All good things must come to an end. After more than ten years as river manager for Laskelv land owners association, I have now started my final week with the daily task of managing the amazing Lakselva. It has been ten amazingly exciting years, and I look back on them with both joy and pride, and also a feeling of sadness as it is soon over. There is nothing dramatic behind this, and there's nothing abnormal about a change in career. However, as I've gotten to know so many great people though this job, I have a wish to share some thoughts. At the same time, I want to express my gratitude to Lakselv land owners association, our fishermen and other people and institutions in which I've cooperated, for the trust I have been given.
Lakselva har really grown to become a superstar among salmon fishermen, and is one of the most widely recognized salmon rivers in the world. Locally we can be proud of this amazing resource just outside our doorstep, and the opportunites it gives our community.
The popularity of this river has increased in a pace quicker than what we at times were prepared for. A superstar-status also has it's cons, and for visiting fishermen, this has been most visible during the opening of the selling of licenses. We're exaggerating if we're claiming that this has run smoothly the last years. In cooperation with the provider of these services, we've tried several things to manouvre our way to a solution where most people are satisfied. We know there are some questions regarding how this will be solved for the coming season, and this will be one of the first tasks for the coming river manager to figure out.
Discussions and disagreement must be given it's well deserved spot
With an increase in popularity, we also see an increased breeding ground for diasgreements and discussion. The discussions range from catch and release, all the way to land owners rights. I will encourage each and every one of you to respect eachother in these discussions, and accept both cultural and professional differences in these discussions.
In my opinion, it's vital that salmon fishermen shows engagement, and work actively to fight the good cause - which in this case is the durvival of wild Atlantic salmon. Despite a lot of negative focus, we must not forget about the joy surrounding salmon fishing. After all, this joy is what drives the engagement.
Locally, there are forces fighting for more salmon farming in the Porsanger Fjord. Considering that the Norwegian Scientific Advisory Committee for Atlantic Salmon highlights the three biggest threats to wild Atlantic salmon stemming from the salmon farming industry, we are dependant on maintaining focus on the potentially hughly devastating effects salmon farming might have on our salmon stock. Another issue, which we yet have to see the consequences of, is the questions surrounding pink salmon. On this matter, we must gather all good forces, and cooperate to make sure this unwanted species do not get any further foothold in our river.
Involvement is key
No matter if you agree or disagree, it is very pleasing to see the range of emotion being evoked by salmon fishing. In a time where wild salmon is exposed to big impacts from the salmon farming industry, hydro electric power, (potential) mining, pink salmon, conditions at sea which we have yet to know the range of, and other issues, a big engagement gives hope that salmon fishing will continue to give pleasure and joy to locals, tourists and the local economy in years to come.
In the myriad of opinions and discussions, salmon management is largely about finding solutions that are as smooth as possible for as many as possible - and in this, there is a recognition that not everyone will be pleased with everything. In this discussion, and without translating it any further, there are three main pillars in the Norwegian "Salmon act": biology, recreational fishing and business. A successful salmon management scheme will be judged on the balance between these three pillars.
But the best part is the people
Despite exciting academic discussions and great fishing ecperiences - there is one thing I look back on with even more joy after these ten years, and that's all the amazing and nice acquaintances I've made through the years. Whether it be near or far, inland or abroad, my subjective opinion is that salmon fishermen (and women) must be among the nicest of people. Next summer I will frequent the river as a regular "civilian", and I look forward to bumping into you again.
New river manager
Enough about me. Let's look ahead, and it's about time you are introduced to our new river manager. His name is Martin Rognli Johansen, and he's just days away from starting his new position. Martin is no stranger to Lakselva, and he has both fished here, and taken part of field work in our river. Martin is a freshwater biologist, and has broad experience in both biology and management. Martin has been working as a river manager in Namsen, and are likely to bring thoughts and ideas that will benefit Lakselva. I'm sure Lakselv land owners association has gotten a competent man aboard, and I must give him a warm welcome to Lakselva, and wish him all the best in his new job.
Those will be my finishing words. I wish you all tight lines for the future, and hopefully we'll meet along the river!