Lawrence and Moby’s 2017 Year-End Highlights

While the late and stormy spring may have delayed the start of our open water fishing, it freed up time to do even more to plan, promote and celebrate outdoor traditions.

Lawrence’s Insights on the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario 2017 Report “Good Choices Bad Choices”

Did you know Ontario has an environmental bill of rights, and an environmental commissioner?

Marine-Management Plan for Canada’s Eastern Arctic

The Inuit of Labrador and the federal government have signed a deal that will see the Inuit participate in the development of a marine-management plan covering more than 380,000 square kilometres of coastal waters on the far eastern end of Canada’s Northwest Passage.

Rivers as Life-Giving Arteries

Together with Canada’s Department of Fisheries, Oceana Canada’s Dr. Rangeley and government scientists operated a 3,000 kilo remotely operated vehicle at depths of 400 meters, where they explored the bountiful thriving sea life.

What’s Causing BC’s Disappointingly Low Salmon Returns?

Greg Taylor, Senior Fisheries Advisor with Watershed Watch’s Salmon Society, provides a regional breakdown of the 2017 wild salmon returns along Canada’s Pacific coast, and shares his findings and conclusions

Lunker Walleyes from Fast Flowing Rivers

Fishing for Walleye in lakes is equivalent to downhill skiing on blue diamond slopes; doable, but not nearly as challenging and potentially rewarding as pursuing huge Walleye in fast flowing double-diamond rivers.

A True Canadian Grand Slam

Mathew and Kyla Owl were selected by the new First Nations owners to lead the transformation process and operate Ritchie Falls.

Christopher Pollon on the Proposed Site C Dam

The Peace River that still flows wild in north-east British Columbia is as unusual as it is beautiful, but that won’t stop its being dammed once and for all. Journalist Christopher Pollon has dug into the story including a canoe trip along the Peace itself, and still hasn’t figured out why is the mega Site C dam being built after all these years when demand for hydro in BC has been falling steadily for ten years.

The 93 km stretch of the Peace River is the last stretch still to be dammed according to a 1960’s plan that has already seen two dams go up 40 years back. The project itself was exempted from further environmental review, and a pre-historic treaty with the native groups that will be affected has given government the green light. But why?

Mega dams are expensive short-term infrastructure projects that may offer solid evidence of a political politician’s delivered promise, but in so many other ways they are as harmful to the environment and the people that live there in as they are big in size. Mercury contamination, habitat destruction, and in this case, the submerging of super productive farm land that’s unique to North America.

Yes, the Peace River flows north, joins the McKenzie River, and ultimately splashes down in the Arctic Ocean. It’s not a waste of perfectly good water though. The Arctic needs every drop of water it can get, given that technically, it’s a desert. Without water coming into the region, the Arctic could become as arid as the Sahara.

Nine billion can get you a lot of alternative energy without having to string up massive hydro lines. Think small local energy production. It may not be as sexy as a monster dam, but it sure can make life a lot better for people living in areas of the country not presently being serviced with green friendly electricity.

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should; especially when we know all too well what the down-sides are, such as fish contaminated with mercury for decades to come.

Sport/recreational angling and native groups should all be at the table when taking fishery management decisions

My input on the department of fisheries and oceans ideas on-line forum was submitted Saturday, November 25, the last day of consultations with the public through this on-line tool. My input was that:

“All fishers, commercial, native, sport and recreational now have and use innovations that allow them to fish efficiently. All stakeholder fishing groups now need equal say on how fish stocks will be managed and shared. All have an invested social and economic interest in the health of fish stocks”.

When local people work together to manage a resource and do so using science along with their own local observations, the result can be far greater than when each works in isolation. A lack of communication leads to mistrust and a race to secure their own share of what everyone now knows is a limited resource. Its pure competition and survival of the fittest. It’s why all stakeholders need to sit down together and decide together how the harvest of a resource will be managed fairly, equitably, and with a view to the future.

Canada’s Fisheries Act is under review. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans is in the midst of a study that will offer recommendations to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard on ways to improve and modernize the legislation. Anastasia Lintner was commissioned by the Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW) to prepare a formal submission to Standing Committee recommending changes to the Act to better protect fish and fish habitat in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

On a recent episode of Blue Fish Radio, I spoke with Anastasia about the importance of using protection zones prudently, the need to include both indigenous and local voices and knowledge at decision making tables, why ministerial discretion needs to be transparent, and the importance of putting back safeguards that were removed from the Fisheries Act in 2012. Link here to hear the interview live, or visit www.BlueFishRadio.com.

Luc Girard Citizen Scientist

A mid-November day on the St. Lawrence fishing with Luc Girard and John Chang for monster Musky can be a cold and frustrating experience.

John Chang and Lawrence

John Chang and Lawrence

We explored a stretch of river between Lake St. Francis and Cornwall, a section known for plenty of structure, deep channels, endless shallow flats, and rocky shoals that go for miles. The day offered up cold winds, plenty of waves and  strong current. Thank goodness the sun kept temperatures just above freezing, with water temps in the low 50’s.

My guest aboard the Ranger 620 Fisherman was Luc Girard. Luc is a member of Musky Inc and Cornwall’s Lunker Hunt fishing club, and a dedicated steward of the river. Luc is one of those anglers who truly cares about the future of fishing. In addition to his love for the sport, he’s volunteering for numerous local water conservation initiatives.

He’s fully equipped to  conduct fish tagging on behalf of the St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Science, helped organize a shoreline clean-up with 400 volunteers that pulled over 12 tons of garbage out of the river, monitors oil slicks on the river and reports spotting to the Coast guard over a 3-month period following the sinking of two tugboats on the river, supports several area charity fishing derbies, and so much more.

Luc Girard and Lawrence

Luc Girard and Lawrence

Luc does all this with a smile on his face and a positive attitude even though the arthritis in his hands is growing increasingly severe, and the three surgeries on his back have still not addressed the problem with his spine. His dedication to the river and love of fishing make up a large part of who Luc is, and he’s happy to share his passion with others, young and old.

After our sprint home up-current into the wind and waves at a thrilling 55 mph, we were all feeling a bit cold, wind-burnt and tired. And then  the sun went down and everything changed. The red sun sunk into the river bringing to an end the wind just as a huge ocean-going ship lit up like a floating city came into view. Moments later  a super bright “Super” moon popped up from behind one of the 33 islands clustered along this stretch of river. Even though I only have the one tiny window in the upper left section of my left eye, I still managed to witness both the day draw to a close and the night commence. After we finished gawking at this dramatic shift in time and space, my buddy John Chang idled the Ranger over to the doc. The solar/lunar sightings and meal of Perch at a near-by restaurant with good friends, new and old, was a well-deserved end to a bone-chilling day.