A blog about the recent GAP2 exchange trip to the North-American Laurentian Great Lakes. Henrik C Andersson, Henrik Schrieber and Olof Engstedt travelled to the area to learn more about the Canadian muskie, local management measures, and wetland restoration…
Since we are interested in fish management and research, as well as issues regarding sustainable angling for predatory fish, the timing of our trip couldn’t have been better: the organisation, Muskies Canada, held their first international symposium about Muskellunge where these precise topics were discussed for two days.
Muskellunge, or muskie, is a close relative to the northern pike and Muskies Canada is an angling club whose interests are (other than increasing catches) to preserve Muskellunge through good management and public awareness. The club involves scientists, anglers, fishing guides and representatives for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The presentations and discussions at the symposium gave us lots of new ideas of how to enhance dialogues and exchange data between anglers, scientists and policy makers, which in the Canadian example has resulted in a broadly anchored, and sustainable, management based upon scientific research. Through this cooperation anglers have provided researchers with information which has made it possible to identify genetically separated populations as well as estimations of the growth rate, maximum body length and fishing pressure of each population. The information has, in turn, been the base for new fishing regulations and management measures. Since all the most relevant stakeholders take part in this work, new legislation is usually already anchored and therefore easily implemented.
Muskies Canada covers a great part of the species distribution area within the country, through fourteen local chapters. The chapters arrange outings and different activities to attract children and other people to fish. Meanwhile they also function as teachers, informing the new anglers about fishing regulations, how to distinguish a muskie from a pike, how to release a fish without lethal injuries as well as the manner in which to enjoy nature without exploiting it. The professional fishing guides engaged within Muskies Canada have similar functions. They treat fish and nature with love and understanding and recognise the importance of teaching anglers how to use them wisely. After all, preserving fish is vital for their own future. We had many interesting discussions regarding both fishing and management with our very skilled guides, while trying to catch our first muskies. In the picture below, John Andersson at “The Muskie Factory”, is avoiding Olof’s hooks.
This inspiring trip definitely assured us that there are some interesting actions that can be carried out in the EU, looking at the work done for Muskies in Canada as an example. Some things could be more or less directly transferred to European work, while others need more analysis to fit into the different organisations. We have some lessons to learn, and a good start would be to more thoroughly describe the organisation and the successful factors of Muskies Canada.
For more information about this GAP2 exchange project, or any of our other exchange projects, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org