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Letter to the Premier


Honourable Premier Kathy Dunderdale RE: Atlantic salmon and wildlife threatened by cuts to the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division. The Notre Dame Rod and Gun Club has recently become aware that government has substantially slashed both the budget and positions within the newly created Fish and Wild Enforcement Division, Department of Justice. Apparently as part of this year’s budget cost cutting exercise the Fish and Wild Enforcement Division has lost 22 positions along with the related budget support. It is our understanding that 19 of these are enforcement positions and to make matters worse, that government is also refusing to fill 24 fully funded field enforcement officer positions that are vacant. Presently there are fewer than 26 officers in the field for the entire province.

This is simply not acceptable. Our province and its citizens derive tremendous benefit from our inland fish and our wildlife culturally, recreationally and commercially. Tens-of-thousands of people annually enjoy many recreational activities related to these resources as part of our heritage. We are a people with strong attachments to the land and water whether we hunt, fish, hike, canoe, camp, or simply enjoy the vast beauty of the wild place and the creatures the live there. From a commercial perspective tourism and the outfitting industry bring millions of dollars of new money into the province each year. They/we are dependent on strong healthy populations of inland fish and wildlife.

In 2004 then Premier Danny Williams created the Inland Fish Enforcement Program to protect salmon stocks in this province. The former premier and the Inland Fish Enforcement Program received numerous awards and praises for that decision and many successes of this enforcement initiative in the protection of salmon stocks. In 2011 government decided to add wildlife enforcement creating the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division in justice.

Now in just two years the resources given to the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division to protect our inland fish (salmon, trout & arctic char) and our wildlife are being stripped away. We contend that the recovery of salmon stocks in the province’s rivers is a direct result of the inland fish enforcement program created by government. This is a critical time for our salmon and many of our wildlife species. Caribou populations are at an all time low and struggling to recover. This is not the time to abandon the protection of these valuable natural resources and the division that was so recently created to protect them. This is simply not acceptable. We are requesting that government reverse this decision and strongly advise that there are other ways to achieve budget cuts and that this province cannot afford to cut resources to this division. Our fish and wildlife resources generate revenue for both government and the people of this province, worth $163 million in 2010 according to the January 28, 2013 government news release. Allowing these natural resources to decline will most currently result in reduced revenue to government.

Honourable Premier Kathy Dunderdale; time critical, we are asking that you conduct an immediate review of this matter with a view to reverse the cuts to the Fish and Wild Enforcement Division. Our salmon are now returning to coastal water and will be entering our rivers in the next couple of months. You must ensure that they have adequate protection from poaching, to do otherwise will see a return to the rampant poaching and decline of salmon stock that were experienced in the past. This will result of substantial losses to the future salmon stocks. It is essential that you reinstate the positions that have been eliminated and direct that the all vacant positions be filled immediately in order to protect our provinces fish and wildlife resources. This action is required in the coming weeks to ensure that this year’s salmon stocks receive adequate protection and our threatened wildlife populations, caribou in particular, have a chance at recover. This can only be viewed as an investment toward sustainable inland fish and wildlife populations; and the cultural, recreational and commercial benefits that they provide to our province.

Respectfully,

Daniel Wood President Notre Dame Rod and Gun Club

cc. Honourable Darin King, Minister of Justice

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