The large majority of Newfoundlanders do not embrace hook and release fishing as a conservation method for Atlantic salmon. When rivers were closed to retention angling in 2017 and now again in 2018, the rivers were all but deserted. In this province, salmon angling, like hunting and cod fishing, is regarded as an enjoyable pursuit of enjoyable food. We do accept that angling and hunting are consumptive practices, and the resources consumed must be managed and conserved fairly, to ensure they are sustained.
Newfoundlanders have embraced limiting daily and seasonal catch, limiting open seasons, and other conservation tools, but reject conversion to hook and release. Many see it as a disrespectful foreign practice, meant to allow continued exploitation of a weakened resource for the sake of tourism industries, and to placate the egos of anglers who want to display dominance over a mere fish. Most believe it is better to stop exploiting salmon altogether, and to work to rebuild the resource if that is what properly conducted fisheries science recommends. They dismiss the bleating of the hook and release crowd crying that poaching will run rampant if they can’t continue to stroke their egos. They call it as they see it: blatant, thoughtless, greedy behaviour.
Newfoundland, through coincidence of geography and history, has allowed several generations, regardless of their station in life, to enjoy hunting and fishing. In other countries, and even in other provinces of Canada, it is far different. Under the guise of conservation and economic development, wild game and fish have long ago been greedily gathered under the control of the wealthy.
Although penned for a different time and purpose, these lines from an old Irish tune come to mind:
"For the strangers came and tried to teach us their way:
They scorned us just for bein’ what we are..."
Doug Sheppard, Cormack