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Member News - Coalition News #3

May 8, 2017

Dear CBSM member,

First off, to our new members I would like to say “hello” and thank you for joining the CBSM ( Coalition for Better Atlantic Salmon Management in New Brunswick )  Since our last member contact on April 7th (Coalition news #2) our membership ranks have increased by 50% and we now stand at just over the 900 mark. For those new members who may not have seen our printed material, I have attached the pdf’s of our information brochure and publicity poster (French & English).

For our previously signed members I would suggest that you also have a look at these pdf’s since these are the brochures and posters that are now in circulation throughout the province.  Further I would like to note for all members, that with our Coalition news #2 of  April 7th  we sent out two versions; one for new members and one for previously signed members. Both included a chronological listing of developments from our inception date of March 14th to April 6th. This coalition news edition (#3) will not retrace that ground as we now have a means for new members to catch up on what has gone before.

Your Steering Committee is pleased to announce that as of Friday May 5th the CBSM now has an online presence with the launch of our website  Just click on the link in this e-mail and it will take you there.  Our first coalition news of March 24th as well as the one from April 7th will soon be posted under the link “member news” for those who might want to back check for information.

The website is still under construction, but it is up and running with the basics.  We state in our brochure that “The CBSM’s primary purpose will be for information exchange and advocacy’” and we feel that this is the vehicle with which we can best deliver that for our members.  Periodic “coalition news” updates will still be sent out via e-mail to all members who have provided an address but the website will be our primary source for information – the conduit we speak of in our document.

So what has been happening since April 7th ? 

On April 13th DFO made its announcement of another year of blanket catch and release angling for Atlantic Salmon.  In typical fashion it was an 11th hour announcement coming out just two days before the start of the season.  The rational given for not moving forward with at least a start on river-by-river management was that they were leaving it in place “in order to maintain the conservation benefits”

 This was the same day that we took delivery of 5, 000 brochures and 150 posters from the printer and began the effort to get them circulated around the province.

 Once that task had largely been accomplished the CBSM set about getting our material in the hands of all 21 news papers in the province and providing them with a story line should they wish to follow up on it.  That was on April 19th and the story line was:

... the recent announcement (April 13th) by DFO on the Atlantic Salmon angling regulations for New Brunswick, whereby they have decided to once again maintain the status quo, clearly demonstrating just how “stuck in the mud” they really are and how badly they need a push to get them moving down the road towards river-by-river management (link to the poster cartoon and the statement that the Coalition intends to give them one).

 April 21st  / 22nd  - With our material in circulation around the province the CBSM sent out a total of 34 individual courtesy e-mail notifications to all of the provincial clubs &/or associations with a connection to salmon conservation.  They were supplied with the pdf’s of our brochures and posters simply so that they would be aware of who we are and what we are about, and that our group was circulating material should they get a question or two about us from their membership.

 April 25th -  As a result of two earlier phone inquires the CBSM received confirmation from DFO-Gulf that the FSC licenses for New Brunswick had been issued for 2017 with no changes being made.  Status quo again.  With this information in hand we sent off yet another e-mail correspondence to the Minister’s office requesting that the question of mandate, that had been on his desk since Sept. of 2016, be dealt with and that he should now consider the request as being from the Coalition.  You will recall from our information document that this was our second listed focus - suspending the harvest of large salmon (MSW’s) in the FSC fisheries until such time as stocks have recovered.

 April 28th  -  The CBSM responded to DFO’s April 13th angling regulations announcement with a third letter to the RDG – Gulf.  As with each of our letters it carried not only a specific question but a message.  Our first contact of March 22nd had notified DFO of our groups formation and made the clear statement that we would not accept another status quo year from DFO.

 This point was reiterated in the e-mail letter of April 28th , the question posed called out DFO on its statement of benefits  and the message was given that DFO should not expect acquiescence (silent acceptance) from anglers.  The pertinent excerpt from that correspondence is as follows;

 “The announcement above indicates that you have made the conscious choice not to move forward this year, but to continue the status quo “ in order to maintain conservation benefits”.  Accordingly, and in keeping with the Coalition’s approach of asking clear questions, this e-mail is to request that your office articulate for our membership, exactly what these conservation benefits are and that you quantify them on a river-by-river basis.

