Canada's salmon story has familiar hook to it

OUTDOORS

February 07, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

The way Canadian officials have dealt with salmon fishing should sound vaguely familiar to Chesapeake Bay fishermen and their experiences with rockfish.

Before 1990, Canadian officials estimated that fewer than 4,000 salmon were being caught by Atlantic province sports anglers. That's the same year that a daring ban on all commercial netting of salmon within Canada's Labrador coast took effect.

"Last year sports fishing reported 27,000 salmon were caught in Labrador's rivers," Bruce Metcalfe told about 100 members of the area and national outdoors press during a seminar at the Canadian Embassy in Washington touting hunting and fishing prospects in the Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Metcalfe is a fishing and hunting market development officer employed by Newfoundland and Labrador.

Bill Bryson, who is Metcalfe's counterpart representing Nova Scotia, says the idea for a temporary five-year ban on commercial netting off of Labrador came from his province and spread throughout the country.

Details of the ban include provisions for a buyout of commercial operations by the Canadian government, and Metcalfe said, "Something like 80 percent of that area's commercial fisherman have taken the buyout."

And, more than one official told me during a reception after the seminar that the remaining 20 percent are believed to be holding out in hopes of a sweeter deal once the five-year ban approaches its conclusion.

Bryson said that the goal is to have a fully managed sports fishing salmon fishery at the end of the ban.

"The government estimated that the commercial salmon fishing industry was worth $3 million to $5 million annually. But, they also found that that same fishery was worth between $30 million and $40 million to the sports fishing industry," he said.

Bryson said that before the temporary ban went into effect, the commercial netters routinely set their nets "right at the mouth of the salmon rivers."

Doesn't this last bit sound a lot like what happened last year when the commercial flounder fleet was forced to back off from the mouth of the bay? Remember how great flounder fishing magically became and how promising this year looks for us?

If the only way to put a striped bass on your dinner plate was by catching it on your hook and line, can you imagine how much a total sportfishing industry would mean to this state? Or the country?

Nova Scotia's Bryson said: "We are at a point after just three years where you can be reasonably assured right now to catch two to four keeper salmon a day."

Of course, the sports fisherman also had to give up some things when the ban went into effect, as did the commercial gang.

In return for the netting ban, sportsmen agreed to a limit of two salmon a day and a total of eight per season. They also agreed to minimum and maximum size limits. Does that sound vaguely familiar?

News and notes

Mark your calendar for Feb. 14. That's the date for the 15th annual Laurel Team Bassmasters fisherman's flea market at the American Legion Post 60, 2 Main St., Laurel from 9 to 3 p.m.

* Do you want to someone pay you to hunt and fish? Former Evening Sun outdoors editor Bill Burton and nationally recognized outdoor writer and photographer Keith Walters will teach free land writing and photography for fun and profit beginning Friday at Chesapeake College at Wye Mills. Call (410) 822-5400 for details.

* "Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast," a book by area angler and writer Eric Burnley, covers everything you ever wanted to know about the sport. This is a must for area surf anglers. It's available at bookstores, or you can send $12.95 plus $1.50 for shipping and handling of an autographed copy to Eric Burnley, 2408 Hayloft Lane, Virginia Beach, Va., 23456.

* Some comforting information that got lost on my desk: In December, the Natural Resources Police issued 1,696 citations for hunting and fishing violations, including 30 tidal fishing, 160 boating, 61 citations involving oystering violations, 553 to deer hunters and 247 to waterfowlers.

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