Angling ten­sions

North­ern Penin­sula and Labrador Straits an­glers weigh in on salmon is­sues

Northern Pen - - Front page - BY KYLE GREENHAM kyle.greenham@north­ern­pen.ca

NORTH­ERN PENIN­SULA AND LABRADOR STRAITS, N.L. – With de­layed tags, re­duced li­cense costs, and bat­tles over pol­icy, it’s a tu­mul­tuous year for salmon an­glers.

With some of the most renown rivers and brooks in the prov­ince, salmon fish­ing is a sta­ple sum­mer ac­tiv­ity for many res­i­dents along the North­ern Penin­sula and Labrador Straits.

Ward Sam­son of Main Brook has been a salmon an­gler since 1968. He is also the pres­i­dent and writer for the New­found­land and Labrador Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion (NLWF). He sees sev­eral is­sues with the poli­cies laid forth for this year, par­tic­u­larly the al­low­ing of hook and re­lease of up to three salmon.

“I’m not a fan of hook and re­lease at all,” Sam­son said. “My po­si­tion is that if a river can’t sus­tain hook and keep than it can’t sus­tain hook and re­lease. They should just close the thing down.”

Sam­son has many doubts around the science of hook and re­lease, and its ef­fects on salmon’s sur­vival. In the NLWF’s re­port “Hook and Re­lease: A Com­men­tary on Salmon Sur­viv­abil­ity”, Sam­son de­tails that most sci­en­tific stud­ies on hook and re­lease is only done on large river sys­tems, and there is lit­tle data from small river sys­tems that are com­mon in this prov­ince.

In his re­port, Sam­son says the ef­fects of air ex­po­sure, wa­ter tem­per­a­ture, where in the river salmon are caught and other fac­tors are not an­a­lysed in de­tail in the ma­jor stud­ies cited on hook and re­lease.

An­gler John Di­a­mond of St. An­thony agrees that hook and re­lease can cause a lot of dam­age on salmon pop­u­la­tions. He is un­sure if he will have a go at the fish­ery The North­ern Pen spoke with an­glers re­lated to their con­cerns around sev­eral changes and an­nounce­ments re­gard­ing the salmon sea­son this year.

this year.

“They ought to close it out, be­cause catch and re­lease kills them (salmon),” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of killed sal­mons on those brooks; it should never be.”

How­ever, an­gler Tony O’Brien strongly dis­agrees with this sen­ti­ment. He says so long as the an­gler knows what he’s do­ing, hook and re­lease is a fine sys­tem.

“I’ve been re­leas­ing salmon all my life, and I haven’t seen any prob­lems with re­leas­ing salmon,” O’Brien said. “I think ed­u­ca­tion is the im­por­tant thing, talk to peo­ple who’ve fished all their lives with hook and re­lease and present the proper way to do it. We shouldn’t be jump­ing the gun on hook and re­lease.”

O’Brien cur­rently lives in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay but fishes on the Pinware River along the Labrador Straits ev­ery sum­mer. For O’Brien, one ma­jor area of con­cern he feels is rarely ad­dressed with con­ser­va­tion is the still prom­i­nent use of net fish­ing

in many ar­eas.

“In terms of poach­ing, I think they should be more con­cerned with net­ting than they are with angling,” he said. “From Mary’s Har­bour to Lake Melville there’s a net fish­ery where they can catch six salmon, and I won­der what kind of con­trols are on that.

“You can get a lot of re­ten­tion with nets. There could be more salmon taken in the net fish­ery that what was taken back when there was a com­mer­cial salmon fish­ery.”

O’Brien feels that if con­ser­va­tion is the fo­cus of these poli­cies, there ought to be greater at­ten­tion paid to the net fish­ery and the im­pacts it may be hav­ing on the salmon pop­u­la­tion.

“They’re only con­cerned about an­glers and an­glers are prob­a­bly the most con­ser­va­tive of all the fish­er­men,” O’Brien said.

Mon­i­tor­ing is­sues and li­cense de­lays

The De­part­ment of Fish­eries

and Oceans has re­duced re­ten­tion quo­tas to one fish per sea­son, with the pos­si­bil­ity of more fol­low­ing a mid-sea­son re­view.

But both Sam­son and O’Brien agree that a ma­jor is­sue with any pol­icy changes in salmon angling is the dif­fi­culty in mon­i­tor­ing and en­forc­ing it.

With a prov­ince so pop­u­lated with rivers, Sam­son says it’s very dif­fi­cult to ever en­sure these poli­cies are fol­lowed and poach­ing is not tak­ing place.

“They have to have those poli­cies but its not re­al­is­tic; it’s un­en­force­able,” Sam­son said.

Through his many years of fish­ing, O’Brien says the pres­ence of fish­ery of­fi­cers or other mon­i­tor­ing au­thor­i­ties is of­ten lack­ing.

“I haven’t seen a lot of pres­ence from Fish­eries in the past few years; there’s cer­tainly not enough of them to con­trol the rivers,” he said. “I know other an­glers are hop­ing to keep each other hon­est but that only goes so far.

“Peo­ple talk on the rivers and know what’s go­ing on, but you see some­one do­ing some­thing wrong you’re not nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to go out of your way to put your­self in that situation.”

The sea­son opens on June 1 for rivers across the is­land and June 15 in Labrador, but li­censes will be de­layed for the June 1 open­ing. To com­bat the pos­si­bil­ity of limited in­ter­est this year, the provin­cial govern­ment has low­ered the res­i­dent salmon li­cense from $23 to $5.

Be­cause of his dis­agree­ments with hook and re­lease, Di­a­mond is un­sure if he will buy a li­cense this year. With the Pinware River open­ing for the sea­son on June 15, O’Brien is hope­ful the tags will be avail­able for pur­chase by then, but he un­der­stands the frus­tra­tion this has caused on many other an­glers.

“For a lot of rivers the salmon are all there on the 1st,” he said. “And es­pe­cially for peo­ple who have planned trips and va­ca­tions around angling, there’s a lot pushed by these de­lays.”

Many an­glers along the Avalon and other ar­eas are up­set over this de­lay, with some of the prime salmon fish­ing in June. As the tem­per­a­tures of the wa­ter rise, the salmon move on.

“In some of our rivers the tem­per­a­tures go up to 20 de­grees in July and Au­gust, the salmon don’t sur­vive in that,” said Sam­son.

How­ever, Di­a­mond says the best time for angling along some salmon rivers in Main Brook and near St. An­thony are in mid-July, and some­times even later.

“A lot of salmon in some ar­eas will be gone by then, but we usu­ally don’t start catch­ing them un­til the mid­dle of July,” Di­a­mond said. “It was the first part of Septem­ber they came down last year.”

FILE PHOTO

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.