Helping Habitat : Bill C-68

I have been invited to write a regular column on conservation issues related to Muskies and their Habitat.  So my territory overlaps well with the range of Muskies in Canada.

A bit about me first, I work for Ducks Unlimited Canada as the Director of Regional Operations for Eastern Canada.  This means I oversee DUC’s conservation work east of Manitoba. So my territory overlaps well with the range of Muskies in Canada.  I have been a member of Muskies Canada for three years and am yet to catch my first Muskie.  I hope the 2018 is my year. 

I worked with Peter Levick, then president of Muskies Canada to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between Muskies and DUC in 2015.  In this MOU we committed to ongoing collaboration to expand mutual habitat conservation projects that benefit Muskellunge and Waterfowl in eastern Canada.  Given our shared focus on habitat this was the quickest MOU that I have ever developed.  You will have seen in Chris Nielson’s Presidents message, that we are seeing good examples of working together.

Implications of proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act

One of the powerful tools supporting habitat conservation at scale is Federal or Provincial legislation or policy.  These government directions can have significant impacts on habitat and uses of habitat.  The federal fisheries act is a critical act that regulates activities related to fisheries and fish habitat.  As such, it is an important tool in conservation of habitat. 

The fisheries act underwent significant modernization and change in 2012.  Some of these changes reduced the extent of fish habitats protected across Canada.  The Federal government has introduced new amendments to the act (Bill C-68) that will have a significant impact on fish and fish habitat.  Some highlights include:

Before Proposed Amendments

After Proposed Amendments

Not all fish and fish habitat protected; only those related to a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery protected

Protection of all fish and fish habitat

Uncertainty as to when authorizations are required for development projects

 

Clarity on which types of projects require authorizations through permitting and codes of practice

 

Lack of transparency regarding authorization decisions for projects; no requirement to publicly release information on these decisions

 

Requirement to publicly release information on project decisions through an online registry

No provisions to restore degraded habitat as part of development project reviews

 

Provisions to consider restoration priorities as part of development project reviews

 

No tools to quickly implement in-season fisheries restrictions to address unforeseen conservation and management issues

 

Ability to put in place targeted short-term measures to quickly and effectively respond to unforeseen threats to the management of fisheries and to the conservation of fish

 

 These proposed amendments are important to Muskies Canada for several reasons.  First, the changes strengthen the protection of habitat for muskellunge throughout their lives.  In addition, the proposed amendments will make is easier to know and understand if future development projects are going to impact muskellunge habitat and how developer will compensate for these impacts.  The amendments are more explicit on compensation for destruction of fish habitat.  Muskies Canada has the opportunity to guide compensation for loss of muskellunge habitat.

The act is currently moving thru the parliamentary process and the government is considering the proposed amendments.   MP and Federal Ministers respond to comments from members of grass roots organizations like Muskies Canada.

So it is time to Take Action.

You can have a positive influence on getting Bill C-68 adopted by sending a letter, email or talking to your MP and/or Dominic LeBlanc the Federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.  The message is simple you support the positive changes to increase the protection of fish habitat being proposed in Bill C-68.

Here is the complete Bill-C68 submission.

Muskies 101

The ability of future generations to enjoy species of fish like the muskellunge is based in part, on catch and release fishing today. The quality of the fishery depends on how carefully anglers release their fish. Over the years, a series of generally accepted handling procedures and suggestions have been developed by the catch and release community.

Match the Tackle to the Fish You’re After

  • Heavy Duty Rods, Reels, Line and Leaders
  • Why? – minimize fight time and ensure a good release.
  • Casting
    • 7 ‘to 9’(+) rods
    • Mostly bait caster style reels
    • 80lb braid
    • Wire or flourocarbon leaders – 100 lb and up
  • Trolling
    • 8’ (+) rods
    • Line Counter reels
    • 100 lb (+) braid
    • Flourocarbon leaders – minimum 100 lb

Baits

Crank Baits
Jerk and Glide Baits
Top Water

 

