Alarm Signal For Striped Bass in Western Canada

The striped bass is a delicious fish. It has been in the Saguenay for about 10 years but it is prohibited to fish for the purpose of restoring this endangered and protected population under the Species at Risk Act. Anyone who catches a striped bass in the Saguenay must return it to the water immediately, dead or alive, that is the law.

As the laws are made to be challenged, some fishermen have taken the liberty to keep their catches and cook them. A white flesh devoid of bones, a delight for the palate. I fished in 2009 on a tourist trip with journalists in Virginia Beach in the United States. In the local restaurants, it is called “rockfish”, a striped bass, that is to say striped bass. I kept a good memory of this fishing party and the good meals of this fish in the restaurant.

Anglers in the area are looking forward to fishing in the Saguenay and cooking for family and friends around a good bottle of white in the heart of summer. It will happen one day, it may even become a star species in the river and the fjord. Meanwhile, one must scientifically prove its abundance.

Surprise and panic

This summer, the striped bass caused a great surprise by pointing its nose in the salmon rivers tributary to the fjord. It should be noted that there was never a striped bass in the Saguenay before the reintroduction of this species into the St. Lawrence River by biologists in 2002 (in 10 years, the Ministry of Wildlife sowed more than 6000 Bars and more than 15 million striped river larvae in the river to reintroduce this extinct species in the 1960s. The presence of the bar in the salmon rivers has caused panic among salmon rivers managers and wildlife organizations in the region.

People are worried about the abundance of this fish that is increasingly being noticed in our waters. On Wednesday, a coalition of 11 sport fishing organizations issued a warning to governments that they were “overly concerned about the massive expansion of the striped bass population.” “The potential impacts of this new dynamic make us fear the worst if actions are not put forward quickly by the authorities concerned,” said a coalition spokesman Dany Tremblay, also president of Contact Nature Rivière-à -Marts at La Baie.

“Biologists and researchers who work on the file at the regional office of the department are trusted, but there is a blatant lack of resources in the face of the urgency of the situation. The presence of the striped bass in the salmon rivers is an exceptional situation and we must respond with exceptional means, “insists the coalition spokesman.

The organizations appealed to the elected officials to send their message to Quebec City and Ottawa. “It is necessary that we intervene quickly in this file to have interventions as quickly as possible to capture specimens to analyze the contents of their stomach and to know its behavior and to evaluate the impacts on other species like salmon, redfish, Sea trout and smelt, “hammered the river manager at Mars.

Curious scientists

Scientists are on task. “Obviously we are facing a population that is recovering more than a declining population,” agrees researcher Pascal Sirois of the Research Chair in Aquatic Species Exploited at UQAC. “I understand the concern of salmon rivers managers and sport fishermen. It is a new phenomenon, there have never been striped bass in the Saguenay and even less in the salmon rivers. The species is very abundant and the same thing happens on the North Shore, southern Labrador and New Brunswick, “says the scientist.

“Last week, MFFP biologists captured 30 bars in the Saguenay with a scientific license. We are currently studying stomach contents and so far we have found a lot of crustaceans (shrimp, krill), smelt and very few salmonids, “says the researcher.

“The presence of the bar is a very interesting phenomenon, we are currently studying the otolites of the fish that bear the trace of their birth. We’re looking at whether the Saguenay bars are from the St. Lawrence River or the Miramichi River, which is making significant progress, “he says.

In the opinion of the experts at present, the presence of the bar in the Saguenay would not have a significant negative effect on salmon. It is estimated that the Saguenay bar is exploring the territory. “He comes to the Saguenay for a summer migration and returns to the river at the end of summer. The bar showed the same behavior in the salmon rivers by making an exploratory migration and then returning to the Saguenay and the river, “argues the scientist who continues to document the phenomenon as is done in the river.

Fishermen and researchers

This is not the first time that fishermen and researchers are not on the same wavelength in terms of aquatic fauna. Field observations are part of the data that shed light on scientists in their research, but one must always be careful with the rumor and anecdote.

The members of the coalition are right on one point: they have to denounce the slowness of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to allow scientists to collect data.

Biologists should have had permission to keep the striped bass in the salmon rivers to analyze what was in their stomachs instead of relying on the cumbersome Species at Risk Act. Obviously the capture of striped bass in our salmon rivers would have been very useful to biologists and could have pacified the game of fishermen on the ground who are concerned about ignorance.

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About the Author: James Brittain

Joe Mollen s is the lead editor for Quebec Daily Examiner. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. John specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.

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