Food for Thought: The Future of Atlantic Salmon in Eastern Cape Breton

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

My experiences as an angler have been among the most formative of my life. I recognize that above anything else, this is a privilege and with that privilege comes a responsibility. Specifically, the responsibility to protect these wild spaces and the voiceless species that inhabit them. I’ve spent the last few months reading, researching, and having conversations to help form an understanding of what a Species At Risk Assessment (SARA) listing will do to Eastern Cape Breton’s Atlantic salmon population. I must conclude, that I don’t see the outcome being a positive one. I also want to make it clear that I don’t believe that a recreational fishery alone is the answer (a sentiment I know many fellow anglers will agree with). Yes, I believe that anglers are a helpful advocacy group and a watchful eye on the river. When stacked up against the impacts of clear cutting, pollution, ocean acidification, etc, a well-managed catch and release fishery ranks low on the impact scale. However, the call to action is much greater than keeping the rivers open for fishing. In my opinion, the call to action requires collective advocacy for river-by-river management, current data by which we make decisions for catch limits and season durations. It requires a long, hard look at whether the Designatable Unit (DU) makes sense - how can a DU with such varying geomorphology have the same rules blanketed across it? It requires warm water protocols that are enforced in a timely manner. It requires looking beyond just the rivers and fighting against policies that jeopardize the species’ greater habitats. It requires self-regulation and advocacy work on both individual and collective levels. It’s also a call for me to be more active in my own efforts. To say this situation was a wake up call for me would be an understatement. So, no, I don’t believe fishing alone is the answer, but I do firmly believe that a healthy fishery is a small part of the solution. I can only speak for myself as an angler, but this issue extends much further beyond just anglers. I believe the solution is collective action between organizations not-for-profit organizations, government, Indigenous communities and the Traditional Knowledge carried within them, the government, and the general public - with equal representation. I have linked various websites and sources in my bio to help you learn more and take action wherever you decide you stand. While I am not an expert, my inbox is always open for questions and constructive discussions. Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far. G

Original Post:

Links to resources:

Nova Scotia Salmon Association:

The Narwhal Article on SARA Listings:

Suggest read: "One Man's Quest to Save the World's Wild Salmon" by Tucker Malarkey

Take Action

Contact Julie Stewart, Director of Species at Risk Program, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Ottawa):

Contact Species at Risk Management Division, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Maritimes Region):

Contact the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans The Honourable Bernadette Jordan (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans):

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