|On more than one occasion it has been observed that the Greenland fishery is a fairly recent exploitation of the salmon resource, but somehow it seems to have quickly gained prominence as one of the few users whose entitlement to our salmon is vigorously defended. Wouldn't it be nice if Miramichi anglers could enjoy the same level of advocacy?|
For the past several years, the people of the Miramichi have been told that we must set a good example for Greenland by forfeiting our retention of grilse. In 2015, this sacrifice was forced upon us without consultation or consent, despite the fact that Miramichi grilse do not migrate to Greenland. As one observer put it "this lead by example experiment was a colossal failure".
Sadly, the conservation value of an active, selective harvest sport fishery has been completely ignored in these international negotiations, especially since our international negotiators have a decades long history of calling on anglers to "stop the killing". Perhaps if our most prominent spokesmen would stand up and defend the legitimacy of a traditional angling harvest instead of constantly apologizing for it, Greenland might have less contempt for their efforts. As long as a rancher feels the need to apologize to a cattle rustler, it is unlikely his situation will change much.
Consider some of the following comments over the past couple of years and ask yourself "Are they trying to leverage angling to change Greenland or are they trying to leverage Greenland to change angling?"
Monte Burke in Forbes Magazine:
Part of the Greenlanders argument for taking more fish is that they are not being treated fairly. And guess what? They are correct. Atlantic salmon are being harvested in far greater numbers by many other NASCO member countries, like Scotland, Norway and, perhaps most significantly, Canada.
The recreational harvest of Atlantic salmon must stop now. It is
ludicrous for Canada to ask Greenland to reduce its catch when its own recreational anglers kill 70 metric tons of fish. We no longer need to eat wild Atlantic salmon. "No one should keep and kill an Atlantic salmon anymore," says Bill Taylor, the head of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.
(Read Full Text)
Bill Taylor - President of the Atlantic Salmon Federation:
"Its easy to understand Greenland's position because in Canada anglers and first nations killed 135 tonnes of salmon last year which is equivalent to 63,000 fish" said Taylor. "The Greenlanders are unwilling to continue to bear the burden and sacrifice of conserving salmon while other countries like Canada allow the killing of several times more salmon than they do." (full text)
Mark Hambrook of the Miramichi Salmon Association:
Hambrook said to a certain extent, he can understand Greenland's stance on the issue. He notes that there are active Atlantic salmon fisheries in Quebec and Labrador that greatly contribute to Canada's annual salmon kill.
The difference between what Canada's approach and Greenland's, he said is that in Quebec, for instance, salmon can be harvested from a specific river if there is a population surplus. In Greenland, there is no way of knowing where the salmon being caught originate from.
It could be a Penobscot salmon which is critically (endangered), it could be one of our Miramichi salmon, because when you're fishing in a mixed fishery, you don't know what you're killing. (full text)
From the House of Commons Fisheries Committee - May 26, 2015
Mr. Robert Sopuck: Right. I think the open ocean problems are
truly fiendish in their complexity. In terms of Greenland, we had a discussion earlier, and my strong view is that Canada has more rights to these fish than other countries, given that we produce the fish and own the areas where
these fish are born and raised. Would you share that conclusion?
Mr. J.W. Bird: I think that everybody agrees that the Greenland
fishery is an intercepting fishery. All the fish that Greenlanders catch
are products of other countries. Yet, it is very difficult to deny them a
fishery of some subsistence nature. The key is to try to keep the level
of that subsistence fishery at, say, 20 or 30 tonnes, where it has sort
of been agreed upon at NAFO, and where it has now bloomed to
what we think is 50 or 60 tonnes.
The difficulty in negotiating with Greenland—and it's a
diplomatic process, not one that we can pursue in a military or
any aggressive way—is that our own consumption of wild Atlantic
salmon is significant, such as our Labrador fishery, our Quebec
fishery, and our overfishing in the Maritimes in the past. Greenland
is very quick to point to Canada and its continuing consumption of
wild salmon as a foil in our negotiations to reduce their quotas................
But so long as they can point at Canada and say we're taking
five times that many in Labrador, let's say, or the combination of
Labrador and Quebec and elsewhere, we have a pretty tough
argument to make. It's just a great frustration to all concerned. (full text)
Noted author Topher Brown says:
The bummer about the Atlantic salmon game these days is that we fly fisherman are killing more wild Atlantic salmon in North America than all Aboriginal and commercial fisheries (i.e. Labrador and Greenland) put together. The numbers are not even close.
When the Atlantic Salmon Federation (Canada/U.S.A.), the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (Iceland) and the Atlantic Salmon Trust (U.K.) go to the international bargaining tables to request a reduction of the international quotas, they don't have a leg to stand on. The commercial interests simply point out that fly fishermen are killing more wild Atlantic salmon than they are.
As of this moment, the Greenlanders have refused to renew an agreement regarding commercial fishing off the west coast of their country. I can't say that I blame them. Unfortunately, they are netting our two- and three-sea-winter fish as only multi-sea-winter salmon travel down the west coast of Greenland.
Bottom line: Fly fishermen have to get their own house in order before they can expect others to do the same. At the moment, it's a case of "Do as I say, not as I do." I've never seen that work in the long run. (link)