Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How Did We Become The Enemy?

I have fished Salmon since the age of 18. I am not the most avid of salmon anglers, nor the best. In recent years, after a few years away from salmon fishing, i rediscovered my passion for it. I got to hold one in my hands again for a brief moment. Like I do with any fish, I appreciated it for the gift it gave me and watched it swim away. With reverence.

Now it would appear that me and others like me, have been identified as the enemy. My sport, the downfall of the species. We, in 2012, are interfering with the native food fishery, so we are told. Now we are no longer allowed to fish for them. They say "for now", but no one really knows. The threat to the sport so many of us have passionately pursued, is very real and fly anglers in Nova Scotia are shown the value they hold in the eyes of DFO. None.

At the risk of making my wife angry, let me give you all an idea of what Salmon fishing means to an economy, just from me. I own thousands of dollars of gear. Rods, reel, lines, flys, waders, jackets, shirts, boots and so much more. All of it purchased from fly shops and fly fishing manufacturers. In 2011 I fished for Salmon in Quebec and Nova Scotia. I spent part of 12 days on the water. I spent more than $900 on gas, $1000 on accommodations, well over $1000 on food, drinks, diners, coffee, restaurants, farmers markets and corner stores. I am one guy who does not get the time to fish Salmon nearly as much as I want to, but I spent in the area of $5000 in the pursuit of my sport. There are 2500 licensed Salmon Anglers in Nova Scotia. Do the math. Salmon fishing is a $130 Million industry that employs 4000 people in Eastern Canada, and it's existence is being threatened.

Even more important we took a good friend who has cancer on the trip of a lifetime and created memories we will all never forget.

And now, we are the enemy. The truth is, the angler is the protector of the species. While the aboriginals and DFO might want to stake that claim, no one has done more to protect fisheries of all sorts, than those who sport fish for them. Most of us only catch and release. Our presence on the river is saving it from poachers, and organizations have taken on projects from building fishways, to liming dozers to enhance and protect the habitat. And now, we are the enemy.

Maybe it is time to assert OUR rights. Maybe it is time to step up and make a stand for OUR passion. Maybe it is not right anymore to be treated like second class stakeholders in OUR rivers. Maybe, just maybe, we are not the enemy.

I urge any salmon anglers across this country, and anyone passionate about fishing to write your MP's, MLA's and area Councillors. Tell them as salmon anglers we are the greatest friend the species has. Tell the we are NOT the enemy. I welcome your feedback and anyone who wants to make a blog post about this, email it to me at djphill@eastlink.ca.