Volunteer profile – Larry Felt

August 3, 2015

Meet Dr. Larry Felt, chair of the Central Advisory Committee.

Fly-fishing, salmon and the magic of rivers have been part of Felt’s life since he was a young teenager in the mid to late 1950’s. At the time he lived within half a kilometre of the Salmon River in upstate New York.

After eight years away from the area to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees, Felt accepted a job in Montreal in 1969. Quebec reignited his passion for fly-fishing. In 1972 he moved to another job at the University of Toronto; it was here that, for all intents and purposes, his practical ‘activist’ involvement began through the Issac Walton Fly Fishing Club.

“All this time, I began to hear about and read the mystique surrounding Atlantic salmon,” said Felt. “For a variety of reasons, two years later an employment offer I could not refuse came along at Memorial University. The rest, as they say, is history. I moved to St. John’s and began to seriously fish for Atlantic salmon. Salmon stocks were down, management suspect, and there were lots of frustrated fishermen. By 1979, in desperation, I was one of seven original founders of SAEN (Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland), a counterpart to SPAWN on the province’s West Coast.

“In 1982, The International Atlantic Salmon Association and the Atlantic Salmon Association approached a number of us about creating a wider, more ‘grass roots’ movement on behalf of Atlantic salmon.  Always a believer that numbers count politically and that salmon, regardless of their nobility, needed the help of more ordinary people. I was appointed as a member of a transition team that led – through the Matapedia Accord – to the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF). I was a negotiator that crafted, signed and led to the Accord at a meeting that was the beginning of the ASF.”

Felt said as public support to rebuild and more sensitively manage Atlantic salmon gained momentum, ASF pressed for a separate, arms-length organization modeled to some extent on the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

“The organization would manage a large pot of government money and use the interest from wise investment and management to support grass roots efforts to rebuild salmon habitat. With Stephen Chase and several others we began the arms length separation process and lobbied for a $30-million grant. The result was ASCF.”

“It is now time for new blood and enthusiasm to take over the efforts of those of us past our best years. I would encourage those already involved in salmon conservation to step up another notch. New blood is critical for organization success. Our work is far from done. For those minimally participating as members of the various groups working in support of salmon, consider investing more time and skills.  It is trite but true, SALMON NEED YOU!  I have never regretted the time and effort I have put in on behalf of our friend Salmo salar. Get involved and offer whatever you can. Together we can ensure that this magnificent fish and the healthy environment it requires can serve as a shining example of a new world and a new consciousness of the biosphere in which we are all inexorably linked. My dance with ASCF is nearly over, but how proud of her (or him) I truly am!”

Volunteers are crucial to the work ASCF does, and each month we will introduce you to one of our stellar volunteers to say thank you for all the work they do in Atlantic salmon conservation.