Poachers Threaten Vulnerable Salmon Stocks


'Vulnerable' salmon stocks threatened by poachers, says N.L. enforcement officer

Swimming upstream is the least of the hardships as 2016 offences spike

By Stephanie Kinsella, CBC News Posted: Dec 20, 2016 11:18 AM NT

Newfoundland and Labrador's already "vulnerable" salmon stocks are being threatened by this year's increase in serious fish-related offences, wildlife officials warn.

"It's very detrimental ... it's widespread," says Hayward Taylor, chief of enforcement with the justice department's fish and wildlife enforcement division.

In 2016, illegal netting more than doubled to 43 violations, up from 20 the year before.

Illegal sale offences also jumped this year, to 27, compared to 17 in 2015.
Double whammy

Taylor said salmon stocks in the province have been declining for years and that, combined with illegal netting, is "really hurting the stocks."

"When you're trying to recover your stocks, it's a situation where a net across the river where the salmon come up the river annually to spawn, they don't get a chance to spawn and the river could be decimated," he said.

Taylor said some of the offenders nabbed this year were from operations that enforcement officers had tried to break up for years.
Offenders beware

Taylor said tips from the public are "huge to our business."

He said while his agency isn't receiving more tips, the ones it is getting are more reliable and more current.

"Without the public's support, we would just not be effective," Taylor said.

He's already anticipating enforcement efforts in 2017.

"We have plans. We have other operations going on where we know this has been happening and we just missed them. But hopefully next year we won't miss them, if they want to go back at it," Hayward said.

"I'll be happy and we'll be happy if they don't go back at it and the salmon stocks win."

With files from Corner Brook Morning Show