To SPAWN it makes perfect sense that the Department conducting the research and providing the funding for it should be managing our trout stocks. In this case we are talking about the Provincial Dept. of Environment and Conservation, which employs biologists dedicated to inland fisheries research. SPAWN feels that given Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s inland research is confined to Arctic Char and Atlantic salmon it should relinquish trout management in the Province of Newfoundland and labrador. DFO has stated it will not be funding research on any other inland species but char and salmon.

On the other hand, the Provincial Governments’ Inland Fish section of the Wildlife Department has made substantial investments in compiling detailed data on ponds and lakes throughout the province. We feel that control of all trout species (Brown, Rainbow, Brook and Lake) should be in the hands of those who have intimate details on watersheds throughout the province and who are willing to expand on this data. I.E. they have a genuine interest in species that most residents are interested in anyway! Currently, due to the normal bureaucratic hurdles within DFO, when it comes to trout, it means little gets done.

It’s really a no-brainer isn’t it – Remove the cause of the hurdles and get on with an advanced style of provincial trout management? Please don’t construe our comments as insulting DFO because that certainly isn’t the intention. What we are saying is, let them be the “caretakers” of the char and salmon while Provincial biologists act as “caretakers” for the trout stocks. Call it cooperative management, for lack of a better description.

“Minimum retention best way to manage trout stocks”

Provincial Biologists conduct yearly winter creel surveys, lake and pond specific research, on the Island and in Labrador. Via this, their Dept. is compiling a very detailed database of information. One important finding is that managing trout stocks is critically dependant on controlling the retention size. Their conclusion is that minimum retention size is the best way to manage trout stocks.

An interesting discovery over the years, from research in the Indian Bay system, is that even though some lakes and ponds may be linked (by brooks or streams) the maximum size of the stock in each water can be very different. For example, one water can have fish that reach several pounds maximum size, while an adjacent one may only have fish that reach a one pound maximum, or smaller – eventhough they could migrate between!

They’ve also discovered that some watersheds are far more sensitive than others and angling pressure can quickly ruin them. An example of this became clear during their studies and studies conducted by Dr. Tom Knight within Gros Morne National Park. Removing “X” number of fish from places like Western Brook and some of the highland lakes can basically cause havoc because they are so slow to recover. As pointed out, the highland lakes have very limited growth periods because the ice doesn’t leave until June leaving only a few months before they are frozen again.

So, the trout research is critically important in implementing protective management measures. Regional management appears a priority if we want to continue to harvest our trout resource to the satisfaction we have in the past.

What the province will have is a database whereby all the data have associated geographic reference points (GPS Points) so that they can examine differences in trout distributions and biology, based on their ecoregion, watershed and lake. What we will have is a knowledge base that researchers can revisit to compare new assessment to old for a specific geo-area. It’s management with distinctly improved accuracy.

One fifth of residents trout fish

The 2005 Recreational fishing Survey identified that 132,000 residents were involved in the sport fishery. It also estimated that 3 million trout would be harvested that year! It’s a valuable economic factor too. Figures showed that $39 million was spent on the sport ($6 m on equipment, $16 m on boating and $17 m on camping).

By far the “honour” of the largest number of a trout species retained goes to the Brook trout.

Now, look at this bit of information: The province owns the fish and issues the licenses and tags (in the case of salmon). The authority for this comes from the Provincial Constitution – Other reasons to place trout management in the hands of Provincial biologists.

To sum up, the Feds manage using generic measures such as an arbitrary season, bag limits and gear restrictions. You could say the province has an obligation to the people to manage and protect the trout resource. What is really needed and can be provided by the Dept. of Environment and Conservation is data on biology, social impact and geographic detailing. A far more knowledgeable way to run things, don’t you think? We’re sure you’ll hear more on this in the future. It’s all about protecting and sustaining what we have for decades to come.

Provincial control is definitely the route to take.

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