2013 was a good season for fishing in most SFA’s. More and more angling licenses are being issued and many new anglers are having their share of success. One of the biggest issues wild Atlantic salmon face today is the rapid expansion of open net aquacluture operations. The industry and Government envision doubling the production capacity for farm salmon on the south coast by 2018 with operations expanding eastward to Placentia Bay and westward to Burgeo. It is disapointing to witness the rapid decline of wild salmon returning to Conne River, although it is not surprising to the science community nor the angling public as evidence mounts that wild salmon are adversly impacted by sea pen aquaculture operations that are operated close by wild rivers. At recent industry consultations SAEN received advice of the first evidence that farmed salmon are interacting with the wild population both at sea and in stream in both spring and fall. Approximately 10% had gonads and ripe eggs during the fall season. COSEWIC estimates a population of 37,400 adult wild salmon in DU4 (south coast). We know that many more than that have escaped and have not been recaptured. It is likely that intergretion is occurring and that a different strain of salmon that are genetically inferior will be produced. We also worry that out migrating wild salmon smolt are attracted to open net pens closeby the migration route. Sea lice are known to overpopulate the bottom under these pens. The lice attach themselves to the small smolt that are unable to host parasites of that size this early in their development. The smolt eventually die. There are other issues including desease which may be spreading to both adult wild salmon returning to thier birth rivers and out migrating smolts. On a positive note the Provincial authorities have consulted with SAEN and have confirmed thier interest in continued consultations. A new Bay Management Area (BMA) strategy may solve some of SAEN’s concern with placing operations adjacent to rivers hosting wild populations. The industry and Government continue to involve SAEN as a stakeholder and are interested in prioritizing escape recovery plans and modelling a strategy after best practices from other jurisdictions. SAEN has participated in all forums available for input in respect to aquaculture. Our concerns are sometimes addressed but often ignored.
SAEN has fly tying and rod building courses available to all members and we have continued to grow our projects work during 2013. The second year of the Rennies River Salmon Reintroduction Project was successfull. We electrofished 10 sites and discovered young of the year salmon in nine. Volunteers from our membership and freinds planted 65,500 eggs during November. 95 sites were utilized. We changed our planting strategy from 2012 when we dug incubators directly into the stream bed at planting time. Many were lost downstream so during the summer we hired a Green Team of students from the Conservation Core of Newfoundland and Labrador. They sank 125 dairy crates deep into the riverbeds. When volunteers visted the sites to plant incubators they just slipped them into the dairy crates. Of course we are not just reintroducing salmon. We are busy constructing a fishway around the north side of the falls at Quidi Vidi between the lake outlet and the gut. Work should be completed during the summer of 2014. We have also secured funding to proceed with developing a series of spawning beds in O’Leary’s Brook behind the Dollar Store at the Avalon Mall which will be done during the summer of 2014. SAEN participated in planting over 200 seedlings along the banks of Rennies River in an effort to stabalize riverbanks and provide badly needed cover for jueviniles.
SAEN held a BBQ and Family Day in August at Murray’s Pond Country Club. All who attended had a good time. Plans are underway to hold another event at the same place next August. I hope to see you there.
I would like to thank all of the Board members and Committee members for thier efforts this past year. We held a successful Dinner and Auction last May and held a successful Moose Stew in November. The proceeds of these events together with your membership dues gives SAEN the ability to pay our rent, keep the lights on and continue in our work.
We continue to look for volunteers to sit as directors or on committees. If you are interested please contact the office.
On Behalf of the Board and Executive I wish you good fishing in the New Year.