically, the smaller the organism, the more abundant it will be. But a new study shows that the Sheldon spectrum no longer holds, and industrial fishing is to blame.
The History, Myths and Realities of BC’s Commercial Salmon Fisheries Closures / The Osprey
Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s Fisheries Advisor, Greg Taylor, reflects on the recently announced fishing closures, drawing on his more than 40 years experience working in the commercial fishing industry.
Ranchers say reclamation of fish habitat near McLean Creek does more harm than good / CBC News
The province has removed the only road to access grazing lease land in hopes a native trout species will flourish near McLean Creek, about 50 kilometres west of Calgary.
Scientists Are Running Out of Salmon to Study / Hacai Magazine
With west coast salmon populations withering, these researchers are heading for the Great Lakes.
Canada is failing our marine fisheries / Yahoo! News
Oceana Canada says that rebuilding plans for some fish stocks, including the iconic northern cod, have “significant flaws.”
Using the Sound of the Sea to Help Rebuild Ocean Habitats / Hacai Magazine
Playing recordings of a healthy ocean attracts animals to degraded habitats, suggesting that sound could be used to help restore marine ecosystems.
Concerns over contaminated floodwater, decaying animals from Sumas Prairie | CTV News
Deceased livestock, manure pits, oil spills and more are making B.C. flood waters toxic.
In a First, Alaska’s Arctic Waters Appear Poised for Dangerous Algal Blooms / Hacai Magazine
Climate change is bringing potentially deadly dinoflagellate blooms to the Far North, posing a new risk to food security.
2021 ACARE Annual Meeting Registration now open!
On December 7, 8 and 9, follow the Annual Meeting of over a hundred freshwater and large-lakes experts from African and globally. Learn all the latest from ACAR’s advisory groups spanning the seven African Great Lakes including recently created priorities and accomplishments.
Biological ‘treasure troves’ need mapping in marine protection plan / National Observer
A number of sites of exceptional biodiversity — well-known to the region’s First Nations but previously undocumented by science — have been identified along B.C.’s central coast and should be protected, a joint study suggests.
Swimming upstream: For B.C.’s Cowichan Tribes, life by the river fraught by climate change and a fight for return of their Chinook salmon tradition / The Star
Even though Chinook stocks have returned to historical levels, tribes are still being limited to catching a total of 200 fish for ceremonial purposes.
Mamalilikulla First Nation declares Lull Bay/Hoeya Sound an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area / Chek News
The declaration reflects the Mamalilikulla First Nation’s intent to take a primary role in planning, use, management and restoration of their traditional lands and waters and their desire to work with the provincial and federal governments in protecting and conserving the IPCA. “We’re not saying we cannot fish there. We’re not saying we cannot log there. What we’re saying is that we need to do it in a responsible way,” said John “Winidi” Powell, the Mamalilikulla’s Chief Councillor.
B.C. Study Shows Sustainable Management of Salmon Fishery Before Colonization / Vancouver Sun
Another research project shows what Indigenous communities have been saying all along. Hopefully this study will give Tsleil-Waututh more of a sy in how fisheries are managed in their territory. In recent years, Tsleil-Waututh members have chosen not to exercise their fishing rights in an effort to help rebuild declining salmon stocks. This is a huge sacrifice they have made for the benefit of salmon and people in the future.
Where Does the Tackle Industry Go From Here? / FishingWire
As 2021 draws to a close, now is a good time to reflect on the radical changes that the sportfishing industry is experiencing. Fishing equipment sales grew by nearly 55% overall in 2020. We know that fishing attracted millions of new participants during the pandemic, and that experienced anglers spent more time on the water than ever before. There’s also a lot of evidence that these trends have carried on well into 2021.
Nissan Trucks Responds to Trout Unlimited Criticism / Trout Unlimited
Over the past few years, you have likely heard me, TROUT magazine editor Kirk Deeter, and others rant against the absolutely boneheaded TV ads showing trucks and SUVs barreling up the middle of streams. During the baseball playoffs last month, there was one running from Nissan. So I sent them a letter asking Nissan to do the right thing and pull the ad. The company has since pulled the add, and provided Trout Unlimited with a much-appreciated contribution to support their work.
General Motors Buys Stake in Electric Boat Company / TechCrunch
General Motors said it has acquired a 25-percent stake in Pure Watercraft, the Seattle-based e-propulsion outfit for approximately $150 million.
Primer on Batteries for Boaters / FishingWire
For many boaters, batteries and electrical matters, in general, are not their strong suit. They feel more comfortable talking about horsepower, gallons per hour and top speed. But batteries aren’t going away and the more you know about them, the better your boat will be equipped to conduct its mission.
Boat Sales Slip Due to Supply Chain Problems / BoatLife
Boatbuilders and dealers are seemingly in the catbird seat. Demand continues to bludgeon supply, and customers are flocking to boat shows and dealerships, ready to buy whatever vessels are still in stock — or to preorder and wait until next season for a boat. But with supply-chain constraints continuing to dominate headlines and Covid-19 variants slowing the international flow of goods, there is no discernable path to a return to normalcy.
The Future of Boating Is in Sustainable Energy BoatTest
Last week BoatTEST sent a crew to Amsterdam to visit the annual METSTRADE Marine Equipment Show. This year’s show unmistakably pointed to a “sustainable” future. That means electric outboard motors, hybrid diesel and electric inboard drive systems, a move to high energy-density Lithium-ion batteries and a move away from oil-based products wherever possible.
Podcast: “Social FISHtancing”
COVID-19 is having a significant impact on North America’s seafood economy, which is more globalized than it has ever been. Fishers, however, are scrambling to respond, adapt and share lessons with each other. Community-supported fisheries may be the ones most ready to weather this difficult time.
Video: Newfoundland / Labrador Government Releases Results of Hook & Release Study / ASF
An excellent study on hook & release Atlantic salmon angling was made public this week. Check out the short video of the results and download the report.
Documentary Short: Resilient Waters
This short film explores the thousands of kilometres of salmon habitat in the lower Fraser currently blocked to fish passage by obsolete flood controls. Join us on December 15 at 7pm Pacific for the premiere screening of Resilient Waters.
Webinar: Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas: What Does That Mean and What Could That Look Like?
This is the fourth event in the Latornell #ConservationMatters Webinar Series. To watch the webinar visit the Latornell Webinar webpage.
Special Feature – Buy your Seafood from Canada’s Artisnal Fishers Direct
The Local Catch Network (LCN) is a community-of-practice made up of seafood harvesters, technical assistance providers, organizers, and researchers from across North America who are committed to strengthening local and regional seafood systems through community supported fisheries and direct seafood marketing. The following are two Canadian community supported fisheries listed on LocalCatch.org.
Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery
Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery has been accomplishing powerful social, economic, and environmental change for over 13 years now. They are building a new kind of seafood system – one that works for fishing families, seafood lovers, and our marine ecosystems. New members can purchase their share of the 2022 catch during the holiday season, and enjoy seafood for all of next year! Gift memberships and cards are also available. In-person pick up Canada-wide.
Organic Ocean Seafood Inc.
Located in British Columbia, Organic Ocean has designed a Holiday Entertainment Pack focused on premium, locally caught seafood items to make entertaining a breeze. Organic Ocean also offers gift cards and a special promotion (gift card and cook book from their Chief Culinary Officer) this holiday season. Shipping within Canada or local delivery/in-person pick up in Vancouver, BC.
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In this November 23, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on the return of Great White sharks to Atlantic Canada and what it means for the ecosystem, tourism, fish and fishing. As always, we include a specially curated list of summaries and links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. Our closing guest feature explores what recent floods in B.C. means for spawning Pacific salmon.
This Week’s Feature – Atlantic Canada’s Apex Predators Are Back!
Canada may have the longest coastline of any country in the world, including the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans, but in reality it’s just one big inter-connected ocean covering 71% of the earth’s surface. Setting aside the naming protocols employed by cartographers, the point I’m heading towards is that “great white” sharks care little about lines on a map, and have found their way back to Atlantic Canada. Sharks have always been present along Canada’s east coast, mainly blue sharks, but the return of white sharks has significant ramifications for both the marine ecosystem and the way we humans recreate along the Atlantic coast.
In 2019, I spent a week along the coast of Maine with my family taking daily dips in the frigid Atlantic and building sand castles on the beach. It was the last year tourism officials along the U.S. North Atlantic coast would pretend that shark attacks were no more likely than getting hit by lightening. By 2020 a rash of attacks by white sharks off Cape Cod and further north blew this idyllic beach vacation myth out to sea. Close to 400 white sharks have since been tagged along the Atlantic coastline between Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, but based on amateur drone surveillance, These sharks with their highly visible tracking tags represent only about 10 out of every 100 white shark sightings along the coast. Statistically, this doesn’t mean there are 4000 white sharks cruising along the North Atlantic east coast, but what it does mean is that there are likely far more than the 3500 white sharks left in the world as claimed by some groups.
Increasing white shark abundance along the Canadian and U.S. East Coast is linked to grey seal numbers rebounding significantly after seal culls ended in the 1980’s. U.S. officials now estimate the grey seal population along their north-east Atlantic coast to be approximately 50,000. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to Canada. According to the NOAA there are now approximately 450,000 grey seals and a further 30,000 harbour seals in total along North America’s east coast. The vast majority of these are located in Canada. Add in five more seal species commonly found in Canada such as ringed, hispida, harp, bearded and hooded, and it adds up to a lot of potential white shark forage. To be honest, getting exact numbers isn’t easy as estimates range wildly based on who’s website you visit.
Up until recently, grey seals have ventured off shore in pursuit of schools of fish at will. The more common blue sharks represent no real threat to the much bigger grey seals that can weigh as much as 400 kilos. It means seals have been travelling where and when they want for several decades now, and their unfettered access to fish has meant their numbers have increased exponentially. Well, no more.
Commercial fishers and even some scientists have been calling for the cull of seals to be renewed, claiming that their impact on cod stock recovery is significant. These claims have since largely been disproven, but that doesn’t mean the sheer number of seals isn’t impacting fish stocks in general.
When white sharks first started being sighted off Canada’s Atlantic coastline there were some who believed their presence was due to warming waters brought about by climate change. However, veteran biologists like Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark from Dalhousie University offer an alternative hypothesis – they are coming for the seals. Chris has been documenting and reporting on sea life along Canada’s Atlantic coast for decades, and recently encountered a white shark himself while diving near the entrance to Halifax Harbour. Link below to listen to my latest conversation with Chris following his hair-raising close encounter with a three-meter white shark in mid-November 2021 on The Blue Fish Radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e348-chris-harvey-clark-on-the-return-of
Upon reaching maturity white sharks transition from preying on fish, in favour of energy-foods like blubbery mammals – seals. Seals aren’t stupid, and figure out quick enough that the wide open ocean is no place to be caught feeding. On the other hand, white sharks are highly evolved apex predators, and it doesn’t take them long to figure out where grey seals live – along the coast. According to Chris Harvey-Clark, the grey seals he encounters have already altered their behaviour, and now seem to be pinned down along their rookeries where they are growing increasingly hungry.
Each spring as white sharks arrive along Canada’s east coast their first order of business is figuring out where to find fish if they are juveniles, or seals if they are adults. Sharks don’t necessarily travel in “shivers”, but that doesn’t mean they won’t school-up when a “bob” of seals have been located. In the meantime, be prepared for white sharks to be cruising beaches and other stretches of coastline as they familiarize themselves with the appearance, flavour and habits of newly preferred pray.
Juvenile white sharks in the 3-meter range pose serious risks to humans as they experiment with forage options as they transition from fish to mammals. But it doesn’t mean you need not fear larger adults such as an 800-kilo 4-meter male white shark tagged nearby the Magdalen Islands, or the recently christened “Queen of the Ocean” tagged off the coast of Nova Scotia in October 2020 weighing 1,606 kilograms and measuring nearly 5.25 metres.
For many beach-goers white sharks means an end to swimming, surfing, paddle-boarding and maybe even kayaking with impunity. Many beaches in Cape Cod even discourage wading into the water past your knees. That’s O.K. though, most of the ocean temperatures along the beaches in Atlantic Canada rarely warm up past 15 degrees Celsius. As a former owner of a bungalow in Cape Breton Nova Scotia for 13 years, and having canoed the coasts of New Brunswick and P.E.I. I know from experience that finding warm ocean water inshore where the Gulf Stream touches land is rare.
To some, white sharks represent a solution to the problem of seals feeding on schools of commercially valuable fish with abandonment. Politicians are now breathing easier as none had to stick their neck out and authorize a seal cull. Nature is taking care of its own. Balance is being restored. Thanks to white sharks, nearshore and offshore schools of fish, and even inshore schools, now have ample guardians – the exception being blue fin tuna, a fish enjoyed by white sharks of all sizes.
Of course, fish stock recovery along Canada’s Atlantic coast is tenuous at best. Rising or warming oceans, an end to the Gulf Stream, new invasive species from the south, infectious diseases spread from fish pen operations, microplastics, over fishing, or who knows what else could easily tip nature’s balance once again. In the meantime though, this balance is in the process of being restored. Melting glaciers and sea ice continue to keep ocean temperatures in check for the most part. Just maybe government fish stock rebuilding efforts will finally start to pay off. Watch out lobster and crab, could it be that North Atlantic cod are finally on the rebound?
