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Letter: Salmon counting fences not accurate in Labrador

letter to the editor
letter to the editor

For the last 40 years or more the traditional salmon anglers have been brainwashed to think that retaining a large salmon will be bad for a river yet there has never been a river destroyed by salmon angling, be it traditional or catch and release. All salmon angling is governed by water temperatures, warm water the salmon don’t take a fly, netting and pollution was what destroyed rivers and now these days, as I have said before, we have tons of millions of seals in the oceans and rivers. It’s a biological net that’s hundreds of thousands of square miles wide.

This province should take a cue from the province of Quebec and stop being such a pushover for Ottawa.

Canada is always a bully to this province as other countries are a bully to Canada on the world stage. I’m advocating for all salmon anglers to be allowed to retain one large salmon and at least two grilse for all Labrador rivers.

DFO has three counting fences on Labrador’s south coast, one on the Sandhill River; one on Muddy Bay Brook and one on a tributary of the Paradise River called South West Brook.

Now just about any given year, DFO can’t put the counting fences out in the first part of the salmon run anyway because the rivers are too high and fast with the spring runoff. But if there is no ice along the coast the main salmon runs are still travelling up the rivers and brooks. Salmon always prefer high water levels and that’s a fact, just as certain as seals eat salmon and other fish species, so if the rivers are high for two weeks or more the main salmon runs are long gone up to the spawning beds. Salmon prefer to travel when the rivers and brooks are high because the waters are so cold and oxygenized so DFO and the province has to wait for the rivers and brooks to go down and then put out the salmon counting fences. Well, guess what? Ninety per cent of the salmon run has long gone on up the rivers and brooks. DFO and the province in their own self-righteousness and total lack of knowledge and common sense and logic, and logic being the essence of science, will base all the counting fence numbers on a few stragglers, as we the local Labrador metis call the tail end of the salmon run. Then they have the audacity to call that monumental staggering blunder science.

It’s anything but science because the province and DFO don’t have the will to get real science. Labrador has summer storms, the river and brooks will rise and the counting fences have to be taken up again, now the fences are counting birds so the salmon stragglers aren’t even being counted and DFO will call this hypocrisy science.

How can the province, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and SPAWN (Salmon Preservation Association for the Waters of Newfoundland) praise DFO for its science? It might be science, and only a might be, science for the island part of the province but for Labrador with its much larger rivers they have to realize they can’t use the same strategy. DFO and the province don’t seem to understand that.

What the Labrador rivers desperately need is sonar technology then they will be on the way to real science. Some years ago DFO and the province tried a sonar salmon-fish counter on my home river, the Eagle River, but they said it was too expensive for a Labrador river so they took it back to some river on the island. Again, so much for science on Labrador rivers, I guess it’s a lot less expensive to go on assumptions they will call science.

What Labrador needs is it’s own management zones then the camp owners and guests would be able to plan ahead for the summer season. Right now with the province and DFO there is no co-ordination. Case and point is the new salmon angling regulations made behind closed doors, with no communication or co-ordination with the regional stakeholders, just late confusion and blunderbuss turmoil. What the province, DFO, Atlantic Salmon Federation and SPAWN are trying to do is make the traditional salmon anglers feel guilty for retaining a salmon or grilse. They forgot that salmon angling is the essence of conservation. That’s what makes the salmon anglers such easy scapegoats for DFO and the province, they don’t want to see the ocean full of seals or the shrimp or capelin fishery or the Greenland salmon fishery. Its much less effort to attack benign salmon anglers and make it look like they are doing something for conservation. I say to the province and DFO take your heads out of the sand and put out a seal cull and restore the natural balance. Humanity upset the balance and now it’s up to humanity to right the balance. Stop the shrimp and capelin industry and demand Canada stand up on the world stage and be a real country and stop the Greenland fishery. Buy them out, make use of our tax dollars, that would be a change for Ottawa, save the fish in the ocean for real. So I say this to Premier Ball and Minister Gerry Byrne: Mr. Premier you said before you and your government got elected that if you can’t listen you can’t lead. Well, Premier Ball, the next election is coming and you have a lot of unhappy salmon anglers and camp owners across the whole province, so by the very nature of salmon anglers we are a very patient group. We can cast a fly rod and we can cast a vote.

Bob Brown

Happy Valley-Goose Bay

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