 It is not sufficient for DFO to simply put out an announcement with a vague rational and expect that people will automatically acquiesce.  If DFO wants support for, and compliance with, its regulations it needs to reach out to those who are affected and explain its actions.  People were expecting, and are expecting, more from your office in 2017.”

May 2nd – a second meeting of the CBSM Steering committee was held at Blackville N.B.   Agenda and minutes are available to members if requested.

 May 4th -  As DFO had not responded to our April 3rd correspondence on Striped Bass within the requested time line of the end of April, we followed up with another inquiry.  As mentioned above the e-mail also carried a message – that being that a reasonable question deserves a timely and reasonable answer and that we would be informing our membership accordingly.  The pertinent excerpt from that correspondence is as follows;

 “In the next few days we will be circulating our 3rd information update to the CBSM membership of 850+.  One aspect of this update will deal with questions posed and answers received.  Unfortunately we can only advise them that even though the question of “how many Striped Bass does DFO want?” has been out there for years, we are still awaiting an answer.

 Further, and in keeping with our Coalitions stated approach of asking clear questions in an effort to engage DFO and make the push for better management of out Atlantic Salmon here in the province of New Brunswick, we would pose this question on the Striped Bass issue.

 Both on your website and in the press DFO has made this statement “There is absolutely no scientific information that supports the idea that removing striped bass from estuaries will help improve Atlantic salmon returns” .

 Are we to take from this statement that DFO has rejected the scientific information from the ongoing research work of the ASF with respect to Atlantic Salmon smolt survival within the estuarial waters of the Miramichi system ?”

May 6th – Four members of the CBSM Steering Committee attended a media event at Cassislis N.B. on the shores of the Northwest Miramichi estuary in support of the organizers.  These were principally Striped Bass anglers who were asking DFO a reasonable question – Why are you closing a major portion of the Northwest Miramichi estuary to all angling when you have no reason to ?   About 150 people were in attendance on a totally miserable morning and they got the usual from DFO – no reasonable answers and not a DFO representative in sight.

It brought to mind one of the biggest issues people have with DFO.  The Department, as an entity, is probably the most intransigent (not willing to compromise / obstinately maintaining an attitude) organization ever encountered.  They have this sense that they can operate with impunity (with no heed or care for consequences), that they do not need to explain anything to anybody, and they expect acquiescence (to comply without protest / silent acceptance) from people.

Standing there in the rain these people were sending the message “we will not acquiesce, we will not go away and be quite, we want reasonable answers to reasonable questions,  we want accountability !”

For those that wonder what brought about the rise of the Coalition and the fact that in less than 8 weeks its membership has exceeded 900 individuals, it is these same factors – they want to give DFO a badly needed push (some might say a swift kick in the posterior).  They want progress not excuses. They want, as I do, to go fishing whether for recreation, or for food, with the knowledge that our rivers and our salmon stocks are being well managed.  So when they hear that the Coalition has said that they will not accept another year of status quo from DFO and that we are willing to push, to drag if necessary, they say sign me up.

A small group of people started this ball rolling on March 14th. It is now a major voice for salmon conservation here in New Brunswick.  It is your organization and it needs you to keep it rolling, to keep the pressure on DFO.  More heft (weight for the push) is still needed, more outreach, more communication, more people contact, and make no mistake about it we will move DFO. 

Forward this newsletter on to others, let them know the Coalition is active and will not be taking the summer off.  Tell them not to worry about getting the toonie to us, that we will get it somewhere down the road.  Currently we have 5 locations, listed below, where they can drop it off and soon we hope to have our website set up to take dues payments &/ or donations.  Let them know that the Coalition is determined to move DFO down the road of responsible river by river management, insure that we have local stewardship on our rivers, and that no rivers are lost or forgotten in the eyes of DFO.

The Nepisiguit, the Tabusintac, the Hammond, the Nashwaak, and the Bouctouche matter just as much to New Brunswickers as does the Restigouche or the Southwest Miramichi.  We have waited too long and will wait no longer.

Tom Pettigrew

Steering Committee Chair – CBSM

May 8th, 2017

Ps. If there is a member out there that could take on the French translation of this e-mail, please do so and we will post the French translation on our website under the link “members news”.