The MSA participates in the Eastern New Brunswick Coastal and Inland Recreational Fisheries Advisory Committee. In particular, the MSA offers feedback about Atlantic Salmon and striped bass fishing regulations as well as DFO’s population assessment reports.
The following are recommendations being made by the MSA. Note, these recommendations are consistent with other conservation groups.
For Atlantic Salmon:
- The stakeholder approach for the Precautionary Approach (PA) proposed years ago is reasonable and should be considered. In the absence of a PA, the previous management guidelines of 4 fish per day catch and release for the summer and fall seasons should be implemented (in contrast to the current 2 fish per day guidelines implemented without evidence or consultation).
- We appreciate the enforcement presence on the Miramichi River but continue to require more officers. Returning to 4 fish per day catch and release for the summer and fall seasons will allow more bodies on the water to deter poaching. As noted by C & P officers at the meeting - there are fewer anglers on the water which makes poaching easier.
- Stocking plays an important role in Atlantic Salmon population recovery and stabilization. A stocking policy based on science and consistent with west coast policies is needed. The Miramichi Salmon Association has a state of the art hatchery and is ready to contribute to salmon recovery.
- We need the Wild Atlantic Salmon Strategy implemented so a stocking policy can follow and be implemented.
- Smallmouth bass must be eradicated from Miramichi Lake.
- We need more timely population assessments (e.g., reports should be released in the winter following the season, not the following summer).
- We need to see an action plan for salmon recovery. In the Plamu First plan, participants agreed that stocking had a role to play.
- We would like to see the same proactive approach as is given to striped bass applied to Atlantic Salmon. For example, boating restrictions are being explored for striped bass during spawning, but nothing for Atlantic Salmon. There is a focus/interest in adjusting regulations to maximize striped bass populations, but not to Atlantic Salmon.
For Striped Bass:
- All striped bass caught in fresh water/above head of tide should be retained to reduce predation on Atlantic Salmon and other native species.
- There should be no upper size slot limit in all waters.
- A reasonable PA is needed for striped bass, and the LRP needs to incorporate ecosystem balance (i.e., lower than the currently proposed 330,000 spawners).
- A focus on ecosystem balance is needed. Gaspereau, mackerel, smelt, herring, and salmon populations are suffering because of the exploding striped bass population.
- DFO must acknowledge the additional spawning grounds on the Miramichi River system (Southwest and Tabusintac, in addition to Northwest). We would be pleased to see DFO involved in research on these spawning grounds and have submitted our data on these grounds to COSEWIC (in 2021).
- The Miramichi Salmon Association supports a First Nation commercial striped bass fishery.
- A more accurate annual population estimate is needed for striped bass.
The Miramichi Salmon Association is pleased to see the striped bass population recovering and thriving, but we are concerned about overall ecosystem balance. Despite consistent recommendations, regulations are slow to change for both Atlantic Salmon and striped bass. The recreational fisheries advisory committee did implement barbless hooks in 2021, something conservation groups have supported for years.