Top News

Groups say anglers want the choice to be able to retain some salmon

Gale
Gale

Up to now anglers in this region haven’t had much of a chance to voice their opinions on the closure of the Atlantic salmon fishery to retention, but that will change next Wednesday.

The Citizens Outdoor Rights Alliance (CORA) has set a meeting for Aug. 23 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Deer Lake at 7:30 p.m.

Citing low returns the Department of Fisheries and Oceans shut down the retention fishery on Aug. 6, leaving the rivers open to catch and release fishing only.

Retention anglers, who CORA executive member Gary Gale said make up 90 per cent of the fishers on the water, disagree with the decision and fear the change opens up the stocks to increased poaching.

On Tuesday CORA along with the Qalipu First Nation Band, the Bay St. George Salmon Stewardship Group, some business people and Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball met with Premier Dwight Ball on the issue.

While the decision was a federal one, Gale said they wanted the premier to know their concerns as under the Fishery Act the federal government has to consult with their provincial counterparts.

“Right now basically what DFO did to us is they said you’re the blame, we’re removing the problem from the river and this is going to fix it.

“I think that’s a terrible mistake,” said Gale, who questions the science behind the decision as counting fences came down on Aug. 7 and the late runs of this year have not been taken into account.

Gale said the closure has been put in place until runs improve.

“It could be 2017, it could be 2020, it could be 2025, it could be forever.”

He said retention anglers are not trying to pick a fight with hook and release anglers and advocates.

They just want a choice.

A choice is what the Qalipu First Nation wants its member to have.

Chief Brendan Mitchell said a survey conducted by the band in 2015 showed that 83 per cent of the some 1,000 members who responded were against a catch and release only fishery.

“What people wanted to see was some retention,” said Mitchell.

He said salmon has been part of the cultural and traditional aspects of Mik’maw people, particularly as a food source.

Mitchell said there was some talk at the meeting of the 2018 season being hook and release only and it’s his opinion that it’s premature to make that decision at this stage.

Mitchell said he knows there are times when some measures have to be, but there could be other options like reducing the number of tags or having a shorter season that could be implemented on a trial basis.

Related stories:

Citizens Outdoor Rights Alliance wants to protect the right of anglers to retain salmon

Recent Stories