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Study Looks At Value of Wild Atlantic Salmon

CANADA - The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) has colaborated with Gardner Pinfold Consulting Economists Ltd to carry out the most comprehensive study of the economic benefits of wild Atlantic salmon to eastern Canada.

The study will be the first of its kind, with results expected by mid-summer with a September media launch.

ASF has long-term plans to share the study's findings with the general public, anglers, First Nations, community leaders, elected officials and politicians, government officials, Legislative Committees, fisheries critics, and internationally, through the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO).

The study is a past, present, and future analysis, the scope of which includes the worth of wild Atlantic salmon to recreational fishing, First Nations, tourism, conservation and education, and the existence and other non-use values of the species.

Bill Taylor, President of ASF, said: "Federal funding for the restoration of wild Atlantic salmon has collapsed. Fisheries and Oceans Canada's priority appears to be towards developing commercial ventures, such as the salmon aquaculture industry, rather than to restore wild Atlantic salmon. This is driven by the view that the aquaculture industry has measurable contributions that appeal to elected officials and communities.”

“Government needs to understand that the recreational and First Nations food fisheries for salmon are important industries that provide economic benefits, jobs, and have significant cultural importance. We hope that the data that Gardner Pinfold provides will convince government to put more money into conservation and restoration of this species, and we will embark on a long-term plan to convince government leaders to do so," Mr Taylor concluded.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) publishes economic surveys on the value of all recreational fishing in Canada, including Atlantic salmon, every five years. "The Gardner Pinfold study may provide additional data that gives a fuller picture, resulting in a higher value for the recreational salmon fishery than is reported by DFO," continued Mr Taylor. "But the trend that the DFO reports portray, regarding a loss of benefits from the recreational salmon fishing industry since 1995, is alarming and cannot be ignored."

The 1995 DFO survey indicated that the revenues from recreational salmon fishing in Quebec and Atlantic Canada at that time was $191 million. That value had decreased to only $62 million by 2005, according to the DFO survey. This is a 68 per cent drop in the value of the recreational salmon fishery in terms of todayís dollars.

According to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), recreational salmon catches in Canada were about 30 per cent higher in 1995 than in 2005. It is reasonable to conclude that even restoring salmon runs to 1995 abundance will help restore about $100 million in annual revenues through recreational fishing alone," said Mr Taylor. He continued: "Other benefits to First Nations and the general public reinforce the need for attention to wild salmon."

The study components are a review of existing data and literature, two surveys (one of anglers and one of the general public), and interviews with key informants such as First Nations, private camps, and non government organisations.

It also includes case studies of the local salmon economies of four rivers: the Grand Cascapedia QC, the Miramichi NB, the Margaree NS, and the Exploits NL. The study will take into account the value of the conservation movement and restoration activity by volunteers and the corporate sector, and provide a value for salmon fisheries when salmon populations are restored.

Mr Taylor concluded: "ASF expects the study to provide valuable information on the true worth of the species now and when restored, information that should help strengthen government policy and actions to conserve wild Atlantic salmon."

the Fish Site Editor

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