To celebrate the end of 2016 we are rounding up some of this year’s biggest stories in fishing in Canada. Take a look, and let us know what we missed in the comments!
- Bill C-246
Undoubtedly our top story of 2016 would be Bill C-246. Bill C-246, or the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, was a Private Members Bill introduced by Liberal MP Nathanial Erskine-Smith. While the bill was posed as an attempt to update our animal rights laws, it did not make explicit exceptions for anglers and hunters. This meant that if passed it could have made fishing and hunting illegal.
On March 7, 2016, we posted our article “GO FISHING, GO TO JAIL – There’s something’s fishy about Bill C-246”. We received nearly 100,000 hits on this post, as well as hundreds of shares, comments, emails, phone calls, and more from anglers concerned about their right to fish being threatened. Together, we rallied to contact MPs across the country to express our concerns that Bill C-246 would make our treasured pastime illegal.
After dedicated pushback from thousands of members of the Canadian outdoors community, the bill was defeated in second reading by a vote of 198 to 84. This was a huge victory for Canada’s outdoors community, and shows the power our nation’s anglers and hunters can have when we stand together.
- Asian Carp
2016 started off with unsettling news as a study said that Asian carp could become the most popular fish in all of Lake Erie if an infestation occurs, with walleye and rainbow trout populations declining.
The story continued throughout the year with reports of Asian carp at several locations in and surrounding the Great Lakes. A grass carp was caught in the St. Lawrence River by commercial fishermen on May 27, and another caught on August 26 in Lake Erie was declared fertile.
Asian carp pose such a huge risk because they are over feeders. If an infestation occurs, other fish could be left without enough nutrition to survive. If you spot an Asian carp, please contact the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711, email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for more information.
- Whirling disease
Whirling disease was reported in Canada for the first time ever this summer. Fish in Johnson Lake in Banff National Park tested positive for the infectious disease on August 23. Since then cases have been reported in several waterbodies in the surrounding areas, including the Bow River.
Whirling disease is caused by a parasite affecting finfish including trout and salmon. It largely affects fish in the younger life stages, and the death rate in infected fry and fingerlings can reach 90 percent. Signs of an infected fish include swimming in a whirling pattern, skeletal deformities of the body or head, and a dark or black tail.
Check out the following graphic for information on how to help prevent the spread of the disease.
- Weather hurts fishing opportunities
Because of the unseasonably warm start to the year, some anglers weren’t able to start ice fishing until late January. With a lack of consistent cold weather, this meant for a short season with unpredictable ice conditions.
Then, extreme heat all summer long left some fish populations struggling. Some provinces, such as Alberta and British Columbia, even had to close fishing on certain water bodies until the conditions improved. Salmon populations in BC were especially found to be struggling, prompting many calls for closures.
This winter has faced similar issues so far. In Manitoba the warmest November in history means ice fishing on Lake Winnipeg hasn’t started by December for the first time in 55 years. Let’s hope we get some cold weather and thick ice soon!
- N.W.T. Man catches huge Loche
The news wasn’t all bad this year, we promise!
An angler in Aklavik, Northwest Territories made headlines in November for catching a massive loche, otherwise known as burbot. The angler, James Blake, reeled in a monster over a metre long and weighing just under 12.7 kilograms. The fish was caught during the Hannah Stewart Memorial Loche Derby on Blake’s fifth night of fishing.
The fish is currently in the running for the world record in that category, according to the International Game Fish Association.
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