“When they made the announcement for hook and release, well that Monday from then on it’s the same thing (as) if you turned the key in the door and locked it,” said Byron Langford.
Langford owns Byron’s Shoe and Tarp Repair in Deer Lake. During the summer months sales of salmon and fishing gear make up a big part of his business.
But not so since the DFO closed the retention part of the recreational salmon fishery on Aug. 6, leaving it open to catch and release fishing only.
“There’s been nothing moving at all,” said Langford. “Sales have pretty much stopped on salmon gear.”
The impact is so noticeable that Langford is preparing to lay off the person who looks after that part of the store. He said every year they hire on someone in that area, but now the work is just not there.
He’s been selling the gear for about 15 years and while there’s been bad years for salmon he’s never encountered anything like this before.
Langford thinks DFO made the decision prematurely as it doesn’t have enough data.
He said the season has been unusual with a lot of water early on and a lot of fish probably went through then.
He also thinks that people are not buying into a catch and release fishery.
He drove by the tailrace at the powerhouse in Deer Lake on Tuesday night and no one was fishing. “That’s unheard of,” said Langford.
“They say that the salmon is an endangered species, you’re not allowed to go out and catch a cod fish and throw him back, but you can catch a salmon drag it over the rocks take the hook out of it and release it. Take it out of the water and take a picture and then release it.
“If they were going to close it they should have closed it all.”
Down at Good Buddy Sports in Corner Brook manager Dominic Brennan said “absolutely” when asked if the change had made a difference in sales.
Brennan said there is a lack of customers coming into the store for gear.
“We’re a change of season store, but summertime is our fishing time.”
Brennan said he would not be able to estimate the decrease right now, but noted it includes the sale of licences.
He also said he’s hearing both sides of the issue and has to stay neutral.
“It’s one thing for business to be down, but it’s also one thing for the stocks to be down.
“So nobody’s winning.”
Langford said there are a lot of businesses out there that are losing out, including the government.
The provincial department of Fisheries and Land Resources issues salmon licences that can be obtained by commercial vendors.
Langford has about 60 licences that he’s not going to sell that will be sent back for credit.
“I can’t give them away.”