New Atlantic Salmon angling regulations are good for anglers, local economies and wild Atlantic Salmon
As of April 1, following many years of consultation with stakeholders of Atlantic salmon in Quebec, the provincial government has implemented a new10-year plan to manage sport angling for this iconic species.
This marks a major departure from management methods in place since 1984. Seen by many in the salmon world as the model for managing rivers on an individual basis, the management plan has been upgraded to an abundance based system.
As of June 1 2016, it is mandatory to release all large salmon (measuring more than 63 cms) until a mid season assessment is done to ascertain abundance. Anglers will be permitted to legally release back to the water three (3) fish per day regardless of size.
As of August 1, rivers that reach 95% of their conservation target can permit retention of large salmon based on a quota, which will vary on a river by river basis. If targets are not reached, mandatory live release of large salmon continues until the end of the season. The mandatory live release of large salmon at the start of a season will substantially reduce the number of large salmon harvested and ensure that rivers have the maximum number of fish for spawning. In 2017, in addition to this measure, a new “tag license” is expected to be introduced that will permit the retention of one large salmon and three grilse (less than 63 cms) per angler per year.
There are three rivers exempted from this new measure, the Moisie, Causapscal and Natashquan, where anglers will be allowed to harvest large fish from June 1. The status of these rivers will be reviewed by the government following the 2016 season.
Peer reviewed research has proven that live release is a very effective conservation tool. Also, when done properly (not exposing the fish to air at anytime during the process) it has been shown that those fish are more productive spawners than the ones that have been exposed to the air. Keeping in mind the fragile status of Atlantic salmon populations, keeping the fish in the water is paramount. The future health of our rivers and fishery needs those big spawners to be successful each year in their quest to reproduce. And this plan will help.
The economic spin-offs of the sport fishery are well known. In 2010, a socio-economic study of the value of wild Atlantic salmon revealed that salmon have an annual value of more than $50 million to the province of Quebec. These new regulations will help ensure the sustainable development of Quebec’s salmon resource.
These new regulations also demonstrate on the international stage that Quebec is serious about substantially reducing the harvest of salmon and will enable Canadian delegations to negotiate from a credible position with its counterparts in Greenland, where many large salmon destined to return to Quebec rivers are harvested each year.
Certainly, the plan is not perfect (there is always room for improvement), and it does not address harvest management by other communities and jurisdictions but is a big stride forward in the marathon that is wild Atlantic salmon conservation.
Quebec Program Director
Atlantic Salmon Federation