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DFO closes many salmon rivers on island of Newfoundland

Water conditions cause closures; those remaining open are closed to retention angling for the remainder of season

After Friday, all salmon rivers on the island part of the province will be closed to retention angling for the remainder of the season due to low counts following an in-season stock review.

Catch-and-release angling will continue to be permitted, but once water temperatures exceed 18 C, rivers will close to all angling.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) made that announcement on Thursday.

Another announcement followed a few hours later of a number of rivers closing due to “extremely low water levels and extremely high water temperatures.”

DFO research scientist Geoff Veinott said on Wednesday the in-season review showed continuing declines are being experienced in rivers all over the island.

“The declines in 2016 and 2017 really, really surprised us, and it was something we had not seen before,” he said.

The in-season review found that six of 11 (54 per cent) assessed rivers are predicted this year to be below their recent five-year average (2013-17) for the third year in a row. It also showed 27 per cent are predicted to show no significant change, while 18 per cent are expected to increase.

In addition, seven of nine rivers are predicted to be below the 2011-15 five-year average, and three out of nine rivers are predicted to be below the 2003-12 10-year average.

“We are seeing declines on almost all of our rivers relative to the 2011-2015 time frame,” Veinott said. “So, in other words, the stocks that are in the healthy (stock status) zone are actually moving down and approaching that healthy/cautious barrier. Stocks in the critical zone are moving down further into the critical zone.”

South coast rivers seem to be those in the most trouble on the island, such as Conne River and Garnish River, he noted.

According to a DFO news release Thursday, the following rivers will close effective one hour after sunset Friday and will reopen as conditions improve:

Zone 3: Coney Arm River; Sop’s Arm River, including Main, Doucer’s, Natlin’s, Corner Brook and all tributary streams; Hampden River; Wild Cove Brook, White Bay; Western Arm Brook, White Bay; Middle Arm Brook, White Bay; Southern Arm Brook, White Bay; Baie Verte River and tributary streams; and Woodstock River.

Zone 4: Burlington River; Indian River, Hall's Bay, including Burnt Berry Brook below falls, Davis Brook and Black Brook; West River, Hall’s Bay, including Rowsell’s Brook and Barney’s Brook; South Brook, Hall’s Bay and tributary streams; Tommy’s Arm River and tributary streams; Northwest Arm Brook; Western Arm River; Leamington River; Charles Brook, Bay of Exploits; Northern Arm River, Bay of Exploits; and Peters River, Bay of Exploits.

For open rivers, catch-and-release limits remain at three fish per day in Newfoundland and Labrador. Retention of salmon on non-scheduled waters is not permitted.

An in-season review for Labrador is scheduled for July 24 with a management announcement to follow.

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