Fisheries and Land Resources
July 18, 2018

Provincial Government Provides Update on Hook-and-Release Study

The Honourable Gerry Byrne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, today provided an update on the department’s two-year study on hook-and-release practices in Newfoundland and Labrador. Announced May 25, the landmark study is specific to the unique environmental conditions of Newfoundland and Labrador and is ensuring availability of the best possible science on which to base future hook-and-release regulations.

Tens of thousands of Atlantic salmon are hooked and released each year in this province, but the effect of this practice on salmon populations is unclear. While hook-and-release is a legitimate fisheries management tool, on a large scale it may represent a conservation risk to salmon populations. Limitations such as sample size, short time frame, lack of experimental controls, and narrow range of environmental conditions have resulted in previous studies not providing sufficient scientific information to assess the conservation risk of widespread hook-and-release.

Salmon will be tagged this season and in 2019, and tracked for an entire year to determine both short-term survival immediately after release, and potential long-term effects on survival, spawning and migration. The objectives of this study are to address gaps in scientific information on hook and release; provide clear, science-based management recommendations for the implementation of this activity; engage and educate Newfoundland and Labrador salmon anglers; and improve the Provincial Government’s capacity to make management recommendations and decisions for all inland fish species.

Further details on the study can be found in the backgrounder below.

Quote
“My department is committed to ensuring Newfoundland and Labrador’s important salmon resource is managed using the best science available and upholding anglers’ established values of conservation. A hook-and-release study focusing on Newfoundland and Labrador will establish the first reliable quantitative estimate of Atlantic salmon survival after hook-and-release, define the relationship between environmental variables and hook-and-release survival, identify risk factors in hook-and-release technique, and define the long-term effects of this practice.”
Honourable Gerry Byrne
Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources

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Media contact
Connie Boland
Fisheries and Land Resources
709-637-2923, 640-6409
connieboland@gov.nl.ca

BACKGROUNDER

Study of hook-and-release angling and its impact on salmon mortality in Newfoundland and Labrador

The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources is conducting a two-year hook-and-release study specific to Newfoundland and Labrador’s environmental conditions. Using the latest in radio telemetry tags to track salmon hooked and released under typical conditions in several rivers around the province, this research will provide clear recommendations and related scientific data upon which Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Provincial Government can make informed decisions on the implementation of hook and release for Atlantic salmon.

Wildlife Division scientists have established a study site at Western Arm Brook; in year one, radio telemetry tracking is being used to tag 80 control salmon at the counting fence and 80 experimental salmon after hook and release. Year two of the study will see an expanded sample size and potentially the addition of a second site.

The study includes environmental monitoring, and tagging large and small salmon over a wide range of environmental conditions including water temperature, river discharge, air temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen. Salmon will be monitored for length, age, condition and sex.

Data collection for hooked and released salmon will include angling equipment used; location and time hooked, landed, and released; anomalies in the hook and release event; and the number of times hooked and released. Six tracking stations are located throughout the watershed and salmon will be tracked manually; on a weekly schedule during summer, monthly over winter, and bi-weekly in spring.

2018 07 18                              11:30 a.m.