Originally Published by CBC, May 10, 2015

The Quebec Atlantic salmon federation says it is “profoundly disappointed” the province didn’t go further with new measures to protect the species.

On Friday, the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks put in place a sport fishing catch-and-release program for large salmon on 16 of the province’s 118 salmon rivers.

The rivers in question are mostly concentrated in the eastern part of the province, in the Côte-Nord region. They are the Mitis, Laval, Pigou, au Bouleau, aux Rochers, Jupitagon, Magpie, Saint-Jean (Moyenne-Côte-Nord), de la Corneille, Piashti, Watshishou, Petite rivière Watshishou, Nabisipi, Aguanish and Natashquan rivers.

Catch-and-release rules not enough

The federation, known by its French acronym FQSA, said it was hoping for broader measures to help better protect the population in a more long-term way.

The FQSA wanted to see catch-and-release rules implemented on all rivers except those in northern Quebec until the province can get a more comprehensive plan together.

“We need to think about future generations. We have a duty to be prudent, and I think we’ve come to that point. We are in 2015, and the environment is giving us worrisome signs. We humans need to act,” said a regional spokesman with the FQSA.

Biologist Alexandre Dionne, who works with the wildlife preservation zone (ZEC) around the Mitis River near Mont-Joli in the Lower St. Lawrence, said he saw a 50 per cent drop in returning salmon last year, as well as a decreased number of sport fishermen.

Many people who fish in eastern Quebec salmon rivers are behind the FQSA’s proposals.

“We need to do something to protect our resources for the next 25, 30, 40 years, so that my son will be able to fish,” said Jeffrey Bourdage of the Rimouski association of salmon sport fishermen.

Atlantic salmon fishing in Quebec is a $50-million industry.

Photo courtesy of François Gagnon/Radio-Canada