Quebec Atlantic salmon fishing / re: Outfitters response to rumours
I would like to try to set the record straight on a few issues that have been popping up on fishing boards around the world in regards to accessibility on Quebec Atlantic salmon rivers.
Here are the facts:
1. On December 4th, at the annual Quebec Outfitters Federation meeting in Quebec City a motion was passed that stated the following: (The QOF would like to propose looking into the possibility of making guiding mandatory for all noble species including Black Bear, Moose, Caribou, Atlantic Salmon, Deer, and Migratory birds), considering that this is practiced in most other provinces and several states, not to mention many other countries. The reasons for examining this possibility are many but the two major points were of a social (employment basis) and for accessibility considerations. THE SUBJECT WAS DISCUSSED BY ALL OUTFITTERS (FOR ALL SPECIES) and WAS NOT ONLY PUT FORTH BY A FEW OUTFITTERS as some would have all of you believe. The proposition was to EXAMINE the impact, NOT adopt it right away. I am sure that it will be a very long time before it happens, if it ever does. So please do not lose any sleep over this!
2. In regards to the 20% of the rods available in limited entry sectors being asked for by outfitters, THIS IS ALSO INCORRECT as it has been stated. The facts here are as follows. Outfitters have not formally asked for any 20%. They have, however, asked that they be allotted some waters to promote so that they may have something to sell their guests, rather than go through all of the draws to secure water for their clients and overloading the draws with the names of potential clients. Something that has recently become a source of contention for many anglers playing these draws, especially by Quebecerís, and with good reason, I might add. The requests we have made have been to allow us to work within the 20% discretionary rods that Zecís are allowed to sell to meet certain needs in order to operate and this will lead us to limit our presence in the draw process, which in turn will allow a MUCH greater chance for all others to win in the lotteries. The actual discussion is coming from the FQSA as well as the government and the QOF.
Consider the following: by allotting some waters to the outfitters, the Government and FQSA (who were the ones who proposed this sort of solution along with the outfitters), and outfitters see a benefit for accessibility for all anglers but first and foremost FIRST NATIONS PEOPLES and RESIDENT ANGLERS, who, by the way, ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE, WHO ACTUALLY HAVE THE RIGHT to fish in Quebec. For ALL others it is a privilege! We should all remember this as we post our messages.
Why would allotting some rods, within the 20%, to outfitters, or another salmon promoter, increase chances for RESIDENT anglers and for that matter, non-residents as well? Simple, if these businesses are out of the fall draw, or are limited in the number of potential cards they put in for their confirmed guests, (on their behalf) then peoplesí chances of winning the draws become a whole lot easier, even if a small portion of the water is allotted to outfitters, and I do mean a small portion IN COMPARISON to what was controlled by them through draw picks in the past. Consider this for example: in the past years on some rivers up to 54% of the waters in controlled zones were being bought by outfitters and other interests for their clients. You ask again how did they do that? EasyÖ outfitters and other businesses who organize fishing created a demand through their marketing and sales efforts to finally put Quebec on the map as a destination. We took all of the mystery of draws that scared many away in the past and made it simple for them. Back in the 90ís and early 2000 period, Zecís WANTED outfitters and other businesses to put in as many cards as possible so that they could bring in revenue and so that they could sell their water. Now that we have created a demand for salmon fishing on some rivers, (becoming a victim of our own success), they want to change the rules. Fine by me, but do we get rid of all the jobs that have been created just so that we can offer more accessibility to all anglers? What happens in an off year when there are no salmon? Who will be asking to fish then? Starting PRIVATE-PUBLIC-PARTNERSHIPS such as the government might be proposing along with some others at the table might be the best solution to guarantee that everyone will win in the end.
This is why we are all seated around the Salmon Round Table. To figure out what we should do, what is best for Quebecerís who fish, and for those who WORK within this industry. There are SOME PEOPLE out there that would like to have you all think that there are a few select outfitters who want to CONTROL all the waters on our magnificent rivers. FALSE! BS! NO TRUE! SO OFF TRACK IT MAKES ME LAUGH!!!! All we want is to be able to run our businesses without having to go through a lottery system because we are sick of having the finger pointed at us in terms of limiting accessibility. PERIOD! We have employees to think about, investments to cover and a love for the sport and the species! We are not interested in control; we simply want to continue to run our businesses within a framework that will FIRST meet the needs of NATIVE and QUEBEC RESIDENT accessibility, then the non-residents. How this will be decided will be the result of the hard work put in at the round table discussions between the parties concerned.
