CORA dis­cusses salmon angling con­cerns at St. An­thony meet­ing

Ques­tion­ing the fu­ture

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - News - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS

Re­ten­tion salmon an­glers on the Great North­ern Peninsula are con­cerned they may be los­ing a way of life.

The Cit­i­zens Out­doors Rights Al­liance (CORA) hosted a meet­ing with lo­cal an­glers at the St. An­thony Lions Club on Wed­nes­day evening, June 13.

The ses­sion ran for over two hours, as var­i­ous con­cerns were raised re­lated to the fed­eral govern­ment’s man­age­ment of the salmon fish­ery.

Mainly, an­glers are con­cerned about the fu­ture of re­ten­tion angling in New­found­land and Labrador.

In May, the De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans’ (DFO) salmon man­age­ment plan in­cluded a large cut in the num­ber of fish re­ten­tion an­glers can take.

DFO de­cided the sea­son will start with one fish re­ten­tion on all rivers in the prov­ince that cur­rently al­low re­ten­tion. That tag will be valid from one be­fore sun­rise June 1 un­til one hour af­ter sun­set on July 20.

An in-sea­son re­view of re­turns will be con­ducted and the re­sults of that will in­form the man­age­ment ap­proach for the rest of the sea­son.

Catch-and-re­lease lim­its have been re­duced to three fish per day and re­ten­tion of salmon on non-sched­uled wa­ters is not per­mit­ted.

Ward Sam­son, a salmon an­gler from Main Brook, opened the meet­ing with an im­pas­sioned speech on his love for the ac­tiv­ity.

To him, it’s a way of life and an im­por­tant part of the lo­cal cul­ture.

Sam­son said he catches salmon to eat. But he’s wor­ried that come the July re­view, an­glers like him­self won’t be able to re­tain any­more.

Fair­ness

CORA pres­i­dent Gary Gale led much of the ses­sion. He stressed the need for “fair­ness and bal­ance” in DFO’s plan for re­ten­tion and catch- and- re­lease angling.

Ac­cord­ing to data pro­vided by DFO, the mor­tal­ity rate for catch-and-re­lease salmon is 10 per cent. This means, for ev­ery 10 salmon caught and re­leased back into the river, one will die.

There­fore, Gale be­lieves if

re­ten­tion an­glers are only able to kill one salmon, the same should be true for catch-an­drelease an­glers.

In other words, based on DFO’s data, catch-and-re­lease an­glers should only be al­lowed to re­lease 10 salmon in to­tal for the same pe­riod that re­ten­tion an­glers are only al­lowed to keep one.

Cur­rently, they can catc­hand-re­lease three per day.

Bad science?

But Gale, and an­glers in at­ten­dance, also ques­tion the science be­hind DFO’s data. Many be­lieve the mor­tal­ity rate for catch-and-re­lease salmon may, in fact, be higher than 10 per cent.

CORA and an­glers are con­cerned that DFO does not fac­tor in water tem­per­a­ture, the size of rivers and how peo­ple han­dle the salmon.

Many peo­ple, for ex­am­ple, take the salmon out of the water and get a picture taken with it. But Gale says it’s CORA’s be­lief that the salmon should never be taken out of the water be­fore it’s re­leased.

Some in at­ten­dance pointed out that catch-and-re­lease an­glers some­times han­dle the fish with gloves. They say this is a big no-no, as it re­moves the slime from the fish, de­creas­ing its chances for sur­vival.

CORA be­lieves bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion is needed on how to prop­erly catch-and-re­lease a salmon.

An­other ques­tion was raised over the length of time the salmon had to sur­vive in DFO’s study – whether, for in­stance, it sur­vived at the time of hook and re­lease, or a week later, or to the end of the sea­son. Fur­ther­more, it was asked whether they could make it to spawn the same as a salmon that was never hooked.

Ac­cord­ing to DFO’s 2002 re­search on the ef­fects of catch-and-re­lease angling on At­lantic salmon on the Conne River, three salmon died “within four hours of be­ing caught, and one a week later.”

The study did not say any­thing on the salmon’s com­par­a­tive abil­ity to spawn af­ter be­ing hooked.

CORA sup­ports the De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Land Re­sources plans to con­duct an up­dated two-year study on the fate of salmon caught and re­leased.

Pri­va­ti­za­tion

For Gale and some of the an­glers in at­ten­dance, pri­va­ti­za­tion of the salmon fish­ery is a ma­jor con­cern.

“We know on some of our rivers runs are re­ally good, yet groups ad­vo­cate hook and re­lease only, so why would they want to do that?” Gale asked, in con­ver­sa­tion with The North­ern Pen fol­low­ing the meet­ing.

He be­lieves out­fit­ters want to take ad­van­tage of a per­ceived business op­por­tu­nity.

They know the wealthy are will­ing to pay dearly for the rights to catch-and-re­lease fish on these rivers.

“That’s the way it is the UK, that’s the way it is in New Brunswick, the rivers are pri­vately owned,” he said. “God help us if that ever hap­pens in New­found­land.”

That means that many lo­cal re­ten­tion an­glers, who Gale says make up about 95 per cent of an­glers in the prov­ince, would no longer be able to af­ford to fish on the rivers.

“It seems to me that they’re cater­ing to a small mi­nor­ity who want ex­clu­sive ac­cess to pools,” he said.

Gale says in the late-1990s there was a move­ment in New­found­land and Labrador to pri­va­tize, but an­glers protested and the govern­ment backed off on the plan.

Sub-com­mit­tee

Near the end of the meet­ing, an­glers in at­ten­dance ap­pointed six mem­bers for a lo­cal CORA sub-com­mit­tee. Cur­tis Richards, Darl Scott, Cory Simms, Jeff Slade, Steve Shep­pard and Glenn Roberts agreed to join the com­mit­tee.

A chair­per­son was not elected at that time.

Gale says CORA has been set­ting up sub-com­mit­tees in dif­fer­ent re­gions across the prov­ince.

This is to help fa­cil­i­tate bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the mem­ber­ship in those re­gions.

STEPHEN ROBERTS / THE NORTH­ERN PEN

Ward Sam­son (stand­ing), of Main Brook, spoke to fel­low salmon an­glers dur­ing the Cit­i­zens Out­doors Rights Al­liance meet­ing in St. An­thony on Wed­nes­day, June 13.

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