After months of speculation the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) released its 2018 salmon management plan for Newfoundland and Labrador on Tuesday.
The plan includes a huge cut in the number of fish retention anglers can take.
DFO has decided that the season will start with one fish retention on all rivers in the province that currently allow retention fishing.
That tag will be valid from one hour before sunrise June 1 until one hour after sunset on July 20.
An in-season review of returns will be conducted and the results of that will inform the management approach for the rest of the season.
Catch-and-release limits have been reduced to three fish per day and retention of salmon on non-scheduled waters is not permitted.
Just what would be contained in the plan has been a contentious topic for both retention and catch-and-release anglers and reaction to it has been mixed.
President of the Citizens Outdoor Rights Alliance (CORA)
“This is a complete joke and an insult to the retention angler in the province.
“Basically, what they’ve done is they’ve put the boots to the retention angler.
“I really think that in the minds of Minister (Dominic) LeBlanc and DFO, they see the retention angler as the problem.
“Kick the Newfoundland retention angler off the river, river problem solved.
“I’m sorry Mr. LeBlanc this is no solution. What you’ve done is you’ve opened the door for poaching and you’ve opened the door for hook and kill, which is what hook and release is.
“It’s pretty clear now based on what just came down the pipes, this is not about conservation, this is about privatization.”
President of SPAWN (Salmon Preservation Association for the Waters of Newfoundland)
“The numbers have gone down according to the science we have.
“Our recommendations were to cut everything in half. (Six tags to three)
“And we wanted an in-season review.
“But on the science that we have right now this is being prudent, in our opinion.
“Given all the political pressure, I say our group would like to applaud DFO science.
“I would say any time science wins over politics is a good day for fish. Any day at all.
“The biggest displeasure we have in it all is the date of the announcement.
“All the science that DFO choose to make these decisions on, most of that science is available in October.
“So, our only beef with DFO on this one, the timing is terrible.
Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources
“DFO science and DFO resource management branches have produced reports that says you can eliminate a significant percentage of Newfoundland and Labrador anglers from buying a license based on limiting access to retention fisheries.
“This is a violation of the social contract which, I believe, will lead to a decline, not an improvement, not greater conservation of Atlantic salmon. This will ultimately produce a decline in Atlantic salmon numbers in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“That is absolutely shameful.
“There is three weeks left before the start of the angling season. It is highly doubtful at this point in time that we will be able to complete the drafting, the printing and the distribution of the licenses in time for June 1.”