For­get al­ter­na­tive facts, let’s stick to the truth

The Western Star - - Editorial -

An­drew Bouzan’s let­ter on July 20 (“DFO’s plan a silent killer for re­turn­ing salmon stocks”) ped­dles al­ter­na­tive facts and salmon con­spir­a­cies.

It’s dis­ap­point­ing that the pres­i­dent of the New­found­land and Labrador Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion is us­ing the cur­rent At­lantic salmon sit­u­a­tion as an op­por­tu­nity to go on the at­tack and mis­lead the public.

There is mor­tal­ity as­so­ci­ated with catch and re­lease, but it’s not the 10 per cent that Bouzan claims. For those with an open mind, the facts are out there.

For ex­am­ple, a May 2017 sci­en­tific re­view of live re­lease stud­ies done on 12 At­lantic salmon rivers found 96 per cent of fish caught on a fly sur­vived. We’ve posted this on our web­site, asf.ca, so peo­ple can see for them­selves.

Us­ing al­ter­na­tive facts, Bouzan is push­ing for col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment over proven con­ser­va­tion mea­sures that keep peo­ple on the wa­ter. Live re­lease is al­ways bet­ter than clo­sures, which would ef­fec­tively turn the rivers over to poach­ers.

His im­pos­si­ble math aside, the one true num­ber Bouzan doesn’t men­tion is 31,000. That’s how many grilse were killed by an­glers in New­found­land and Labrador last year, even as num­bers plum­meted. There were also more than 37,000 salmon re­leased, prov­ing many al­ready prac­tice this con­ser­va­tion tech­nique.

Bouzan also took At­lantic Salmon Fed­er­a­tion (ASF) pres­i­dent Bill Tay­lor’s 2016 quote to Forbes mag­a­zine out of con­text. In the in­ter­view, Tay­lor said an­glers should re­lease all their fish to set an ex­am­ple for Green­lan­ders and First Na­tions. Then Tay­lor added, “How­ever, I also un­der­stand that from a purely bi­o­log­i­cal stand­point that if a salmon pop­u­la­tion in a river is healthy and is sur­pass­ing its spawn­ing tar­get ev­ery year, then there is a har­vestable sur­plus of salmon in that one river.”

In other words, if runs are healthy, peo­ple should have a choice to keep or re­lease. When there is no abun­dance there should be no har­vest. An­glers, as stew­ards, should lead by ex­am­ple in­stead of point­ing at other peo­ple and join­ing a race to the bot­tom.

Live re­lease aside, Bouzan’s most out­ra­geous claim is that ASF is be­hind some shadow con­spir­acy to pri­va­tize New­found­land rivers. This is pure non­sense. By what mech­a­nism and to what end? He is try­ing to cre­ate a scape­goat, and per­pet­u­ate an “us and them” men­tal­ity.

ASF is us, not them. We have hun­dreds of mem­bers in New­found­land and Labrador, a re­gional of­fice in Cor­ner Brook, and eight af­fil­i­ated lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions. We’ve held the provin­cial gov­ern­ment to ac­count on aqua­cul­ture, we’re spend­ing re­search dol­lars to start a new study river in Labrador for our ocean track­ing pro­gram, and we’ve launched a com­pre­hen­sive fish health sur­vey that will in­clude the prov­ince.

We’re proud to be an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion. The fact we have both a Cana­dian and Amer­i­can board, and mem­bers from around the world, proves that At­lantic salmon mat­ter a great deal to many peo­ple. This should be cel­e­brated, not panned. We value all an­glers and all rivers.

If DFO sus­pends the recre­ational har­vest be­cause of plum­met­ing At­lantic salmon re­turns, we will sup­port that be­cause it’s the right thing to do. If Bouzan wants to stop fish­ing al­to­gether, that’s his choice. But don’t drag ev­ery­one else down too.

Neville Crabbe

Di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions At­lantic Salmon Fed­er­a­tion

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