The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News
Calling the largemouth the single most popularly targeted game fish in the world seems like a fairly safe bet / AFTCO
Among the reasons for this are its aggressive nature, hard strike, occasional gill-rattling leaps and — particularly — the proclivity of this hardy species to thrive just about anywhere and everywhere. Once found only in its native region of eastern North America, it supports active sport fisheries around the world in locations such as Japan, China, Russia, most western European countries and many African nations as well. The economic importance of this species is remarkable. It lives happily in lakes and slower rivers ranging from tropical areas to hard, cold arctic regions near the poles. The largemouth (aka black bass) is the largest member of the sunfish family, Centrarchidae.
Want to Save a Failing Fishery? Take the Long View / Hakai Magazine
Almost 30 years ago, the cod fishery that had sustained commercial fishers in Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries came to an abrupt end, with a government-imposed moratorium aimed at saving the collapsing cod population. Now, new research shows that the collapse was not inevitable, and that—if it weren’t for short-term thinking decades earlier—the cod fishery could have been viable to this day. A new model based on catch records dating back to 1508 shows that the cod population remained relatively stable from the 16th century until the 1960s, when the advent of large-scale industrial trawling caused catches to skyrocket. From catches of 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes a year for most of the 18th and 19th centuries, the catch climbed until it peaked at 810,000 tonnes in 1968. From there, the population declined precipitously.
Products such as the Sharkbanz2 advertise that they utilize electromagnetic waves to repel sharks from the wearer or your fishing tackle. A worthwhile consideration for anglers and beachgoers where the risk of sharks is present.
How a Fish in Hamilton Broke a World Record – for All the Wrong Reasons / TVO.org
In 2015, a handful of University of Toronto researchers in a small boat hauled in a brown bullhead catfish from Hamilton Harbour, on the western tip of Lake Ontario. This summer, they reported that the fish had broken a world record — it contained 915 synthetic particles, the most ever recorded. The brown bullhead was one of 212 specimens examined during six years of research on plastics pollution led by Keenan Munno at U of T’s Rochman Lab and published in Conservation Biology this summer. Munno and her team discovered synthetic particles in each. In the bullhead, some of the smallest, called nanoplastics, had migrated from its digestive system to its skeletal muscles: the fillets often sold in grocery stores.
How Fish Schools Swim
Nature documentaries have long exploited the elegant swerves of massive schools of fish. Fish team up to cut through the water more easily and protect themselves from predators. But new simulations are revealing how fish schools also operate like superorganisms. Each individual fish seems to be optimized—from body length to how often it moves its tail—for the group’s maximum surveillance and energy efficiency.
Mowi Pauses NL Expansion After Near $8M Hit from Salmon Problems / ASF
With nearly a half million open net-pen caged salmon dead this fall at several sites, the company is pushing the pause button on its planned expansion in the province.
Climate Change Causes Death, Disease at NS Fish Hatchery / ASF
The hatchery at Nova Scotia’s Fraser’s Mills, Antigonish County, has big problems, and is looking for new solutions to go forward.
Preserving Genetic Diversity Gives Wild Populations Their Best Chance at Long-Term Survival / NOAA
A new paper shows that genetic variation is crucial to a population’s short- and long-term viability. The paper, by a NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center researcher, examined decades of theoretical and empirical evidence. It was published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.
Survivor Salmon that Withstand Drought and Ocean Warming Provide a Lifeline for California Chinook / NOAA
In drought years and when marine heat waves warm the Pacific Ocean, late-migrating juvenile spring-run Chinook salmon of California’s Central Valley are the ultimate survivors. According to a recent study, they are among the few salmon that return to spawning rivers in those difficult years to keep their populations alive.
Restoration of historic lake trout spawning bed begins on Ontario’s Diamond Lake / Watersheds Canada
A momentous first step was taken last month to restore a historic lake trout spawning bed in the Madawaska Valley region. Diamond Lake is one of only twelve trout lakes in Renfrew County, Ontario. For many years the trout population has experienced struggles on the lake, with the once productive spawning bed being recently damaged by siltation. The Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Outdoor Fund donated critical funds to launch the restoration process of the trout spawning bed, with project completion scheduled for spring 2022.
Goldfish and other aquarium species have become big issues at 3 Lethbridge ponds / CBC News
In Lethbridge, Alta., goldfish and other aquarium species like koi have become problematic at three ponds: Firelight Park, Chinook Lake and Elm Groves Pond. “These populations are a direct result of somebody putting fish in the storm ponds,” said Jackie Cardinal, the parks natural resource coordinator for the city.
Lobstermen and NPS Say No to Salmon Cages Next to Acadia Park / ASF
The issue of two proposed salmon aquaculture sites in Frenchman Bay, next to Acadia National Park, is generating concern for the ecology and health of these inshore waters.
Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray Gives Interview on Aquaculture in Newfoundland / CBC News
The new Canadian Minister of Fisheries and the Coast Guard was interviewed and provides insights on her thinking as she takes over the portfolio.
Atlantic Salmon Federation’s Jonathan Carr Wants Cooke to Improve Monitoring / ASF
ASF’s Vice-President of Research and Environment gave testimony on a proposed expansion of an aquaculture set of cages in St. Mary’s Bay operated by Cooke subsidiary Kelly Cove Salmon, and supported a more cautionary approach to save endangered wild salmon
DFO flags invasive species concerns as Baffinland seeks Mary River mine expansion / The Narwhal
Federal scientists say ships likely brought marine worms to the port of one of the world’s northernmost mines. Now vessel traffic could double as a result of a proposed expansion. According to the department, Baffinland should be developing a response plan to address Marenzelleria, the “high-risk potential aquatic invasive species that has been introduced to Milne Port.” This comes from a letter DFO submitted to the Nunavut Impact Review Board on Oct. 18 as part of the board’s assessment of Baffinland’s phase two development proposal, which would double the mine’s iron ore production.
Great Lakes DataStream is live! / DataStream
Explore 7 million open data points – including the Lake Partner Program data – collected by water monitors from across the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Basin. The newest DataStream hub was released during Open Access Week in late October. The hub includes stories, resources and more.
Zebra Mussels & Toxic Algae – a link? / Science Daily
Michigan State University researchers recently detected a relationship between the presence of invasive zebra mussels and toxic algal blooms in a state lake. It seems the mussels like the taste of other algae, but leave a phytoplankton called Microcystis to thrive where it wouldn’t otherwise, resulting in an increase in blue-green algae. When the mussels died off one year due to warm weather (at temperatures that should have been ideal for algae growth), Microcystis decreased as well. This example of the “cascading effect” of complex climate-facilitated change in ecosystems was only noted due to the availability and analysis of a long-term data set for the lake. (Hooray long-term data!)
B.C. study shows sustainable management of salmon fishery before colonization / ASF
The study published Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports examined chum salmon bones dating from between 400 BC and AD 1200 from four archeological sites around Burrard Inlet.
Could an Indigenous conservation area in Hudson Bay also be the key to saving carbon-rich peatlands? / The Narwhal
Northern Ontario’s James Bay and Hudson Bay — known in western Cree as Weeneebeg and Washaybeyoh — are 800-plus kilometres north of Toronto at their most southerly point, and unconnected to the rest of the province by road. The coastline and adjacent wetlands have long been understood as a globally significant site of migration and breeding for hundreds of bird species, and dozens of species at risk. The Mushkegowuk Council has resolutions on record from as early as the 1980s, calling for the creation of a Tribal Conservation Authority to manage this critical ecosystem. In August, the Mushkegowuk Council signed a memorandum of understanding with Parks Canada to establish a National Marine Conservation Area in James Bay and southwestern Hudson Bay. At more than 90,000 square kilometres — an area roughly the size of Portugal — the conservation area would be the largest in Ontario and second largest in the country, after Nunavut’s Tallurutiup Imanga.
Indigenous Guardians are patrolling the front lines of climate change / Globalnews.ca
There are some 70 groups of Indigenous Guardians across Canada. Their formal network is only five years old, but the work they do goes back for hundreds of generations. Fisheries audit: little.
Improvement over past five years despite government commitments | Campbell / River Mirror
The most recent audit of Canada’s fisheries show little improvement over the past five years, with many unknowns remaining. About 30 per cent of Canada’s fisheries are considered healthy, a decline from 2017. Conversely, about 17 per cent were assessed as “critical” while 16 per cent were ranked as “cautious.” But over a third of fisheries are considered unknowns — meaning not enough information is available to assess their status.
Moratorium sought on herring fisheries; critical for salmon / Victoria Times
Conservationists are calling for a moratorium on both the upcoming food-and-bait herring fishery in the Strait of Georgia and next season’s roe herring fishery to protect stocks of the small silver fish. They fear herring living year-round in the Strait of Georgia are at risk due to fishing. Resident herring are caught in the winter, as well as in March, when they are pulled up in nets along with migratory herring returning to the strait to spawn.
Canada releases first-ever code for care and handling of farmed salmonids / The Fish Site
The Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) have announced the release of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farmed Salmonids. Canada’s Codes of Practice are nationally developed guidelines for the care and handling of farm animals. They serve as the foundation for ensuring that farm animals are cared for using sound management and welfare practices that promote animal health and well-being. Codes are used as educational tools, reference materials for regulations and the foundation for industry animal care assessment programs. “This code reflects the hard but very important conversations we had on how to bring meaningful improvements to the welfare of farmed salmonids in Canada.” – LEIGH GAFFNEY, WORLD ANIMAL PROTECTION CANADA.
Z-Man ElaZtech Lures Solve a Conservation Dilemma / The Fishing Wire
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has estimated that as many as 20 million pounds of soft plastic lures (SPLs) enter surface waters each year, and that 10 to 12 tons of them are lost or discarded. “We don’t think people are discarding them intentionally,” said University of Illinois researcher Cory Suski, who conducted a cooperative study with Canada’s Carlton University in 2014. “The baits just drop off the hook or half of it rips off and sinks to the bottom where it can’t be easily retrieved to evaluate change in SPL size and decomposition, researchers immersed eight different types of PVC-based SPLs in water at 39- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit for a period of two years. After just four months, in 70-degree water, the PVC baits had grown 10-percent in length. After two years in the warmer water, SPLs were 50-percent longer and 30-percent wider (i.e. a 6-inch bait swelled to 9-inches.) Coldwater immersed baits had grown by 25-percent. Similarly, the weight of SPLs more than doubled after just 7 months in water.
Electric Boat Bass Tournament Series Set for 2022
The Electric Bass Angling Championship powered by Elco Motor Yachts is a year-long series of fishing tournaments hosted by local fishing clubs throughout the U.S.
Webinar Recording: Green Stuff in the Water: No Day at the Beach / Lake Ontario Partner
Join us for a one-hour webinar as we talk about Cladophora! Cladophora are those green mats of algae in the water that you may have seen on beaches and along shorelines in Lake Ontario. While Cladophora is necessary for a healthy ecosystem, when nutrient levels in the water are too high—i.e., from lawn fertilizers, agricultural and urban runoff, and septic and sewage treatment systems—we see too much Cladophora growth. This can present aesthetic and odor issues that impair recreational uses of the lake, as well, decaying Cladophora harbors bacteria that can pose health threats to humans, fish and wildlife.
Video: Wild Salmon Watersheds / ASF
ASF’s Wild Salmon Watersheds program is a bold new initiative to conserve and restore the most productive salmon habitat. By giving wild salmon the cold, clean water they need, we’re also making a significant contribution to reversing the climate crisis.
Special Feature — What does the flooding in southwest B.C. mean for wild salmon? / (an extract from the Original article)
By Aaron Hill / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Flooding is an essential part of a healthy natural river ecosystem, but it often takes a toll on salmon. This week’s flooding is taking an abnormally heavy toll. Many southern B.C. salmon populations are already at historic lows. Chum and coho are spawning now, and the raging waters are making successful spawning very difficult. For salmon that have already spawned, the flood waters are scouring out their eggs or depositing silt on them. And those massive pump stations that are moving water out from behind the dikes and back into the river? Most of them are not “fish-friendly,” meaning they are killing large numbers of the fish that ended up in the flood zone.
It could take salmon several generations to recover.
Pollution is a problem, too. We hear from colleagues in Chilliwack that the waters in the flood zone are festooned with petrochemical slicks, human and animal waste, dead animals and garbage. Volunteers from the flood zone are dealing with rashes and eye infections.
All levels of government have known for many years that their dikes and pump stations are not strong enough to handle the increased flooding brought by global warming. They’ve been working towards doing something about it, but the planning has been too slow, and here we are. They have to kick their flood prevention into high gear.
But here’s the kicker for salmon. Over 1500 km of salmon habitat in the lower Fraser floodplain are blocked off by obsolete dikes, pump stations and floodgates. These structures need major upgrades to keep us safer. As those structures get upgraded, we have a historic opportunity to make them safe for salmon and open up huge swaths of prime salmon habitat. This will help rebuild depleted salmon runs. This is what “building back better” will look like for people and salmon.
