From ASF's Bill Taylor
As salmon season enters the home stretch, I am pleased to update you on some of our recent activities.
Generally, the news is good on runs and fishing. Most rivers in 2013 have seen a significant rise in the number of large salmon, generally in the order of a 75% increase over last year according to numbers from the various counting facilities. Grilse returns have been disappointing, although in general they are better than the returns in 2012. Scientific analysis will take place over the winter, and we will have the whole picture next spring. We have heard from many anglers, Directors among them, of good water levels and temperatures and decent runs of salmon contributing to very good fishing experiences on many rivers this season. Rivernotes, put together by Communications’ Tom Moffatt, kept the world up to date weekly on the salmon runs and fishing, and I encourage you to follow this blog at http://atlanticsalmonfederation.org/rivernotes.
ASF’s interpretive centre was the venue for interesting and popular events this summer, among them, the unveiling of our new migration map mural by St. Andrews area artist Geoff Slater in July and an evening of gourmet cuisine hosted by our ASF (Canada) Chairman Michael Meighen in August. Salmon grown in closed containment facilities in West Virginia was served at both events. Local award-winning chef Alex Haun served a full-course dinner to very appreciative attendees at the August event.
This week the interpretive centre is the site of an international workshop on restoring wild Atlantic salmon that brings together stakeholder groups, scientists, and managers to assess Atlantic salmon recovery programs across Eastern North America. This workshop follows closely on the heels of an international conference held earlier this month in West Virginia on closed containment, which we organized in partnership with Tides Canada, the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. More than 135 participants from 14 countries gathered in Shepherdstown to explore the latest advances in the technology and economics of developing methods to raise Atlantic salmon and other species that are alternatives to growing fish in open net pens in the ocean. Jonathan Carr, ASF’s Director of Research and Environment, participated in both conferences.
We are about to embark on another round of billboards in metro Halifax and full page ads in Nova Scotia’s provincial newspapers. Our spring campaign concentrated on the threats to wild Atlantic salmon of open net pen salmon farming operations. Following this campaign, the Premier of Nova Scotia announced that his government would carry out an aquaculture review to consult with people in the formulation of regulations that would result in environmentally-sustainable aquaculture. One of our messages in our upcoming campaign will encourage people to send their feedback and opinions to the Aquaculture Review Panel.
At the June meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), Denmark on behalf of Greenland announced Greenland’s unilateral decision to allow a harvest of 35 tonnes of salmon for sale to factories. The present NASCO agreement endorses an internal use only fishery, which historically had been no more than 20 tonnes, and the fish caught were expected to be consumed or sold to local markets, restaurants and institutions. Factories, however, can freeze the salmon for year-round sale, providing fishermen with an incentive to kill more salmon to supply a bigger market. Greenland also reported that it considers there to be no cap on its internal use fishery. Canada, the European Union and the United States opposed Denmark’s position, but there was no resolution at the NASCO meeting. These parties are now working on opportunities to engage Denmark further to resolve this. ASF has met with the Canadian Head of Delegation, the U.S. Head of Delegation, the President of NASCO and other officials to assist in the development of a plan that will strengthen the North American position, when the West Greenland Commission reconvenes in February or March, once the data from Greenland’s 2013 fishery is available. We are also working with Orri Vigfusson, ASF Director and Chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, to engage Greenland fishermen in talks about a renewed conservation agreement. The fishing began in August and to the end of that month, Greenland reported a harvest of 7,403 kg, estimated at about 2,500 salmon.
ASF is involved in a collaborative study with DFO and the Nunatsiavut Government to examine the stock composition of the subsistence catch of salmon in coastal Labrador to acquire information on which river populations are being targeted. This study should shed light on the extent of the interception of salmon originating from the United States and other parts of Canada, as well as the extent of the harvest of mixed stocks of Labrador origin. This is a first step to transitioning from a mixed-stock fishery that harvests salmon of unknown health status to eventually giving Canada the ability to harvest salmon only from populations known to be at full productive capacity, which is the advice to NASCO Parties of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). We hope to share some results with you at the Research and Environment Committee meeting in November.
Finally, senior staff at ASF will meet for two days at the beginning of October to begin revisiting our issues, strategies and action plans as developed under our strategic program review and update them into cohesive program delivery that clearly defines how our research, advocacy, communications and fundraising efforts will work together to achieve our program goals.
If you have any questions or would like more information on any of the topics outlined here please call me anytime.
Thanks to all for your ongoing encouragement and support.
Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF)
Please visit ASF’s new website www.asf.ca!