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Squandering Salmon

THE TELEGRAM

Editorial: Squandering salmon
The Telegram
Published: Mar. 7, 2018

Why don’t we just go ahead and fish the Atlantic salmon right into extinction in this province?

It’s not like there’s that many left.

Atlantic salmon in this province are under tremendous pressure. Their genetic stock has been widely corrupted by genes from escaped aquaculture salmon, and on top of that, the last two years have seen significant drops in the numbers of fish returning to the province’s rivers to spawn. All sorts of fish are experiencing dramatic changes in ocean conditions, to the point that other species are dramatically shifting their ranges.

Salmon that hatch in this province’s rivers make their way to estuaries, head for the open ocean, and don’t return.

“As scientists, we are deeply concerned,” said DFO researcher Geoff Veinott. “We’ve never seen anything like this. Twenty-sixteen was a low year, we sort of thought maybe that was it, that was the bottom, then 2017 turned around and it was worse.”

But by all means, let’s play the partisan politics card and pick up a few votes from those who like to fish salmon recreationally, and who see no need to protect the species for the long term.

Already, there are those who are arguing recreational salmon fishing should continue — ironically (and sorry to say this, but stupidly), because we don’t know enough about what’s causing the problem.

It’s only fitting, really.

We’ve already saddled our kids with massive provincial debt for the benefits we’ve taken and aren’t willing to sacrifice to pay for, and continue to pile up debt. We’ve already handed them the promise of horrific electricity bills. We gleefully continue to wreak destruction on marine species by polluting our oceans with plastic and our atmosphere with greenhouse gases, to the point that climate change seems nearly inevitable.

The one thing that we seem to be willing to prove over and over again is that we’re perfectly happy to talk about the environment or about restraint, as long as it doesn’t mean we have to change our own personal behaviour in any way.

We’re already leaving the world in worse shape than we found it.

Why should our kids have any chance of getting to catch a salmon in the future anyway — especially if giving them that chance means we have to stop what we want to do?

Well, how about because life isn’t supposed to be all about one generation — it’s not all about us.

How about because the Atlantic salmon has a value as a species, not just as food or recreation?

How about we do what’s right, rather than just doing what we selfishly want?

Salmon specialists say, “We have never seen anything like this.”

And how do we respond? “Let’s just carry on doing what we want to” should not even be on the table.

The fact that it is shows just how greedy we are.