What Happened to our Wild Atlantic Salmon?

Wild Atlantic salmon have been in the news lately and rightly so.

As a boy going to school in Lushes Bight, Notre Dame Bay, I fished salmon by net which I had to knit after doing my homework (couldn’t buy the nets). My first salmon I sold was 15 cents per pound around to the houses in my community.

After I finished school in 1955, I moved to Deer Lake where I resided for 23 years. My next-door neighbour talked me into salmon fishing by rod (wasn’t too sure). Anyway, I gave it a try and went to Big Falls on the mighty Humber River and spent a couple nights after work before I hooked one. Not only was the salmon hooked, so was I, every spare moment from May 24 until Sept. 15, I was on some river on the West Coast. You were allowed to catch four salmon per day until the season ended, some fishermen (not me) could land a hundred per season.

Although Bowater drove wood on the mighty Humber, there were no shortage of salmon. I left Deer Lake in 1976 to start a career in commercial fishing. I did not catch another salmon by rod, but I occasionally did catch an odd one in my commercial fishing bycatch.

When I started fishing in Notre Dame Bay, a large percentage of small boat fishermen would make a living netting salmon and catching lobster and squid. Some fishermen would go to the Labrador coast, take their boats and families on the C.N. coastal boats for the summer months, strictly for salmon, which would be collected by collector boats.

Everybody making a living with very little expense, but, all of a sudden, salmon started to disappear until it was shut down by the federal government. Commercial salmon fishing was over and never will open again, a big blow for the inshore fishery.

The question I have is what happened to the salmon? No one has ever explained the collapse (they didn’t explain what happened to the cod either). Is there any effort to get it back or is there willingness on the part of the Canadian government to restore the stock? Who is supposed to be managing our once bountiful ocean now?


Wilfred Bartlett
Conception Bay South


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