Statement on 2018 recreational salmon angling for Newfoundland & Labrador

Feb 13, 2018

Statement on 2018 recreational salmon angling for Newfoundland & Labrador

Feb. 13, 2018

Statement on 2018 recreational salmon angling for Newfoundland & Labrador

Atlantic salmon returns to monitored rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador declined significantly in 2016 and 2017. An average 24 per cent drop in 2016 was followed by a further 38 per cent drop last year. Salmon returns were so low that DFO suspended the recreational harvest and implemented live release for conservation purposes in August 2017.

As a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Salmonid Advisory Committee, a multi-party group led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) made the following recommendations for the 2018 recreational salmon angling season at a working group meeting held November 8-9, 2017 in Gander:

General recommendations:

1. DFO should perform an in-season review on all index rivers that have a monitoring or counting facility on them, to estimate the health of the returns.

2. Retention levels in the portion of the season prior to the in-season review should be kept to the lowest level possible.

3. Retention levels in the portion of the season after the in-season review should be based on information provided by the in-season review.

4. To promote stock recovery, maximum seasonal retention should be reduced from the current level of 6 small salmon.

Specific recommendations for 2018:

1. Consistent with DFO’s 2017 recommendation that there be no retention until there are signs of recovery, the 2018 season should open as live release only.

2. A DFO led in-season review to assess the status of the stocks should occur at an appropriate time and should apply to the island of Newfoundland as well as Labrador. We also recommend that such in-season reviews be conducted on an annual basis.

3. If the in-season review indicates that runs have recovered enough to support a harvest, without compromising the ability of stocks to surpass their minimum spawning requirements, (appropriate stock level to permit harvest as determined by DFO prior to the season, taking into account the previous five-year averages/trends), rivers can be opened for harvest with a maximum of 2 small salmon retained per license.


ASF recognizes the contribution of all anglers to salmon conservation and supports retention angling on a river-by-river basis where it will not have a negative effect on overall populations. However, in accordance with ASF policy, we believe that live release angling is a better option than river closures when salmon populations are depressed. The presence of anglers helps deter illegal activity, encourages outdoor recreation, and preserves the livelihood of people working in the recreational fishery and tourism.

Current returns of Atlantic salmon to Newfoundland and Labrador rivers are not sufficient to support a return to six tags. In 2016 anglers in the province harvested more than 31,000 salmon. Doing the same under current conditions may imperil future recovery efforts.

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