Wild At­lantic salmon re­cov­ery prime topic

The Southern Gazette - - SPORTS -

The out­comes of the annual meet­ing of the North At­lantic Salmon Con­ser­va­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (NASCO) be­ing held in Ed­in­burgh, Scot­land June 3-8, have the abil­ity to make or break the be­gin­nings of wild At­lantic salmon restora­tion in North Amer­ica.

Sue Scott, VP of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the At­lantic Salmon Fed­er­a­tion (ASF) said “Up for ne­go­ti­a­tion is a quota on Green­land’s com­mer­cial fish­ery that har­vests wild At­lantic salmon from North Amer­ica’s rivers.”

ASF, along with 34 other non­govern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions from North Amer­ica and Europe, will urge NASCO to heed sci­en­tific ad­vice and im­ple­ment an­other three-year agree­ment for a zero quota on Green­land’s com­mer­cial salmon fish­ery.

Sci­en­tific ad­vice from the In­ter­na­tional Coun­cil for the Ex­plo­ration of the Sea (ICES) is there is no op­tion for a fish­ery in Green­land in the next three years that would al­low the num­ber of large At­lantic salmon re­turn­ing to North Amer­i­can rivers to reach their min­i­mum over­all con­ser­va­tion limit.

Although ICES sci­en­tists did pre­dict that large salmon re­turns will con­tinue to in­crease over the next three years, their num­bers will not in­crease enough to sus­tain a har­vest at Green­land.

The 2011 re­turns to North Amer­ica were the best of the past two decades for both grilse (salmon that spend only one win­ter at sea) and large salmon that travel to dis­tant Green­land feed­ing grounds. Th­ese in­creases are the first in­di­ca­tors large salmon are be­gin­ning to move out of a crit­i­cal dan­ger zone that reached an all-time low in 2001.

Up­turns in grilse num­bers in 2011 ap­proached 700,000, closer to the good runs of the past, when they peaked at 900,000 in 1981.

An im­por­tant fac­tor in the im­proved runs of large salmon has been a sus­pen­sion of Green­land’s com­mer­cial salmon fish­ery. NASCO has been suc­cess­ful in ne­go­ti­at­ing a zero com­mer­cial quota for this fish­ery since 2003.

The NASCO agree­ment is re­in­forced by a pri­vate sec­tor agree­ment among ASF, the North At­lantic Salmon Fund of Ice­land and Green­land fish­er­men. This agree­ment has been in place since 2002 and pro­vides fund­ing to en­gage Green­land fish­er­men in em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties that are an al­ter­na­tive to salmon fish­ing.

Ms. Scott said “Ne­go­ti­at­ing a zero har­vest at Green­land for the next three years re­quires lead­er­ship from other Par­ties to NASCO, in­clud­ing Canada.”

Green­land wants to be treated fairly at NASCO and points to other coun­tries that have sub­stan­tial salmon fish­eries in their own ju­ris­dic­tions. Last year, Green­land’s fish­er­men demon­strated at NASCO’s meet­ing held in Il­lulis­sat, de­mand­ing a com­mer­cial fish­ery.

They are see­ing more salmon and ar­gue other par­ties are still killing far more than they kill.

Canada’s to­tal har­vest amounted to 179 tons (13.668 large salmon and 63,851 grilse) in 2011, an in­crease from 153 tons in 2010.

Green­land har­vested 28 tons (6,800 salmon) in its in­ter­nal use or sub­sis­tence fish­ery in 2011, a de­crease from 43 tons in 2010.

Ms. Scott in­di­cated “Ex­cept for mixed-pop­u­la­tion fish­eries off Labrador, the in­tent in Canada is to re­strict har­vest to salmon pop­u­la­tions that meet min­i­mum con­ser­va­tion lim­its, while the Green­land fish­ery is to­tally a mixed-stock fish­ery. Be­cause salmon from many rivers are mix­ing in feed­ing grounds off Green­land, it is im­pos­si­ble to re­strict har­vest to healthy stocks, such as those of the Mi­ramichi (New Brunswick).

“The stocks that are en­dan­gered or threat­ened, such as those from Maine, south­ern New­found­land, and the At­lantic coast of Nova Sco­tia are also vul­ner­a­ble to har­vest at Green­land.”

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