Decision could end angling from Cape Ray to Mistaken Point
The federal government is considering listing Atlantic salmon on the south coast of Newfoundland as threatened, under the Species at Risk Act.
© Photo courtesy of Ryan Anstey
SOME FUN – Anglers and Atlantic salmon have been busy in local rivers, including just below the bridge that connects Glenwood and Appleton on the Gander River. Cabot LeGrow of Gander reached for his line to end a lengthy battle with a fish last week.
Such a listings could stop all recreational salmon fishing on the coast from Cape Ray to Mistaken Point, including commercial fishing lodges.
The possibility of a fishery closure came as news to Raymond Osmond of Isle aux Morts. He regularly fishes on the Isle aux Morts and Burnt Islands rivers, which could both be affected.
He’s been fishing for 40 years, but he said in the past few years, numbers have been looking up.
“I’d say the last few years, sometimes they’re late coming, but it’s been the best fly fishing ever,” he said.
Osmond figures he released 12 or 15 fish over ten pounds last year.
He has also seen an increase of anglers on the Isle aux Morts River. Those same anglwers used to fish on rivers in the Codroy Valley.
“That’s telling you then that you’re not getting less fish, you’re getting more fish,” said Osmond.
Scott Smith, owner of Salmon Hole Lodge on the La Poile River agrees. He has owned the lodge for thirty years, and the numbers he keeps from his clients shows an increase of Salmon on the river.
Part of the problem, according to Smith, is that scientists depend in part on logs sent in by anglers for their data.
“I’ll be quite honest with you – I don’t force my customers to send in their stub,” said Smith. “I can remind them, but I would be surprised if more than half do that.”
He noted that there are four salmon fishing areas along the south coast – areas 9 through 12. Most of the data collected for this decision came from eastern rivers in areas 9 and 10, including the troubled Conne River.
Smith would prefer if the entire south coast was not treated as a single entity by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). He pointed out that DFO has the region subdivided into four smaller units.
He said pulling anglers off rivers could be a horrible move for conservation. Once sport fishers are gone from an area, poachers move in, according to Smith.
COSEWIC released its assessment on the south coast salmon population in 2010.
The next step in the process is for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to hold public consultations.
Helen Griffiths, regional manager for species at risk program for DFO, said advertisements went out in regional and provincial newspapers in early October. The department wants to receive written response to the proposal from stakeholders by mid December.
She said there will be no in-person public consultations. People can email or fax their concerns. Griffiths said that is keeping in line with the trend of more people being online.
Once consultations are done in December, DFO will formulate a report for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. That minister will then have to take recommendations to the federal Minister of Environment.
Griffiths said the decision won’t be made any time soon, but could not provide an estimate for how soon the decision will be made.