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Decision to close rivers to retention angling cause for concern for local retailers

It remains to be seen what effect Humber River bank erosion will have on Atlantic salmon.
It remains to be seen what effect Humber River bank erosion will have on Atlantic salmon. - 123RF Stock Photo

Dominic Brennan can live with the reality that conservation must be a priority when it comes to protecting precious salmon stocks in the province.

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The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced on Thursday that all salmon rivers on the island part of the province would be closed to retention angling for the remainder of the season due to low counts following an in-season stock review and allowing catch-and-release to continue as long as water temperatures didn’t exceed 18 C.

Brennan, who is manager of Good Buddy Sports in Corner Brook, will continue to be a supporter of efforts being made to protect salmon runs for generations to come and realizes whatever DFO deems necessary to do so must be carried out regardless of who is upset by the decisions.

What bothers Brennan, though, is the way salmon licences were handled this year with a lot of confusion and uncertainty for not only anglers but business owners and other stakeholders with a vested interest.

He doesn’t comprehend why business owners had to be left pondering what was going to happen after DFO decided to implement a management strategy that limited the retention of fish to one and implemented a limit of 10 fish for catch-and-release.

Brennan believes business owners deserved a little more notice on changes so they can decide on the amount of stock they carry on hand for the season and not have to worry if they would be stuck with it.

“Small, independent businesses are becoming a thing of the past and we don’t need no more hurt,” Brennan said.

Time will tell what the real impact will be, but Brennan said the store will have to look at other ways to generate the revenue that would be expected to be loss with less people looking for rod, reels, leader and flies.

Paul Barnes of Barnes Sporting Goods said it’s too early to tell what impact the decision will have because it only came into effect, but he believes the uncertainty over the salmon fishing numbers and tags this summer has dealt a blow to the tourism industry and he has heard lots of stories about people who have been negatively affected by the way things unfolded.

“Not knowing anything until it happens is the biggest problem we have,” he said, noting the only person who gave him any support or direction while everybody waited for the management plan to be revealed was Minister Gerry Byrne so he don’t think blame should have been thrown his way.

He doesn’t know what to think of it all when he read in the Star Friday that both SPAWN and CORA say the numbers of fish returning aren’t down on all rivers this year.

“Why isn’t DFO listening to anybody?” Barnes asked.

Things haven’t been great for Byron Langford at Byron’s Shoe Repair and Tarp in Deer Lake with a noticeable drop in sales this summer.

He said a lot of anglers still come in to buy a licence, flies or leader, but things have been really slow when it comes to big-end items like reels and rods.

“It’s been really slow. That’s what happens,” Langford said.

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