Ques­tion­ing the sci­ence

Counts that led to clo­sure of salmon re­ten­tion on Labrador rivers don’t make sense to Hunt­ing and Fish­ing As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent

The Labradorian - - Front Page - BY EVAN CAREEN

The Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans (DFO) closed salmon re­ten­tion on rivers in Labrador on July 26. The pres­i­dent of the Labrador Hunt­ing and Fish­ing As­so­ci­a­tion said he “wasn’t the least bit sur­prised what­so­ever.”

“I say that based on how DFO have made de­ci­sions and have im­ple­mented them in the past,” said Tony Chubbs. “This is ex­actly what they did in the early-sea­son re­view and they ba­si­cally lumped ev­ery­body to­gether in Labrador with the is­land and ba­si­cally did the same thing go­ing across the board.”

Chubbs is re­fer­ring to a de­ci­sion that was made to close rivers in New­found­land to salmon re­ten­tion a week ear­lier, which met with sim­i­lar skep­ti­cism on the is­land. He said while DFO may say their de­ci­sions are sci­ence based, he would like to see what sci­ence they are us­ing, since the salmon counts in Labrador ex­ceeded pre­vi­ous years and the five-year his­tor­i­cal av­er­age.

“There’s no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion what­so­ever, not sci­en­tif­i­cally, not based on what they use in their counts,” he said. “If they’re us­ing some other sci­en­tific data I’d like to know what it is be­cause they’re not telling any­body what other data they have.”

As an ex­am­ple the in­dex river (the one DFO put a salmon lad­der on for the count) for Salmon Fish­ing area 1 is the English River. It is show­ing as 603 salmon counted as of Aug. 15, com­pared to 479 for all of 2017 and with a five-year av­er­age of 537.

Chubbs said that av­er­age in­cludes two of the five years that were the worst years ever on record and they’re still count­ing.

He said the as­so­ci­a­tion has no is­sue with a pre­cau­tion­ary ap­proach to man­age­ment but feel this has been taken to the nth de­gree.

“Clos­ing these rivers down, that’s not pre­cau­tion­ary, it’s just ridicu­lous,” he said. “That’s like say­ing we need to have 50 salmon com­ing to the river to meet the re­quire­ment to open it for fish­ing.

“But in­stead of 50 we get 100 come in 2016 and 90 come in in 2017 and close it be­cause it de­clined over the pre­vi­ous year. You are still ex­ceed­ing your salmon by 200 per cent so the ra­tio­nale doesn’t make sense.”

Some of those most im­pacted by this are the fish­ing lodges, Chubbs said, and this may drive some of them out of busi­ness.

“Peo­ple plan these trips a year, two years in ad­vance and now, to be told they can’t keep any of the salmon, that’s go­ing to have a huge im­pact. It will be hard for the lodges here, that’s a huge amount of money lost.”

Ac­cord­ing to Chubbs, ev­ery in­di­ca­tion is that salmon is go­ing to be a boom year in com­par­i­son to the last two and some of the rivers in com­par­i­son to long-term av­er­age.

“To me it’s a very knee-jerk re­ac­tion by DFO,” he said. “They are not lis­ten­ing to the data they gather in rivers to make their judg­ments.”

The Labradorian con­tacted DFO for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion but a re­sponse was not re­ceived as of press time.

FILE PHOTO

Tony Chubbs, pres­i­dent of the Labrador Hunt­ing and Fish­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, says there is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to close rivers in Labrador to salmon re­ten­tion.

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