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It seems that a group calling themselves SWAG, the Salmon Watchers Assistance Group has petitioned the Canadian government to ban the practice of hook and release fishing in all of Canada and encourage other countries to do the same.
This is taking this nonsensical debate to a whole new level of absurdity. There is so much I could say I’m not sure where to begin.
The economic impact would be gigantic.
Sports fishing cannot exist in the modern world without releasing fish live. There are just too many people and not enough resource.
The loss of jobs in the outfitting industry and sales of equipment would be catastrophic.
For my part, my buddies and I would take our annual two-week fishing trip elsewhere. We usually visit Southern Labrador and support local businesses, like many other angling groups. We are permitted to retain one fish each on the Pinware. Clearly if hook and release were banned in Newfoundland and Labrador we would go out of province, likely Quebec. If the practice in banned in Canada we would probably visit Norway much more frequently. I can’t see Scandinavians getting on with this foolishness.
It would be the end of non-resident angling for our province. That is a lot of lost dollars.
Economics aside I’m going to address each of the points made in the petition. I think that there’s much misinformation in this petition and I’m compelled to respond.
“The Salmon Watchers Assistance Group is very concerned about reproduction and damage to the wild Atlantic salmon because of catch and release.”
The real scientific consensus on this issue is that hook and release is an effective conservation tool and the damage to fish when handled properly is miniscule. And in one broad stroke SWAG wants to ban hook and release for all species in Canada and the world. Incredible.
Who do they think they are?
“Parks Canada have banned catch and release in their national parks because it has proved not to be a conservation tool.”
They make this sound like Parks Canada has banned hook and release in all national parks. I read their reference to this in an earlier Telegram piece by a SWAG member. Hook and release was banned for last summer only in Gros Morne due to low salmon numbers. That ban has ended and was a temporary measure. There are many park waters in Canada where angling is by hook and release only and no retention is permitted.
Yes, I checked.
“Catch and release has been banned in three other countries and the union of B.C. Indigenous people have called for a ban since 2019.”
I only know of bans in Germany and Switzerland, and those bans re based on cruelty and inflicting pain upon fish. PETA has been lobbying to ban hook and release worldwide.
That wasn’t mentioned in the petition.
Remember our seal fishery and the impact an over population of seals is likely having on our salmon rivers? Going down the road of the animal rights activism with this issue is a dangerous game. Do any of you SWAG folks hunt moose or snare rabbits?
“Catch and release fishing is cruelty disguised as sport.”
You are going down a deep risky rabbit hole here. This has nothing to do with conservation and getting shot with a .303 for venison isn’t that pleasant either, neither is living life in a cage to provide humans with eggs. Get on the animal welfare bandwagon and you could be getting or losing more than you bargained for.
“Studies show that fish that are caught and then returned to the water suffer such physiological stress and often die of shock, that hooked fish struggle out of fear and physical pain desperate to breathe.”
What studies? This “studies show” opener is the modern version of “they say.” The preponderance of scientific evidence rejects this statement. Saying it over and over does not make truth.
“Catch and release is nothing more than a recreation pleasure for humans only.”
Too silly to talk about.
“In 2003, efforts by a group called The Bay St. George Stewardship Group led to the re-establishment of retention angling; Salmon populations began to increase and continued to do so, with numbers that had not been seen since the early ’50s.”
I suspect that salmon numbers in Bay St. George are nowhere near what they were in the ’50s. I’ll check and get back to you on just how big a whopper that is.
The truth is that this stewardship group worked hard to curb poaching and improve habitat. Angling did improve, and more fish were permitted to be retained. What’s definitely not true is that killing more fish improved the stocks.
“Fish is a food industry not a pleasure industry.”
Now this is the crux of the deal.
SWAG folks really believe this. They want a food fishery and they want more tags to kill fish. They have no interest in angling as a sport, lifestyle, tourism driver, or outdoor recreation. They figure if they can get hook-and-release anglers off the rivers than they will be permitted to kill more fish. This is just my opinion, but I feel in my bones that’s their motive.
They call themselves anglers. They want all anglers to unite with them to ban hook and release.
They should pick up a copy of “The Complete Angler,” a classic by Izaak Walton written in 1653, or watch “A River Runs Through it” on Netflix. Angling is about a lot more than putting protein on the table.
I think it is time that we anglers of Newfoundland and Labrador stop fighting amongst ourselves and tackle the real issues faced by our fish stocks, because there are plenty of them.
Newsflash. SWAG knows about the PETA campaign to ban hook and release.
I wonder why they never mention PETA? Two of the statements in the petition are word for word from the PETA website.
PETA is not known for presenting scientific evidence to back up their statements and arguments. On their website, same one quoted by SWAG, they are still accusing Canadians of killing baby seals with clubs.
You know this is not true, and neither are the statements in SWAG’s petition to ban hook and release. It is emotional rhetoric, misleading at best.
It’s so hard to believe that Newfoundlanders would quote PETA, albeit without due reference.
Paul Smith, a native of Spaniard’s Bay, fishes and wanders the outdoors at every opportunity.