For Immediate Release
Mar. 28, 2017
Quebec Records Good 2016 Atlantic Salmon Returns
New Angling Regulations Show Promise for Conservation
Numbers released this month by the Quebec government show returns of Atlantic salmon to the province's rivers were close to the 5-year average, with approximately half of all monitored rivers exceeding new conservation limits.
Atlantic salmon are found in 109 Quebec rivers. On the 35 rivers monitored by the province, a total of 29,455 salmon returned last year. The economic value of the recreational Atlantic salmon fishery in Quebec was approximately $50 million in 2016, an increase of 1.8 per cent over the previous year.
2016 was the first season under Quebec's new 10-year management plan for Atlantic salmon. The regulations were designed to reduce the harvest of large multi-sea winter salmon by enforcing mandatory live release when angling opens. Conservation requirements were also revised upward, raising the threshold for a population to be considered sustainable.
On each monitored river, a mid-season assessment takes place. If it's determined conservation requirements will be met, a retention fishery for large salmon opens. If not, live release rules remain in force.
"Quebec's river-by-river management plan has successfully reduced the number of salmon killed by recreational anglers," said Bill Taylor, President of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. "At the same time, it gives anglers who may wish to take a fish the choice when rivers can support a limited harvest."
Data shows more anglers are choosing live release, despite the ability to keep grilse and large salmon. 1,700 more live release licenses were sold in 2016 compared to 10-years ago, according to preliminary sales data from the province. In the Gaspe region, home to many of Quebec’s most famous rivers, 71 per cent of all large Atlantic salmon caught were released.
Overall, license sales in Quebec increased last year compared to the 10-year average, most of that is attributed to the increase in resident, live release license sales.
“What this tells us is that the true driver of angling participation is good fishing, not the ability to take a fish,” said Taylor. “There’s no doubt the new Quebec management plan restricts the recreational harvest, but the salmon runs have been strong, so more people are fishing.”
Quebec’s approach to managing its recreational salmon fishery on a river-by-river basis was recently held out as a good example by Fisheries and Oceans Canada Minister Dominic LeBlanc. He suggested that New Brunswick and Nova Scotia may adopt similar rules in the near future. ASF has advocated for river specific management of the recreational fishery since 1985.
However, there is still room for improvement in Quebec. For example, ASF supports the position of our provincial council, the Federation québécoise pour le saumon atlantique is asking that more than 35 of the 109 salmon rivers in the province be monitored. Rivers that are not monitored are strictly live release for all large salmon except for the Moisie, Saint-Jean (North Shore) and the Natashquan.
Attached to this press release is a pdf of the 35 assessed rivers and their results for 2016.
To arrange interviews please contact:
Charles Cusson, Quebec Program Director for ASF
The Atlantic Salmon Federation was founded in 1948 with the goal of conserving and restoring wild Atlantic salmon stocks throughout the North Atlantic. Our federation includes provincial and state councils, and afﬁliate groups throughout Eastern Canada and New England, representing thousands of members and volunteers.