June 28, 2016
Alan Graham named chairman of Atlantic Salmon Federation
Graham says trying to save threatened Atlantic salmon a ‘big job’
Chris Morris Legislature Bureau
Former politician and longtime angler Alan Graham says he is facing a “big job” taking over as chairman of the board of directors of the Atlantic Salmon Federation in Canada.
The federation announced Monday that Graham, a past deputy premier and a Liberal member of the legislature from 1970 until his retirement from politics in 1998, will replace former senator Michael Meighen, who was federation chairman for 10 years.
“I told Michael I’m not going to do this for the 10 years he was there,” Graham said in an interview.
“But salmon has always been a passion of mine.”
Graham said these are tough times for the Atlantic salmon.
The population of the fish has been in a precipitous decline for decades. The large, multi-winter salmon declined by 84 per cent from 1971 to 2014 in eastern Canadian rivers.
Anglers have long been prohibited in New Brunswick from keeping large salmon, but last year was the first time the federal government banned anglers from keeping grilse, or young salmon, in the Maritimes. Only indigenous groups are allowed to continue harvesting salmon, in limited quantities.
The ban on the retention fishery was extended this year.
“I know hook and release isn’t popular for some people,” Graham said, adding that he has long practised hook and release.
“But it is necessary at the present time to try and help Mother Nature out a little bit.”
Graham, the father of former Liberal premier Shawn Graham, said he is encouraged by steps taken by new federal Fisheries Minister Dominic Le-Blanc, who recently announced more science and research into what is happening with the Atlantic salmon.
“I had nothing against the Harper government other than salmon conservation was not one of its top priorities,” Graham said.
“Dominic is keen to do what he can to make things work.”
Graham held various cabinet posts in the Frank McKenna government, including minister of agriculture, minister of natural resources and deputy premier.
In business, Graham has served as director for many public and private companies.
One of those was part of the Atcon Group, which received about $70 million in financial assistance from the province while his son, Shawn Graham, served as premier from 2006 to 2010.
New Brunswick conflict of interest commissioner Justice Patrick Ryan ruled in 2013 that Shawn Graham should have recused himself from eight cabinet discussions of the At-con file because his father sat on the board of Atcon’s Swedish subsidiary, and was on a retainer.
Graham said Monday he had resigned as a director prior to the major loan decision.
He said the issue has nothing to do with his appointment as chairman of the salmon federation.
“We have a big job to do,” he said, referring to salmon conservation.“At-con has nothing to do with it.”