Dear Editor: Another letter from Ward W. Samson, past-president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation, condemning the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) and our activities, and just generally casting aspersions, has been printed in The Western Star (Feb. 19).
How long has Mr. Samson been airing his beefs against ASF, primarily in The Western Star?
It’s definitely been years, maybe even decades. His latest letter is full of untruths and incorrect assumptions.
So, here is ASF’s response to his latest diatribe:
“This proposal must be halted” — this is the headline given Mr. Samson’s letter by The Western Star.
Mr. Samson falsely contends that ASF has proposed mandatory live release of wild Atlantic salmon to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
We have not.
ASF supports river-specific management and harvest based on the health of the Atlantic salmon populations of specific river systems.
Don Ivany, ASF’s program director for Newfoundland and Labra-dor, has participated in DFO’s formal and transparent process in Newfoundland to set management measures for fishing wild Atlantic salmon for more than 20 years.
He has always advocated river-specific measures and has never proposed a blanket live release policy. ASF supports reduced harvest on rivers where data indicates that the current retention levels are not sustainable. ASF encourages voluntary live release by conservation-minded anglers, who want to go beyond what the law requires.
We educate anglers about the importance of their contribution to meeting conservation targets on rivers where they do release their salmon, and we make them aware of the most effective methods to safely release salmon and allow them to go on to spawn.
Bill Taylor, president of ASF, was encouraging anglers to voluntarily release all their fish when he was interviewed by Forbes Magazine for an article that appeared following a very disappointing meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) in June of 2013. He said this in reaction to an escalating fishery at Greenland, which has the potential to kill Atlantic salmon from rivers throughout eastern North America, including those in Newfoundland and Labrador.
He was appealing to anglers who fish for Atlantic salmon throughout eastern Canada to release their salmon and grilse to decrease the large recreational portion of Canada’s harvest (38,000 killed in 2012) and to provide an example of leadership to Greenland.
The Greenland salmon harvest is consistently made up of 80 per cent or more of North America’s large salmon.
Some of the salmon that are harvested originate from endangered and threatened populations, such as those of the Conne River in southern Newfoundland. Greenland openly said at NASCO that it is tired of agreeing to a limited salmon fishery, as it had done for more than a decade, while other parties, like Canada, practice little constraint.
I have no idea how Mr. Samson’s creative accounting comes up with his estimates of donations to ASF.
I do know that government provides less than two per cent of ASF’s budget.
It’s true that some Newfoundland and Labrador rivers have amazing salmon runs, but Mr. Samson’s indication that they amount to over 90 per cent of all wild Atlantic salmon in North America might get a few arguments, especially when you consider all the salmon in the mighty Miramichi and the Restigouche rivers in N.B., the Moisie, Grand Cascapedia and Bonaventure rivers in Quebec, and the Margaree River in N.S., to name just a few salmon rivers in other provinces.
It must be fun to write fabrication after fabrication, but, really, Mr. Samson.
Isn’t it time to be accountable for your statements and doesn’t accountability begin with the truth?
Sue Scott, vp communications, Atlantic Salmon Federation