Our Association NCRRA and several others from around the Province were invited to provide advice to a Special Ministerial Appointed Committee to look into the sad state of affairs of Atlantic Canadian Salmon in our rivers.

A Submission to The Ministerial Advisory Committee on Atlantic Salmon

Edward Sampson, Chairman of The North Colchester River Restoration Association

March 10/2015

Good morning Mister Chairman and Committee Members and thank you for the invitation to speak to you this morning.  Everyone in this room is aware that there is a problem with Atlantic salmon in Atlantic waters. Hopefully our collective input today will improve the present state of affairs.

For 14 years I have been a member of a small but active Salmon Habitat Restoration group in Tatamagouche, Colchester County. From extremely low salmon returns we now have a good number of returns to The French and The Waugh’s Rivers. We have been able to improve this annual return rate significantly but will it last.

My remarks today are not simply to be critical of others but to hopefully throw some light on how we can improve our joint efforts towards a common goal.

 Salmon Conservation is an interesting and complex topic.  Because it is our group’s main area of involvement I am confused that the Federal Government has just closed the Wallace office following the closures of The DFO Habitat Office in Antigonish. They have also cut all the area habitat staff positions. We believe that our program has been successful because we work in partnership with various agencies and government departments. Our objectives mirror their objectives and these recent federal office closures will make all of our work extremely difficult.

We suggest that additional federal funding be given to the Nova Scotia Salmon Association and other provincial associations and foundations so that they can have additional technical and financial  impact on our local conservation programs. In addition we believe it would be beneficial that a River Watch Program be put into action. Provincial and Federal agencies and Conservation/Habitat Groups then would be working off the same page towards enhancing salmon habitat.

We are in need of clear direction and technical support. We do not need poor Communication or no Communication at all. Our Fish Ladder at The Falls on the Waugh’s River is a good example of a bad situation. With our support and their budget DFO built a first class fish ladder for migratory fish in our watershed. Over 500,000 dollars was spent and the ladder works.

Our fish counts above The Falls clearly indicate that salmon are now upstream as far as Earltown Lake and in every tributary of the Waugh’s River. We are grateful to everyone involved. But we now have a problem, DFO has walked away from the ladder and there is no maintenance program or budget in place to maintain the ladder. The Fish Ladder that allowed migratory fish to move upstream for the first time could now become an impediment to that migration.  In our watershed this could be a Salmon Conservation disaster. We appreciate that not every watershed or local habitat conservation group has a fish ladder in jeopardy.  The point is that every habitat conservation group is in need of good communication from our federal fisheries department.

We believe that a total catch and release regulation of all salmon in all Atlantic Canadian rivers should be imposed. On the North Shore of Nova Scotia our group recommends that salmon fishing season should start at least two weeks later and extend into November.

On the science front we need more information on the numbers on how many fish are being killed in the fall including The First Nation’s harvest. We need additional information on the impact of other fisheries such as silversides on salmon reconditioning in the spring . This is an issue on the North Shore of Nova Scotia.

Not for the first time we ask “Should we shoot or harvest more seals?”

Mr. Chairman I must put on the record that whatever success we have had in the past has been a result of the excellent partnerships that we have with all levels of government. Without the Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery, a division of Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Inland Fisheries, our ability to maintain our own salmon hatchery on the Waugh’s River would not be possible. Together we have released tens of thousands of salmon parr into our watershed.

NSLC Adopt a Stream of the Nova Scotia Salmon Association has been a major supporter of our program for many years. Their financial and technical support is the back bone of our program.

The Municipality of the County of Colchester has financially supported our group from Day 1 because they believe our work is of major importance to the whole community. We are grateful.

In closing I would like to remind everyone here today of the good words of Bernie Comeau, former Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries in the 1970s. When asked in the Legislature in a debate on salmon in Atlantic waters, “ did he support the inshore fishing of salmon,”  he made no comment. When he was then asked “ did he support the no campaign against inshore salmon fishing” he made comment. The Opposition Member then with his final question demanded the Minister to tell Nova Scotians which group did  he support, Minister Comeau  finally rose in The Legislature and said “ The Salmon .”

Thank You 

www.riverwork.ca

 

date11 Mar

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