Sept. 12 – Recently the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters Association (NLOA) requested our ‘position’ on possible mandatory catch & release angling for Atlantic salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador.  (FYI – New Brunswick and Nova Scotia implemented mandatory catch & release angling for Atlantic salmon a few years ago – a wise move considering the declining number of returning spawners!)  FYI, here are my answers to their questions:

NLOA Outfitter Angling Survey 2017

1) Do you support Catch and Release as a measurement of conservation as a result of DFO Science showing minimal salmon returns for 2016 and 2017? Yes

2) What will be the impacts to your business, positive or negative, if the industry went full Catch and Release? I don’t know but I suspect (and hope) most of my regular customers will understand the need for these regulations and will return to fish with us.

3) Does your business practice Catch and Release only or do you offer retention angling when permitted? Each week (for 4 to 6 weeks each year), we host a maximum of 6 anglers. The vast majority of our customers release everything they catch (Atlantic salmon).  On a special occasion, and since it is legally allowed, a group of anglers may keep 1 or 2 grilse so this group may have one meal of fresh Atlantic salmon.  This would happen no more than once per week and does not happen every week. 

4) If retention is permitted, on average, how many salmon would a customer normally retain?  As mentioned above, normally our customers do not retain any Atlantic salmon – even if retention is permitted.  This has been the case for at least the past 10 years.

5) Considering many of you angle on non-monitored rivers, which river(s) do you angle on and in your opinion, for each river you angle, were salmon returns in 2017 low, average, or above average? My camp, Salmon Hole Lodge, is located on the LaPoile River in SFA 12. This is the only river that we angle.  2017 was a below-average year for us – due to a decreased number of returning spawners.

6) With Salmon returns for the past two years being very low, and most rivers performing well below spawning requirements, what do you think should happen in 2018: limited tags for 2018, full tags for 2018, or Catch & Release only?  I strongly believe that all outfitters and anglers (including aboriginals) in Newfoundland AND Labrador MUST start, in the 2018 season, releasing all Atlantic salmon and grilse that are hooked.  All remaining commercial and/or ceremonial salmon fisheries in eastern Canada must stop.  This stoppage of killing Atlantic salmon should extend throughout all provinces whose rivers contain wild Atlantic salmon.  Maintain this policy for the 2018 and 2019 seasons then re-evaluate.  Anyone caught possessing a wild Atlantic salmon (dead) – angler, outfitter, commercial fisherman, poacher, aboriginal – should receive a very heavy fine and be unable to fish for at least 2 years.