Plastics

Release Tools

  • Good quality large coated net (Big Kahuna) , Knipex bolt cutters (to cut hooks), long needle nose pliers, Hook out tool, jaw spreaders, gloves, measuring pole, bump board or seamstress measuring tape for getting length and girth measurements, towel
  • Other tools, split ring pliers, channel lock pliers, vice grips, scissors, hook file
  • You can tie some type of a lanyard around tools in order not to loose them

Preparing for the Catch

  • Communicate with your “net man” i.e., I will bring fish to you, net head first, hold the mesh
  • Have your net, release tools ready i.e., long nose pliers, hook cutters, gloves
  • Discuss lifting and holding techniques , practice proper release and resuscitation techniques
  • Keep your landing area ready. Keep the floor of your boat clear of clutter and keep loose hooks and lures in a tackle box, not on the floor or seat. This will help to avoid many potential accidents as well as give you plenty of room to land that trophy fish!

The Catch

  • Net the muskie head first into a large coated net
  • Keep the muskie in the net until you get the hooks removed
  • Cut hooks if required and remove cut portions from muskie
  • If you’re taking a picture, get yourself and the boat organized to minimize the time the fish is out of the water.

Vertical Holds

  • Never lift a muskie vertically by its jaw. This has the potential of causing severe injury to the fish especially if it’s a big one.
  • When lifting a muskie for a photo or any other reason, always do so horizontally using your other hand to support it under its belly. Also, never ever hold any fish by its eye sockets. This definitely causes damage to the fish.

Ducks Unlimited Launches New Invasive Species Resource

Our partner  Ducks Unlimited Canada just released a great new resource for learning about invasive species that threaten many of our favourite musky waters. to learn more, make sure to check out the link!

http://www.ducks.ca/invasive-species/

Invasive species are changing the land and water we love. They overwhelm habitat, choking out natural wildlife and vegetation. They spread aggressively and hold their ground stubbornly. Winning the fight against an invasive species takes science, engineering and people committed to on-the-ground hard work.

Shimano offers support to Muskellunge fishing on Lake St. Clair

 

PETERBOROUGH, Ontario – Canada – For Immediate Release – 2-26-18 — It’s a good day for muskie anglers when natural resource managers from Ontario, Michigan and Ohio all come together to make the fishery better. Combine that with the involvement of volunteers from both Muskies Canada and Muskies, Inc., and now financial support from Shimano’s Canada operations, and targeting these big fish on Lake St. Clair has a positive outlook.

To assist with muskie research efforts on Lake St. Clair, Shimano donated $1,000 to help buy more acoustic radio tags. During ‘Muskie Sunday’ events at the just completed Spring Fishing & Boating Show in Mississauga, Ont., Bob Mahoney (center left) presents the check to Bruce Bauer (far left) with Muskies Canada – Belle River Chapter, Muskies Canada vice president Kurt Milligan (center right), and Jim Herod (far right), education director for Muskies Canada.

During ‘Muskie Sunday’ events at the just completed Spring Fishing & Boat Show, Canada’s largest outdoor show at The International Center in Mississauga, Ont., Shimano added to the day with a $1,000 donation to support the Lake St. Clair muskellunge tracking project. “We wanted to step up after seeing how the DNR fishery experts in both Michigan and Ohio, and our Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have teamed up on this project,” said Bob Mahoney with Shimano’s Canada operations. “And we applaud the joint efforts of the Muskies Canada and Muskies, Inc. organizations for their assistance”.
The donation will go to the purchase of additional acoustic radio tags that are implanted in caught-and-released muskies out of Lake St. Clair. The project provides the ability for donors to name a tagged muskie, and follow its travels at any time – similar to shark tagging programs. More than 50 muskies currently swim in Lake St. Clair, where their movements are tracked by using underwater receivers of the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System.

Brewer Park Pond Restoration Project (2014 – 2016)

The landlocked Brewer Park Pond and former artificial swimming hole have undergone a facelift, a transfusion and a rejuvenation to become a naturally-functioning habitat for all kinds of wildlife in Ottawa and importantly become, once again, a part of the Rideau River itself. Using an ecosystem approach, the partners in this project intend to increase overall biodiversity with the creation of a new, vibrant wetland and pond with shoreline plantings, breeding bird habitat, amphibian habitat, turtle nesting beds and basking logs all connected to the main channel of the nearby Rideau River. The pond will provide improved spawning, nursery, rearing and feeding habitat for the local fish community in the Rideau all year round. This area will be particularly important for Muskie spawning. The on-site work took place in November and December, 2014.

