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Member News - Dec 14 2017 Meeting Summary

For the information of CBSM Steering Committee members.

Summary of the advisory committee meeting held on Dec. 14th. The meeting agenda and DFO presentations are attached to the e-mail containing this document.

Jerry Doak and myself attended on behalf of the CBSM. The meeting was chaired by Marc LeCouffe, Director Resource Management, DFO-Gulf.

1st item was confirmation of the CBSM as a sitting member of the committee. There were two comments in favour and one that was neutral (concern was related to the number of participants). With no other comment the CBSM was accepted as a member. Of note, the Striper Cup organization represented by Jeff Wilson was also accepted as a committee member with no comment from around the table. This is a commercial enterprise.

Being a committee member, we requested that three additions be made to the agenda:
  • MSW harvests
  • Opening of closed rivers
  • Impact of Striped Bass on smolt survival through the Miramichi estuary

These were accepted by the chair and marked a breakthrough in that topics beyond what DFO had set for the agenda were up for discussion. This was particularly so for the subject of MSW harvest; a previously taboo topic at recreational fishery consultation meetings.

Agenda items
  • Marine rec. fish license - no support, DFO would still like to have, recommendation to Minister is being drafted, off the table for the time being, Jeff Wilson spoke in support of the license
  • Bag limits and seasons will be set for rec. mackerel fishing, long process as reg. change required. Commercial fishermen using rec, fishing to obtain bait
  • Salmon PA framework – LRP’s have been set, next step is to meet with FNs
  • NBRSMT project – Helen Kerr update. CBSM comment made about context and using the "benefit test" approach (i.e. whatever comes out of the project needs to have a tangible benefit for the resource). We want river-by-river management to be focused on improving salmon stocks. Next "engagement" with groups in early February. Written submissions still being received and incorporated. RRWMC and SEAA spoke about not being invited to participate. CBSM put forward the suggestion that the NBRSMT project go provincial as it is likely that whatever comes out of it will be applied across the board. Helen Kerr replied that they will stay with the Miramichi focus and leave the application discussion to DFO managers.
  • Stocks status - nothing available on the Miramichi rivers for 2017 as yet, Restigouche data preliminary only. See attached for material presented
  • Online salmon survey - see attached for material presented. There were 325 respondents 1n 2017 versus 471 in 2016 and 912 in 2015 which suggests people are losing interest (my view)
  • Round table – salmon angling recommendations for 2018
  • NBSC position: from document submitted "To request a grilse harvest in 2018 that is compatible with the Precautionary Approach and based on the principles of "harvest by abundance" and a "river-by-river approach" unless DFO can provide the scientific evidence that the request is not reasonable".
  • Tabusintac Watershed group: no recommendation – referenced PA framework with comment that this needs to be addressed further as to how it will affect the Tabusintac.
  • Kouchibouguacis group : no recommendation – spoke about the need to take land use into account when considering river-by-river management
  • Maliseet council : "nothing to add"
  • NB Aboriginal Peoples rep : not in favour of any recreational fishery but won’t stand in the way of people playing with their food (philosophical viewpoint- my comment)
  • SEAA rep.: wants to see C&R salmon fishing on the Bouctouche with rules in place on temp. and timing. Notes that the Bouctouche FN has agreed to recuse themselves from harvest and allow for a C&R rec. fishery on the river.
  • ASF position: written submission – public engagement is beneficial to salmon conservation, very pleased that the PA process has started, doesn’t think it practical to develop an interim process, keep C&R on rivers not involved in the PA in 2018. Essentially keep status quo and see what PA kicks out.
  • MWMC position: wants river-by-river based on abundance, continue C&R in 2018 unless #s indicate an abundance and then use a lottery to allocate.
  • Prov.: commentary only – need to maintain at least a "live release" rec. fishery
  • MSA position: hold the course until we have a new system in place
  • Outfitters & guides rep.: no closures
  • NBWF position: get anglers back on the river, return to 2014 regs., harvest of some grilse is appropriate.
  • Nepisiguit group (NSA) : wants to see two tags allocated for the Nepisiguit
  • CBSM position : written proposal of Dec. 4th reviewed and submitted
  • RRWMC position : should have a few tags for grilse in 2018 and after the PA is completed for the Restigouche wants to see management plans for each of the major tribs. and harmonization with Quebec. Also requested that the use of treble hooks by trout fishermen be banned to reduce black salmon mortality.

All considered, the CBSM, NBSC, NBWF, RRWC, and NSA have recommended some grilse harvest in 2018. The ASF & MSA have recommended status quo and the MWMC essentially the same, with the caveat that if an "abundance" occurs some allocation by lottery be considered. Only the CBSM provided a specific proposal on how to move forward with river-by-river in 2018. (my view)

  • Under "other" the subject of Smallmouth Bass in Miramichi lake was raised by the NBSC. Still no answer from DFO Ottawa on undertaking an eradication program. Question of where does DFO- Gulf stand – Helen Kerr’s answer "we are looking for Ottawa to respond". ASF commented on the urgency of having the issue resolved.

