NB Salmon Council Fears New Provincial Forest Strategy May Harm Wild Atlantic Salmon Stocks
For immediate release
April 14, 2014
Fredericton, N.B.—The New Brunswick Salmon Council (NBSC) is voicing deep concern over the Provincial Crown forest strategy that was released on March 12, 2014 by the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources. That announcement has alarmed the NBSC, a non-profit corporation that represents 28 salmon conservation and angling organizations interested in the conservation and wise management of wild Atlantic salmon.
The new strategy will increase harvest from Crown forest by 20%, reduce the Conservation Forest from 28% to 23% and will further reduce buffer zone size and integrity, all of which cause alarm to the salmon angling and conservation community. The forest industry appears to have successfully lobbied government to increase the amount of wood that can be harvested from public lands without any consultation with non-industry stakeholders like the NBSC, the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) or any of our affiliated watershed and conservation organizations. This increase in harvest from Crown Land would permit trees to be cut from the conservation forest, which includes riparian buffer zones that protect the health of fish habitats in the brooks, rivers and lakes of New Brunswick.
“Our membership is convinced that opening more conservation land to harvesting of trees in sensitive, stream buffers could endanger vulnerable Atlantic salmon populations by damaging the habitats upon which they depend,” says Debbie Norton, President of NBSC. “It is appalling that such a sweeping change to the forest management regime is being forced upon us without any discussion with the concerned watershed groups and conservation groups. How is it possible that this hasn’t been subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)? This is a question we’ve already asked of Minister Soucy of Environment and Local Government and we await his response.”
One of the mandates of the NBSC is to encourage cooperation between various levels of government involved in conservation and management of wild Atlantic salmon. In February, the NBSC wrote to Natural Resources Minister Paul Robichaud, indicating that the Council is prepared to assist in the development of a strategy that will ensure the sustainability of Atlantic salmon stocks, the social values that are important to the citizens of the province, and the sport fishing industry, which is dependent on both healthy forests and salmon stocks.
“Anglers, especially salmon anglers, contribute significantly to the provincial economy,” said Norton. “The GDP value of New Brunswick’s wild Atlantic salmon in 2010 was $54.7 million according to a study by Gardner Pinfold Economists. The recreational salmon fishery alone was worth $39.8 million and creates thousands of jobs, most of which are located in rural New Brunswick.”
In its February letter, the NBSC requested that the Department of Natural Resources provide a complete list of the scientific research used in support of any proposed changes to the Forest Strategy. “So far, that list has not been provided”, says Norton, adding that it should be readily available for public consideration.
Several NB Atlantic salmon populations are in serious states of decline, and intensified habitat-related pressures such as those caused by further buffer strip removal and more extensive clear-cutting could exacerbate these declines.
506-622-8834 (W), 506-627-6492 (M)
Vice President, NBSC
506-444-9012 (H), 506-238-4616 (M)