CORNER BROOK Don Ivany is concerned that managing salmon stocks on a sustainable basis is going to become impossible if the federal government continues to make cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Ivany, the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s program director for Newfoundland and Labrador, said the fish stocks and the resources that depend on them, like the $25-million a year recreational fishery, are what will take the real cuts.
“At the end of the day it’s the fish and the people that are involve in the industry from this province that are going to feel the impacts.
Ivany was reacting to the news this week that another 373 notices of pending cuts have gone out to DFO employees.
Ninety-seven of those notices went to Public Service Alliance of Canada members and another 276 to members of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.
Ivany said the exact details of the cuts are still sketchy.
“And I don’t think that’s by coincidence,” he said. “I think that’s a very deliberate tactic on the federal government’s part to try and downplay and minimize the impact that these cuts will have.”
What the federation has learned is that DFO’s is closing three of its regional habitat offices in the province.
Offices in Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor, Goose Bay and Mount Pearl have been cut and the only one to remain open will be St. John’s.
These offices are responsible for providing advice on and monitoring of work done around the province’s river systems.
In addition to that, he said there will be 30 job losses from the inland fisheries division. This division is responsible for enforcement, research and stock assessment.
Ivany said the federation is fearful of what could happen on the rivers this year with less enforcement and with water levels being so low.
In conditions like this salmon entering a river tend to hold up in major holding pools and Ivany said they “quite literally become sitting ducks when it comes to poaching.”
Ivany said DFO has been cut to the core in the last 10 years, going from a budget of $24 million to just $12 million annually.
“So any further cuts are going to be catastrophic.”
A study recently released by the federation shows that non-profit organizations like it and others throughout the province and Atlantic Canada are spending $15 million a year on salmon restoration and protection efforts.
“So we’re actually spending more than the federal government who is responsible for managing these wild Atlantic salmon stocks,” said Ivany.
Ivany said what bothers him about the cuts is that they are happening indiscriminately with no consultation on where they can or can’t occur.
“This is just an across the board cut programs with no consideration given to the integrity of the program or their continued viability to achieve their mandate.”
That, he said is a bad way to do things.
“I shutter to think of what this is going to mean to the future of the resource, I really do.”