Put up or shut up, Parks Canada

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I read with interest the article in June 16’s edition of The Telegram concerning North West River, Port Blandford and the problems that some local anglers are having with Parks Canada’s management of the river.

This river only exists as a salmon river today because of the tireless efforts of a small, dedicated group of salmon anglers who fought tooth and nail against the small hydro proposal for this river some 20 years ago.

At that time we received absolutely no support from Parks Canada, DFO or the local anglers for our stand. In spite of that, and largely because of a very spirited public advertising campaign, we were successful in convincing the Brian Tobin government of the day to put in place a moratorium on small hydro projects on our salmon rivers.

Many salmon rivers were saved, including North West River. Isn’t it rather ironic that today Parks Canada’s heavy-handed, anti-conservation management measures are causing problems with the salmon on that river?

 Now don’t get me wrong — I am not against Parks Canada bringing in special regulations for the river. I wish more rivers were managed on an individual basis (like they should be, and like they are in most other places). But when Parks Canada — which doesn’t own the river, by the way, and have discontinued the counting fence to help manage the river — brings in regulations that are clearly anti-conservation, then its time for the local anglers to stand and fight.

Good for them. It is only this kind of public pressure that will sway these government bureaucrats.

In particular, the following Parks Canada regulations for that river need to be changed:

1. Allow anglers to use barbless hooks. The forced use of barbed hooks only is long outdated. Salmon parr and large salmon still have to be released on that river. This alone is enough for the use of barbless hooks.

2. Allow anglers to release salmon. By forcing retention only, Parks Canada is responsible for the only river in this province where anglers cannot practice conservation. Why does everything have to be killed? What about anglers who just enjoy fishing for its own sake? Parks Canada and the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation have their heads in the sand when it comes to hook and release.

Just look what’s happened on Flowers River where all salmon have to be released. There are now many more salmon and much bigger salmon. Maybe Parks Canada and the Wildlife Federation can tell us how many dead salmon spawn successfully.

3. Open up the entire river to angling. By keeping all of the river above the National Park completely closed to all angling (that’s about 95 per cent of the river), Parks Canada and DFO are creating a poachers paradise. Unfortunately, in Newfoundland and Labrador a closed river is poached river. Look no further than the Bay St. George rivers if you want proof.

Having a few anglers on the river — yes, heaven forbid, even hook and release anglers, will deter poaching.

So Parks Canada, if you can’t get with the times when it comes to progressive salmon management, please turn the management of our river over to someone who can.


Rick Maddigan

St. John’s

Organizations: Parks Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation

Geographic location: North West River, Flowers River, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • John Q Public
    June 18, 2014 - 11:58

    Barbless hook and release is simply nothing more than giving a fly fisherman a license to go have a party at the expense of a biological organism. An organism that, like humans and their pet dogs, are made up of flesh and bones and breath, pump blood, and feed and reproduce. The catch and release system legalizes a cruel and inhuman act. Stick a piece of wire into a salmon that is on its way to spawn, "play" that salmon until it is exhausted then remove it from its natural element (water) and force it to breath a lethal substance (air) and do all of this for ONE reason. Just so someone can snap a picture of the skilled and jovial fly fishermen so he/she can brag about it to their buddies. If the fly fisherman inflicted a similar act upon his pet dog he/she would be arrested and charged. I hope this is the beginning of the end of the madness that is hook and release salmon fishing. My hat is off to Parks Canada for finally showing some good judgment. Judgment that is devoid of the influence of the corporate greed of the recreational fly fishing lobby! On a closing note........ check the records and you will find that most of the offences on rivers are by those who are or disguise themselves as a hook and release fishermen. Take away the opportunity for the disguise and you will automatically reduce the infractions. As we have already seen, the fly fishing lobby are quite skilled an "spin fishing" as well!

    • Sick of the shills
      June 18, 2014 - 15:54

      I hear those kinds of people engage in sexual acts with no intention of procreation! True story - shocking I know!! Oh the humanity!! On a serious note, I'm sure that the salmon would prefer being let go rather than having a knife driven through its head. Just a hunch.

    • wavy
      June 18, 2014 - 16:24

      So...you would rather they kill the salmon (ie catch and keep) rather than release it to continue upstream to spawn? Or are you suggesting we stop fishing ALL species entirely? Either way, your logic is miserably flawed or you're completely glib. You animal rights crowd are a complicated lot. You want to know what the fish are thinking? The freshwater fish of Newfoundland and Labrador are glad you are not in charge of their conservation.

    • John Q Public
      June 19, 2014 - 10:48

      @ Sick of the Skills and Wavy (the dynamic duo..lol). Read before you conclude...lol....... get a license to catch and keep 2 or 3 or 4 salmon. BAN the hook, exhaust and release because it is nothing less than a disgusting display of cruelty inflected solely for the purpose of some sick fun fantasy and for greed corporate profiteers!

  • Fish n' Hunt
    June 18, 2014 - 07:47

    The current regulations and restrictions are a result of lack of staff within the park to manage the resource thanks to Mr. Harpers cuts. Outside the park I an at a loss to explain how Parks Cananda can control and completely shut down this prolific. river to all angling ??? Do they own the entire watershed because it flows into Clode Sound???

  • wavy
    June 18, 2014 - 06:43

    Makes sense to me. What say you, Parks Canada? I'm interested in hearing your side of the story. What justification do you have for your actions?