We can also take better care of our watersheds by changing the way we log and develop our lands. Let’s leave last century’s failed water and land management practices in the past where they belong. And for the love of all that is good in the world, let’s get serious about curbing our greenhouse gas emissions before things get even worse.
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As the President of Blue Fish Canada, I witnessed first-hand just how much the pandemic has accelerated the shift to on-line communications and program delivery. Blue Fish Canada has never been busier. Still, getting people outside and connecting with nature through fishing is more important than ever, as is ensuring access opportunities and fish health. To this end, Blue Fish Canada remains focused on giving voice to key angler stakeholders including angler advocates, fishery researchers, conservationists and key public fishery influencers. Communication channels include podcasts, articles and blogs, videos, seminars, TV and social media. At the same time, we are working tirelessly to ensure our programs continue to inspire and inform anglers to become stewards of their waters and fisheries. In all this I’m proud to be able to count on the support of countless volunteers, partners and supporters.
Our Podcasts continue to grow in popularity. The Blue Fish Radio Show has now released 340 episodes since first going live in 2013. It remains Canada’s premier fishing and conservation podcast, and has strong listener numbers in many countries. Our second podcast “Outdoors with Lawrence Gunther” launched in September 2000 and is also ranking extremely high. The focus of this podcast is to inform and inspire youth to connect with nature through fishing and other outdoor activities. Thirty-eight episodes have been released to date and also air 7-times each week over cable TV on AMI Audio.
Social Media includes Blue Fish News, Blue Fish Canada, Blind Fishing Boat, Feel the Bite, Lake2Plate, and What Lies Below. Facebook and Twitter accounts are active and together account for 5-8 original posts each week.
YouTube was strengthened this year by bringing all video content under one channel branded as Blue Fish Canada. The launch of the documentary “What Lies Below” on YouTube generated over 7,000 views to date. A new Lake2Plate episode was filmed and released, and another three are in the works.
Seminars include 20-minute live segments each Monday on Canadian Fishing Network’s Facebook channel. Another two-dozen presentations have been provided live over platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, MS Teams, Discord, etc.
TV exposure includes 26 live 12-minute segments on AMI TV’s “Now with Dave Brown”. The topic is conservation.
Outdoor Shows were all online over the past 12 months. We participated in three outdoor shows and one cottage show. Our video presentations were well received and were utilized by show managers for marketing.
Youth Outreach included supporting a number of family-run campground fishing derbies and three-weeks of urban youth summer school programming during which we directly participated. Our fish ID cards, stewardship kits and shoreline clean-up kits remain popular.
Conservation Measures include our leading the Great Lakes Fish Health Network, chairing a panel of presenters at the River Institute Science Symposium and presenting at their Community Science Day, giving the keynote address at the Save The River AGM, and participating in over-30 webinars focused on fish health.
The Blue Fish biweekly newsletter now goes out to over 5,000 email recipients and has an open rate of 35% within 24 hours. It’s also uploaded to the Blue Fish Canada website and shared over social media. The audience includes anglers, scientists and change-makers across Canada.
Collaborations involved fishing and conservation groups across Canada, and focused on fish health, impacts on human health and economic sustainability, and public fishery access and opportunity. Collaborators also include organizations interested in improving the sustainability of their fishing related tourism activities.
As the federal government moves to protect 30% of our land and waters by the year 2030 and increases support for the “land back” movement intended to address outstanding First Nations land claims by establishing “Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas”, engagement and collaboration are more important than ever. Climate change mitigation and resilience are also powerful drivers affecting how decision makers view nature. Blue Fish Canada is informing, engaging and giving voice to stakeholders through mediums such as the biweekly Blue Fish News, podcasts, articles, seminars, webinars and video. Direct participation remains an outstanding goal.
The Blue Fish Canada charity continues to inspire and inform the next generation of conservation minded anglers. Our Youth Training Program, Stewardship Guides and Toolkits, campaigns and programs, are all combining to maximize reach to Canadians each year. Supporting tourism related businesses through Blue Fish Certification showcases the best Canada has to offer. Our numerous volunteers are working hard to ensure angling access and opportunity, and the future sustainability of fishing.
In conclusion, while the year is still one dominated by Covid-19 related restrictions, we are working alongside anglers and biologists to figure out ways to establish a new normal. We are proud to be one of those organizations leading the way as we live with this invisible health risk. While many may pine for days-of-old, there are a whole new legion of anglers looking to redefine fishing in ways that ensure sustainable best practices in how we release and harvest fish.
Last, I want to thank all of you for your many volunteer hours and generous support. Blue Fish Canada has become a leader in Canada on advancing the important role angling plays in connecting people to nature in sustainable and meaningful ways.
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- Hands-on fishing instruction delivered to over 125 Youth
In this November 8, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on new research on catch-and-release bass fishing tournaments and what happens to bass post-release. As always, we include a specially curated list of summaries and Links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. Our special guest resource at the end comes from the U.S. Congressional Sportsmens Foundation and concerns their path forward for achieving 30-by-30 protection commitments.
This Week’s Feature – Dispersal Patterns of Post Tournament Bass
By Editor Lawrence Gunther
In late August 2021 the North American Journal of Fisheries Management published the long-awaited results of research conducted in Canada on the post-release behavior of smallmouth and largemouth bass. The research was conducted in Eastern Ontario on Big Rideau Lake during early, mid and late season tournaments. Researchers included Alice E. I. Abrams, A. J. Zolderdo, Elodie J. I. Lédée, Michael J. Lawrence, Peter E. Holder, Steven J. Cooke, and a cohort of willing anglers.
An abstract of the research reads as follows, “Black bass fishing tournaments with conventional weigh-ins tend to displace fish from their capture site and often release fish within close proximity to the weigh-in site. Tournaments often include largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides and smallmouth bass M. dolomieu and occur throughout fishing seasons; however, there have yet to be any systematic congeneric comparisons across different seasons.” All this to say, the researchers used the latest fish tracking technology to determine what happens to bass after they are released following fishing tournaments. Not just if they survive, but where they go.
A total of 88 largemouth and smallmouth bass caught during the three tournaments were fitted with acoustic tags and then released from the same area where the weigh-ins took place. A preseason control group of 30 bass were captured, tagged and also released in the same area. The bass had their geospatial movements tracked using receivers situated around the weigh-in release site, along the passage that led back to the main body of the lake, and throughout the lake itself.
The 88 tournament-caught bass that took part in the research were selected based on the willingness and ability of anglers to share with researchers where each individual bass was caught using a map of the lake. If an angler wasn’t absolutely certain where a specific fish was caught, or was unwilling to disclose this information, the bass was rejected by the researchers.
Data shows that upon being released bass experienced a short-term stockpiling within 300 meters of the release site. All 88 bass eventually left the area – The largemouth taking on average 4.6 days, and the Smallmouth bass left within a day.
The distance from the release site to the main body of the lake where all 88 tagged fish were caught is over 10 kilometers. The Largemouth bass took just under 240 days to return to the main part of the lake, and the smallmouth bass took less than half that time. The smallmouth that took the longest to return (108 days) were caught during the October tournament.
Researchers concluded that, “although fish do survive and eventually return to the main basin, displacement may have broader ecological consequences such as “large-scale displacement of top predators and adverse effects on recruitment”. They conclude that, “there may be merit in tournaments adopting a catch–weigh–release format instead of bringing fish to a central weigh-in location.”
There’s plenty of research that has informed how to manage tournament weigh-in processes to mitigate bass mortality. Many large tournaments also employ boats especially equipped to move bass away from tournament weigh-in sites to facilitate their dispersal. Numerous smaller bass tournaments have adopted these best practices. However, until now, no one has determined where bass go after being released, and just how much time and effort bass expend in the process.
I spoke with Dr. Cooke about the research, and he confirmed that each of the bass caught and tagged returned to where they were originally caught. The fact that bass prefer to range within their specific territory should come as no surprise. Even smallmouth bass known for roving in “wolf packs” routinely visit the same locations. Larger bass will even drive off other bass that are perceived as trespassing. Obviously, just like any animal, bass are creatures of habit.
I asked Dr. Cooke how bass manage to navigate their way around a lake, and to find their way back to their home turf. You would be amazed to hear the different tests Dr. Cooke and his team conducted to learn how bass navigate their environment. Dr. Cooke shared with me details of the bass release research along with findings from his research on hook removal techniques and bass mortality. He even had new research to share on how bass fair when caught through the ice. You can hear my conversation with Dr. Cooke by linking to the below podcast episode of The Blue Fsh Radio Show. https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e347-dr-cooke-on-bass-post-release-behav
So, what does all this mean for tournament angling? We know that bass survive post release and that they do eventually return to their preferred range. But what about bass caught during tournaments held on rivers – do they return home if it means swimming up stream? At the very least, we now know bass will have ample opportunity to move away from a weigh-in site before another tournament is held the following weekend, but that doesn’t guarantee they won’t be pressured by anglers who happen upon recently released bass before they have had sufficient time to clear out.
Bringing bass back to a centralised weigh-in location has positive aspects as well. The health of bass can be assessed by tournament officials. Bass are observed to make sure they are healthy, and anglers are penalised if a fish is judged as mortally wounded. Captured fish can also be examined and samples taken, or tags attached by researchers. Conducting fish health research is challenging as it entails finding and capturing fish. Researchers depend on fishing tournaments to collect samples and attach tags and other tracking devices.
Lots and lots of discussion and debate over fish welfare and tournament rules has already occurred, and without doubt will continue to dominate pre-tournament planning meetings. New innovations, fish handling best practices, rules and penalties are always being adjusted to fit with what we know and what the public expects. Without the trust of the public, the anglers and the sponsors, bass tournaments would not exist.
Bass anglers want to do the right thing, they care about the resource, and they contribute significantly to habitat restoration and research both in terms of money and time. How tournament organizers and anglers respond to the results of the research undertaken by Dr. Cooke and his team will be interesting to track over time as well.
Major League Fishing is a relatively new tournament series that has grown quickly in popularity. It uses a capture, record and release format, but is dependent on 2nd party observers to ensure accurate self reporting. Most amateur bass tournaments involve a team of two bass anglers. Adding a third observer in each boat poses considerable additional logistical challenges. However, digital real-time measuring and recording technologies could make such human observers redundant. We already pay thousands more for our boats to be equipped with live wells used for keeping fish alive during their transportation back to weigh-in sites. Why not instead allocate this money to pay for secure digital remote reporting equipment that would allow anglers to release bass back into the water where they are caught?
Angler apps already on the market possess much of the needed technology to support catch-record-release fishing tournaments. Their use throughout North America is growing steadily in popularity. In the end though, if an angler is bent on cheating, no rule or technology will stop them from trying their hand.
The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News
Lake Trout Fishing Heats Up On Lake Michigan / FishingWire
Lake trout average 6-10 pounds but can tip the scales at 15 pounds or more, and they become very active in late fall on the big lake. Fishing deep is popular when targeting lake trout this time of year. If you prefer to catch-and-release, the cold water creates better opportunities for successful release; however, keep in mind that smaller lake trout are excellent table fare.
Angler knocked over by bear at creek near Tofino, people urged to stay away from area / CBC News
The B.C. Conservation Service is asking people to stay away from the Kootowis Creek area near Tofino after an angler was knocked off his feet by a bear. The black bear approached the angler from behind and made contact with the man, who was able to scare the animal away. Although the bear knocked the man over, he was not injured.
Fishing gear available for loan at Richmond Public Library / Richmond News
Richmond Public Library is now lending fishing rods and tackle, to help people explore Richmond, B.C.’s waterways and ecology.
B.C. recreational chum salmon fisheries go catch-and-release due to low returns / Prince Rupert Northern View
DFO non-retention orders in effect for multiple recreational fisheries throughout southern B.C. In recent years, chum salmon have exhibited “very poor” returns through much of their spawning range, which spans North America and Asia, said Brian Riddell, Pacific Salmon Foundation science advisor.
Latin American Nations Create No-Fishing Corridor in East Pacific / FishingWire
Four Latin American countries announced Tuesday that they will expand and unite their marine reserves to create a vast corridor in the Pacific Ocean in hopes of protecting sea turtles, tuna, squid, hammerhead sharks and other species. The new marine corridor will connect the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador with Colombia’s Malpelo Island and the Cocos and Coiba Islands in Costa Rican and Panamanian waters, protecting migratory species from fishing fleets of hundreds of vessels that visit the eastern Pacific each year.
Lake Erie Perch/Walleye Survey Promising / FishingWire
Lake Erie Fisheries Research completed annual gillnet assessment of the Lake Erie warm water fish community in 2021. The primary goal is to collect abundance and age structure information for walleye, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass—the three most targeted fish species by anglers in New York’s portion of Lake Erie. The walleye and yellow perch data also contribute to lake-wide assessments that determine safe harvest levels. The highlight of the 2021 warm water survey was the presence of solid juvenile walleye (age-1) and yellow perch (age-2) year classes, both of which should start to contribute to the fishery next year. Young-of-year (age-0) yellow perch, walleye, and smallmouth bass were also collected during the survey potentially indicating good hatching success in 2021. Walleye, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass are not stocked in Lake Erie, meaning these fisheries depend entirely on the hatching success and survival of wild fish. Hatching success in 2021 bodes well for fishing quality in the coming years.
