The provincial minister of Fisheries and Land Resources said people in this province are proven conservationists.
“Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have actually exercised restraint and reduced our catch and looked to the needs of the resource first, while others have not.”
Byrne said he is concerned and disturbed by the current situation that saw the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans close the retention part of the salmon fishery.
He said the natural range of Atlantic salmon extends from Delaware, up the Eastern Seaboard, past Maine, through all of Atlantic Canada, including Newfoundland and Labrador, into Quebec and as far away as Greenland.
In that area, Byrne said other jurisdictions have chose to ignore the needs of the resource and avail of industrial development and other priorities.
And today, 50 per cent of all Atlantic salmon returns occur in rivers in this province because it didn’t dam or pollute rivers and exercised restraint in the fishery.
Byrne has reached out to his federal counterpart, Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, and is calling on the federal government to explain why in 2017 the declines cited by DFO are occurring.
“They don’t know. And the reason they don’t know is because they are paying lip service to the resource,” said Byrne.
“It is irresponsible to take the last fish out of the river. And we will not do that.”
But he’s concerned that there will come a point in time when if the people of this province are the only ones conserving the resource, that the decision to continue doing so will be put into question.
Before it gets to that he intends to embark on a campaign to shame the national government and DFO to do the required science, to understand the resource and its needs in the last area it is truly found in and to act and be full partners in conservation.