GBF - 2019 Winter Newsletter

GBF.ORG | WINTER 2019 | 9 8 | WINTER 2019 | GBF.ORG GBF THANKS THESE DIVERT AND CAPTURE SUPPORTERS GROWING AN ARMY OF PHRAGBUSTERS NET-PEN AQUACULTURE IN GEORGIAN BAY — SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED? Communications Director, Heather Sargeant, kicked off this segment of the program on invasive Phragmites . She spoke about the work GBF has been doing for the past 6 years building Phragbusting capacity to help volunteers and community leaders around the Bay. It’s an ongoing offensive, one that has removed over 100,000 kilograms of the invasive with a growing army of municipalities, committed leaders, community volunteers, partners and donors up, down and around the coast. Invasive Phragmites is one of the most destructive non-native plants to have infested Ontario. Originally from Europe, the reed grows quickly into tall, dense and impenetrable walls that literally choke the life out of our wetlands. Once established, invasive Phragmites threatens biodiversity, damages infrastructure, reduces natural habitat and impairs access to the water. Last year, GBF employed 9 students to work with communities cutting Phrag on eastern and southern Georgian Bay coasts, assembled a team that helped The Massasauga Park, and engaged large tracked Truxor cutting machines to start the process of recovering Lily Pond in Honey Harbour, a provincially significant wet- land overtaken by Phragmites . Partnerships and funding are key to the success of this project and GBF is thankful for all the support from donors, volunteers, and governments. Several partners spoke about their experiences. Sue McPhedran, a member of the Woods Bay Association and a founding member of the Friends of The Massasauga Park, told attendees about GBF’s and the GBA’s Phragmites Network. The Network is an informal alliance of like-minded citizens and cottagers who come together to learn and support one another by bringing concerns forward in order to find solutions. GBF has played an instrumental role in educating residents and cottagers alike, she said, about how to identify invasive Phragmites , as well as how and when to cut it to minimize regrowth. We also heard from Cate Root, a Councillor in Tay Township, about that area’s ongoing commitment to rid the Township of invasive Phragmites . Root explained how the support of Tay Council, GBF and the Severn Sound Environmental Association, and some provincial funding helped to remove 10 stands found in 6 different public parks along the southern coast of the Bay. It takes an ongoing effort, she said, but since the program began in 2016, we restored several beaches and parks in the area that can now be enjoyed Phrag-free. In addition to municipal properties, the Township has a line item in its annual budget for community Phragmites eradication. The ‘Phrag queen of Honey Harbour’, Kathryn Davis, also spoke about her Phrag- busting adventures. She first noticed the tall grass on her property in 2010. “At first, I tried to get rid of it myself,” she said. “I did all of the things that I now know you shouldn’t do.” And sure enough, the resilient invader kept coming back, bigger and stronger every year. In 2014, Davis attended a demonstration GBF was giving to the Board of her cottage association. She has been active in developing a successful program with GBF to manage the fight against Phrag in Honey Harbour that has become a model for other communities. An overview was provided of the known science and global, local, and industry views of net-pen aquaculture by a panel of speakers comprised of Jim Bolton for the Georgian Bay Association, R.J. Taylor from the Ontario Aquaculture Asso- ciation and Dr. Neil Rooney from the University of Guelph (U of G). Every presenter shared a great desire for a truly sustainable industry and a great love for Georgian Bay. In this writer’s view, the biggest differences in positioning between the members of the panel were different ways to cautiously approach mitigating risk to the environment. GBF invites you to gain a greater understanding of the impacts and risks by putting yourself in each of these organization’s ‘shoes’ and watching their video presentations and their responses to audience questions at What will be summarized here is Dr. Rooney’s presentation on the current context of aquaculture research and recent freshwater science. Dr. Rooney started his presentation by providing a global and local assessment of aquaculture: where it is growing and why. It is a source of protein for a global population that is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. A study was cited showing that much of the world views aquaculture positively in terms of sustainability and food security. In Europe, 93 percent of fish consumed is produced in farms. Conversely, Canada has the most negative sentiments towards aquaculture. Canadians’ concerns with aquaculture are water quality and wild fish impacts includ- ing food or waste subsidies to wild stocks, escapee effects, spread of pathogens, and pharmaceutical use (Jan 2005). Given the concerns, what recent science is available to us on freshwater that can help us figure out what management practices are best for aquaculture? There is some completed and ongoing research into examining a key concern for regulators around the phosphorus inputs fromnet-pen aquacul- ture. There is a risk that the waste and feed from fish farming could contribute too much phosphorus and lead to poor water quality as famously demonstrated in the 1970’s in the Experimental Lakes area. Dr. Rooney took us through some 2005 research (Podemski et. Al.) that simulated a net-pen aquaculture operation and its organic phosphorus subsidies (more similar to fish food than the inorganic 1970s phosphorus experiment). The 2005 experiment did not show the soupy green water quality results of the 1973 experiment, and seemed to benefit some open water fish like Lake Trout. Dr. Rooney then explained the steps in research that are being undertaken and analyzed by U of G with GBF support in an actual net-pen operation in Georgian Bay Top photograph: Aquaculture Panel from left to right: Moderator from GBF, David Sweetnam; Panel, RJ Taylor form the Ontario Aquaculture Association, JimBolton from the Georgian Bay Association, and Dr. Rooney from the University of Guelph Bottom photograph: Dr. Rooney presenting a global and local assessment of aquaculture. The work has the potential to inform future regulations regarding the manufacturing of washing machines and dryers, and whether these household items should come equipped with filters to reduce microfibres in our water. In closing, Dr. Rochman said that little work has been done to date to understand the impact of microplastics on wildlife. Some studies suggest that microplastics can change or stunt growth, alter feeding habits and increase mortality in some species. “But,” she said, “we really have no idea what the impacts of these contaminants are on humans.” Visit to find out more about microplastics, how you can reduce microfibre pollution, and support GBF’s project. This project is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change. Ce projet a été realisé avec l’appui financier du gouvernement du Canada agissant par l’entremise du ministère fédéral de l’Environnement et du Changement climatique. Further funding and assistance for Divert and Capture: The fight to keep microplastics out of our water , was provided by the RBC Foundation, Patagonia, the Helen McCrea Peacock Foundation, and our many passionate donors. GBF wishes to acknowledge the support of these partners: The Rochman Laboratory at the University of Toronto, the Town of Parry Sound, the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and our many community volunteers! GBF will continue to fundraise approximately $50,000 a year for this project that will allow us to expand its education and reach. to determine if those same 2005 results can be found; noting that there is ongoing research to test multiple sites in Georgian Bay to under- stand variability. Ultimately, results could show negative, neutral, or positive impacts of nutri- ent subsidies from net-pen aquaculture, or vary depending on site location and operation. To see his 21 min. presentation and learn more to support this research, please visit Join the fight to help protect coastal wetlands in Georgian Bay by eliminating invasive Phragmites. Learn more at INSIGHTS FROM H 2 O CONTINUED INSIGHTS FROM H 2 O CONTINUED: DR. ROONEY