Entitlement and politics will kill our wild salmon


Letter: Entitlement and politics will surely kill our wild Atlantic salmon

Letters to the Editor

Published: Apr 07 at 6 a.m.

My Feb. 15 letter to the editor of The Telegram “DFO Minister must halt the killing of wild Atlantic salmon,” generated considerable   attention in the Telegram. As a Newfoundlander interested in saving our salmon, I am gravely concerned with the tone of the responses.

None of the responders raised any concern about the massive kill of Canadian salmon by Greenland, St-Pierre-Miquelon, aboriginal groups, nor the anglers themselves. It seems they are quite content with this slaughter even though salmon stocks are at historic low levels.

None admitted stocks are in trouble. Instead they all expressed frustration with the potential of not being able to retain (kill) salmon this summer. It is sad to see this “entitlement” emerging in face of the stock decline and to hear outdoor rights groups state that they are not willing to sacrifice a few salmon for the table today to ensure future generations will have sustainable runs of wild salmon. It seems they have not learned anything from the cod and commercial salmon moratoriums in the 1990’s and are not concerned for their children’s entitlement to have salmon in the future.   

They all dismiss DFO’s scientific data and complain that the small number of counting facilities are not sufficient to make decisions on stock; or that the salmon are plentiful and are moving North; or that DFO’s conservation limits are inappropriate etc.

Yes, additional rivers should be monitored, but this is the best science we have. DFO can’t make speculative decisions based on data they don’t have. They also criticized DFO for halting the kill of salmon on the islands rivers last summer.

If DFO had not taken any action, they would be the first to slam DFO for doing nothing.

Well, folks, you can’t have it both ways.

The responders have vetted their anger, emotion and denial that stocks are in trouble by blaming the world’s most prestigious wild Atlantic salmon organization, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, for the salmon’s downfall and once again have the gall to suggest ASF is interested in privatizing our rivers.  I guess when you believe your tradition of having a salmon for the plate is about to come to an end and you are not worried about the future of salmon stocks, the best approach is to blame someone and an international conservation organization with its headquarters in New Brunswick is fair game.

I also find it very disconcerting to see that none of the major salmon conservation groups in the province (SAEN, SPAWN, SCNL) have come forward to advocate their positions on the current stock status or retention angling and support ASF’s international conservation work. By not speaking out they are missing an opportunity to educate the general public about salmon stocks, the importance of catch and release and the need for precautionary management in light of stock declines. Sadly, their silence allows the outdoor rights groups to sway public opinion in their favour and permits incorrect information to be presented to the public. Let’s remember folks, politicians are swayed by public opinion.

If you don’t believe that is the case, look how Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne jumped into the fray to support the outdoor rights groups and his governments policy to continue the kill of salmon in 2018 that totally ignores DFO scientists concerns.

The minister’s non-conservation policy is a sad day for Newfoundland and of course for our salmon. He is tapping into the entitlement movement for political purposes; he is not interested in saving our wild Atlantic salmon. He is playing the same old game other politicians use when they can’t tackle an issue directly and positively: pick a fight with the feds, in this case DFO.

I have confidence that DFO Minister Dominic LeBlanc will stop gambling with salmon stocks by giving concessions to user groups and focus of “saving” our salmon. The salmon do not belong to the retention angler, nor the catch and release angler, nor DFO; they belong to all of us especially our children’s children. The resource does NOT have to be equally shared under the current stock conditions. DFO shared the resource in the past and we can all see the result.

It is time for decisive conservation action. LeBlanc should be extremely cautious and make management decisions that ensure wild Atlantic salmon are around for the future.   

Donald Hustins

St. John’s