Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna L. Birkholm

December 14th, 1998

Advance on Christmas

Folks in Connecticut got an early Christmas gift. One that will provide the continuing gift of hours of recreational time and the gift of fish.

Trout Unlimited gets a tip of the FAOL hat for it's involvement, quoting from a TU announcement, "In partnership with Trout Unlimited and other partners, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has unveiled an unprecedented plan to restore the Naugatuck River in Connecticut. The $4-5 million plan, to be completed over the next two years, will involve the removal of five dams and construction of fish and boat passage facilities at two others, restoring 32 miles of free flowing river for sea-run trout, American shad, alewives and herring for the first time since 1800."

To oversee the process, Naugatuck Valley native Jon M. Ploski has been appointed as the first-ever full-time "River Steward" for the Naugatuck. Ploski, a watershed reclamation specialist and former fishing guide, will serve as environmental watchdog for the river and will oversee watershed restoration efforts for Trout Unlimited. In an unusual partnership, the River Steward will be funded through a three-year grant from the Leever Foundation and MacDermid, Inc., operators of a major industrial facility on the river.

This is a wonderful example of all parts of the system working together. One we hope other regions will use as a model to solve similiar problems.

Still on the east coast of North America, The Atlantic Salmon Federation presented its annual International Award to David Anderson, Canada's Minister of Fisheriers and Oceans.

Since Mr. Anderson took over the Fisheries and Oceans position in 1997, he has made very progressive decisions in conservation and management of fisheries. He has often stated that his primary responsibility is to the FISH! The same statement by the head of Fisheries for the State of Washington cost Bernie Shanks his job. It is quite obvious our neighbors to the north have greatly surpassed the intelligence of the Fisheries Department in Washington.

Results of Mr. Anderson's decisions are already substantial. In May of this year Minister Anderson, in partnership with the Province of Quebec announced a buy-out plan for the commercial salmon licenses on Quebec's North Shore.

Add to that, Mr. Anderson announced a moratorium on the Labrador commercial fishery. That decision closed Canada's last mixed-population commercial Atlantic Salmon fishery. In turn, the decision inspired the members of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) to unanimously agree to close Greenland's commercial salmon fishery, and restrict Greenland's quota to a maximum on 20 metric tons - to be used for internal comsumption ONLY!

Keep in mind, the previous year, 1997 the Greenlanders killed 63 metric tons of Atlantic Salmon. These closures should save an extra 50,000, mostly large female spawners, from ocean gill nets and allow them to return to their natal rivers to spawn.

Great news. For you Canadians, tip your hat to Minister Anderson too. You have something to be proud of. He can make a difference. He has already made a difference!

These truely are gifts. Ones that will improve the fishery. And maybe the best news is someone out there is getting it right! It takes all of us, supporting the right actions, yelling when the actions are wrong, to make progress.

Fish first? Absolutely!
~ Deanna Birkholm

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