NL salmon fishing is sport and not a means of survival


Letter: Salmon fishing is sport and not a means of survival

Apr. 3, 2018

It has been very disheartening over the past eight months to see the reaction to last year’s very low salmon runs and the consequent action by DFO to restrict Atlantic Salmon angling to hook and release only.

The low numbers, following on the heels of a similar dramatic drop in salmon returning to New Brunswick rivers in 2015, are stark evidence of something seriously wrong in the salmon’s world.

The disheartening part of all this, besides watching the steady decline in salmon stocks, is the reaction of the Newfoundland and Labrador Salmon angling “community.” I use inverted commas around “community” because what once truly was a large, and largely united group of sportsmen and sportswomen, a true community, who enjoyed fishing for salmon, has been riven apart by a group of vocal, self-identified “retention anglers.”

Some of them have been regulars on The Telegram letters page.

Over the past 20 years, these people have spread xenophobic falsehoods and misinformation about hook and release and other management initiatives, about salmon conservation organizations and about many individuals in and out of those organizations who have been working hard on a volunteer basis to save the salmon, in stark contrast to the “retention anglers” whose only interest is salmon in the freezer.

This is still going on, aided and encouraged by politically motivated provincial government representatives who should know better.

The salmon deserve better.

Full disclosure. Since 1985 I have been an active member of several Salmon conservation organizations, including The Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland and the Atlantic Salmon Federation. In all that time I have not seen one of these vocal, self-identified “retention anglers” provide any of the hard voluntary hands-on work needed to help Atlantic Salmon survive. Their interest in salmon disappears once their last tag is used.

The Government of Canada has a Wild Atlantic Salmon Policy, available online at: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/policies-politiques/wasp-pss/wasp-psas-2009-eng.htm.

This policy, among other things, commits the Government of Canada, through DFO, to manage salmon “… based on good scientific information and consider biological, social, and economic consequences.”

One of the base principles of the policy is that salmon be managed on a sustainable basis. If that means a catch-and-release only recreational fishery, so be it.

Salmon fishing is a sport after all, not a means of survival.

Robert Bishop

St. John’s