Catch and release again this season for salmon anglers
Salmon anglers must will once again be required to practice catch and release in the Miramichi River.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada released the new rules on Thursday.
In a release, officials said the Atlantic salmon is a species of importance throughout Atlantic Canada and the Government of Canada is ensuring there are strong management measures in place to continue to protect Atlantic salmon populations. Fisheries and Oceans Canada today announced that the current catch and release management measures for the recreational fishery in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence will remain in place for 2017 in order to maintain conservation benefits.
It went on to say that returns of Atlantic salmon in the Gulf Region improved in 2015 and 2016, compared to the record lows of 2014. However, scientific data indicates that abundance of Atlantic salmon has declined over the past twelve years – or two generations of fish - in most of the rivers in the Gulf Region. The decision to maintain the catch and release measures from last year was made based on this science, in addition to input from consultations held in the fall 2016 and winter 2017. During that period, DFO met with First Nations, Indigenous organizations, fishing organizations and Provincial governments and held online consultations for the public.
“Atlantic salmon is an iconic species that is of cultural, recreational and economic importance throughout Atlantic Canada. As such, the management measures for the 2017 season reinforce the need to protect the declining stock of Atlantic salmon. We will continue to work diligently, in collaboration with all partners, toward furthering our understanding of this species with the goal of protecting Atlantic salmon now and for future generations," federal fisheries minister Dominic LeBlance is quoted as saying.
The release continues by saying that Fisheries and Oceans Canada remains committed to implementing a precautionary approach for all fish stocks and to establishing limit reference points for various salmon stocks based on scientific advice. As outlined in the Forward Plan for Atlantic salmon, published in June 2016, DFO is working on establishing limit reference points for key index rivers in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence with the goal of developing a precautionary approach framework within 2017-2018.
The news is likely to upset and anger others. Sales of salmon license have plummeted since the catch and release rules were put in place two season ago.
Some groups, like the newly formed Coalition for Better Salmon Management, had wanted the government to introduce a river-by-river management system that would see the harvesting of smaller salmon, or "grilse," allowed if the numbers are strong, but not allow it if they are weak in a particular area.