The truth about our salmon

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Editorial -

Dear Edi­tor,

Wow, I can’t be­lieve how much has been writ­ten about the plight of our poor At­lantic salmon lately! While it all makes for very in­ter­est­ing read­ing — and I can’t wait to see who will be blam­ing who next for the salmon’s de­cline — the truth is no one has ad­dressed a ma­jor fac­tor in this de­cline.

Salmon pop­u­la­tions may not be nearly as bad as DFO would have us be­lieve be­cause DFO has ab­so­lutely no han­dle on the num­ber of salmon taken as by­catch or by poach­ers.

Would 25,000 to 50,000 dead salmon add sig­nif­i­cantly to their count­ing-fence data?

Did you know that you can buy wild, fresh At­lantic salmon in any of our out­port com­mu­ni­ties in June and July?

And I don’t mean hun­dreds of salmon, I mean thou­sands.

Some come from our rivers, but most come from poach­ers’ nets in our iso­lated

bays. And the price is a bar­gain — $10 to $15 per fish, gut­ted, head on.

Did you know that caplin and her­ring sein­ers of­ten set their nets at the mouths of salmon rivers in late June and July.

I won­der why? Com­bine this “by­catch” with the thou­sands of bait nets float­ing just un­der the sur­face and all the other fixed gear in our bays from April to July and you don’t have just hun­dreds of salmon killed, you have thou­sands. It’s start­ing to add up.

But DFO will never ad­mit this … they might have to do some­thing about it.

All of the by­catch and poached salmon is com­pletely in the di­rect con­trol of DFO; but they want all of us to be­lieve these salmon are killed by some “black box” way out at sea. What a crock

I, for one, will not be­lieve that their count­ing- fence data is truly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of our salmon pop­u­la­tions un­til this is ad­dressed.

Per­son­ally, I couldn’t care less if I ever kill an­other salmon. I have killed my fair share over the past 60 years. But I cer­tainly still want to go fish­ing, even if I am se­verely re­stricted.

But that won’t hap­pen if the pow­ers-that-be con­tinue to sit be­hind their desks and ig­nore the truth about our salmon.

It is com­pletely ir­re­spon­si­ble for any in­di­vid­ual or group to call for a com­plete clo­sure or to­tal catch-and-re­lease for our recre­ational salmon fish­ery with­outa com­mit­ment from DFO for a 10-fold in­crease in salmon en­force­ment.

To do oth­er­wise is to de­stroy our salmon.

Do they not un­der­stand New­found­land’s salmon culture? I would strongly sug­gest that the Tele­gram ed­i­to­rial board, DFO, At­lantic Salmon Fed­er­a­tion, Fish­eries Min­is­ter Gerry Byrne, Cit­i­zen’s Out­door Rights Al­liance and the lo­cal salmon groups go to our out­port com­mu­ni­ties and sit down and talk (like I have) to the lo­cal res­i­dents.

These peo­ple have our salmon rivers run­ning through their back gar­dens and they know what’s re­ally go­ing on.

Un­for­tu­nately, they seem to be the only ones.

Rick Mad­di­gan St. John’s

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