CORNER BROOK A report on the economic value of wild Atlantic salmon shows that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should be investing more money into protecting and conserving the resource, says the Atlantic Salmon Federation.
The report, which the federation commissioned Gardner Pinfold Consulting Economists Ltd. of Halifax to do, was released Monday.
The consultant concluded that wild salmon were worth $255 million and supported 3,872 full-time equivalent jobs in Eastern Canada in 2010.
The firm’s evaluation includes a gross domestic product value of $150 million and a willingness of Atlantic Canadians and Quebecers to contribute $105 million in tax dollars annually to support protection and conservation programs that would maintain healthy wild Atlantic salmon stocks and habitats.
A survey conducted by DFO in 2005 put a value of $62 million on the recreational fishery for Atlantic salmon.
According to Gardner Pinfold, spending in the recreational salmon fishery in 2010 alone amounted to $128 million.
The reports indicates that higher angler numbers, particularly those who come from outside the region for the angling experience, are the key driver for growth in spending and greater economic benefits from this fishery.
ASF said the report provides a strong case put forward by the general public in the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec for investment by government in wild Atlantic salmon.
The federation said that if DFO added $15 million annually to restore its budget for wild Atlantic salmon to near what the department spent in 1985 that Canadians would see a return on that investment within six years.
Don Ivany, ASF’s director in Newfoundland and Labrador, said that kind of funding could be spent on things like doing a full assessment of the Humber River, one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most prized and heavily fished salmon rivers, or providing more resources to tackle the ongoing poaching problem that plagues the resource.
“I could go on and on with examples of things we’d like to see new funding used for,” said Ivany. “DFO is making a mistake by cutting back their budgets and, in fact, they should be increasing their budgets because there is a return on their dollar. It’s a very viable industry and they should be investing in it.”
According to the report, the gross domestic product of wild Atlantic salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2010 was valued at $32.6 million, with the recreational fishery accounting for $24.5 million of that.
John McCarthy, president of the Salmon Preservation Association for the Waters of Newfoundland, is a salmon angling guide and he has seen firsthand the economic spinoffs that salmon fishing has generated.
He would actually like to see the provincial government take complete control of the inland management of Atlantic salmon.
“I think the province would do a better job,” he said of his personal opinion nd not necessarily that of the SPAWN organization.
His problem is not with the local fisheries officers and DFO employees, but the bureaucratic system those people have to work under.
“The fellas I’ve had dealings with, there’s no better people on earth,” said McCarthy.
“My analogy has always been, you can take the best surgeon in the world and put boxing gloves on him an he’s not worth a frig.
“The restrictions they have on them by the bureaucracy of DFO is amazing. From our perspective, getting changes through the province has been so much easier.”
To view the entire report, visit the ASF website at www.asf.ca.