Dear Editor: Salmon anglers across the province wait with much enthusiasm and expectation for the 2014 salmon angling season in less than a month. Many anglers are already at the fly-tying bench poring over past patterns and experimenting with new ones in the hope of enticing that elusive fish from its lie and the thrill of a tight line and the singing of the reel.
SPAWN, in addition to promoting salmon conservation since 1979, is dedicated to promoting equal access for all anglers to all the waters in the province.
Last year was an interesting one for SPAWN. Blessed with almost 500 members who dearly love to fish, talk about fishing, and in many cases, help improve the health and numbers of not only the salmon themselves but the environment in which it is living in the 21st century.
SPAWN members now are eligible to receive discounts from many of the angling shops in the province.
A complete list is on our website.
SPAWN was very busy last year. SPAWN operated the fish-counting fence for the 50th year on Corner Brook Stream which showed the first returning salmon from natural seeding rather from the fry from the now defunct Fish Friends program.
It was a treat to visit the trap and see most days from early July until the end of August healthy vibrant Atlantic salmon thriving in the middle of the City of Corner Brook. We hired students to help monitor the counting fences on Corner Brook Stream as well as the Harry’s River which continues to use the latest in technology — the DIDSON (dual-frequency identification sonar) assessment equipment.
While some provincial rivers enjoyed moderate salmon returns, some, like the much loved and heavily fished Harry’s River, continue to struggle. An alarming statistic can be found in DFO’s scientific history for this system.
Records show that in 1964 Harry’s River saw more fish retained by anglers than actually entered during the entire 2013 season.
Clearly, the whole Bay St. George river systems have much room to grow to bring the stocks to strong sustainable levels.
DFO must continue to provide good science to help everyone understand just how many fish are in the major rivers of our province. In the absence of such science, we must be on the side of conservation and continue to be the voice for the salmon.
SPAWN’s web page continues to grow and expand, with almost 500 members accessing not only the main page but those pages reserved for members, namely the almost 1,000 fly patterns as well as the river reports which is helpful when looking for where the fish are.
In 2013, we produced the 35th edition of the world-famous SPAWNER magazine.
Every member received a copy with their membership dues. Many copies are sold through various locations across the province, and again last year, every school library in the province received SPAWNER magazines.
The 2014 edition of the SPAWNER is being delivered this week from our printer TC Transcontinental. They always help us produce a great magazine.
The SPAWN board of directors continues to promote realistic, practical and sustainable management measures as they pertain to our precious Atlantic salmon. Most recently, to address the present complicated river classification system, we have proposed and lobbied both levels of government to adopt a new, cleaner, more adaptable river classification system. To date the reception of our proposal has been very favourable, but nothing has changed for 2014.
Also for 2014, SPAWN was successful in obtaining funding from Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation. ASCF, as it is known, has a mission statement “To promote enhanced community partnerships in the conservation of Atlantic salmon and its habitat in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.”
Funded by the federal government, SPAWN applied for and received money to study the DNA of the parr of the wild Atlantic salmon stocks in tributaries of the Humber River system as compared to the DNA of the parr of the landlocked salmon of the Grand Lake system.
This research, using scientists from the provincial government and Memorial University, is ongoing and we expect to have the study’s results late this year.
This is a first step in a study to see if it is even reasonable to re-establish a run of wild Atlantic salmon in our Grand Lake system, one of the largest untapped systems in the province.
SPAWN believes 2014 is going to be a year of change for the wild stocks of Atlantic salmon. A year when both levels of government come to the tipping point that sea- based farming of Atlantic salmon is old, unsafe technology.
These topics and many more along with a fly-tying contest using polar bear hair will be featured at our AGM which is being held Tuesday at the Glynmill Inn in Corner Brook. Meeting time is 7 p.m. Have a great summer.
Keith Cormier, SPAWN president, Corner Brook