Prov­ince putting salmon in fur­ther peril

Let­ter writer calls on govt. to change its ap­proach to man­age­ment of recre­ational salmon fish­ery.

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front page -

It is a con­ser­va­tion tru­ism that un­con­trolled har­vest­ing of salmon from an ac­ces­si­ble river sys­tem will not be sus­tain­able. There­fore, a con­ser­va­tion man­age­ment plan must, at the very least, con­trol the num­bers of li­cences on a sys­tem or its re­ten­tion quota, or prefer­ably both. Through­out my con­sid­er­able an­gling ca­reer around the prov­ince, this sim­ple fact has never been ad­hered to, ex­cept by re­mote out­fit­ter op­er­a­tions in Labrador largely mak­ing de­ci­sions on their own ini­tia­tive to pro­tect their in­vest­ments.

Some 70 years ago, un­lim­ited num­bers of an­glers were per­mit­ted to re­tain eight salmon daily for a long five- month sea­son. This loose daily re­stric­tion was grad­u­ally re­duced to six, then four, then two, then to 15 per sea­son, then six, four and now one per sea­son. Over the ma­jor­ity of this pe­riod, the num­bers of nat­u­rally spawned salmon en­ter­ing ac­ces­si­ble rivers grad­u­ally de­clined.

Cer­tainly un­con­trolled com­mer­cial net­ting in our own off­shore wa­ters, cou­pled with a Green­land and St- Pierre fish­ery were a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor, but our own un­con­trolled an­gling in our ac­ces­si­ble river sys­tems was and re­mains the largest prob­lem. The num­bers of salmon en­ter­ing our rivers did im­prove for a short pe­riod af­ter the 1992 com­mer­cial ban, but then the grad­ual de­cline con­tin­ued to the sit­u­a­tion we see to­day.

One mi­nor con­ser­va­tion plan did oc­cur on the Is­land in the early 1990s in an ef­fort by DFO to ad­dress the de­cline, but sadly was not con­tin­ued be­yond one year, not be­cause it was in­ef­fec­tive, but be­cause some an­glers di­rected a vo­cif­er­ous pub­lic cam­paign against DFO’s river re­ten­tion quo­tas as be­ing overly re­stric­tive and not sup­ported by ac­tual river counts.

Ba­si­cally, this plan con­sisted of set­ting up zones around the prov­ince with re­ten­tion quo­tas for each. These re­ten­tion quo­tas were split be­tween July and Au­gust with two weeks in each month avail­able for re­ten­tion or re­lease. The zonal re­ten­tion num­bers were largely col­lected by stu­dents trav­el­ing along the rivers re­port­ing num­bers to the DFO guardians. When a zonal quota was reached, the re­ten­tion would cease. In the case of July, should the re­ten­tion quota not be reached at the mid­dle of the month, it could be car­ried over into Au­gust.

The lack of a sen­si­ble con­ser­va­tion man­age­ment plan is much more crit­i­cal to­day and will be greatly ex­ac­er­bated by Fish­eries and Land Re­sources Min­is­ter Gerry Byrne’s re­cent foray into the process. This min­is­ter ap­pears to have an in­nate abil­ity for early cap­ture of the po­lit­i­cal low ground in what­ever port­fo­lios he has headed, fed­eral or provin­cial. His lat­est en­deav­our is no ex­cep­tion in the de­ci­sion to in­crease as much as pos­si­ble the num­bers of salmon li­cences by re­duc­ing the cost some 80 per cent to $5.75 — which is well be­low the cost of a farmed salmon and will add greater pres­sure to kill our re­main­ing wild fish for purely po­lit­i­cal ap­pease­ment.

Con­ser­va­tion is now out the win­dow and pun­ish­ment of an­glers choos­ing to re­lease fish is the new or­der of the day. This de­ci­sion will not only neg­a­tively af­fect out­fit­ters, but gen­eral tourism around the prov­ince through the loss of badly needed ser­vice em­ploy­ment. The ini­tial lim­i­ta­tion of four an­gled fish per day by DFO had more to do with the con­trol on un­sports­man­like hog­ging by some an­glers rather than con­cerns over fish mor­tal­ity. All large salmon must be re­leased.

The re­lease of an­gled fish is an ac­cepted sci­en­tific con­ser­va­tion man­age­ment prac­tice used through­out Canada and the world. Given proper han­dling within es­tab­lished tem­per­a­ture pro­to­cols and short air ex­po­sure, vir­tu­ally all re­leased salmon will sur­vive to spawn.

Un­der Canada’s Con­sti­tu­tion, the man­age­ment of In­land fish­ery rests with the gov­ern­ment of Canada. Man­age­ment of this fish­ery or sections thereof can be del­e­gated to prov­inces un­der a le­gal agree­ment.

As to whether the min­is­ter’s pub­lic an­nounce­ment on his de­part­ment’s leg­is­la­tion is legally ca­pa­ble of per­mit­ting the in­land fish­ery reg­u­la­tions he has or in­tends to put into ef­fect, it is a moot point. For the sake of the salmon this should be chal­lenged by le­gal ex­perts.

T.E. Bursey St. Philip’s

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.