Salmon, wildlife groups accept continued ban on keeping catch
Mandatory hook-and-release policy remains in place for 2016 after salmon returns fail to hit targets
The one–year continuation of a ban on keeping salmon caught in Maritime rivers is being met with acceptance by the presidents of the New Brunswick Wildlife Federation and the Miramichi Salmon Association.
Charles Leblanc had been advocating for the mandatory hook–and–release policy to be eased on stretches of some rivers.
"We all want a healthy salmon population," said Leblanc, adding that some of his members will be disappointed.
"It's good for the fish. Hopefully, we will work toward a balance and harvest by abundance.
- Maritime salmon catch and release policy extended another year
- Wildlife federation wants ban on keeping salmon revisited
- Atlantic Salmon Federation wants ban on keeping salmon retained
- Gail Shea orders all salmon caught in Maritimes to be released
"It's going in the right direction. If we need another year, that's fine. We just keep on," he said.
Statistics from Fisheries and Oceans for 2015 show improved salmon returns to the Miramichi, but not in sufficient numbers to meet conservation targets:
- The Southwest Miramichi met 92 per cent of its conservation target with 11,490 large salmon returning and 13,980 grilse.
- The Northwest Miramichi met 82 per cent of its conservation target with 4,171 large salmon and 11,980 grilse.
Miramichi Salmon Association president Mark Hambrook said given the 2015 statistics, DFO's only choice was to continue with the mandatory hook–and–release policy.
"I think they did the only wise thing," said Hambrook.
The salmon association is ultimately hoping a river–by–river management system will be established, through which the waters are opened or closed to fishing based on the salmon numbers in that river.
Hambrook would like to see a mid–season review that could allow for salmon tags to be issued on rivers showing sufficient salmon returns.
"I understand they want to go back cautiously," said Hambrook. "But by next year, hopefully, they'll have it worked out so that they can monitor, and if there is a strong run of fish coming in in July … they say, 'Yes, we're going to have a surplus this year, now we'll issue some tags.'"