A friend in Ireland recently sent me an article published in The Irish Times, describing “The trout study that could transform conservation.” Martin O’Grady, a senior research officer with Inland Fisheries Ireland, claims that, “a series of genetic studies on Irish trout (these are brown trout) populations has revealed a heretofore unknown complexity to the fish and its spawning rituals, which is set to transform conservation for decades to come” and “there is more genetic variation in Ireland’s brown trout population than there is between populations in the human race.”
Further, “O’Grady and his team have already identified 13 different varieties of brown trout in Lough Corrib, each with its own discrete genetic makeup and spawning ritual.”
They claim that “If the world were mapped according to premier brown trout fisheries, Ireland would rank as the pre-eminent super power.”
They explain all this is because of Ireland’s isolation since the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago and few other indigenous fish species being present.
It struck me that here in insular Newfoundland we have the same situation.
The island is about a third larger than Ireland, probably with as much diversity of freshwater habitats and few competing and predatory species of fish, so that brook trout and ouananiche are pretty well everywhere, but not just all the same.
The little work that has been done at Memorial University has shown discrete genetic diversity in trout stocks (e.g Indian Bay).
There is no doubt that in isolated systems over the island, and in Labrador, we have unique races of trout and ouananiche.
If the research were done, it is possible that we could claim that in Newfoundland we have unique races, in shapes, sizes, growth rates, migratory strategies, etc., and the best brook trout and ouananiche fishing in the world.
Also more respect would be given to conserving unique races. For example, Sandy Pond, an isolated post-glacial lake, has probably the largest brook trout on the island. They are a different shape, and are likely a unique sub-species.
Yet this lake is scheduled as a toxic waste dump by Vale, with “compensation” by improving access to a partial barrier on the outlet of Forest Pond, Salmon Cove River, with no regard to loss of a priceless unique ecosystem.
We have a precious resource which is not fully appreciated, and therefore being degraded in a false premise of progress.