Miramichi Leader

Editorial: Impact study into striped bass an overdue step for Miramichi River

Aug 15, 2019
It's clear that the resurgence of the Miramichi River system's once-threatened striped bass population has made a substantial impact.

We know that more than a million bass swim up the mouth of the Miramichi every spring, and that thousands of people from far and wide have been casting from the shoreline or launching boats into the water to try and hook them.

We know that the abundance of striped bass has provided a welcome distraction from the continued uncertainty surrounding the river's threatened run of wild Atlantic salmon, and has helped rejuvenate an interest in recreational fishing in a region that's synonymous with it.

And we also know that people are spending money on rods and tackle, on boats and outboard motors, and for the hundreds of anglers who travel here in droves every spring for events like the Miramichi Striper Cup. They're dropping money on hotels, restaurants and other goods and services.

The impact, it's safe to say, has been substantial, with the recreational fishery essentially serving as a gift-wrapped opportunity for the city, which has been more than happy to capitalize and ride the coinciding wave.

But in terms of being able to quantify the impact from a clear, concise dollars-and-cents standpoint, there's still some work left to do before we get a full sense of just how big this is.

The best way to go about getting those answers, we feel, would be through the launch of a formal economic impact study that could be carried out on behalf of the city by an outside consultant.

Officials with the city's Department of Economic Development and Tourism, during a recent meeting of Miramichi city council, informed members that if they want to acquire more specific data concerning striped bass, it's likely it would need to spend between $10,000 and $15,000 to compile a detailed report.

Ultimately, given how important we already know the striped bass fishery is to the city, this shouldn't be a hard sell.

Department head Jeff MacTavish said he wouldn't be shocked if the activities related to striped bass fishing in the Miramichi ended up being worth an extra $7 million or so to the local economy on an annual basis.

That's a big number, especially for a small city like this one. But it's also still just a rough estimate.

If the city wants to be able to do things like develop an official strategy for marketing and promoting its bass fishery, or if it wants to try and leverage government funding to promote the fishery or invest in conservation measures, then it's going to need to be armed with hard, up to-date figures which clearly illustrate the value of the sector.

In our view, this is a long overdue exercise that would likely be well worth the amount of effort and investment.

While the city should be commended for its success in co-organizing the annual bass fishing derby, this is an issue that deserves informed decision-making.

In order to get there, we feel strongly the issue needs to be examined under a much wider lens in the form of a formal study.

More Posts