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LETTER: Approving of the salmon plan

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Dear Editor,

Up until I saw Premier Ball and Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne on the NTV evening NewsHour Friday, May 25, rolling out a new strategy for the 2018 salmon angling season, I had no intention of purchasing a salmon licence for this season. But now the provincial strategy is to encourage all anglers, particularly the retention anglers who have been under siege, to go purchase a salmon licence so that local businesses will be supported and to send a message to DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) and affiliates that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will not be pushed off our salmon rivers with their underhanded agenda of catch and release. So now I will be purchasing a licence in support of this new provincial plan.

My change of position was not determined by the reduced cost of purchasing an N.L. salmon licence. I plan on directing the savings from my licence towards the cost of my son’s expensive non-resident licence. Given that Minister Byrne is up against the federal government on this issue and had few options to work with, I think he came up with a pretty good compromise which will see all anglers sharing the pain as it relates to reduced quotas and conservation.

At least now, until the in-season review happens, there will be a 10 salmon catch-and-release cap to go along with the one fish retention quota previously imposed. While catch and release angling rules are pretty much unenforceable, with this new strategy, the outfitting industry, if they are to maintain a credible business/client relationship, will have to instruct their anglers to abide by those new regulations. To do otherwise will be encouraging them to exceed established quotas and break the law.

In my opinion, the brightest spot in this new provincial salmon plan is that we can now expect to see a two-year catch and release study that will ultimately determine what sort of mortality we can associate with this practice as it relates to Newfoundland’s rivers and their environmental conditions.

Already the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s affiliates are crying foul. And what makes them look and sound so ridiculous is that they are coming out on the side of outfitting-industry economics rather than on the side of conservation. I’ll bet if they all had their time back they would never have gone on the big media blitz they went on last August convincing their good buddy, Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, to kick retention anglers off N.L. salmon rivers while permitting catch-and-release anglers to remain fishing and killing salmon. This backfire really looks good on them.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, including myself, can be a little passive and complacent on issues at times, but when our backs are against the wall, look out! We fight. Hopefully Minister LeBlanc and the federal government have gotten the message here because there is a federal election coming next year and this time around the Newfoundland theme could very well be ABL — Anything But Liberal —federally that is.

Jed Sampson

Port au Port

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