The Eastern SportFish Association
Two years ago the Eastern SportFish Association (ESA) was formed to give recreational anglers a strong and united voice
regarding the sport fishery in eastern mainland Nova Scotia.
We saw that such an
organization could likely have prevented some of our present fishery woes, for example the closure of parts of the St. Mary’s
River. ESA is dedicated to seeing these issues resolved and to ensure that we will have a healthy and sustainable sport and
native food fishery in future.
Our federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has failed us in their management of Atlantic salmon,
adopting a wait-and-see strategy for the past two decades. DFO assessments indicate that it didn’t work. In addition,
DFO’s lack of hatchery support since 1994 has impacted salmon populations in the Atlantic Provinces and removed crucial
options for recovery strategies.
The few Atlantic salmon hatcheries that remain are no longer owned and operated by DFO, except for the “biodiversity
facility” in Liverpool NS. The others are now abandoned or under provincial, private or community control. Let’s
explore some success stories where hatcheries played a crucial role.
Exploits River, with 2011 salmon returns of over 40,000 spawners, is now a close second to New Brunswick’s top producing
Miramichi River. Both systems rely on hatchery support.
About 30 years ago an
accident at a mine near New Brunswick’s Nepisiguit River decimated its Atlantic salmon population. The mining company
responsible joined with native and non-native volunteers and government resources to restore salmon to the system. Today their
hatchery is managed and operated by a First Nations band, and thousands of Atlantic salmon again spawn in the Nepisiguit.
Closer to home, a community group saved Nova Scotia’s Margaree Hatchery that is now operated by our
NS government’s Inland Fisheries department, along with our Fraser’s Mills Hatchery. Hatchery support maintains
the Margaree’s salmon population at about 150% of the required number of spawners, enabling Native and recreational
fishers to share the surplus.
Salmon hatchery programs can be utilized for different purposes. Some of these are:
· To re-introduce salmon populations to streams where none remain
To supplement salmon
populations that are too small to maintain reproductive stability
· To supplement salmon populations that are cannot support native and
To maintain salmon populations
that are negatively impacted by predation or natural and man-made disasters
· To monitor and control salmon population size
· To promote biodiversity
· To differentiate between wild and hatchery-reared salmon, enabling retention fisheries to favour hatchery-reared
To complement other
measures such as habitat improvement in determining a recovery strategy
Looking at success stories elsewhere makes me a firm believer that if we’d had a salmon hatchery we’d still
be fishing salmon on the St. Mary’s River. Guysborough County would still host legions of visitors each season like
it used to and like Inverness County’s Margaree River still does, benefiting that rural community by $2.5 million in
2005, according to a DFO study. The Margaree also supports a native food fishery. In Guysborough County there currently are
no salmon fisheries at all. We all lose here.
Speaking of the economic benefit of sport fishing,
the DFO study I referred to above was updated in 2010, and a new report has been promised this spring. Meanwhile the Atlantic Salmon Federation publicly released a report last week entitled
Economic Value of Wild Atlantic Salmon. The 2011 study was conducted by Gardner Pinfold Consulting Economists Ltd. of Halifax
for the Atlantic Salmon Federation. The report concludes that wild Atlantic salmon were worth $255 million and supported 3,872
full time equivalent (FTE) jobs in eastern Canada in 2010. The firm’s study confirms that Canadians hold a special place
in their hearts, and pocketbooks, for restoration of this iconic species. More information can be found at http://www.asf.ca/news.php?id=802&type=press
In summary, salmon fishing can
be restored to Nova Scotia’s eastern shore, but only if we have the will to make it happen. ESA is currently developing
a business plan for that purpose. That’s what ESA is all about. Memberships are available from ESA’s website
or from the River Magic
fly fishing shop in Stillwater, NS.
Parker Wong tells me that his Pictou
County fly tying group is double the size of last year’s, so they have added a second evening session to accommodate
the large group. It’s great to see growing interest in the hobby.
This week’s fly
is a hot wet fly for Atlantic salmon called the Orange Puppy. Designed by Newfoundland fly tyer and guide Rob Solo, it has
become a standard offering on Newfoundland’s Lower Humber River. The fly was tied by Chris Williams of Sheet Harbour
who once operated a fly shop in Newfoundland.
River Magic 4XL Streamer Hook sizes 4 – 8.
Embossed silver tinsel
Orange hen hackle fibres
Orange hen hackle fibres
Grey squirrel tail
Orange Ice Dub & black thread
Please send comments
and suggestions to:
Please stay on the line