Natives and anglers must co-operate

Telegraph Journal
Monday, October 15, 2000

I am writing to comment on your editorials of October 11 and 12, "On native rights - and wrongs" and "Salmon anglers share the blame."

I appreciate and welcome your recognition that conservation of wild Atlantic salmon is of tremendous importance to all New Brunswickers and ultimately all Canadians.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is of the firm belief that all Canadians must cooperate to save this precious and very vulnerable species. In fact, ASF, our regional councils and local river associations are working closely with many native communities in Atlantic Canada to further our mutual salmon conservation objectives.

Since the early 1980s, the Atlantic Salmon Federation has promoted "live release" of all large predominately egg-bearing salmon in all fisheries in Canada.

There is growing recognition by anglers, natives and government of the importance of selective harvest and live release. This can be accomplished through carefully managed catch and release fisheries for anglers and trapnet fisheries for natives which allow the safe release of all large spawners.

An important action for government to save Atlantic salmon is the immediate implementation of community watershed partnerships, which would involve representatives of the whole community surrounding our rivers in conservation programs.

Natives, industry, conservation organizations and anglers must be co-operative stewards of the wild Atlantic salmon and the rivers the salmon inhabit.

The wild Atlantic salmon is a species which contributes significantly to the economy of eastern Canadians through the recreational fishery and to the food and ceremonial requirements of natives.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans must manage all fisheries, including the recreational fishery and native fisheries on the precautionary principle, but it also must devolve some of the decision making to river communities who are the ultimate beneficiaries of healthy watersheds and healthy fish populations.

Like the salmon, the recreational and native fisheries rely on a pristine and healthy environment.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is carrying out a major public education and awareness program urging recreational salmon fishermen to safely release both grilse and large salmon. Our program has achieved tremendous success with many anglers releasing all their grilse as well as large salmon.

Anglers are very involved in conservation. Many of them spend their time and money enhancing and restoring salmon populations and protecting their freshwater and marine environments. They assist us in carrying out education programs such as our Fish Friends program, which teaches conservation principles to students in grades 4, 5 and 6.

More than 800 schools in eastern Canada and New England, including all native schools in Atlantic Canada, deliver Fish Friends.

Thank you for your thoughtful editorials.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation will continue to urge the Government of Canada to implement community watershed management to facilitate dialogue among all people in eastern Canada to conserve the species and to regulate fisheries to ensure healthy runs of wild Atlantic salmon for the benefit of all Canadians.

Atlantic Salmon