Salmon fishing & fly tying on the Miramichi...

Thursday, 13 April 2017

A follow up letter from Ashley Hallihan to DFO & the Minister. (Is Quebec pulling the strings?)

Here is a follow up letter from Ashley Hallihan which I am posting with his permission. His efforts are receiving little response and it's time for others to kick it into high gear with calling and writing DFO, the Minister, local MP's, City Council, media and anyone else who will listen to what is going on in the Miramichi river with the dangerously overabundant striped bass population. It's becoming clear there is much more at play than science and responsible management - is it Quebec and the striped bass recovery initiative for the St. Lawrence estuary? It's sure looking that way...

Ashley's Intro and Letter begin here:


Here is another email I have sent to 3 DFO biologists, a biologist from COSEWIC, our Miramichi MP as well as the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Only reply back was from a DFO biologist who said 'we understand your frustrations' with plans for us to meet to 'exchange ideas' sometime next week in Miramichi. After reading this email, I encourage that if you too are frustrated, then express your concerns to the following people:
Minister of Fisheries & Oceans
Dominic LeBlanc
Miramichi Member of Parliment
Pat Finnigan
DFO Management
Frederic Butruille


Here is the email...
The frustrating thing about this river closure announcement is the lack of facts to support such a regulatory measure and lack of discussion amongst all stakeholders. I believe in 2012(?) rumours of a possible river closure to the 'staging area' for Striped Bass emerged at a time when only hook and release was permitted throughout the angling season. Not quite sure what changed the decision makers minds (public outcry, lack of science, discussion with stakeholders, political power) but the management strategies that were announced were a complete 180 of the proposed rumours. We went from hook and release to no river closure with retention periods. 
Here we are once again in this conversation about an announced river closure to the 'spawning area'. An announcement with many unknowns and at a time when science is telling the public that the population is 10 times over the target recovery plan. Also at a time when this Striped Bass population continues to grow rapidly each successive year without any previous protections to a spawning/staging area. I trust that you understand the public's frustrations as we are left with too many unknowns...
- dates of closure?
- boundary limits?
- one year plan...what happens next year: longer closure period? extended boundaries to protect the staging area? protection of other spawning areas since they are spawning on the Southwest Miramichi?
All of this confusion for what goal? I am still asking the same question as I did last year at the MSA Science day in Boiestown: What is the maximum population target for this population and is this population beyond the carrying capacity of the Miramichi ecosystem? At the time DFO Science could not answer that question as it was a DFO Management decision. This year I sent my letter of concern to your colleague Frederic Brutruille and over a phone conversation (as in the beginning of my search for answers email discussions were not entertained) and he told me he could not answer that question as it was a DFO Science decision. There lies the frustration I am having in a search that appears to be going nowhere with regards to clearly answering the 5 questions posed in my letter.
I am quite aware of the Warm Water Protocal for our river...a variation order that is enacted by the collection of temperature data, has a defined and measurable standard for those who enforce this management tool. I am assuming that this protocol was developed through discussion with many stakeholders involved and followed the proper regulatory process as directed by the Fisheries Act. I also am aware that this was done for an Atlantic Salmon population that is also not listed with SARA. I fully support this regulatory measure that is serving to protect an Atlantic Salmon population that science is showing is in trouble with decreasing populations.
I must admit I spent some time reading DFO documents and other websites like this one:…/Ecojustice-Fisheries-Act-Feb-2013.p…
I am still unsure why this protection measure is needed for a population that is having success without any previous closures and increased retention periods throughout the recovery plan. I did find some some information on a recovery plan outside of the Miramichi River (St. Lawrence Population) where a 10 year plan was announced in this report and implemented in 2008:…/Csas/s…/2006/SAR-AS2006_053_E.pdf
Upon reading this 2006 document, I find it amusing to reflect upon the statement 'under the present mortality conditions, there is a low probability of exceeding the recovery limit by 2015'.
Times have certainly change for the Miramichi ecosystem and 2006 predictions did not turn out as expected?
I am not a fan of hidden agendas and more information needs to be discussed to publicly and with other stakeholders about the recovery program for the St. Lawrence Striped Bass Population that is taking Striped Bass from the Miramichi River as described in this report:…/doc22…/ind_e.cfm
It would be awesome to have a similar recovery plan for Atlantic Salmon on the Northwest Miramichi using Atlantic Salmon that populate Rivers in Quebec...a province that has a successful Atlantic Salmon population since they have regulations that permit harvesting a MSW Salmon.
Just a thought...who knows in 10 years they may be returning the favour for our Atlantic Salmon populations for the Miramichi.
I am just a concerned resident of Miramichi who is passionate about the River I call home. A balanced ecosystem is a must for all species and we as anglers/managers have an obligation to be stewards of our ecosystem. I never want to see the Miramichi Striped Bass populations get to a point that we saw in the late 1990's as I truly enjoy sharing this recreation with my family and the youth of my community. However, without the necessary regulations in place to reduce this population, I am worried that other species may be a distant memory in short time frame.
Ashley Hallihan"

Please contact the following people to let them know how you feel about the 2017 striped bass regulations:

DFO Management
Frederic Butruille
ph: (506)851-7358

Minister of Fisheries & Oceans
Dominic LeBlanc
ph: (506)533-5700

Member of Parliament (Miramichi)
Pat Finnigan
ph: (506) 778-8448