Fishing for Sport and Seafood / NOAA Fisheries
Cooking seafood you catch yourself strengthens your connection to the ocean and our marine natural resources. And money you spend on recreational fishing trips supports fishing guides, suppliers, charter vessels, and our unique coastal communities. As long as you follow the appropriate regulations, you can know that you are participating directly in the economically and environmentally sustainable harvest of our fisheries. In 2019, recreational and non-commercial saltwater anglers took 187 million fishing trips and caught 950 million fish. Catch-and-release angling plays an important role in U.S. fish conservation—more than half the fish caught are released. But there are plenty of opportunities around the nation for anglers to keep the fish they hook. Plus, a dinner featuring seafood you caught yourself adds a delicious capstone to an exciting day on the water.
Kids win by supporting Kootenay Lake conservation / East Kootenay
Kids submitted Rainbow or Bull trout heads that they caught on the main body of Kootenay Lake and were eligible to win Pelican Magna kayaks, Kokanee Mountain Zipline Tour packages, or fishing equipment.
Anglers seek $450K to restore Quispamsis fishing spot / CBC News
An angling group in New Brunswick wants to restore a popular fishing hole that’s been filling up with sediment from erosion. Aquatic species in Crowley’s Pool are at risk, and so is a Quispamsis roadway, said Sarah Blenis, project coordinator with the Hammond River Angling Association. That’s a group with about 325 members that’s been around since the late 1970s.
Alaska bans fishing in Yukon as salmon decrease / Texas News Today
Two salmon species have almost disappeared from the Yukon River in Alaska this year, and the state has been urged to stop fishing to save them. For the first time in memory, both King Salmon and Cham Salmon were nearly zero, and the state banned salmon fishing on the Yukon River. Even the self-sufficient harvest that Alaska Natives rely on to fill their winter freezers and pantry.
Nova Scotia Salmon Association Turns Down Atlantic Gold / Halifax Examiner
In a plea deal for its environmental infractions, Atlantic Gold agrees to pay $120,000 to the Nova Scotia Salmon Association. The NSSA, however, isn’t interested.
B.C.’s declining salmon stocks may force rethink on hatcheries / The Narwhal
Releasing more fish into the environment might seem like an easy solution to declining numbers. But in nature, this rarely works. “Climate change has reduced the quality and quantity of the food for fish in the open ocean,” Aaron Hill tells The Narwhal. “So, the idea of releasing more hatchery fish is like letting more cattle out into a field with less grass and thinking you’re going to get more and fatter cows.”
Survivor salmon that withstand drought and ocean warming provide a lifeline for California Chinook / Phys.org
In drought years and when marine heat waves warm the Pacific Ocean, late-migrating juvenile spring-run Chinook salmon of California’s Central Valley are the ultimate survivors. The different timing characteristics of the fish are referred to as “life-history strategies.” Those with a late-migrating life history strategy represented only about 10 percent of outgoing juveniles sampled in fish monitoring traps. However, they were about 60 percent of the returning adult fish across all years, and more than 96 percent of adults from two of the driest years.
MP Bachrach goes to Washington: Raises concerns about Alaska interception ofSkeena steelhead and salmon / Skeena Strong
The Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley went to Washington D.C. to speak with Alaskan members of Congress about solutions to the steelhead and salmon crisis in northern B.C. “The urgency of this crisis requires immediate action. That’s why I’ve come to Washington to make the case directly to decision-makers in Alaska that we need to be working together more closely,” said Bachrach. “Steelhead are an iconic part of our region and contribute millions of dollars to the local economy every year. More importantly, they’re an integral to a lot of folks’ lifestyles in the Northwest.”
Bachrach returns with results after salmon crisis talks in D.C. / Terrace Standard
Talks on the salmon crisis ended in two accomplishments, after Taylor Bachrach, Skeena Bulkley MP, visited Washington D.C. on Oct. 21., to address Alaskan officials. First, an acknowledgement from the Alaskan delegation on the seriousness of the situation recognizing the need to do more on both sides of the border and, second, the need for a formalized forum between elected officials.
ASF and partners bring stunning Salmon School sculpture to global climate change conference / ASF
At the UN COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Joseph Rossano’s ’school’ of 350 elegant glass-blown salmon are seen daily by delegates, many of them key decision makers. ASF worked with a transcontinental alliance of wild salmon conservation groups to bring this artwork—and its message of hope—to the global stage. Read about how our partnership demands bold action for wild salmon, and shows that providing salmon with “Cold, Clean Water” also helps in the fight against climate change.
‘Damn near extinction’: Interior steelhead run expected to be very small / The Province
A decades-long slide in interior steelhead populations could escalate this year with only 58 fish expected to spawn in the Thompson watershed and 27 in the Chilcotin. In the past, the federal government has declined to pursue an emergency listing of the Interior steelhead as endangered under the Species At Risk Act, citing the adverse impact of widespread fishery closures on First Nations, recreational and commercial fisheries.
PEI Works to Restore Wild Salmon / ASF
Atlantic salmon habitat such as Sediment traps, meanders, and other ideas are being considered and restored to protect the future of wild Atlantic salmon in the island’s rivers.
What really makes fish become sexually active / Phys.org
UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, challenges previous hypotheses that attempted to explain why fish reach first maturity when they do and offers an alternative explanation. “Textbooks usually attempt to answer the question of why fish spawn when they do by describing a process supposedly triggered by environmental ‘stimuli’ experienced at the onset of the spawning season, passed on to the hypothalamus, and thence to a hormonal cascade,” Daniel Pauly said. “This explanation assumes that the process of perceiving the environmental stimuli is self-starting; however, it cannot be because the same environment was always there, and they didn’t spawn earlier.”
California Hatchery to Increase Chinook Production by 500,000 / FRANK SARGEANT
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation have announced a joint effort at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Sacramento County to increase production of fall-run Chinook salmon by 500,000 smolts to help combat effects of the drought. Spawning of returning fall-run Chinook salmon begins this week.
BC Liberal MP Joyce Murray becomes Minister of Fisheries, Oceans & the Canadian Coast Guard / Island Fisherman Magazine
Minister Murray becomes the sixth DFO minister in the last six years. Murray is an experienced politician with a long background in business in both national and international arenas. She opposes pipelines crossing BC, and offshore oil shipments, while supporting more oil refining in Canada. Murray currently opposes salmon farming and has called for a complete ban on open net cage salmon farms in BC. What does her appointment mean for public fishery access and angling’s business interests? At this stage no one knows. There is very little in her record that reflects what she does or does not know about the public fishery.
How sea otters led a green revolution on the B.C. coast – and played a part in climate-proofing the Pacific / Globe and Mail
When humans reintroduced these animals to B.C., their messy foraging habits improved the genetic mix of eelgrass meadows, making them better equipped for changing temperatures and acidity, new research finds.
Reducing vessel activity key to southern resident killer whales’ survival, B.C. study suggests / CTV News
A new study suggests reducing vessel activity is key to the survival of B.C.’s endangered southern resident killer whales. The study showed that when vessel speeds were lowered feeding activity of killer whales increased.
Potential ‘irreparable damage’ to Puget Sound orcas over alleged illegal salmon hatchery expansion / MyNorthwest.com
Expansion of Washington state’s hatchery system has long been a primary tactic for preserving Chinook. The question, then, is will salmon hatcheries as currently designed save the orcas? The Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) and The Conservation Angler filed a lawsuit Oct. 11, which alleges that WDFW (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) “embarked upon a massive expansion in the production of hatchery salmon that could cause irreparable damage to fragile wild fish populations and to endangered Southern Resident killer whales,” per a joint press release from the two organizations. The crux of their argument is that WDFW failed to comply with the proper environmental regulations which would encompass research to understand how hatcheries will impact native Chinook salmon populations as well as Southern Resident orca whales. “The Court finds that NMFS’s (National Marine Fisheries Service, also known as NOAA) failure to make a jeopardy determination on the prey increase program for the Chinook salmon ESUs (Evolutionarily Significant Units) violated its obligations under the ESA,” its findings.
Mercury risk in fish ‘low’ among indigenous and remote communities, study finds / CTV News
Indigenous and remote communities that rely on fish for sustenance shouldn’t worry about mercury levels in their food as the benefits of eating the meal outweigh the risks. The study published in the journal Environmental Research examined 443 blood samples and 276 hair samples from residents across nine communities in the Mackenzie Valley of the Northwest Territories and found that mercury exposure “may be low even when it is sometimes present in elevated levels.”
FISHING EQUIPMENT SALES MARK 3 YEARS OF GROWTH / FishingWire
In the 12 months ending September 2021, U.S. fishing-equipment in-store and online sales revenues across mass merchants and sporting goods retailers, as well as e-commerce sites grew 4%, year over year, reaching $3.9 billion. The fishing equipment market has experienced three consecutive years of growth.
Boaters fined for violating orca sanctuary zone / Times Colonist
Transport Canada has levied nearly $25,000 in penalties to five vessel owners who have breached zones around Pender Island intended to protect southern resident killer whales. The violations were handed out between December 2019 and July this year for boats in an interim orca sanctuary area set aside for the endangered species. Several vessel owners were cited multiple times.
“The Little Creek that Could” / by Mark Angelo
This children’s book written by Canada’s own Mark Angelo, founder of World Rivers Day, presents a story of a stream that came back to life. It’s a true story of a 5-decade long effort to restore a B.C. stream, and how nature can heal itself if given the chance. Positive stories like this are more important than ever with so much talk in the news about impending environmental doom. Kids need to know that we can make a positive difference too. The earlier you start to instill a sense of stewardship in children, the greater the chance it will stick. A great bedtime read to help get through the winter months.
Fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly’s life is one for the books / Vancouver Sun
At first Daniel Pauly was reticent about the biography project but then he began to see it as another platform in the fight to protect our oceans. The renowned Pauly is the subject of the new biography The Ocean’s Whistleblower: The Remarkable Life of Daniel Pauly by David Grémillet. The 75-year-old principal investigator of the Sea Around Us Project at UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries is the author of five books, 400 peer-review papers and over 1,200 other pieces of writing.
Webinars and Videos:
Video: At least 266,000 Atlantic salmon die in Mowi sites on NL South Coast / ASF Watch this short video on a die-off at three Mowi sites, on the western edge of the aquaculture operations on Newfoundland’s south coast.
Webinar: Keeping your Water Clean for a Stronger Fishing Industry
On Thursday, November 18, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is hosting a webinar on the vital role commercial and recreational fishing serve the local economy and the wellbeing of the environment. Learn how to protect important habitat to sustain a healthy fishery and vibrant fishing economy for your community.
Video: view Skeena Foundation Executive Director Greg Knox’s video on the critical situation facing Skeena Steelhead / SkeenaWild
The Skeena is the last, best large steelhead system in the world, but in 2021, these fish are returning in record low numbers. The provincial government is responsible for managing steelhead in B.C. and they need to take meaningful steps to ensure that these iconic fish continue to support communities into the future.
Webinars: Great Lakes Nearshore Webinar Series / ECCC
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has conducted the first cumulative assessment of the Canadian nearshore waters and are excited to share the findings with the Great Lakes community through an evening webinar series focused on the following themes:
- Session 1 – November 23, 2021: Out of sight, but not out of mind – Contaminants in Water, Sediment, and Fish.
- Session 2 – December 2, 2021: 8,500 km of Great Lakes shoreline: Coastal Processes
- Session 3 – December 7, 2021: With Great Lakes, comes Great Responsibility: Areas of High Ecological Value.
- Session 4 – January 13, 2022: Nutrients, too much of a good thing – Nuisance & Harmful Algae.
Boat-to-plate traceability program / Canadian Food Inspection Agency
The CFIA, in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is conducting a 120-day online consultation related to the “Boat to plate” traceability program to support Canadian fishers to better market their high-quality products. The 120-day consultation is open until December 11, 2021. You can submit your feedback online or by email at: BTP-BAT@inspection.gc.ca.
Call to Action:
Take a moment to email the Prime Minister and urge him to recommit to getting factory / Watershed Watch farms out of B.C.
Over 1100 people have emailed Trudeau so far. We can’t let the government drop this promise because it’s getting tough and factory farm companies are pushing back. The Worst Skeena Steelhead Return on Record
The U.S. Congressional Sportsmens Foundation Key priorities associated with implementing 30-by-30 protection commitments similar to Canada’s include:
- Clearly defining “conservation” to support the active management and sustainable use of our nation’s public trust fish and wildlife resources;
- Recognizing and including all efforts directly contributing to biodiversity conservation including those on lands subject to multiple uses; and,
- Collaborating closely with entities devoted to achieving measurable biodiversity conservation objectives, including other levels of government responsible for fish and wildlife management, regional fish and wildlife management bodies, members of the sporting-conservation community, federally recognized Native American tribes, and private landowners through voluntary, incentive-based opportunities.
