Tak­ing stock of the salmon

Low salmon re­turns caus­ing DFO to take a se­ri­ous look at it

The Western Star - - Front Page - BY DAVE KEARSEY THE WESTERN STAR [email protected]­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_S­port­sDesk

With salmon num­bers down, DFO is look­ing at a har­vest­ing ban

Ge­off Veinott says a sig­nif­i­cant drop in the num­ber of salmon re­turn­ing to rivers on the is­land is the rea­son be­hind the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans tak­ing a se­ri­ous look at rec­om­mend­ing a har­vest­ing ban for the re­main­der of the sea­son.

Veinott, a DFO re­search sci­en­tist based in St. John’s, re­ceives weekly re­ports from the count­ing fa­cil­i­ties around the is­land and the num­bers he’s seen lead him to be­lieve there is a real cause for con­cern.

Look­ing at his lat­est re­port on July 9, he no­ticed all rivers were be­hind where DFO ex­pected them to be at this time of the year. The most dra­matic ex­am­ple of the de­cline is the Ex­ploit’s River, which only had 2,500 fish go through on July 9, which is a far cry from the fiveyear av­er­age of 12,700 salmon.

It’s not just in cen­tral where the num­bers are down. He said num­bers are re­ally down in rivers on the north­east coast and Harry’s River on the west coast has seen a 30 per cent drop in the num­ber of sil­ver beat­ies re­turn­ing to the river.

“We’ve never seen these kind of num­bers this late in the year be­fore so we re­ally don’t know what’s go­ing on,” Veinott said.

While he’s not sure what fac­tors are hav­ing an im­pact on the num­bers, he has seen a pat­tern where salmon tend to come into the rivers late and then the late re­turns tend to be poor when there is cold springs and heavy ice, which was cer­tainly the case in this prov­ince this year.

Man­age­ment will be look­ing at its op­tions over the next week and Veinott ex­pects a de­ci­sion to be made very soon, but he wants peo­ple to re­al­ize that sci­ence isn’t the only fac­tor man­age­ment has to take into con­sid­er­a­tion.

He said so­cio-eco­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions are also im­por­tant to keep in mind be­cause salmon angling pro­vides an eco­nomic boost to the pro­vin­cial econ­omy and catch­ing and eat­ing fresh At­lantic salmon is part of our cul­ture so these things must be weighed into the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process.

“We want to maximize the num­ber of fish left in the river to spawn,” he said when asked what was his fo­cus from a sci­ence point of view. “When we see these types of de­clines that’s our main con­cern and the only le­gal har­vest of salmon is by angling so if we want to in­crease the num­ber of salmon that are left in the river then some­thing has to give on the other side I guess is one way of putting it.”


Low salmon re­turns has DFO pon­der­ing a har­vest­ing ban for the rest of the sea­son.

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