The project accomplishes two important goals for local residents:
– Rejuvenation of the pond with increased fish and wildlife habitat
– Maintenance of current park uses after construction, including complete walking trail around the pond.

We are pleased to confirm that both objectives will be achieved thanks to the goodwill and understanding of all the project partners including MINTO, Richcraft, the City of Ottawa, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Muskies Canada, the Institute of Environmental Science at Carleton University and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.

Muskies Canada Ottawa Chapter has been a partner in this project throughout the long planning approvals process over most of the last 2 decades. Hedrik Wachelka has been tireless in his work to help move this project forward. The Ottawa Chapter, with assistance from the Hugh C. Becker Foundation has partnered with Carleton University to tag and monitor 40 Esocidae (20 Pike and 20 Muskies) to follow their movements before and after the completion of this new feature.

There will be an opportunity to volunteer for a shoreline planting day May 9, 2015 around the perimeter of the pond. Capital Ward Councilor David Chernushenko said, “Residents of Capital Ward work very hard to maintain and improve our local environment, and like to seize special opportunities such as this. Tree plantings, river shore protection, clean up initiatives and promoting active outdoor life styles by our residents are all close to our hearts and this project fits us well. Thanks to all parties for bringing this progressive project to Brewer Park!”

For more information: Jennifer Lamoureux, Aquatic & Fish Habitat Biologist Rideau Valley Conservation Authority 613-692-3571 ext. 1108 jennifer.lamoureux@rvca.ca
http://rvca.ca/brewerpark/index.html

Jock River Embayment Creation Project (2014 – 2016)

In October 2014, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RCVA) constructed a fish habitat embayment at the Richmond conservation Area, located in Ottawa, Ontario. This project was done in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Shell Fueling Change, Muskies Canada Ottawa Chaper, National Defence Fish and Game Club, Community Foundation of Ottawa, Fendock and the Ottawa Flyfishers Society.

The project involved converting an existing grassed park area into a small wetland embayment along the shoreline of the Jock River. Raab Construction Ltd. was retained to help construct the new wetland and work couldn’t have been completed without the help of a group of dedicated volunteers.

A Spring Community tree planing day is planned for May 16th to complete the project.

For more information, contact:
Jennifer Lamoureux, Aquatic & Fish Habitat Biologist
Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
613-692-3571 ext. 1108
jennifer.lamoureux@rvca.ca
http://rvca.ca/brewerpark/index.html

Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Project Wins Top Conservation Award (2010)

The Spring Fishing and Boat Show and its partners established a new award in 2010 for the top fishing conservation project of the year. The inaugural winner was Muskie Canada’s Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Project. This multi-year project is to reintroduce muskellunge into Lake Simcoe after an absence of about 30 years. The project is led by Dave Boxall, Project Manager, and Jim Kelly of Muskies Canada and Jason Borwick and Brad Allan of the Ontario MNR. It is supported by many partners, including the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Sir Sandford Fleming College, Muskies Inc., Canadian Sportsman’s Shows, Bob Izumi’s Fishing Forever Foundation, Georgian Bay Hunters and Anglers and the Spring Fishing and Boat Show.

Project Noble Beast Muskie Catch and Release Study (2009 – 2011)

In the early eighties, the one and only study on the impacts of catch and release angling on muskellunge, concluded there was up to a 30% mortality rate of angled fish, likely due to the stress of the experience. Thirty years and numerous changes in tackle, fish handling techniques and angler knowledge, there was a need to re-examine the mortality rate of muskies that were caught by anglers using modern tackle and techniques. In 2009, Masters of Science candidate, Sean Landsman, undertook a field study, fondly referred to as Project Noble Beast, to determine the sub-lethal and lethal effects of the catch-and-release process using two different handling procedures (normal and gentle). The project required intense angling effort, which was carried out over the summer and fall muskellunge angling seasons in 2009 and 2010, yielding 77 muskies up to 52 inches long. Under the tutelage of Dr. Steven Cooke of Carleton University and Dr. Cory Suski of the University of Illinois, Sean collected blood samples used to assess the physiological impact of the angling process and these samples were compared to those obtained from fish sampled via electrofishing (control group baseline levels). Behaviour and survival were assessed by attaching radio transmitters to a sub-sample of 30 fish (15 per handling procedure) and tracking their movements.