Note from Editor: Clearly, the recommendations set out above do not represent a comprehensive blueprint on how to achieve 30-by-30 protection commitments, but instead set forth a path crucial to ensuring those with traditional and local knowledge and expertise are engaged in decision making processes. However, before such recommendations are developed and implemented in Canada, the process itself needs to become more transparent and inclusive. Given the potential impact these decisions will have on the relatively small percentage of Canadians and First Nations people who live and rely on the vast majority of Canada’s rural, remote and northern lands and waters, it’s crucial that determining what happens in the 30% of Canada to be protected is supported by those who’s lives will be impacted. Without such buy-in at the formulation stage, what we will end up with is a series of lofty goals that stand little chance of being achieved regardless of the resources spent on implementing and enforcement. Only through the support of the people impacted will the initiative stand any chance of becoming more than a tremendous waste of time and resources, and a lost opportunity.
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In this October 25, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on calls to end recreational fishing in Southern B.C. in order to save resident Killer whales in spite of new research showing Chinook salmon abundance isn’t the issue. As always, we include a specially curated list of summaries and links to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news. We close with a spotlight guest resource featuring a new kind of killer whale that preys on large sea mammals.
This Week’s Feature – Calls to End Recreational Fishing in Lower B.C.
In a recent post by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation the group claims recreational anglers in B.C. are routinely violating the 400-metre protection buffers around Southern Resident killer whales. The Foundation is now calling for a complete end to recreational salmon fishing in southern B.C. Such calls to end recreational fishing by certain environmental groups come as no surprise, but what has caught the attention of anglers in this instance, is the lack of supporting scientific evidence.
I reached out to a previous guest on The Blue Fish Radio Show for his take on the call issued by the Raincoast NGO. Mr. Chris Bos is the coordinator of a south Vancouver Island Chinook salmon hatchery, President of the South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition, and Director with the Public Fishery Alliance. Chris had a lot to say about why it’s more important than ever to keep anglers engaged in the fight to save southern resident killer whales, and why it’s vital to maintain sustainable recreational and First Nations fisheries. Chris also explains why we need to draw on science-based precautionary conservation measures when searching for solutions. Link below to hear my most recent conversation with Chris Bos on The Blue Fish radio Show: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e345-ending-recreational-fishing-in-bc-t
The 400-meter buffer zone requirement and one-kilometer voluntary guideline governing distance around southern resident killer whales came into effect in 2019. When you dig into enforcement data for the period from 2018 to 2020, compliance levels rose to 71 percent for private vessels. The data refers to both recreational fishing and pleasure boats, but only recreational fishing vessels were targeted by Raincoast. There’s also no word on whether the observed fishing vessels may have been confused with vessels involved in Indigenous fishing for food, social or ceremonial purposes – vessels exempt from the restrictions.
Buffers aren’t the only federal restriction imposed on recreational fishing boats and other watercraft. There’s also no fishing or boating within Swiftsure Bank, Saturna Island and Pender Island interim sanctuary zones between June 1 and November 30. Additionally, fisheries closures also apply to portions of key foraging habitats during late spring and early summer fishing seasons. Add these restrictions to other Chinook salmon recreational fishing closures due to dwindling numbers of returning Chinook to the Fraser River, and there aren’t many opportunities left for recreational angling in southern B.C. But why the focus on recreational angling in the first place? Is it because they are assumed to be catching the Chinook vital to the survival of these killer whales? A new study shows that’s not the case.
UBC researchers, Mei Sato and Andrew Trites, from UBC’s Marine Mammal Unit, along with Stephane Gauthier from the Institute of Ocean Science, recently released the results of a two-year DFO funded and peer-reviewed study published in Canada’s largest science journal publication, Canadian Science Publishing. Their work assessed the availability of Chinook salmon as prey for southern and northern resident killer whale groups.
The long-held assumption is that the larger and healthier northern residents had access to more prey than the struggling and declining population of southern residents. Because the southern residents were declining in numbers, with some members appearing emaciated and because wild Chinook salmon in key areas were also declining, the narrative developed that they were starving due to a lack of abundance of their primary food supply.
Contrary to research hypotheses, the research determined that prey densities are higher in southern resident habitat than in northern resident habitat. The 4-6 times higher density of prey available to southern residents, when compared to northern residents, suggests that southern resident killer whales are not experiencing insufficient access to Chinook salmon in the summer.
So, if pray abundance isn’t the issue, then what else may be causing the decline of southern resident killer whales? Link below to hear my latest conversation with Dr. Andrew Trites where we explore his teams research methodology and findings, other probable causes behind southern resident killer whale malnourishment, and what it all means for science-based precautionary measures specific to recreational fishing: https://www.spreaker.com/user/5725616/e346-chinook-abundance-and-bc-resident-k
We already have a pretty good idea that issues impacting the health of southern resident killer whales may include noise, vessel disturbance, pollution, competition from other more populous marine mammals, and lack of sufficient prey in areas frequented by these whales during the winter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Fisheries unit has also confirmed much of this to be the case.
If it’s not about access to sufficient prey, and more about the toxicity of the prey and the background noise making it difficult to locate and catch fish, then placing embargos against recreational fishing may not be the solution. We need to determine using science, just like we now have with prey availability, the causes behind the decline of southern resident killer whales. This includes conducting more research on noise sources that inhibit the predatory behavior of killer whales, and to learn more about the impacts of toxins in their food and water. We also need to gain greater understanding of what the conditions these whales face during the six months each year that they aren’t foraging in Canadian waters.
One need only revisit the impacts of toxins on belugas in the St. Lawrence River in the 1980’s for evidence of disease and mortality brought about by excessive toxicity. At that time levels of PCBs in dead belugas washing ashore along the lower St. Lawrence River resulted in their remains being declared “toxic waste”. Or, one could look to the increasingly restrictive fish consumption advisories specific to people consuming Great Lakes fish for scientific evidence on the health impacts of consuming fish that have bioaccumulated toxins. Toxins stored in body fat is one thing but trigger their release during periods of starvation and that’s more akin to the second tsunami following an earthquake.
With respect to excessive noise, I think grouping recreational fishing boats in with other marine vessels is a mistake. There’s no way recreational fishing boats emit anything close to the amount of sound while trolling compared to freighters, ferries, cruise ships, commercial fishing vessels and large pleasure boats. The motors on recreational fishing boats are by far the smallest of the bunch, and they are also located above water, which means their sound only minimally penetrates the ocean’s surface.
As someone who SCUBAs on the St. Lawrence and someone who spends on average 75 days each year fishing aboard watercraft, my own experience is that higher frequency noises don’t seem to travel as far as lower frequency noises, only minimally penetrate the water when created above the surface, and don’t seem to inhibit fish from feeding. Of course, all this has to be examined in relation to the sounds killer whales use to hunt and communicate.
The NOAA recently released research that shows female killer whales are smaller than males and are less capable of diving deeper for longer periods of time. This means they are required to focus their hunting activities in shallower near-shore areas where boat traffic is the densest. The research also determined that female killer whales would abort hunting activity when faced with excessive noise.
Before we apply further restrictions on moderate livelihood fisheries of First Nations people vital to their self determination, or further restrict commercial fisheries that can and are being undertaken sustainably in many instances, or suspend recreational fishing on Canada’s west coast valued at over $1 billion annually, let’s make sure we know what we are doing before a whole lot of people are impacted in ways that go far beyond their bank accounts.
The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News
Fishery Closures and the Ghosts of Past Mistakes / Hakai Magazine
Canada is closing fisheries and buying back licenses. Five First Nations will likely be exempt from the closures. For most of the past century, Canadian fishers caught an annual average of 24 million salmon. That number was cut in half in the early 1990s, and since then has slowly decreased to just two million. Today, there are 2,109 salmon licenses: 1,457 gill net, 376 troll, 276 seine. There are also a number of First Nations licenses permitting the use of mixed gear types, not including gill nets. Jim Pattison Group owns 424 licenses – the next-largest owner is the Northern Native Fishing Corporation with 254 licenses. Around 1,360 people own just one license.
Eat the Predators of Endangered Species – especially Invasives / ASF
In Nova Scotia, encouragement to eat Smallmouth Bass and Chain Pickerel is given, in order to help restore Atlantic Whitefish.
Skeena River closed to steelhead fishing / MidCurrent
In almost seven decades of record-keeping, 2021 has been the worst year on record.
Why the Fish’n Canada guys can’t stay away from Manitoba’s Red River / Outdoor Canada
The St. Andrews Lock and Dam area on the Red River at Lockport, Manitoba, is without doubt Canada’s most popular fishing destination for channel catfish. After all, more giant cats are caught here than anywhere else in Canada.
Keep Canada Fishing is pleased to announce a new feature!
Phil Morlock, Director of Government Affairs for the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association, will be sharing his take on the state of fishing in Canada in his new series “Out in the Open.” Check back regularly for new videos.
No apparent shortage of prey for southern resident killer whales in the Salish Sea during summer / Marine Mammal Research Unit
Researchers found four to six times more Chinook salmon in the Salish Sea during the summertime compared with the numbers of fish available to the growing population of northern resident killer whales. “Measurements from drone footage have shown the southern resident killer whales are thinner on average than the northern residents — which supports the conclusion that the southern residents are experiencing a food shortage,” said co-author Dr. Andrew Trites, a Professor and Director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit (MMRU) at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at UBC. “Our findings suggest that this food shortage is probably not occurring during the summertime when they have traditionally fed in the Salish Sea.”
Joint response to “no apparent shortage of prey for Southern Resident killer whales” / Orca Behavior Institute
The UBC study describes a new methodology for surveying for Chinook salmon in the oceanic environment, but includes too many unknowns and is too small of a data set to come to such a broad-sweeping conclusion. A coalition of partner organizations has responded with an in-depth statement.
Lawsuit claims hatcheries harm wild fish, orcas / Go Skagit
A primary problem with hatchery fish, according to the lawsuit, is that they lack genetic diversity that develops through natural selection in wild populations as fish forage for food, find shelter, evade predators and find mates. When hatchery fish and wild fish cross-spawn, the genetic traits of hatchery fish that are less likely to survive in the wild may be passed on to future generations.
‘They can get up to 100 lbs.’: Massive salmon caught in B.C. all part of conservation program / CTV News
B.C. hatchery program is off to a promising start, by the size of the Chinook salmon they’ve been pulling in from the Wannock River near Bella Bella (Percy Walkus Hatchery). “They can get up to 100 pounds, even potentially larger,” said Owen Bird, executive director of the Sport Fishing Institute of B.C.
Genetic analysis reveals differences in mate choice between wild and hatchery coho salmon / Tillamook Headlight Herald
A new study of the genetic profiles of wild and hatchery coho salmon demonstrates important distinctions in how the two types of fish form mating pairs.
Recipient of the New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor’s Atlantic Salmon Conservation Award / ASF
The New Brunswick Salmon Council has selected Debbie Norton for her strong support of the conservation and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon in the province.
Increased Hatchery Production Aims to Boost Chinook Salmon for Endangered Killer Whales / NOAA
Federal, state, and tribal salmon hatcheries in Washington and Oregon have increased production of juvenile Chinook salmon over the past two years. This unusual step in the world of species recovery will promote the recovery of one of their predators, the endangered Southern Resident killer whale.
Muskie decline makes news on both sides of St. Lawrence River / Cornwall Standard-Freeholder
Biologist Matthew Windle, a research scientist with the River Institute in Cornwall, says so few young muskies are surviving in the St. Lawrence River that researchers get excited when they find one during annual fish surveys. Decade-long decline of the muskie fishery shows signs of continuing, according to both Canadian and American researchers.
DNA seen as key to restoring genetic purity of westslope cutthroat trout / CBC News
At the time, freshwater species like westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout, lake trout and Rocky Mountain whitefish had the rivers pretty much to themselves. So those crafty park officials started their own hatchery and added Yellowstone cutthroat trout and rainbow trout to the mix. And they got along beautifully, if you know what we mean. But that’s the problem.
Mission Creek salmon run good, Hardy Falls exceptional / Castanet
Salmon watchers are pleasantly surprised with the strength of this year’s Kokanee spawning season in the Central Okanagan.
An abandoned U.S. dam is blocking fish from B.C.’s Similkameen River—and key spawning ground / Macleans
An abandoned dam in Washington state may be the only thing barring chinook and steelhead trout from the upper reaches of B.C.’s Similkameen River. If you tear it down, will they come?
Fundy Park Salmon Population Winning Upstream Battle says UNB / ASF
UNB says it appears there is improvement in salmon numbers in Fundy Park rivers, thanks to a project involving UNB, Parks Canada, Cooke Aquaculture, Fort Folly First Nation and the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association.
Raising Baby Sharks from the Dead / Hakai
Biologists are rescuing baby sharks and skates from recently caught females, giving the unborn a chance at survival.
