President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters Association wants province to gain more exposure

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Gary Kean
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Ron Hicks of Grand Falls-Windsor was re-elected president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters Association at its annual general meeting in Corner Brook on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

CORNER BROOK —  Ron Hicks is back for a fourth term as president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters Association and hopes to keep the momentum of the past three years going strong.

The Grand Falls-Windsor resident has been in the outfitting business for 20 years and operates Snowshoe Lake Hunting and Fishing in central Newfoundland.

He was re-elected president at the association’s annual general meeting in Corner Brook Saturday.

“The key thing for me personally has been to build good relations with various organizations, government departments and the personalities involved in this industry,” he said following three days of meetings in Corner Brook. “You build sound partnerships and you accomplish so much more when you work on those levels.”

Hicks is excited about the association’s three-year marketing plan that the industry hopes will lead to more exposure for the hunting and fishing experiences Newfoundland and Labrador offers to the global marketplace. The plan will also help outfitting businesses and their staff with professional development and be better able to promote themselves at trade shows and through their own marketing efforts.

 

‘Game changer’

Part of the strategy is to bring in media from outside the province to go on expeditions or do stories about what the sector has to offer.

“It’s a game changer in terms of what it can bring to members,” he said of the marketing plan.

The association has other challenges to contend with in order to maintain the experiences the province’s hunting and fishing opportunities are renowned for. During the convention component of the association’s meetings, there was a lot of discussion about what can be done to address the increasing shortage of guides in the outfitting business recently and how wildlife resources are managed.

With caribou herd numbers declining, particularly drastically in Labrador, Hicks said the province needs an effective action plan to enhance the survival rate for caribou calves.

“That’s the only way the herds can rebound,” he said.

Taking measures to address wildlife population levels is not only good for the outfitting industry, said Hicks. It also preserves the ability of the everyday resident to continue partaking in traditional hunting and fishing activities.

“If moose rates, for example, drop to where (hunting) success rates are low and residents have to hunt extremely hard for them, it’s not the same quality experience they’re used to,” said Hicks.

There are also significant concerns about fishing resources. With major industrial developments happening in Labrador and that area expecting a population boom because of the work there, Hicks said protecting the fishing habitat there has to be taken into consideration.

“We’re not against those kinds of (development) happening, but we are saying let’s do these things in a sensible fashion so all these values are not put in jeopardy,” he said. “We have a gem here that is appreciated by the world. It’s largely unknown and we are the exception to the rule. We need to protect that.”

On the island portion of the province, outfitters are concerned about the expansion of aquaculture and the threat of diseased Atlantic salmon, especially in light of consideration being given to closing down many rivers along the south coast of Newfoundland to the angling of wild Atlantic salmon.

“We’ve been going to all the meetings (concerning Atlantic salmon) and we will continue to do so,” said Hicks. “It’s too serious a problem to not keep addressing.”

 

 

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters Association

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Newfoundland and Labrador

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