Hedrik Wachelka of the Ottawa Chapter of Muskies Canada worked tirelessly with Sean to organize, fundraise and assist in angling muskies from the Ottawa and Rideau River systems. Hedriks efforts and those of the nearly two dozen other volunteers from Muskies Canada were instrumental in the completion of the project. Blood sample analysis revealed minimal physiological disturbances between handling treatments. Behaviours were similar for fish from each handling group. Perhaps most importantly, all radio-tagged fish survived the catch-and-release event making this finding of 0 percent mortality dramatically different from the 30 percent figure previously suggested for muskellunge. True zero percent mortality can never exist in a hook-and-line fishery, but muskellunge fishing mortality may indeed be negligible.

Sean has published the results of this research in Fisheries Research an International journal on fisheries science, fishing technology, and fisheries management, and is available by permission, here. Seans paper was also presented at the World Recreational Fishing Conference in Berlin, Germany in the summer of 2011 to very positive reviews. This original research will save countless muskie and other fishes lives worldwide in the future.

Major funding for this research effort was generated by Muskies Canada, various chapters of MCI, Muskies Inc, the Becker Foundation as well as support from Carleton U and various government agencies.

Muskies Canada Partners with Wounded Warriors Canada

Muskies Canada is proud to announce a new partnership with Wounded Warriors Canada to host a “Fishing in the Kawarthas” weekend at Scotsman Point Cottage Resort on Buckhorn Lake.

Fishing in the Kawarthas will provide ill and injured Veterans and their families with an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while fishing for muskellunge in the company of experienced Muskies Canada anglers. What’s more, the event will provide a relaxing environment that will allow the participants the chance for respite, reflection and the ability to reconnect with their fellow Veterans and family members.

woundedWarriorsWounded Warriors Canada is a registered charity whose mission is to honour and support Canada’s ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, First Responders and their families.

 

cropped-muskies_canada_logo.pngMuskies Canada is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to Muskellunge angling, research and conservation. Muskellunge, or Muskie, is Canada’s apex freshwater predator and an important sport fish in eastern Canada. Muskies Canada anglers have boats and equipment well suited to host Wounded Warriors for a great weekend on the water.

“It is with great pride that Muskies Canada entered a partnership with Wounded Warriors Canada, to spend time on the water with veterans that have given so much to their country.  It not only will be an honour to spend time with these veterans but to show them that Muskies Canada acknowledges and is grateful for their sacrifices”, said Tyler Duncan, a Muskies Canada Board of Directors representative and Chair of the Upper Valley Chapter.

Wounded Warriors Canada Fishing in the Kawarthas weekend will be held at Scotsman Point Resort on Buckhorn Lake, August 25-28, 2017. Friday night feature a “Meet-and-Greet” get-together with and Saturday will be Muskie fishing day, teaming participants with Muskies Canada members.

Phil Ralph, National Program Director for Wounded Warriors Canada, commented, “We continue to witness first-hand the benefits of recreational programs that bring together Veterans and their families. We are proud to partner with Muskies Canada and Scotsman Point Resort on what will be a great annual event that provides our participants with important respite and the opportunity to reflect and reconnect.”

Scotsman Point Cottage Resort is a sponsor/supporter in the event and is donating accommodation for the Wounded Warriors Canada participants. “All of us at Scotsman Point Resort are very proud and honoured for the opportunity to provide the most courageous of Canadian citizens some well deserved relaxation and fun. We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with all of the partners involved in this memorable event”, said Leslie Clarkson, General Manager of Scotsman Point Resort.

For more information, please see:

Wounded Warriors

Muskies Canada

Scotsman Point Resort