The Inconsistent Ethics of Whale Research / Hakai
Countries that formally oppose whaling also routinely fund scientific research that relies on the products of whaling.
Invasive Species Threaten Use of Rotenone / ASF
Ted Williams looks at how resistance to rotenone can mean the disappearance of native species. Western trout is the focus, but it shows how lack of public understanding can be deadly for native species threatened by invasives.
Lakers spawning in Lake Erie after 60 years / Ontario OUT of Doors
Commercial fishing for lake trout in the lake began in the 1700s, and by the late 1800s, the population had significantly declined. By the 1930s, commercial fishing had all but ceased, and by 1965, lake trout were considered extirpated from Lake Erie. The discovery of wild lake trout fry in mid-May by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was confirmed in a press release.
Research shows fish can be hooked on drugs / Ontario OUT of Doors
CULS Researcher Pavel Horký was already aware that many of the prescription drugs we consume and excrete end up washing into our water systems since current effluent treatment isn’t equipped to deal with them. For example, drugs such as Prozac have been shown to embolden fish and alter their behaviour. This led Horký’s research team to investigate if pharmaceutical pollution is limited to prescribed medication, since illegal drugs can also accumulate in our waterways. According to research, brown trout can become addicted to low levels of methamphetamine occurring in their surroundings.
Lake trout genome mapped / Ontario OUT of Doors
Lake trout are widely distributed across North America, Great Lakes Fisheries Council Communications Director Marc Gaden explained. However, the fish that exist in Great Slave Lake, for instance, are different than Great Lakes fish. An advance in genetics will help scientists to better understand — and rehabilitate —Great Lakes lake trout.
Some whale watchers ‘routinely’ too close to resident orcas – report / The Province
The groups say some whale-watching companies and recreational fishers in the Salish Sea are “routinely” violating a buffer zone of 400 metres.
In the Mediterranean, Megayachts Do Megadamage / Hakai Magazine
From anchors to engines, large private yachts can leave problems in their wakes. Today, nearly 10 percent of the recreational boats in the Mediterranean are megayachts. They are the fastest-growing segment of the boating industry and their prevalence has boomed with the global pandemic.
NL Wants Input on Future Renewable Energy Plan / ASF
The provincial government has given a very narrow window for providing input on a major development plan that impacts the environment and people of NL, including Atlantic salmon and their rivers. Check it out.
On Quantifying the Value of the Great Lakes / IJC Great Lakes Science Priority Committee
The Great Lakes support a US$6 trillion regional economy. But their value goes well beyond, including benefits such as aesthetics, wildlife habitat, biodiversity conservation, recreational fishing, swimming, boating and aquatic life support. The lakes also provide drinking water to nearly 40 million people in Canada and the United States. Yet because most so-called “ecosystem services” are not transacted through markets, they are given a zero value by conventional measures. This raises the risk that the true value of ecosystem services are ignored, or at least under-considered, in public decision making.
Treatment plant opposition files for probe / Ontario OUT of Doors
A group opposed to the construction of the Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant that will, according to the group, cause environmental damage to the river’s ecosystem — filed an Environmental Bill of Rights application for investigation of the town of Erin.
In B.C.’s Skeena watershed, citizen scientists help ‘protect what they love’ / Narwhal
From a 12-year-old collecting water quality data in his backyard to conservation organizations advocating for better access to information, people in the Skeena watershed are working to fill gaps in our collective knowledge of one of B.C.’s largest salmon watersheds.
Wild Salmon on World Stage at U.N. Climate Conference / ASF
As delegates begin gathering in Glasgow, U.K. for COP26, a vital international conference, they will encounter 300 handblown glass salmon. They have the message that saving salmon rivers contributes to the fight against climate change. Read more.
Canadian Coalition for Healthy Waters is looking for members! / Canadian Freshwater
The newly formed Canadian Coalition for Healthy Waters (CCHW) is a non-partisan coalition of organizations advocating for strong and appropriate federal government leadership and policy to support the health of fresh water across Canada. The CCHW is currently advocating for three actions from the federal government:
- Build a robust Canada Water Agency
- Renew the over 50-year-old Canada Water Act
- Create a Canada Water Fund to invest $225 million a year in the health of waters in Canada
Bridging Knowledge Gaps through Mapping the Great Lakes / International Joint Commission
The Great Lakes are expansive, interconnected watersheds in Canada and the United States. But less than 15 percent of the lake floor has been mapped using high-resolution bathymetry technologies, indicating a large gap of knowledge in our understanding of these valuable watersheds.
Uncertainty about Teck’s future in coal causing concern in B.C.’s polluted Elk Valley / Narwhal
Teck Resources Ltd., Canada’s largest coal producer, may be considering selling off assets, a move that a non-profit environmental law firm believes could leave local communities in B.C.’s Interior at risk of holding the bag for massive environmental liabilities. Enormous waste rock piles at a string of coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley have been a decades-long source of water pollution, caused by leached selenium, which is toxic to fish and other aquatic life even at low levels, as well as other contaminants such as calcite, which can solidify streambeds, degrading fish habitat.
Ontario invests over $2.5 million to protect the Great Lakes / The Shoreline Beacon
The Ontario government is investing more than $2.5 million in 19 new projects to protect the health of the Great Lakes as part of its commitment in the recently signed Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. These projects will help improve the water quality of the world’s largest freshwater lake system by helping farmers and landowners adopt green infrastructure projects and best practices that improve the efficiency and sustainability of their operations while reducing the amount of contaminants and excess nutrients, like excess phosphorous, entering the Great Lakes.
Milltown Dam on International St. Croix River Should be Removed / ASF
An opinion that NB Power’s dam, lowermost on the river’s mainstem, should be removed for the health of both the river, and the future of NB Power.
Connecting Waters of the Great Lakes Need More Monitoring and Assessment / IJC
The Great Lakes hold approximately 20 percent of Earth’s fresh surface water. The rivers, straits and fluvial lakes that connect the Great Lakes to each other Make this possible. There are seven connecting waters in the Great Lakes: the St. Marys River (connecting Superior and Huron); the Straits of Mackinac (joining Michigan and Huron); the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River (linking Huron to Erie); the Niagara River (flowing from Erie to Ontario) and the St. Lawrence River (transporting Ontario’s waters to the Atlantic Ocean). Unfortunately, these connecting waters have received far less attention than the waters they unite.
Habitat protection needs teeth to save salmon in ‘Heart of the Fraser’: B.C. coalition / Agassiz Harrison Observer
Groups are calling for a wildlife management area (WMA) to be established from Mission to Hope. “Establishing a WMA will provide legal protection for the ‘Heart of the Fraser,’ and help prevent activities like diking and gravel mining that threaten
Genetic mussel solution examined / Ontario OUT of Doors
Two separate initiatives are examining methods of genetic control, which would target a specific invasive mussel species. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin — River Falls are looking at using RNA interference to turn off a gene in zebra mussels. They are targeting the genes that lead to shell formation or development of the threads that allow mussels to attach to surfaces. Meanwhile, The American Bureau of Reclamation, a US federal entity that oversees water management, is looking at DNA technology to control quagga mussels.
How the Kwikwetlem First Nation are returning salmon to the river that sustained their people for thousands of years / Ubyssey
Over 100 years ago a project that created the Coquitlam Dam wiped out the entire population of salmon that swam in the Coquitlam River. Earlier this year, a study led by UBC researchers and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation reported that up to 85 per cent of historical habitat for salmon in the lower Fraser River — which the Coquitlam River feeds into — had been lost due to dikes, flood plains and city building.
BoatUS Foundation and Berkley Celebrate Breakthrough Concepts in Fishing Line and Soft Bait Recycling / NPAA
“Today’s fishing line and soft bait recycling remains labor-intensive and costly,” said BoatUS Foundation Director of Outreach Alanna Keating. “Working with Berkley, our Recast and Recycle Contest sought out new and innovative ideas to improve the recycling process, increase the amount of recycled material, or offer a technology breakthrough in the way line is recycled and reused. We believe these winning entries, which range from a concept to prototype, have the ability to give nearly every angler the opportunity to easily recycle.”
“9 Easy Steps to Launching Your Boat / Discover Boating
Discover Boating has created a video that focuses on best practices for launching a boat, which can be an exciting, yet intimidating process.
Correct Craft to Go Solar / FishingWire
Each year Correct Craft will commit to powering its North Production Facility with more solar energy until it reaches 100% in 2030.
Webinars / Podcasts:
Webinar: Effects of Toxic Substances on Great Lakes Fish Health, and What it Means for the Health and Wellbeing of People and their Communities / CELA and Blue Fish Canada
The Toxics-Free Great Lakes Binational Network, Blue Fish Canada, and the Fish Health Network hosted a binational webinar on the impacts of toxic substances on the health of fish. Learn about past and emerging toxic substances in the Great Lakes basin, how fish health is being impacted, and what this means for human health, indigenous cultures, and the social and economic sustainability of shoreline communities.
Webinar: Great Lakes Connecting Waters / IJC
Watch the Great Lakes Connecting Waters Informational Webinar by the IJC Science Advisory Board.
Podcast: “Fish Talk” / Paul Greenburg / Sofina Center
Listen to the first three episodes of Paul Greenberg’s limited new podcast “Fish Talk” “Can we still eat seafood with a clear conscience?” This is the question that drove Safina Center Fellow and New York Times Bestselling author Paul Greenberg, and co-founder of Sitka Salmon Shares, Nic Mink, to start their latest venture: an exciting new limited-series podcast on seafood.
Special Feature: – UBC researchers discover new kind of killer whale that preys on large sea mammals
A group of University of British Columbia researchers, set on uncovering the mysteries of the deep, have discovered a little-known type of transient orca that preys on grey whale calves and other large sea mammals. After analyzing more than 100,000 photographs taken off the Canadian and U.S. west coasts, scientists encountered a group of “outer coast transient whales,” who rarely travel to the coast. “These whales prefer deep water. So they were found offshore near canyon systems, which are very productive areas where there is a lot of nutrient upwelling, and it attracts other marine life,” said Josh McInnes, a marine mammal researcher at UBC who led the study.
Of the 155 encounters from 2006 to 2019, most of the whales were found in the offshore waters between Oregon and central California, but 26 were spotted off Vancouver Island. McInnes said the outer coast whales are thought to be a subset of mammal-eating transients, also known as Bigg’s killer whales.
Before the study, coastal and outer-coast transients were assumed to belong to a single population. The difference between the two goes beyond just habitat, McInnes said. “We see a seasonal trend where they show up in the spring and they follow the grey whale calves that are migrating up from Baja [California].” McInnes said they will target the whales as prey along with elephant seals and oceanic dolphins, whereas Bigg’s transients prefer smaller mammals like harbour seals and porpoises.
The study revealed that when encountered outside California waters, the outer coast whales have been observed associating with other known coastal transient groups but exhibit a unique vocal dialect, distinct from other transient dialects in the coastal waters along the Pacific Northwest. McInnes said the study, which was a collaboration between UBC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The researchers also made another astonishing discovery. He said that far past the continental shelf in the open waters of the Pacific, they found an unknown group of killer whales who were eating sharks. “We have no idea who they are,” McInnes said. “They looked like transients. There were some similarities to them as well. Some of them had what we call cookie-cutter bite marks, which are these circular scars on the body of the animal.” He said these were caused by parasitic sharks that live far offshore, giving researchers an idea of where the killer whales might be spending their time.
This is only the first chapter of the work McInnes’s team is trying to conduct. “For me, this is big, because there’s been a lot of information missing for some of these animals.” The next step, McInnes said, will be to continue the research into new avenues of comparison between different communities of whales in B.C. and examine their diets and behaviours.
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TAKE NOTE – October 14 Webinar on “Effects of toxic substances on Great Lakes fish health, and what it means for the health and wellbeing of people and their communities”
The Toxics-Free Great Lakes Binational Network, Blue Fish Canada and the Great Lakes Fish Health Network invite you to a binational webinar on the impacts of toxic substances on the health of Great Lakes fish. Learn about past and emerging toxic substances in the Great Lakes basin, how fish health is being impacted, and what this means for human health, indigenous cultures, and the social and economic sustainability of Great Lakes communities. The webinar will engage viewers by seeking input on what federal, state, provincial and other governments need to do. Continue
Register now to hear our three guest presenters, and to make your views known!
In this October 12, 2021 issue of the Blue Fish Canada News we begin with a focus on Canada’s commitment to protect 30% of our oceans, lands and freshwater as part of the push to create Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas to advance reconciliation through the “land back” movement. We include links and summaries to timely fishing, fish health, water quality and other news, and close with a spotlight guest resource from the International Game Fish Association on negotiating protection agreements.
This Week’s Feature – Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas and Canada’s 30-By-30 Protection Commitment
By Editor Lawrence Gunther
Who would have thought five years ago we would be experiencing so many nature conservation and protection initiatives that keeping them all straight would become an almost impossible task? Even more confusing is trying to sort out where these various often ambitious environmental initiatives overlap. Driving these initiatives forward is a collective understanding that we need to reverse the decline in Canada’s biodiversity, mitigate climate change, and support indigenous self governance while redressing past injustices through reconciliation. But there are those who believe their interests are being overlooked in the push to get agreements in place – protection that will cover more than 30% of Canada’s three oceans and just as much land and freshwater within the next eight years.
