It’s astonishing that a minister of the Crown has agreed to speak at a rally organized by the Citizens Outdoor Rights Alliance (“Outdoor rights group waiting to see what 2018 salmon plan will bring,” Western Star, Feb. 2). This group has pledged civil disobedience if they don’t get their way on recreational salmon angling this summer. In other words, the alliance’s leadership has indicated that without tags they’ll start a poaching campaign.
At the rally planned for today in Corner Brook, if Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne doesn’t implore this group to obey the law, regardless of whether they like it, he’d be complicit in what may come.
Whatever DFO decides for the upcoming salmon angling season, it must be based on the best available information, and people should respect that.
Aside from Byrne’s troubling presence and apparent support of this group, it’s equally astonishing that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador suddenly has an interest in wild salmon. Since coming to power in 2015, aside from collecting fees from anglers, the Liberal government has thoroughly disinvested itself from the recreational fishery and its management.
For example, every winter DFO in Newfoundland and Labrador holds meetings of the Salmonid Advisory Committee. Made up of stakeholders, First Nations and government representatives, the committee reviews the latest population data and discusses relevant issues related to wild Atlantic salmon. It’s a way for DFO to consult before setting rules for the coming season. The province has failed to send a wildlife or tourism representative for the last two years.
Another example is deep cuts made to the provincial Department of Environment, particularly the elimination of its inland fisheries research section. If the province is willing to let DFO handle all the assessment and scientific work when it comes to wild salmon, its officials and elected leaders should then support DFO’s decision-making process, not people who threaten poaching to get what they want.
After all, when it comes to rights, Canadian law is clear. No one has a right to kill fish if conservation priorities are not being met. Instead, people have a responsibility to be stewards of wildlife and the environment. Whatever DFO decides for the upcoming salmon angling season, it must be based on the best available information, and people should respect that.
If the government of Newfoundland and Labrador wants to get re-engaged in wild salmon they should take their seat at the upcoming Salmonid Advisory Committee meetings.
Atlantic Salmon Federation