I am an environmental scientist by study, and experienced in Aboriginal rights and legal parameters. As such, I like to look at the numbers and try to evaluate causes and effects and to see how the human dimension comes into play. That is to say, how human activities should be regulated for sustainable communities and resources.
I’ve looked at previous years angling catch per unit of effort, counting fence numbers, and looked at the ASF numbers over the past decades. Several things come to mind.
1) Every 4-6 years there’s a major crash in the population 2) This years preliminary fence data seems to be so off that, a statistician would call it an outlier. That is to say it’s so abnormal that something must have gone wrong with the count or natural in the population (IE fish came early, fish went elsewhere, disease)
3) The communal net fishery has been going on while Salmon numbers have been increasing in Labrador, according to the Salmon counts on the DFO site with this year being the first exception.
4) There has been a downward trend in angling catch per effort since 2007 (as far back as I could quickly get DFO information online) which is somewhat troubling.
5) some quick math – In Labrador 7933 Salmon were angled in 2007, 7482 in 2008, 5848 in 2009 (this last year saw a drop of 1300 fishers by the way). At an average of 7 pounds each that’s 25.2, 23.8, and 18.6 tonnes for 2007, 2008, and 2009 respectively caught in Labrador. The Aboriginal fishery catches a MAXIMUM of 22 tonnes of Salmon per year. From the Salmon’s perspective, does it matter how you die? Incidentally, last year 121 tonnes of Salmon have been angled on the island.
The ASF, like Ducks unlimited, have conservation of stocks as their raison d’etre. Just as DU conserves so that hunters have ducks to hunt (incidentally visit ASF’s website and participate in the catch and release survey). Further, angling catches have seen declines for years – where was ASF then? I therefore must question why a public attack on constitutionally, and negotiated, Aboriginal fisheries is warranted when angling catches just as many fish in Labrador as the net fishery (and even more if you count the entire provincial angling cost). Pardon the pun but I can’t help myself, something smells fishy - this seems to be an attempt at dividing Labradorians on the issue. Don’t get me wrong, I generally like the work ASF does!
Here’s the legal order of precedence for catching Salmon: 1 - Conservation 2 – Aboriginal right for food/social, and modest income 3 – commercial/recreational. Don’t get me wrong, we must do something to protect the Salmon. Let’s just remember at who’s expense. For our Labrador guides and camp owners, less anglers/fish caught means higher prices you can charge! Until we know more, lets see what the final counts (fence and angled) are before jumping the gun.