Are NL Salmon Angling Perspectives Confused?


Letter: Salmon angling perspectives confused?

Letters to the Editor

Apr. 3, 2018

The widely varying views of those speaking passionately about salmon angling in our province must seem perplexing to those not close to the issue. I would like to humbly submit what, in my opinion, might clarify and outline the perspectives of those involved and some other related factors.

Salmon fishers in the province fall into one of two groups as I see it: those who feel that stocks are being severely impacted such that a ban on retention of angled fish or a program of catch and release may have to be considered and those that feel they should be allowed to catch and retain fish as they always have.

The latter group want no part of catch and release, they believe it will not work and/or they want no part of learning how to do it “properly.”

They also believe that due to there likely being fewer anglers on the rivers if catch and release is implemented, the practice will result in an increase in poaching.

The former group feel that it is irresponsible to maintain retention fisheries if stocks are endangered.

All involved want to see salmon stocks preserved for the future but there is a fundamental disagreement on how to achieve that.

Suffice it to say opinions are strongly held by all sides and dialogue, especially on social media, is passionate, to say the least!

Superimposed on these perspectives there is a fundamental distrust of DFO as the managers of the stock in terms of a perceived lack of effort to assess stocks or to take appropriate enforcement action with respect to poaching or the by catch of salmon that may be taken by other types of commercial fishing gear.

Also there appears to be a distrust by some of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, a prominent international group based in the U.S. and Canada that strongly advocates for stock preservation, possibly through catch and release if necessary.

Other issues of concern are the high numbers of seals that are likely preying on migrating salmon smolts each spring, sea pen aquaculture practices related to disease and genetic impacts on natural stocks, commercial fisheries for Atlantic salmon in St-Pierre-Miquelon and Greenland and the impacts of predatory species such as striped bass, whose range seems to be extended northwards as a result of climate change.

Still confused? I have been fishing for many years and I know I am.

As for me, I am looking forward with great anticipation to our annual June trip to Bay St. George to kick off the 2018-angling season, regardless of what the rules on retention/catch and release are going to be.

Interestingly enough, in 2016 I chose — for the first time ever — to release two grilse, one in Bay St. George and one on the Pinware River in Labrador and I have to say it was a great feeling to see both fish swim off, seemingly none the worse for wear. Here’s hoping for a great season for everyone in 2018!

Marvin Barnes

St. John’s, NL