Few would argue against conserving nature in Canada and around the world as a means to halt biodiversity loss, tackle climate change, and to help shift people to live more sustainably. Numerous experts have concluded that over a million species are threatened with extinction due to 75% of the earth’s land and 66% of the earth’s marine environment already having been significantly altered by our actions. With this in mind, Canada has pledged to join other countries around the world to protect 30 percent of our land, freshwater, and oceans by 2030. The federal government has also committed to advocate at international gatherings that other countries adopt this same 30% conservation goal, and that science, Indigenous knowledge and local perspectives be used to guide their actions.
According to the DFO website, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are defined using science. To date, Canada has established 14 MPAs under the Oceans Act, three National Marine Conservation Areas, one marine National Wildlife Area, and 59 marine refuges. These areas contribute to protecting 13.81% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas. Each MPA can be defined differently in whether or how commercial, indigenous and recreational fishing is undertaken. For a more detailed analysis of what this means for recreational anglers, read my article published in Outdoor Canada Magazine in March 2018 “Why Anglers should Pay Attention to Proposed Marine Protected Areas”. https://lawrencegunther.com/why-anglers-should-pay-attention-to-proposed-marine-protected-areas/
You can also listen to my conversation with Dr. Larry McKinney, a biologist who has created numerous successful MPAs along the Gulf of Mexico and an expert witness called to testify before a Parliamentary committee where he expressed serious concerns. Link below to The Blue Fish Radio Show episode: https://www.outdoorcanada.ca/blue-fish-radio-what-canadas-marine-protected-areas-mean-for-sportfishing/
Creating areas to protect nature using science alone fails to include local and traditional knowledge. According to the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, determining the future of traditional territories is at the root of indigenous nationhood. Indigenous leaders therefore believe that when negotiating Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), indigenous people should be holding the pen when lines are drawn on maps, sit at the table when decisions are made, and be the ones on the ground caring for lands and waters through Indigenous Guardians programs. To this end, the Canadian government just announced it would invest $340 million to support Indigenous guardians and Indigenous Protected Areas as part of our 30-by-30 commitment. According to Valérie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, “It is heartening to see the recognition of the role of Indigenous conservation and stewardship in achieving Canada’s ambitions in terms of its biodiversity goals and certainly in terms of keeping carbon where it is, which is in the ground.”
Many now believe that Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) represent our best chance of reversing biodiversity losses, and if they offer indigenous communities the opportunity to reclaim traditional lands along the way – the “Land Back” movement – even better.
Indigenous leadership involved in negotiating IPCAs share three essential objectives:
- IPCAS must be indigenous-led and give Indigenous governments primary responsibility for determining the objectives, boundaries, management plans and governance structures for IPCAs since they are seen as tied to self-determination. Thus, IPCAs may include a range of partnerships, including Crown governments, environmental NGOs, philanthropic bodies, and others such as for-profit companies.
- IPCAS are meant to represent a long -term commitment to conservation by indigenous People taking a multi-generational view of stewarding their territories.
- IPCAS elevate indigenous rights and responsibilities that reflect long-standing physical and spiritual relationships with the lands and waters within their respective territories and with the natural cycles that determine their use.
Resolving Indigenous Land rights has been a contentious issue for decades if not centuries. However, settling such claims is necessary if indigenous communities are to achieve self governance, and for Canada as a whole to achieve reconciliation. More than 70 treaties are now being negotiated including indigenous decision-making rights over whether or not development projects can take place on their traditional lands.
Many of Canada’s highest courts have already confirmed that indigenous relationships with nature have always included the right to benefit from the bounty of the natural world. Thus, indigenous leadership are asking that all IPCAs include acknowledgment that indigenous governments have authority over working with their people on how they use the land and water.
Government commitments to apply science-based conservation best practices throughout Canada continue to be a point of contention for both indigenous and non-indigenous stewards of the land, but for different reasons. Where one believes they are better suited to the task, the other wants government to do more to ensure that politics no longer influence how science is applied. Should government negotiate a departure from this important principle, the entire premise would be undermined. Finding ways to incorporate both local and traditional knowledge within science-based conservation best practices is more important than ever. At the same time, ensuring that everyone follows science-based precautions is an important issue for settler stakeholders.
Where Canada currently stands in terms of negotiating / finalising IPCAs, or the work underway to meet our 30-by-30 commitment, is difficult to determine. How many of these 30-by-30 protected areas will be governed through IPCAs is also unclear at this time. For example, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada, there are over 4,000 publicly and privately managed protected areas in Canada that cover 12.4 million hectares, or just under 1% of Canada’s territory. However, the website makes no mention of ICPAs, and talks instead about parks being the most common type of protected area. Canada is about 998.5 million hectors in size, about 89% of which is currently designated as Crown land. Without doubt many more protection areas and agreements are now under negotiation if Canada is to meet its 30-by-30 commitment.
There are those who feel that the rush to protect nature through IPCAs has something to do with politicians trying to pass off responsibility for making tough decisions. We always hear about “balancing” our economic interests against the environment, but increasingly this is becoming a no-win exercise for politicians. Say no to development and resource extraction and say goodbye to good jobs. Say yes to “business as usual” and you run the risk of being persecuted by environmental groups and First Nations communities in the media. Pass all this decision-making authority to indigenous communities, similar to what B.C. has done in terms of old growth forestry practices (e.g., Fairy Creek), and the problem no longer rests with politicians.
The vast majority of Canadians who live in cities (81%), see the move to strengthening environmental stewardship through either direct government action or by passing on responsibility to indigenous communities as preferable to more-of-the-same. However, for people who grew up on the lands and waters about to be designated as protected under 30-by-30 or through an IPCA, it’s not so straightforward. These “settlers” although few in number comparatively speaking are not only not being included in decision making and negotiation processes, but worse, they are being made the “scapegoats”. These are the people who directly take part in what are now considered to be unsustainable economic activities such as forestry, mining, commercial fishing and fossil fuel extraction.
Many settlers who live and work in rural, remote or northern communities can trace back their connection to their communities over multiple generations. These are also people who hunt, fish, trap, and who spend considerable time in the outdoors doing recreational, social, and foraging activities. They know their forests, lakes and rivers, and have learned from previous generations how to be responsible stewards. Disappearance of their jobs is one thing, but to stop them from pursuing their outdoor lifestyles or evict them from the land is quite another.
A love of nature and feelings of stewardship is not just restricted to non-urbanites. There are also plenty of people who live in cities but who spend their free time exploring and experiencing nature. The growth in fishing alone among urban women, youth, people of colour and new Canadians over the past two years has been extraordinary. Combined with those who grew up outside Canada’s cities, and you’ve got a lot of people with a personal stake in accessing outdoor spaces
Our rush to meet the 30-by-30 deadline and increasing pressure to achieve reconciliation through the establishment of IPCAs does not excuse leaving non-indigenous Canadians out of these crucial negotiating processes. Such talks always find space for environmental NGO representatives, but environmental activists don’t necessarily speak on behalf of non-indigenous people who harvest fauna in the outdoors. They may have knowledge about environmental issues and the measures needed to repair past damages inflicted on nature, but in many cases, they are against foraging by non-indigenous people, which is odd since most all environmental groups fully support the rights of indigenous people to do the same.
Failing to engage non-indigenous stakeholders in processes intended to protect the environment from unsustainable activities, to fight climate change, or to further reconciliation and self-governance goals through IPCAs, is not only wrong, but deeply insulting as it completely dismisses their local knowledge and connection with nature. It’s one thing to recognize indigenous land rights in areas of Canada inaccessible and unutilised by non-indigenous Canadians, but when such rights mean terminating long-standing and highly valued access to lands and waters enjoyed by non-indigenous Canadians, it’s undemocratic. Advancing reconciliation and protection goals without securing the buy-in of non-indigenous stakeholders could also undermine the long-term success of the agreements.
If we learned anything from the last election, it’s that all of Canada’s federal parties and the vast majority of Canadians are interested in moving forward on addressing environmental and reconciliation issues. The debate is no longer about whether we take action or not, it’s now about how we get to the finish line. If you want the negotiations to go fast then go alone, but if you want these agreements to go far wee need to work together.
The Latest Fishing, Fish Health and Water Quality News
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To say Brent Knutson and his fiancée, Shawna Erdmann, experienced a full range of emotions during the Minnesota Tournament Trail (MTT) Championship, held on renown walleye sweet spot Lake of the Woods, would be an understatement. On day one the couple’s five fish limit included a 31.75” beast, a 30.25” trophy, and three more in the 27-to-28” class.
Invasive Pink Salmon found near Iqaluit / ASF
This invasive species has been expanding from rivers in northwest Russia and then Norway, and its spread is a concern for the future of wild Atlantic salmon. Anyone in Nunavut who finds a pink salmon is asked to send the fish to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. By examining a fish’s DNA and muscle tissue, DFO researchers may learn where the fish has been and where it’s migrated from. That in turn may help them better understand the species’ impact on the North.
How to save an endangered fish? Eat their enemies, say N.S. conservation groups / CBC News
Conservation groups are encouraging Nova Scotians to chow down on smallmouth bass and chain pickerel in hopes of saving the nearly extinct Atlantic whitefish.
The magnificent trout waters of southwestern Alberta’s Crowsnest Country / Outdoor Canada
The trout rivers of Alberta’s Crowsnest region are under threat by plans for new coal mines. It’s not clear how destructive the impacts will be or when we’ll see them, but any degradation of these pristine waters would be tragic. Here’s a guide to fly-fishing rainbows, browns and bulls of the Crowsnest, Castle and Oldman Rivers—at least while you still can.
To Kill or Not to Kill / In the Bite
There have been some great debates between tournament committees, competitors and conservationists on whether kill tournaments are good or bad for our sport. Although recreational anglers are legally allowed to harvest billfish, post a photo of your crew with a dead marlin and get ready for the keyboard warriors to attack. The truth of the matter is that many of the teams you see bringing fish to the scales probably release over 99 percent of the billfish that they catch. Attending almost every kill tournament in the U.S. are biologists eager to take samples of any fish brought to the scales. The scientific impact is undeniable and the amount of marlin that are harvested is well below the annual quota of 250 marlin allowed for Atlantic recreational fishermen in the U.S.
Salmon/Steelhead Action on Lake Ontario Tributaries / FishingWire
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Experts await details on feds’ new strategy for B.C. salmon / Q107 Toronto
As a teenager, Murray Ned was accustomed to fishing for salmon three days a week all year round on the Fraser River in southwestern British Columbia. Ned is a long-time Sumas First Nation councillor and member of the joint U.S.-Canadian Pacific Salmon Commission. “Salmon are in crisis,” he said, while Indigenous, commercial and recreational fishers await details on the federal government’s latest plan to recover plummeting stocks. “We’re literally losing our food security, but also our cultural security and integrity and connection to the Fraser River and the salmon species that go along with it,” Ned, who’s also the executive director of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance.
Ts’eketi, the 100-year-old B.C. sturgeon that’s here to save her species / MacLean’s
Deep in British Columbia’s Nechako River, the eggs of one ancient mama fish might be among the last hope for these endangered sturgeon. Genetically unique from other sturgeon, the Nechako white lives in the waters upstream of the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser rivers at Prince George. Conservationists say the fish hasn’t changed much since before the time of the dinosaurs, but its numbers have dwindled alarmingly over the last 50 years.
The goldfish invasion of Hamilton Harbour / MacLean’s
Goldfish flourish in Hamilton Harbour’s low-oxygen conditions, growing up to 40 cm long by feeding on algae blooms that other fish species can’t eat.
‘It’s amazing’: Chinook salmon are returning in surprising numbers to Cowichan River / CHEK
Thousands of Chinook salmon have returned to spawn in the Cowichan River this fall. Biologists are hopeful that the run is bouncing back from near extinction in 2009.
Why you might not be getting the salmon you paid for / National Geographic
Mowi, which supplies a fifth of the global demand for farmed salmon, is accused of misleading consumers by marketing its Ducktrap River smoked Atlantic salmon as “all natural,” “sustainably sourced,” and “from Maine.” Court documents state that the company acquires its salmon from industrial farms outside the United States where fish in crowded marine pens are often treated with medicines and chemicals, including formaldehyde-based formalin and bleach, to prevent disease and sea lice infestations.
‘This is ridiculous’: BC Hydro questioned after mass stranding of salmon on Cheakamus River / Global News
“The amount of dead and dying fish was something I’d never seen before in the adult phase of life of these pink salmon.”
Summer of Low River Levels in some Newfoundland / Labrador Rivers / ASF
Extreme weather could impact wild Atlantic salmon in several NL rivers long into the future. We need to look at land use practices, forestry practices, areas that need to be protected, cold water pools and tributaries and streams that are important fish habitat, where fish take refuge. We need to make sure they’re as resilient as possible. So, we need to really look at our rivers much more closely in terms of how to respond to climate change impacts.
