Baykeeper Abbott Touched by Award


May 19, 2017

Baykeeper Abbott ‘touched’ by award


Caption: Matt Abbott (Centre) received the T. B. "Happy Fraser" Award on behalf of the Fundy Baykeeper Program from Alan Graham, Chairman of ASF (Canada) left, and Bill Taylor, President of ASF, right.

SAINT ANDREWS - The Atlantic Salmon Federation has selected the Conservation Council of New Brunswick’s Fundy Baykeeper program as its T.B. ‘Happy’ Fraser Award recipient.

The program’s leader, Matthew Abbott, accepted the award at a gala dinner at the Algonquin Resort held in conjunction with the ASF’s board meeting this week in Saint Andrews.

The ASF, headquartered at Chamcook just outside Saint Andrews, has presented this award every year since 1975 to an individual or organization that displays a long-term commitment to wild Atlantic salmon conservation on a regional or national level.

T.B. ‘Happy’ Fraser, a past president of the Atlantic Salmon Association, practised forestry in Quebec for most of his working career. A champion of salmon conservation, Fraser became alarmed about the high seas salmon fishery near Greenland in the 1960s, according to background information in the news release announcing this year’s winner.

Abbott has an office in Saint Andrews but spends much of his time on the bay looking for and dealing with environmental issues.

“Collaboration, working together, sharing knowledge and sharing skills, really gets us farther than any of our organizations can get our own so I was really touched to get this from ASF and I’ve certainly enjoyed the collaboration I’ve had with them and I look forward to more of that in the future,” Abbott said in an interview following the presentation.

“We’re very species specific … a lot of what we do, Atlantic Salmon Federation and Fundy Baykeeper, overlaps. You don’t have healthy salmon runs unless you have a healthy Bay of Fundy ecosystem, and that’s what Matt’s organization is all about,” salmon federation president Bill Taylor said in an interview.

“It’s some truly good synergies between the two, and I think it’s fantastic that our directors recognize that and the fact that wild Atlantic Salmon conservation is all about a healthy environment, a healthy Bay of Fundy ecosystem,”he said.

“Conservation work takes persistence,” ASF (Canada) Chairman Alan Graham said in the news release. “By being consistent, Matt Abbott has earned the respect of government, industry and the conservation community.”

The Conservation Council launched its marine program in 1990 and added the Fundy Baykeeper, a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, in 2003, the release states.

Abbott has led the program since 2010, conducting on-the-water research and monitoring in the bay, removing large debris from the water and coastline, and working with community members and fisheries groups to promote a healthy marine environment.

Bay of Fundy rivers, including the Petitcodiac, Big Salmon, St. John and Magaguadavic, once supported wild salmon runs of more than 100,000 fish, the release states

The number of wild salmon returning to all Bay of Fundy Rivers has dropped to about 1,000 in total each year, according to the release.

Dams and causeways took their toll in the 20th Century. Survival at sea declined in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and open net-pen salmon aquaculture emerged in the Bay of Fundy, the release states.

Abbott works in collaboration with allies such as the salmon federation, fisheries and community organizations and other regional and national non-governmental groups, the release states.

Recent efforts include legal and illegal pesticides at salmon farms, restoration of river herring to the St. Croix River, industrial sunken marine debris, and promoting responsible management of the bay, the release states.

In fact, the St. Croix International Waterway Commission reports that the annual run of river herring returning to spawn in the St. Croix has begun.

"Conservation work takes persistence. By being consistent, Matt Abbott has earned the respect of government, industry and the conservation community."