Striped Bass Commercial Fishery in Canada
Finally, there will be a commercial fishery for the burgeoning population of striped bass that has taken over parts of the Miramichi. On June 29th the Eel Ground First Nation received a commercial license to harvest and sell striped bass - 25,000 in the spring and another 25,000 bass in the fall. Unfortunately, the license was not received in time for Eel Ground fishermen to take full advantage of the spring season, but the fall fishery will begin soon.
I am pleased to tell you that ASF has played an important role in making this commercial fishery happen. I worked closely with Chief George Ginnish at Eel Ground during the past couple of years, giving DFO a push when needed, but most critically, connecting the fishermen with licensed processors and a Halifax-based distributor that will handle and market the product.
Unfortunately, even when combined with the relaxed recreational catch limits for stripers, it’s unlikely that overall bass numbers will be affected much by Eel Ground's commercial harvest. The latest estimate pegs the population at 1,000,000 spawning adults, however, it’s an important step in the right direction from DFO.
As we reported in January, ASF’s tracking research has proven that up to 18 per cent of smolt leaving the Northwest Miramichi are eaten by striped bass in a given year, but the actual figure is likely much higher throughout the system. Our peer reviewed research was instrumental in convincing DFO to grant Eel Ground a commercial license.
I am also very pleased to see the Miramichi salmon conservation community increasingly mobilized to make sure salmon receive the attention and protection they deserve from our federal government.
--Bill Taylor, Atlantic Salmon Federation