At this point in the meeting the chair asked the CBSM to address the topics added to the agenda. We did so covering the various points that all of you are familiar with and the sky didn’t fall when we talked about MSW harvests. In fact, there were very few comments from the various participants at the end of our presentation. Marc LeCouffe briefly mentioned DFO’s position re: allocations and David Leblanc of the RRWMC commented on the in-river catches of MSW’s on the Restigouche. On the subject of opening closed rivers we stressed the stewardship aspect and three comments were subsequently made. Nathan Wilbur of the ASF talked about the need for an education component to accompany any program to reopen closed rivers, the Aboriginal Peoples rep. stated that they had concerns about C&R mortality and the rep. for the Kouchibouguacis group stated that where they needed "eyes on the river" was at night (more enforcement). They also stated that they felt their river could not support a C&R fishery. Lastly, we covered the subject of smolt survival in the Miramichi estuary bringing up the unpublished ASF research work and the fact that DFO has yet to acknowledge that there is an impact. We made the point that in our view a mitigation plan was warranted. Jerry also addressed the issue of substantial numbers of Striped bass showing up in salmon pools well above the head of tide. Again, there was very little comment around the table. Nathan Wilbur of the ASF advised that the research paper was presently undergoing peer review and that they hoped it would soon be published. Marc LeCouffe offered that DFO was not at the point of considering the need for a mitigation plan.

  • Conservation and Protection update – stats. for 2016 and 2017 presented, number of charges actually laid were seemingly very low, (my view).
  • Striped Bass stock status : See attached for material presented. Two points made during discussion – 1) Gaspereau fishery has declined and 2) DFO expects to have an upper stock reference point for Striped Bass in March 2018
  • Online Striped Bass survey - see attached for material presented. There were 398 respondents in 2017 versus 301 in 2016, and 329 in 2014 (no striped bass questionnaire in 2015)
  • Round table – Striped Bass angling recommendations for 2018. DFO specifically asking for comment on the legal-size limit, the bag limit, and the season. "other" was also listed on the screen.
  • NBSC position from document submitted:
    • Daily bag limit be increased to 3 fish/day;
    • Possession limit be double the daily bag limit
    • the possession limit be de-coupled from daily bag limit in the current legislation;
    • Eliminate upper size slot limit of 65 cm, but retain minimum size limit of 50 cm in tidal water
    • Eliminate both the lower and upper slot limits for striped bass in waters upstream of the head-of-tide
    • the retention period in tidal waters be April 15 – October 31
    • The striped bass recreational fishery in inland waters (above head of tide) close at the same time as the salmon season (September 30, October 15, or October 31)
    • The gear type restrictions remain the same as present;
    • DFO conduct creel surveys and angler effort surveys throughout the Southern Gulf range to determine harvest and angling effort over the season (necessary for establishing comprehensive and credible management plan);
    • Estimates of spawner abundance be more precise than at present.
  • FN rep. (Anqotum Res. Mngt.) : increase the bag limit
  • FN rep. (? assoc.) : don’t forget FN access / possible FN commercial fishery
  • SEAA rep: drop lower size limit from 50 cm down to 30 cm, presented data showing that the average size of Striped Bass caught in their local estuaries was below the 50 cm.
  • ASF position : would like to see PA management for Striped Bass, continue adaptive management – increase harvest as population increases. No specific bag limit recommendation, recommends no slot limit on inland waters, and supports a commercial fishery for FNs. If no conservation concern then don’t close the spawning area on the NW
  • MSA position : provided a written submission, drop upper size limit for spawning adults, no angling closure of the spawning grounds, supports a commercial fishery.
  • Outfitters& guides rep: remove upper size limit, bag limit of 3/day, supports a commercial fishery
  • NBWF rep: the NBWF would not support a cull of Striped Bass to benefit salmon
  • Nepisiguit rep: current start up date for Striped Bass of April 15th seen as problematic and recommends it start on May 1st for Bay of Chaleur waters to coincide with the start of trout season.
  • RRWMC position: increase bag limit, drop slot limit on inland waters
  • CBSM position: our comments to be noted under the "other" category – we again reiterated the need for DFO to come forward with its population objective for Striped Bass and to address the impact on smolt. We also mentioned our request to drop the slot limit on inland waters and asked for DFO’s perspective on Striped Bass occupying instream Atlantic salmon habitat. DFO declined to comment – evidently, they have no perspective on this phenomon. As for regs. we stated that whatever the bag limit, it should be uniform for both coastal and estuarian waters and not discriminate against anglers on the Miramichi estuary. Lastly, we noted that from the minutes of the 2016 meeting, it was seen that the no one who spoke on the issue supported the angling closure on the NW in 2017 yet DFO decided to reject that advice. On this particular point we stated that the CBSM would not support any location closures in 2018.
  • MWMC position: not pro salmon versus other species, management should be based on ecosystem balance, discourage management based on feelings, manage based on science, a creel survey conducted by the MWMC in 2017 showed only about 1,000 Striped bass harvested by anglers on the Miramichi, supports a regulated FN commercial fishery, called for no bag limit and no size limits for Bass caught on inland waters

Meeting adjourned.

Tom Pettigrew, Dec. 18th 2017
Summary from personal notes taken