Atlantic Salmon Federation clears the waters

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By Bill Taylor

The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) is one of Canada’s oldest and most influential conservation organizations. We were established in 1948 to protect and restore wild salmon and the habitat they need to survive. After reading two negative opinion letters in The Telegram in as many weeks, we’d like to take the opportunity to clarify what we do as a charitable organization and our approach to ensuring the future of wild Atlantic salmon for all generations.

As an organization, ASF is concerned with one thing: restoring our wild Atlantic salmon runs. Since 100 per cent of our revenue is generated through the generosity of our members, our existence depends on the support of individuals who believe in our mandate; without the public’s support, we would cease to exist.  

We attract members from 26 different countries, although more than half of our members are Canadian. Since the issues affecting salmon differ across each province, we have five regional program directors and five supporting regional councils across eastern Canada.

We also draw support from over 120 local affiliates, which include river associations, First Nations’ conservation organizations and community groups.

To be sure, we are not a government organization. However, we do work collaboratively with government and non-government organizations at municipal, provincial and federal levels to fulfil our salmon conservation mandate.

We are not a political group; in fact, to maintain our charitable status we are prohibited by law to direct no more than 10 per cent of our resources towards acceptable (non-partisan) political activity.

We are not in cahoots with the salmon outfitting industry to privatize your rivers.

However, we do certainly believe that anglers, the outfitting industry and the jobs that they provide are vital to rural economies wherever salmon are found, and that angling is an important part of our heritage.

Since salmon and salmon fishing is such an important part of our culture and who we are, we want to ensure that wild salmon persist for future generations.

One way anglers can do that is to practice live-release fishing.   

Live-release fishing is an effective conservation and management tool for Atlantic salmon.

This statement is supported by DFO, and it’s supported by science.

There are multiple peer-reviewed published studies, including studies from Newfoundland and Labrador, suggesting that the survival of angled salmon is typically around 90 per cent (see study on Conne River by Dempson, 2002).

Under good conditions, and when proper release techniques are practiced, survival can be virtually 100 per cent.  

In addition, the survival rate of eggs from angledsalmon is not significantly different than eggs from non-angled salmon (see study by Booth and others, 1995).  

Since the survival of angled salmon after being released depends on proper release techniques, ASF helped to develop a new live release video this year that is available on our website (http://asf.ca/live-release.html).

Education is a big part of what we do. We actively collect information about salmon from different sources around the world and we provide it to the public so that they can stay informed.

We believe that keeping the public informed about issues affecting salmon is integral to the persistence of salmon in our rivers.

Another way that we believe the public can help conserve salmon is to get out and fish. Anglers are stewards for Atlantic salmon on our rivers.

This season alone, anglers in N.L. have identified and reported salmon poachers on several rivers, discovered and reported escaped farmed salmon in the Garnish River and lobbied the N.L. government

to re-hire provincial conservation enforcement officers.  

Because anglers are instrumental to the well-being of wild Atlantic salmon, we want to see them — and more of them — on rivers across N.L. and wherever salmon are found.

This means ensuring public access to rivers for angling. This means hosting workshops to teach kids how to angle and tie flies.

This means supporting local outfitters, guides, conservation officers and the people whose livelihoods depend on recreational fishing.  And, in our opinion, this means ensuring that there are enough salmon in the rivers for everyone to fish, by releasing what we catch.  

Recreational anglers in Canada currently harvest more wild Atlantic salmon than First Nations and Greenland fishermen.

We can’t expect them to reduce their catches unless we anglers are willing to do so ourselves.

I’m not sure how or why Jed Samson (Letter to the Editor, July 11) translated a statement that I made about catch-and-release fishing into ASF’s intention to support the “privatization of N.L. rivers for the outfitting industry and their rich clients.”

There is nothing about catch-and-release fishing that implies the privatization of salmon rivers.

Keep fishing.  And to help ensure that our children and children’s children can experience the excitement and joy of hooking and landing a wild Atlantic salmon, release your fish back into the river.

The well-known salmon angler, innovator, author, filmmaker and conservationist Lee Wulff, who did so much for the sport of fly fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador, said it best: “… the salmon we release is our gift to another angler.”

