What’s in store for salmon in 2018?

The Beacon (Gander) - - Editorial -

Re­gard­ing the cur­rent stock sta­tus of Atlantic Salmon in N.L. wa­ters, DFO sci­en­tist Ge­off Veinott seems to be more at home giv­ing me­dia brief­ings that mir­ror the Atlantic Salmon Fed­er­a­tion’s (ASF) agenda than he does brief­ing his own fish­eries man­agers.

Cou­ple this with the fact fed­eral Fish­eries Min­is­ter Dominic Le­Blanc is on record as be­ing a con­tribut­ing mem­ber of the ASF, and one must won­der where the N.L. salmon an­gling plan for 2018 is headed.

To fur­ther sup­port the ASF’s lobby ef­forts, some of our N.L. fed­eral MPS have re­cently hosted a salmon-re­lated pre­sen­ta­tion given by ASF pres­i­dent Bill Tay­lor right in the par­lia­ment build­ings in Ot­tawa.

Yet those same MPS avoid lo­cal meet­ings and hide from their own con­stituents when in­vited to ad­dress this im­por­tant out­door rights an­gling is­sue.

Nev­er­the­less, there are a cou­ple of bright spots loom­ing that will make it dif­fi­cult for those peo­ple to help push for­ward the ASF agenda of catc­hand-re­lease-only in N.L. rivers in 2018. One is that provin­cial Fish­eries Min­is­ter Gerry Byrne has come out squarely on the side of all an­glers re­gard­ing this im­por­tant out­door rights is­sue. And sec­ondly, the ice con­di­tions along the Labrador coast and the North­east coast of New­found­land are much dif­fer­ent this year than last. The ice is there as it is ev­ery year, but the winds have been trend­ing much dif­fer­ently.

One does not need a sci­ence de­gree to pre­dict that this will equate to much bet­ter salmon re­turns for N.L. rivers in 2018. Yet DFO sci­en­tist Veinott had to put a neg­a­tive spin on this bright spot by com­ment­ing re­cently on CBC that “we may see a re­cov­ery in 2018, but the long-term out­look seems to be in a de­clin­ing di­rec­tion.” That state­ment does not sound at all sci­en­tific to me.

DFO’s own an­nual fish­way sta­tis­tics, go­ing back as far as 1974, show an over­all up­ward trend in salmon re­turns. Yes, there were down­ward blips in 2016 and 2017 due to se­vere ice con­di­tions which lasted right into late June. The same can be said for 2002 and 2007, but apart from that, the trend has been up­wards.

It is in­ter­est­ing to note that the ASF sup­port­ers do not cheer very loudly when we have a year of above-av­er­age salmon re­turns, but they sure do spit out the neg­a­tive rhetoric when we have a year of less-than-av­er­age re­turns.

Jed Samp­son Port au Port

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