Several ideas have been thrown around and proposed, both by the outfitters and the FQSA, who represent the interests of salmon anglers in Quebec. Their priority, first and foremost is for QUEBEC accessibility, as I have already stated numerous times. As intelligent people, the people involved in this process realize that this is an industry and that many jobs are at stake, as a matter of fact, a tradition is at stake as outfitting has been part of our heritage for as long as whiteís have hunted and fished in this province! If we were to take outfitters out of the picture there would be a lot of angling available but a hell of a lot of people out of work. Maybe we should consider their needs and livelihoods before we throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Letís get back to the RESOURCE of salmon. Now I am going to ask all of you to think hard about this, SALMON ARE A RESOURCE here in Quebec, just like trees, but they are renewable in the short term, meaning that many people can live off of this resource. In a perfect world we would all make 6-figures a year and would not have to worry about making money. Outfitters from around the world make their livelihood off the selling of big game hunting, trout fishing and salmon fishing. It is a simple fact. Why should Quebec outfitters be looked at like monsters for doing the same, when they have been doing it for over a century? The question comes down to the system and how things are divided. THAT IS EXACTLY what we are trying to do: find a solution to dividing up (sharing) the resource in a responsible manner.
Without going into detail, this is what is being proposed. First the 20% that everyone has been talking about has been around since the Zecís have existed. It was allocated to the Zecís as a means for them to be able to do business with existing private camps, or private property owners and then was later offered as a means to inject funds into certain Zecís that needed to sell blocks of water to increase revenues. It is nothing new, just never really applied on most rivers. The FQSA seems to be of the opinion that outfitters and other legal businesses within the salmon world should have first crack at a PORTION of this so that they can continue to operate. IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY, 20% is A WHOLE LOT LESS THAN WHAT OUTFITTERS AND OTHER LEGAL BUSINESSES (there are some that are not legal, so beware) were winning in the fall draws, about 50% less even more in some cases. WE as OUTFITTERS are ready to take the hit just as long as we know what we have to sell each year! In two cases on the Gaspe, outfitters are not even ASKING for 20% we are asking that NEW rods be added to rivers where we can operate, which means that NO RODS AT ALL would go to outfitters out of the 20%. THESE ARE THE FACTS!!!! Even if we are outfitters, we are still OPEN TO THE PUBLIC! UNLIKE PRIVATE CAMPS who seem to be missing from this debate, but that is for another time. Letís say, for the sake of argument, that new sectors on some rivers were developed based on requests from outfitters, who know these rivers inside out, they would not affect the resource in terms of killing fish because almost all of the outfitters in our area practice Catch & Release angling. What about the non-reserved sectors? Do not forget that some of them are excellent! Outfitters buy access passes there as well and contribute to the river associations and Zecís once again.
I can tell you that if we do away with outfitting there will be a lot of cooks, guides, shore-boys, managers, accountants and many others all earn their living from SALMON FISHING who will be without work! Any reasonable human being will be able to see that there needs to be a balance struck between accessibility to the resource for simple pleasure and employment for one of our poorest regions of Quebec. Another point is this; there is a REAL need and DEMAND for guides, outfitters and those who promote angling in Quebec. If there were not, we would not be having this debate. The question is how to balance all of this to meet the needs of the masses and satisfy the needs of the local economies and visiting anglers who wish to fish through an outfitter or on their own.
So the next time that people post about what THEY may lose, and who is to blame, I suggest that you get your facts straight, think about someone else but yourself and try to see the BIGGER picture and not get sucked into campaigns that tarnish peoples images and reputations. Give the process time and maybe you will all be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I have put my entire life into this business and have worked very hard at trying to make Quebec a special place to come and fish. I am deeply saddened and troubled by the way this debate has started and I have kept silent throughout most of this bashing campaign. I have decided to break my silence with only one purpose, to better inform you all of what the REAL reality is. I know that this was long, and for those of you who read all of it I thank you and encourage you to call or email me at anytime if you want more specifics.
In conclusion, I know that there is a solution out there and believe me when I tell you that we are working to find one all together. The final solution will need to keep the interests of the Quebec Salmon Angler in mind first along with those of Native peoples, second will be the needs of our local economies that depend on this resource as a means of making their living and the last consideration will be for those who are guests coming to this province to fish. It is simple as that. I know this sounds harsh but it is no different from any other province, state or country who offers sporting as a business.
I welcome all comments and varying points of view, but could do without comments that point the finger at certain individuals, past events that are exactly that, THE PAST, as well as personal attacks pointed at anyone working hard to keep Quebec at the forefront of Atlantic salmon angling in the world!
Best to you all and may your rods always be frowning!
Independent Salmon & Trout guide