Sal­mon an­gling per­spec­tives con­fused?

The Compass - - Editorial -

The widely vary­ing views of those speak­ing pas­sion­ately about sal­mon an­gling in our province must seem perplexing to those not close to the is­sue.

I would like to humbly sub­mit what, in my opin­ion, might clar­ify and out­line the per­spec­tives of those in­volved and some other re­lated fac­tors.

Sal­mon fish­ers in the province fall into one of two groups as I see it: those who feel that stocks are be­ing se­verely im­pacted such that a ban on re­ten­tion of an­gled fish or a pro­gram of catch and re­lease may have to be con­sid­ered and those that feel they should be al­lowed to catch and re­tain fish as they al­ways have.

The lat­ter group want no part of catch and re­lease, they be­lieve it will not work and/or they want no part of learn­ing how to do it “prop­erly.”

They also be­lieve that due to there likely be­ing fewer an­glers on the rivers if catch and re­lease is im­ple­mented, the prac­tice will re­sult in an in­crease in poaching.

The for­mer group feel that it is ir­re­spon­si­ble to main­tain re­ten­tion fish­eries if stocks are en­dan­gered.

All in­volved want to see sal­mon stocks pre­served for the fu­ture but there is a fun­da­men­tal dis­agree­ment on how to achieve that.

Suf­fice it to say opin­ions are strongly held by all sides and di­a­logue, es­pe­cially on so­cial me­dia, is pas­sion­ate, to say the least!

Su­per­im­posed on these per­spec­tives there is a fun­da­men­tal dis­trust of DFO as the man­agers of the stock in terms of a per­ceived lack of ef­fort to as­sess stocks or to take ap­pro­pri­ate en­force­ment ac­tion with re­spect to poaching or the by catch of sal­mon that may be taken by other types of com­mer­cial fish­ing gear.

Also, there ap­pears to be a dis­trust by some of the At­lantic Sal­mon Fed­er­a­tion, a prom­i­nent in­ter­na­tional group based in the U.S. and Canada that strongly ad­vo­cates for stock preser­va­tion, pos­si­bly through catch and re­lease if nec­es­sary.

Other is­sues of con­cern are the high num­bers of seals that are likely prey­ing on mi­grat­ing sal­mon smolts each spring, sea pen aqua­cul­ture prac­tices re­lated to dis­ease and ge­netic im­pacts on nat­u­ral stocks, com­mer­cial fish­eries for At­lantic sal­mon in St-Pierre-Miquelon and Green­land and the im­pacts of preda­tory species such as striped bass, whose range seems to be ex­tended north­wards as a re­sult of cli­mate change.

Still con­fused?

I have been fish­ing for many years and I know I am.

As for me, I am look­ing for­ward with great an­tic­i­pa­tion to our an­nual June trip to Bay St. Ge­orge to kick off the 2018-an­gling sea­son, re­gard­less of what the rules on re­ten­tion/catch and re­lease are go­ing to be.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, in 2016 I chose - for the first time ever - to re­lease two grilse, one in Bay St. Ge­orge and one on the Pin­ware River in Labrador and I have to say it was a great feel­ing to see both fish swim off, seem­ingly none the worse for wear.

Here’s hop­ing for a great sea­son for ev­ery­one in 2018!

All in­volved want to see sal­mon stocks pre­served for the fu­ture but there is a fun­da­men­tal dis­agree­ment on how to achieve that.

Marvin Barnes writes from St. John’s

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