Bill Taylor is the president and CEO

of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

He writes from St. Andrew’s, N.B.

Organizations: Bill TaylorThe Atlantic Salmon Federation, First Nations

Geographic location: Atlantic, Canada, N.L. Eastern Canada.We Newfoundland and Labrador Conne River Garnish River Greenland

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Recent comments

  • Wild Salar
    September 26, 2013 - 21:04

    Dear Mr Taylor, I have been fly fishing for salmon for many decades and have never kept a wild fish to eat. I do enjoy eating Atlantic Salmon though and only buy fresh farmed fish from the markets, despite certain negative stories about farmed fish over the years. So I have no issue with the idea of the proper release concept. What I don't agree with you on, is the rosy picture, you paint about the land based Atlantic Salmon farming concept. There have to be some cons to consider but as far as ASF goes there are none just like their cage farming concept back in the 70's Some of the land based cons maybe ; 1) there are no companies who have proven that this land based Atlantic Salmon farming idea works yet other than on an experiment basis. I think I would give it another 5 years to see where it really is after the funding dries up. A moderate sized farm will cost in the range of $50,000,000. 2)industrial fish farming will use massive amounts of well water 3)the fish will have to be reared at very high densities in order to make it profitable thus being a target for animal welfare groups 4)there will be a need for large amounts of electricity for each farm 5)there will have to be effluent flowing from these large scale farms back into our freshwater resources and maybe into Atlantic salmon Rivers even though the waste is captured 6)there is no 100% protection, against disease organisms from entering these farms so there could be a need for antibiotic and chemicals on large scale entering our freshwater resources but also absorbed into the flesh of the fish in the giant fish aquariums 7) the only land based fish I have eaten was not good and I will never eat it again. In order to get rid of the bad taste in the flesh there are very large amount of fresh water required to flow though the tanks and where will this extra water come from? 8)these large farms will have to go into someones back yard competing with precious ground water supplies I guess that is a few cons I could think of but others may have more. Releasing a salmon can be a good move by an angler is done properly and the fish is in good shape but I am no so enthused about developing an industry on our fresh water resources that belongs in the sea. Yours truly, Wild Salar

  • craig
    July 24, 2013 - 05:31

    Oops! That should have been Bill Taylor / ASF and not Roy.

  • craig
    July 24, 2013 - 05:22

    Definition of "ANIMAL CRUELTY". Cover a piece of rigid wire with anything that makes it look like a bug. Make sure one end is able to peirce flesh easily. Throw it into a river where a severely depleted species spawns. Waite ountil a female laden with spawn takes it into her mouth and then yank the line to drive the sharp wire into the spawning females flesh. "Play" with the female until she is exhausted and then take her out of the water. Remove the hook and pose for a few pictures while the salmon breathes air (same as a human breathing water) and then throw her bleeding and exhausted back into the river. Roy / ASF? Your organization and the word conservation should never be found in the same sentence. If you did to a dog or a cat what you want everyone to do to a salmon you'd be jailed for a decade or two!!! DISPICABLE!!!!!!

  • Petertwo
    July 22, 2013 - 08:44

    Thank you, Roy. Imagine what it would have been like if there had been no live release. Poaching has been happening and that is being curtailed considerably, mainly because anglers practising live release do not want to see their efforts doomed by the few. I hope you reported all those incidents that you mentioned.

  • roy
    July 20, 2013 - 13:27

    The Salmon association is trying to do what, greenpeace is doing to our seal hunt and the fisherys union or the fisherpersons are trying to do with recreational cod fishing, that is keep us away from the rivers and oceans. The idea that fish are released or will be properly released is a pipe dream. I have seen salmon barbarised on our rivers then released. I have seen persons catch and release more than double what they are allowed and I have seen fishers catch and release until they get the size of salmon they want. I have seen salmon float down the rivers and more would be seen if not for the abundance of gulls and mink around our rivers. I am sceptical of this association and would not support them in any way. What they are aiming for is 100% catch and release, be aware we will soon lose or salmon fishing and our rivers will be wide open to poachers. Its time for a strong voice from us the silent majority. If you don't want to lose your salmon fishing and trout fishing and cod fishing in NL speak out.