Fred Parsons Retires from Exploits' ERMA


Retirement from ERMA bittersweet for Fred Parsons

Looking back and toward the future

Krysta Carroll krys28@hotmail.com
Published on October 10, 2017

GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – The Exploits is a world-class, industry-leading river, but how many actually know its history?

Fred Parsons, executive director of the Exploits River Management Association (ERMA), remembers it all as if it was the recent past.

“I came here in May of 1985 and I signed a three-month employment contract,” Parsons said.

Thirty-three years later Parsons is retiring, and this past summer Randy Edison was hired to take his place and learn the ropes.

The history Edison is learning plays a big part in plans going forward.

ERMA was created when closures in the mill led to some early retirements and job losses. The chamber of commerce kicked in to help, with a mandate to develop the economy in central Newfoundland using natural resources as the base.

“They didn’t know where this would take them,” Parsons said. “The plans in 1985 wasn’t to build an interpretation centre and an RV park.

“I often say are we an environmental group with business overtones, or are we a business group with environmental overtones. I really don’t know,” Parsons said.

When Parsons began with the group, there wasn’t a big run of salmon on the Exploits River. Building massive fish ways was one of ERMA’s first initiatives, building $2- and $3-million projects in-house.

“At the same time, we built a massive hatchery that we used to stock the river,” Parsons said. “The Exploits wasn’t a salmon river. It’s a person-made river.”

In the late 1970s, there were 1,500 fish in the river, Parsons said – a number ERMA has brought to close to 50,000.

In 1992 the group built the Salmonid Interpretation Centre, and the following year added a restaurant.

“It only seems like yesterday,” Parsons said.