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DFO's wait-and-see strategy of Atlantic salmon management over the past two decades has failed.


That strategy must change, and it must change now if we are to see recovery in streams like Nova Scotia's St. Mary's River. It's urgent!


Why the urgency?


Salmon populations in most Nova Scotia streams are likely to be officially listed under Canada's Species at Risk Act (SARA) as either ‘threatened’ or ‘endangered’ by 2016. This means no more fisheries, including aboriginal ceremonial or food fisheries and catch-and-release sport angling. It's already happened to Nova Scotia's inner Bay of Fundy salmon populations, it's happening in Southern Newfoundland, and it's happening here. What this likely means is even more complex regulation and limitations to stream access and activities than we endure today.


Scientists are warning us that, by 2047, we will all be living in a new and hotter climate. We are already near the southern edge of North America's Atlantic salmon range, and a hotter climate is likely to push that range northward. That puts us at or beyond the upper temperature limit for self-sustaining Atlantic salmon. This issue is being mitigated elsewhere and can be here as well. Right now we should be working on projects that lower stream temperatures, because the issue is already with us and it will only get worse in future.


I graduated in 1967 with a B.Sc from Mount Allison University. One of the first rules of science I learned is that "nature abhors a vacuum". This is generally true in the universe, in physics, chemistry, and even biology. When a species is in decline, others fill the void and take its place in an ecosystem. That means that the more a species declines, the more difficult recovery will be because it first must regain that place it lost earlier. That's one of the reasons it's harder to restore a population after it has been extirpated - other occupants stand in its way.


Recovery of our salmon fishery is urgent because our rural community needs it NOW. We have a community whose population is declining, services are being lost, and a rejuvenated salmon fishery can save it. Nova Scotia’s Margaree River's salmon sport fishery contributes $2.5 million annually to the economy of Inverness County and the St. Mary's could be doing the same for us now, as it did in past.


The salmon sport fishery attracts people to a rural area - as visitors or as seasonal or permanent residents. I know this because I retired here to enjoy the St. Mary's River and its salmon. Those salmon also captured other professional people who contributed much to our community, such as Dr. Gordon M. Silver and his son Dr. Gordon L. Silver and their families. Our photo shows young Dr. Gordon L. Silver admiring a St. Mary’s salmon. Why can't we attract another urgently needed doctor to our community today? No salmon fishing?


Does this seem like a good time for DFO’s do nothing strategy?

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Please stay on the line …