May 24th, a great day for trout fishing in this province, was also a wonderful day for wild Atlantic salmon. That day, the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) announced they and the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF) have successfully negotiated a 12-year agreement to halt commercial salmon fishing in Greenland and the Faroe Islands. It is in Greenland that our multi-sea-winter (MSW) salmon feed and grow into 15 to 30-pound fish.
Congratulations ASF and president Bill Taylor for leadership in negotiating this agreement. It’s significant for a number of reasons:
- Wild Atlantic salmon stocks in Canada are at historic low levels. In the early 1970s, scientists estimated that 1.8 million salmon returned to North American rivers. Today returns are less than 500,000.
- MSW salmon returns to Canadian rivers have decreased 90 per cent in the past 30 years.
- The agreement will see about 11,000 salmon, most of which are female, return to Canadian waters. Newfoundland and Labrador salmon rivers like the Humber, Little Codroy, Grand Codroy, Serpentine, Harry’s, Pinware, Eagle, Flowers and Hunt, to name a few, will see the return of these great fish.
- ASF is an international non-profit salmon conservation group, not a government-financed non-governmental organization working on behalf of anglers and non-anglers interested in saving this great fish from extinction. They will not depend on government funding, but will raise funds from donors like anglers and through fundraising activities.
- The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and our provincial fisheries department were not part of this agreement even though both have vested regulatory interest in saving salmon.
I will not benefit directly from this agreement because I do not fish the N.L. rivers mentioned, as I am quite content to spend my time on small grilse rivers on the Avalon Peninsula. But it gives me great pleasure to see ASF take the initiative and help halt the extinction of these genetically large MSW salmon. Just knowing these fish will be in our rivers is good enough for me.