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Interest in ERMA grows as salmon population shrinks - Annual general meeting rescheduled for June 20 in Grand Falls-Windsor

An Atlantic salmon fights the water at Big Falls on the Humber River. — Photo by Thomas Moffatt/Atlantic Salmon Federation
The salmon run saw a 50 per cent reduction in 2017 compared to 2016. - file photo

GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, N.L. – Unexpected attendees and a renewed interest sparked the deferment of the Environment Resources Management Association’s (ERMA) annual general meeting (AGM) last month.

“I think it has to do with the interest in the salmon and the salmon run, or the lack of them that was experienced last year,” said ERMA president Si Thompson.

For the first time in years, ERMA’s AGM was attended by more than just its board of directors. The May 16 meeting, after much discussion, was ended with the plan of reconvening on June 20 at the Corduroy Brook Building in Grand Falls-Windsor. The deferment of the meeting, according to an ERMA press release, was done to allow an appropriate amount of time to define the membership aspect of the organization and develop a plan to engage new interest.

Thompson credits the increase of interest in ERMA to declining salmon population.

“That’s the only thing that I can attribute it to,” he said. “Over the past few years, our numbers were well up, and now they’re in a slight decline.”

According to Thompson, the salmon run saw a 50 per cent reduction in 2017 compared to 2016.

“Consequently, they’re saying ‘what’s happening?’” Thompson said. “Again, renewed interest in the migration of the salmon basically.”

Thompson does not have any numbers on the salmon run for 2018, but he said the department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) will be putting in counting stations both in Grand Falls-Windsor and Bishop’s Falls at some point this week.

Thompson isn’t sure if this year’s rules and regulations pertaining to salmon angling will be detrimental to tourism in the region.

“I have no idea right now,” he said. “We’ll have to wait until the end of the season to be able to reflect and find out if it really did have an impact.”

Bruce Andrews attended the May 16 meeting, and said while a decrease in salmon population plays a part, he has been interested in getting involved with ERMA for years.

“While the focus seems to be on salmon, it has to do with habitat as well,” Andrews said of ERMA. “It’s involved with anything that has to do with the environment. The salmon is a big part of it, but it’s not everything for me.”

Andrews has been studying salmon statistics from DFO, and he is of the opinion that the population will rebound this year.

“History has shown in years where there’s a lot of Arctic ice around, the salmon numbers for some reason are down,” he said. “And last year there was a lot of ice around.”

During the May 16 meeting, Andrews said he was challenged on what his agenda was.

“I basically said, number one is salmon enhancement,” he said. “Number two is to be more of a voice for the anglers than ERMA has been in the last number of years, and number three is to build up the membership.”

Members who have paid their memberships fees will be eligible to participate in the organization’s activities, which include sitting on the board of directors and voting at the upcoming AGM.

“You’re only as strong as your membership,” Andrews said.

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