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We All Want To Conserve Salmon Stocks

THE TELEGRAM (ST. JOHN'S) - Letters to the Editor

We all want to conserve salmon stocks
Published on August 22, 2015

Im writing in response to the recent letter by Sid Styles, chairman of the Bay St. George Salmon Stewardship Group, titled Dont mess with a salmon success story.

I would like to thank Mr. Styles and other members of his group for their tireless efforts to conserve, protect and enhance Atlantic salmon stocks and the recreational salmon fishery in Bay St. George rivers.

At the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), we believe very strongly that effective local stewardship groups play a vital role in conserving salmon stocks and maintaining salmon angling opportunities for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The future of salmon and salmon fishing depends on having a strong community of local anglers and concerned citizens who value the resource, who have a vision for a healthy wild Atlantic salmon resource and a well-managed recreational salmon fishery, and who are willing and able to provide leadership to get us there. Stewardship groups are a great way for anglers to become involved and make a contribution to salmon conservation and enhancement at the local level.

While we might not always completely agree with some of the recommendations made by local stewardship groups, ASF fully supports their efforts to help develop local solutions to salmon conservation issues, while ensuring that people can enjoy the resource in a way that is both sustainable and consistent with the values and aspirations of the angling community.

ASF believes that it is important to have anglers on the rivers as the eyes, ears and voice for salmon conservation. We do not promote or support the privatization of rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Our policy on catch and release is to promote best practices and encourage anglers to release salmon as one way they can contribute to salmon conservation. But we also understand that many anglers want to retain a small number of grilse when populations are healthy and surpassing conservation limits. ASF advocates catch-and-release-only fisheries as an alternative to river closures when populations are not meeting conservation limits and, therefore, not healthy enough to support retention fisheries. In those situations, the benefits of angler presence on the rivers as a deterrent to poaching outweighs any minor impacts of catch-and-release fishing.  

It is the desire of ASF to see salmon populations in Newfoundland and Labrador restored to their historic numbers, supporting (and supported by) healthy and sustainable recreational fisheries that give people opportunities to enjoy the resource in ways consistent with their values and the principles of sound management.

We will not reach that goal through policies that alienate the very people on whom we depend to be stewards of the resource. There is still a lot of work to do to reach our goal, and ASF looks forward to working with local stewardship groups to find local solutions to local problems.

Steve Sutton, co-ordinator, community outreach and engagement
Atlantic Salmon Federation