We say no to hook and re­lease salmon an­gling in New­found­land

The Western Star - - EDITORIAL -

The large ma­jor­ity of New­found­lan­ders do not em­brace hook and re­lease fish­ing as a con­ser­va­tion method for At­lantic salmon. When rivers were closed to re­ten­tion an­gling in 2017 and now again in 2018, the rivers were all but de­serted. In this prov­ince, salmon an­gling, like hunt­ing and cod fish­ing, is re­garded as an en­joy­able pur­suit of en­joy­able food. We do ac­cept that an­gling and hunt­ing are con­sump­tive prac­tices, and the re­sources consumed must be man­aged and con­served fairly, to en­sure they are sus­tained.

New­found­lan­ders have em­braced lim­it­ing daily and sea­sonal catch, lim­it­ing open sea­sons, and other con­ser­va­tion tools, but re­ject con­ver­sion to hook and re­lease. Many see it as a dis­re­spect­ful for­eign prac­tice, meant to al­low con­tin­ued ex­ploita­tion of a weak­ened re­source for the sake of tourism in­dus­tries, and to pla­cate the egos of an­glers who want to dis­play dom­i­nance over a mere fish. Most be­lieve it is bet­ter to stop ex­ploit­ing salmon al­to­gether, and to work to re­build the re­source if that is what prop­erly con­ducted fish­eries sci­ence rec­om­mends. They dismiss the bleat­ing of the hook and re­lease crowd cry­ing that poach­ing will run ram­pant if they can’t con­tinue to stroke their egos. They call it as they see it: bla­tant, thought­less, greedy be­hav­iour.

New­found­land, through coin­ci­dence of ge­og­ra­phy and his­tory, has al­lowed sev­eral gen­er­a­tions, re­gard­less of their sta­tion in life, to en­joy hunt­ing and fish­ing. In other coun­tries, and even in other prov­inces of Canada, it is far dif­fer­ent. Un­der the guise of con­ser­va­tion and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, wild game and fish have long ago been greed­ily gath­ered un­der the con­trol of the wealthy.

Although penned for a dif­fer­ent time and pur­pose, these lines from an old Irish tune come to mind:

“For the strangers came and tried to teach us their way:

They scorned us just for bein’ what we are...”

Doug Shep­pard,


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