Jason Barnucz is a fisheries biologist, a fishing ambassador, and an avid angler. As part of his job with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, he can spend 100 days or more on the water. Added to the time he gets to spend teaching, volunteering and fishing for fun, Jason spends almost every day of the year focused on fish and their habitats.

With a dedication like that, it’s clear why Jason is a Champion of Recreational Fishing!

Over the next few months we will be chatting with Canadian anglers who contribute to the overall success of sportfishing as a heritage activity. Here’s what Jason has to say about his career on the water.

Who introduced you to fishing?

Namely my father, grandfather and uncle introduced me to the sport at 5-6 years of age.

Do you remember the first fish you caught and where it was?

I don’t remember the first fish I caught but my first memory of catching a notable fish was in 1983 when I placed 2nd in the Bluewater Anglers Kids Fishing Derby with my Uncle and Grandfather. During that event I caught my first Northern Pike trolling a #3 Mepps spinner on a Fenwick Rod and an Abu Garcia Cardinal Reel. That was a moment I will never forget.

Explain a little bit about the work that you do and how it relates to recreational fishing and conservation.

Throughout much of my life I have been interested in fishing and this passion has carried over into career. I have built a 15 year career in aquatic resource research and management.  I currently work as an Aquatic Science Biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. I contribute to various research programs in the Great Lakes focussing on endangered fish species research and management. I have a great interest in fish identification and taxonomy and teach Fish Identification at the Royal Ontario Museum each year.

What kind of schooling/training have you completed to do this work?

I completed a Technology Diploma in Terrain and Water Studies from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Lindsay, Ontario at the Frost Campus School of Natural Resources. I also completed a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.

Do you have any advice for young anglers who might like to work in fisheries research?

As a researcher in fisheries I take great pride in working with a great group of professionals that set goals to develop fisheries science to help better manage our natural resources. The academic journey can be a long one but if young anglers truly have the passion it will be a great journey for them to take. My advice to them is to keep an open mind along their academic journey.

Why do you believe recreational fishing is important to Canada?

I believe recreational fishing is important to Canada as it is a significant part of our heritage and is a large part of our current culture and economy. We are blessed in Canada to have large fresh water and marine resources that contain world renowned fisheries for a myriad of specie. From Blue Fin Tuna on the East Coast to Smallmouth Bass in the Great Lakes to record Lake Trout in the Artic to trophy Steelhead along the Pacific Coast. We have the best fishing in the world period. It is truly something special!

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the recreational fishing industry right now?

The biggest issue is the lack of young anglers taking up the hobby of angling. As a father, I see more and more young people spending less and less time in the outdoors. We are so blessed in Canada to vast areas of forests, streams and more. We need to find a way to engage more youth and families into the outdoors. Why should we? If we can engage youth and families into the outdoors we will help place greater value on our natural resources. This value will translate into more appreciation and protection of our resources for future generations. Families don’t remember high scores in a video game but catching a big fish on a family outing lasts forever.

Do you think anything needs to be done policy-wise to maintain our fishing heritage?

Protection of our fish and fish habitat should be a priority for all Canadians. I believe Canadians need to be aware of how threats to fish, fisheries and fish habitats are commonplace. This awareness will help them in making good choices in their lives to better protect these resources. Fishing is a passion many Canadians. At the end of the day it is the passion anglers possess that can help make change and protect our fish and fisheries. It is a part of our heritage and I hope will continue to be. Not only for my children but for my grandchildren and their grandchildren.

Do you know a Canadian angler who fits the profile of a “Champion of Recreational Fishing?” Perhaps they introduce new anglers to the sport, or advocate for sustainable policies in government. Maybe they’re breaking down barriers on and off the water, or creating innovative ways for people to fish ethically. We’d love to chat with them! Please contact us or email info@catchfishing.com.

Keep Canada Fishing is the national voice of Canada’s anglers. We lead the effort to preserve your right to sustainably fish on our lakes, oceans, rivers and streams. KCF strives to inform anglers of current and potential issues and threats affecting recreational fishing and access to public waters. As well, we motivate anglers to take action on matters of importance to the future of fishing and conservation. Furthermore, we’re your voice on Parliament Hill. If you would like to contribute to our efforts to “Keep Canada Fishing,” you can donate now via PayPal.