Issue

The harvest of MSW's (large salmon) in the First Nation FSC fisheries

Here in New Brunswick it is the MSW (large salmon) component of our salmon runs that drives stock performance. This is a well-recognized fact, and we frequently hear conservation groups bemoan about the Greenland situation where our large salmon are exposed to a foreign commercial fishery. What we hear less about is the fact that DFO annually authorizes a substantial harvest of MSW fish in our home waters via the issuance of its FSC licenses to First Nations. It is this harvest which is of concern, as on an individual river basis it can have a greater impact on a local stock than does the much-touted Greenland fishery.

DFO has put forth the argument that in general most Atlantic Salmon stocks in New Brunswick are not meeting conservation requirements and as such stringent conservation measures are required. Given this situation then, and given the fact that it is the MSW component that is most crucial to stock recovery one would expect that DFO would (in consultation with First Nations) adjust its FSC licenses to ensure that those MSW's that do return to their home rivers are given the optimum opportunity to spawn.

DFO has the fudicery responsibility to manage our Atlantic Salmon stocks in the best interests of the First Nations but in failing to address the large salmon harvest issue, they are also failing the First Nations in that responsibility. New Brunswick First Nations do not want to see their FSC fisheries closed any more than do anglers want to see their recreational fishery closed. As mentioned in our information document, the CBSM takes the position that closures are not an option. We contend that both angling and First Nation FSC harvests can continue while stocks recover through well managed selective fisheries. We recognize that recreational fisheries and FSC fisheries are intertwined and must be managed as a whole. They are interdependent: each needs the other to insure stocks recover, both depend on sufficient egg deposition being achieved.

It is from this perspective that the coalition has called on DFO to suspend the harvest of large salmon in New Brunswick's First Nation FSC fisheries until such time as stocks have recovered.

(For clarity – the Coalition's call is for a temporary suspension, it is not for the elimination of the large salmon allocation. Also for clarity, the Coalition supports the continuation of FSC fisheries for grilse using selective gear and with an appropriate allocation)