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Atlantic Salmon Survey 2016

The Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans are looking for input from citizens on the state of the Atlantic Salmon, in the form of a short survey that can be completed by interested parties.

Miramichi Salmon Association president Mark Hambrook believes this survey is a way for the average angler to be heard. "You don't have to. You can trust the government officials to make the right decision for you, or some of the groups like our association. But if you have a different opinion then this is your chance to make your opinion known."

In 2015, the Conservative Government announced a retention ban on Atlantic Salmon throughout the Maritime Provinces due to historically low returns. With the closure of the recreational fishery, all salmon angling needed to be hook and release. The only remaining provinces in Canada where Atlantic Salmon could be retained in 2015 were in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. The conservation measure was supported by the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the New Brunswick Salmon Council, the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, and the Miramichi Salmon Association, which petitioned the minister for a one-year moratorium on the issuance of salmon tags in response to declining salmon numbers.

The Miramichi River in New Brunswick has been the largest salmon producing river in eastern Canada, but the population has dropped precipitously in recent years. Throughout the 1990s for example, the Atlantic Salmon returning to the Miramichi to spawn averaged 82,000. In 2014 the return number was down to 12,000. According to DFO at the time of the closure, the number of salmon at sea had likewise dropped from 1.7million in the mid-70s to an estimated 600,000 now.

Although many could see the closure coming, it came with a great deal of angst. The impact of the Atlantic Salmon fisheries has been enourmous through the years, both economically and culturally. The Atlantic Salmon Federation commissioned a study in 2011 showing that the industry was vitally important to the rural areas in which is occurred. Among important facts they showed were:

  • Value of wild Atlantic salmon was $255 Million
  • Anglers spent $128 Million
  • Value to Provinces in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was $150 Million

The study also determined that wild Atlantic salmon were an important employer:

  • Atlantic salmon supported 3,872 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in 2010
  • About 10,500 seasonal jobs depend on income from wild Atlantic salmon

Information can be found here: http://www.asf.ca/freshwater-recreational-fisheries.html

The Atlantic Salmon are a large and strong fish, and they are prized by anglers for their strong fight and revered by people for their great taste. With the closure came obvious economic impacts from less anglers on the rivers, fewer licenses sold, and less revenue for area guides and businesses. It has created great worries over the potential loss of a heritage and way of life for tens of thousands of anglers. "The first time I ever hooked a salmon it was an amazing fight," said Wilderness Obsession co-founder Wayne Ward. "It would be a terrible shame if my children and grandchildren never get to experience that. But we believe the moratorium was the right decision last year, as hard as it was on people, and we trust that this year's decision will be science-based."

Since the Federal Liberal party took office, the newly appointed Fisheries and Oceans Minister Hunter Tootoo has met with stakeholders in this once vibrant and vital industry. He has expressed an interest in consensus building but has committed to making sound decisions based on sound science.

Adult salmon counts were said to be encouraging in 2015, something that DFO admits on their website was running in the «mid to upper range of counts from the past 16 years (2000-2015).» The question is, is that enough to open the recreational fishery again, even at a limited level? And is that even what the majority of the public is looking for?

Now is the chance to have your say. Interested parties can complete the survey at http://www.glf.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Gulf/FAM/Recreational-Fisheries/2016-atlantic-salmon-survey until the consultation period ends on February 29th, 2016.

While we're on the subject of Atlantic Salmon fishing in New Brunswick, the Crown Reserve draw system is about to, or has just begun depending on when you're reading this article.  The application period for this year begins on February 8th, 2016 and ends on March 4th.  For more information, please check the following link: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/natural_resources/news/news_release.2016.01.0063.html

2016-02-07 19:59:45

 

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