Surrogacy Across Species / Hakai Magazine
Scientists can now borrow the bodies of one fish species to produce another—whether they should, though, is an open question.
Skeena Steelhead Update / Greg Knox
The SkeenaWild Conservation Trust’s Executive Director, Greg Knox, lays out the critical situation with Skeena Steelhead, which is already the worst return in history. The Skeena is the last best large steelhead system in the world, but in 2021 these fish are returning at record low numbers.
Recorded Webinar: Protecting our Great Lakes from Carp Invaders / DFO
Watch the webinar featuring Fisheries and Oceans Canada presented by the Federation of Ontario Cottage Association about the threat posed to the Great Lakes by Asian Carps. Think you could identify a Grass Carp if you saw one? Learn how!
A New Squamish Study Puts an Actual Price on Nature / The Tyee
The 150-hectare Squamish estuary runs roughly five kilometres along the town’s western flanks. A new report places a monetary value on natural assets in the Squamish River estuary, tallying local and global benefits, direct economic contributions derived from use, and the value of not using some resources at all. Its conclusion: The Squamish River estuary is worth over $12.6 million a year.
Lake levels lower than ‘historical’ values, international commission notes / The Star
If you were thinking Kootenay Lake right now looked lower than it has ever been, your analysis would be correct. The lake level is sitting nearly three feet below its normal height, said Merrell-Ann Phare, Canadian commissioner with the International Kootenay Lake board of control.
Ocean heat waves could wipe out half of Pacific salmon catch by 2050 / Times Colonist
“It’s scary but it lines up with what people have been seeing in their streams and rivers across B.C.,” says Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society.
Federal election: what Liberal minority means for environment and climate / The Narwhal
From eliminating fossil fuel subsidies to support for nature-based climate solutions and protected areas, here are some key things we can expect from the new federal government. In June, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society released a report card on conservation efforts which gave Ottawa an A- on land protection and a B+ on ocean protection, while assigning failing grades to many of the provinces. The report card speaks to the challenges the new government will face in securing provincial and territorial commitments to increase Canada’s protected areas — an accomplishment that would also address Canada’s growing biodiversity crisis.
The Liberals pledged to create 10 new national parks and 10 new national marine conserved areas in the next five years. They also promised to create 15 new urban national parks by 2030. The party also promised to create a $50 million B.C. old-growth nature fund — something advocates for old-growth have been calling for to help resolve conflicts such as the Fairy Creek blockades.
The Liberals promised to support Indigenous communities to enhance their capacity to establish more Indigenous protected areas and programs for Indigenous Guardians, which the Liberals began funding in 2017. Finally, the party also made a vague commitment to “restore and enhance more wetlands, grasslands, and peatlands, to capture and store carbon.”
These Indigenous fishers hold DFO accountable for B.C.’s shocking salmon decline / Canada’s National Observer
Salmon stocks on the Fraser have tumbled in the past decade, leading Fisheries and Oceans Canada to limit Indigenous food fisheries on the river, even as some recreational fishing is allowed. “You don’t play with fish. You don’t play with food. That’s where there’s challenges seeing recreational fishers,” added Murray Ned, executive director of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, a coalition of 23 First Nations working to manage and restore their fisheries. While he has sympathy for sport fishers, many of whom he knows care for the fish and the river, their relationship to the salmon is incomparable to the deep ties between First Nations and salmon.
Marine Protected Area network off B.C. Coast could provide a template / Canadian Lawyer
First Nations, federal and provincial governments are looking at a proposal.
Gitanyow Wilp Wii launching indigenous protected area for salmon populations / CFNR Network
The Gitanyow Wilp Wii Litsxw has launched an Indigenous Protected Area in order to protect salmon populations.
Done waiting on B.C., Gitanyow declare new protected area: ‘this is all our land’ / The Narwhal
After waiting for years for support from the provincial government and in the face of declining salmon stock, the Gitanyow are independently forging ahead with new protections under traditional law and custom for some 54,000 hectares of land and water, which are threatened by potential mining projects. This includes Gitanyow territory covering large portions of the Kitwanga and Nass River watersheds and significant sections of the upper Kispiox River, a tributary of the Skeena River.
Nunavut Inuit suing feds overfishing licence allocations to Mi’kmaw company / CBC News
Inuit in Nunavut are suing the federal government over a decision to hand over a sizeable portion of fishing quotas off its coast to a coalition of Mi’kmaw fishers in Atlantic Canada. The lawsuit describes how Nunavut fishers have only held about 50 per cent of total fishing quotas for all species off Nunavut’s coast, which Inuit argue is disproportionately low compared to the 90 per cent that fisheries in Atlantic provinces have off their own coasts — an acknowledgement the federal government and DFO have made on several occasions.
Best Weather Apps for Fishing / Best on Tour
Check out this collection of weather apps from Best on Tour that can make your fishing safer, more comfortable and more productive.
StrikeMaster® Lithium 24v Auger Delivers / NPAA
When ice anglers requested a lighter, more mobile battery-powered auger, StrikeMaster® delivered with the new Lithium 24v, a tough “little brother” to its legendary 40v auger. Fitted with an 8-inch auger, StrikeMaster’s new Lithium 24v weighs 14.3 pounds and can punch as many as 50 holes on a single charge. Fitted with a 6-inch auger, a Lithium 24v weighs only 13.3 pounds and can punch as many as 65 holes on a single charge.
6 Tips for Boating Safely with Your Dog / Mercury Dockline
A family boating outing can be even more fun if you bring your dog along. It certainly makes for some great photo ops! There are many dog breeds that absolutely adore being on the water. But it’s just as important to put safety first for your pet.
Canada Election Will Impact Recreational Boating / FishingWire
As NMMA Canada continues its countering of the luxury tax unveiled in the last federal budget, the team has begun proactive outreach to the various Ministers and their staff. NMMA Canada has commissioned strong economic analysis that will bolster the case for scrapping the tax, showing the tax will ultimately harm good-paying jobs in the recreational boating industry. Similarly, NMMA Canada and the U.S. team are working together to bring attention to the harmful effects a luxury tax would pose to U.S. marine manufactures and small businesses.
New Video – Connected Waters / Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Connected Waters is Watershed Watch Salmon Society’s campaign to reconnect over 1500 km of salmon habitat currently blocked by outdated flood infrastructure. This issue requires the collaboration of all sorts of different people and their video aims to capture perspectives from the many people and communities working to improve the way we manage for floods. Use their letter-writing tool to send Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Horgan, your MP and your MLA a letter asking them to address one of the biggest habitat issues facing Fraser River salmon.
Fish Art Contest Now Underway / FishingWire
The free international art and writing competition is the perfect way to inspire youth in kindergarten through 12th grade to discover the outdoors through creative art and writing.
Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis / Safina Center
Much of what you’ve heard about plastic pollution may be wrong. Instead of a floating island of trash, the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of manmade debris spread over hundreds of thousands of square miles of sea— more like a soup than a floating garbage dump. Less than 9% of all the plastic we’ve made to date has been recycled, and microplastic fragments are found almost everywhere, even in our bodies. In Thicker Than Water, Cirino brings readers on a globe-hopping journey to meet the scientists and activists telling the real story of the plastic crisis.
Watershed Stewardship Quiz – How much do YOU know about what affects water quality? / FOCA
Take the Federation of Ontario Cottage Association’s quiz about stewardship actions and water quality and get YOUR personalized rating!
Join Wellington Water Watchers on October 16 for Watershed 2021, a digital convention to deepen the water justice movement in Ontario! With plenary sessions, special guests, workshops, working sessions, networking, on-demand content, and an Expo Area featuring digital booths from local organizations, we’ll come together to restore environmental protections for water security and help build the movement for water justice in Ontario.
2021 Ask an Expert Series / Lake of the Woods
Join the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation this fall for a series of free “Ask An Expert” lunchtime webinars, as we study our watershed and learn how to protect our natural resource assets.
October 12 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Cathy Eimers, Trent University” Nutrient Export in the Canadian Tributaries”
October 19 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Jesse Anderson, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency “Minnesota’s Plan to Identify and Address Excess Phosphorus Pollution in Lake of the Woods and its Watershed, 1999-2021”
October 26 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Caren Binding, Environment and Climate Change Canada, “Lake of the Woods from Space: Satellite Observations for Algal Bloom Monitoring”
November 2 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Adam Heathcote, Science Museum of Minnesota, “Lake of the Woods: A Story of Pollution, Recovery, and the Road Ahead”
November 9 @ 12:00 p.m. CST: Dr. Scott Higgins, IISD – Experimental Lakes Area, “Climate Change and it’s Effects on Lake Ecosystems in Northwestern Ontario”
NOAA Fisheries Slates MRIP Seminars / NOAA
NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program will kick off a series of educational seminars next month. The training sessions will provide stock assessors, fisheries analysts, and other data users with best practices for accessing, analyzing, and using recreational fishing data. Equipping data users with this information is an important step in the phased implementation of the agency’s Recreational Fishing Survey and Data Standards. The seminar schedule includes: Introduction to MRIP Data (October 26, 2021), Statistical Methods and Procedures (November 30, 2021), MRIP Query Tool (January 25, 2022), and Custom Domain Analyses (February 22, 2022).
Special Feature – The 30×30 Initiative: What Anglers Need to Know / The IGFA
In recent years, the discussion over our changing climate and loss of biodiversity has caused governments, the scientific community, and the general public to focus on what can be done on an international scale to protect terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The movement brought about by this habitat and biodiversity issue is the 30×30 initiative. Originally proposed by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the concept is to protect 30% of the planet (land and ocean) by 2030.
As anglers, conserving habitat is obviously in our best interest. Healthy habitats translate to more and better fishing opportunities. Conservation efforts that result in clean water, productive habitat, and sustainable fisheries are supported and advocated for by the majority of recreational anglers and angling groups, including the IGFA. The 30×30 initiative seeks to provide these benefits. However, the methods to achieving these end goals are yet to be determined, as well as what habitat “conservation” actually means.
A 2020 report published by The Campaign for Nature, a partnership between National Geographic and the Wyss Campaign for Nature, discusses the ecological and economic benefits of expanding conservation areas to 30% of the earth’s surface by 2030. The report states that economic output is greater if the 30% target is implemented, than if it is not implemented.
A key question in the 30% target is whether this will include aquatic habitats that already have some form of protections in place. The IGFA believes that habitats that already have significant protections in place should count towards the 30% target. Furthermore, instead of just shooting for a target of 30%, we believe that habitat conservation efforts should be prioritized toward protecting habitats that have been documented as having high risk of degradation.
The IGFA believes that habitats that already have significant protections in place should count towards the 30% target. Furthermore, instead of just shooting for a target of 30%, we believe that habitat conservation efforts should be prioritized toward protecting habitats that have been documented as having high risk of degradation.
Aquatic habitats are “natural resources” and, as such, have important ecosystem functions. However, natural resources such as habitat also have important and intrinsic value to humans as well. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a natural resource as “Any of the materials such as water, coal and wood that exist in nature and can be used by people.”
So, it is clear that recreational anglers not only rely on aquatic habitats, but they actively contribute to conserving them. However, one of our biggest concerns is how “conservation” will be defined in the 30×30 initiative. The Cambridge Dictionary defines conservation as “carefully using valuable natural substances that exist in limited amounts in order to make certain that they will be available for as long a time as possible.”
The keyword in both natural resource and conservation definitions is “use.” As such, the IGFA is supportive of the 30×30 initiative, as long as conserving or protecting habitat still allows for sufficient access for recreational anglers. What we do not support is the arbitrary creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that completely ban angler access without credible scientific merit for doing so. Unfortunately, there are some organizations that view no access MPAs as the first solution to achieving habitat protection, when, in reality, they should be viewed as the last.
Anglers should be supportive of regulatory actions that have the goal of conserving aquatic habitats. Indeed, anglers inherently understand that healthy habitat directly translates to vibrant fisheries. As such, the IGFA is supportive of the 30×30 goal of conserving aquatic habitats, as long as it does not unjustly or unfairly limit opportunities for recreational angler access. The IGFA believes in taking a proactive approach to the global 30×30 initiative by participating in this process at the regional, national and international level to best represent recreational anglers’ interests. Our specific objectives are to:
- Demonstrate to the broader community that recreational anglers are not anti-regulatory in nature and are among the biggest proponents for protecting habitat.
- Achieve adequate habitat protection/conservation that will benefit fisheries resources and angler opportunities.
- Demonstrate that leading recreational angling organizations believe in utilizing sound science to drive management actions.
- Ensure that angler access is not significantly affected in the 30×30 process, unless sound science indicates that recreational angling prohibits habitat protection goals.
- Clearly define what habitat conservation/protection means and determine if the overall 30×30 goal includes habitat protection measures currently in place.
The 30×30 initiative is already underway. Only by taking an active part in this process can we ensure that recreational anglers’ interests are accurately represented. For more information about 30×30, visit the Hunt Fish 30×30 website, which represents the thoughts of leading hunting and fishing organizations, including the IGFA.
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