CAST Receives $4.7M for Atlantic Salmon Restoration

CBC NEWS - New Brunswick

Efforts to save Atlantic salmon boosted by $4.7M in government funding

CAST has 6 science projects in the works to help save and increase wild stocks

By Gail Harding, CBC News Posted: Nov 05, 2016 6:40 PM AT

Efforts to save wild Atlantic salmon by a partnership of industry, scientists and environmental groups in New Brunswick have received a boost with the announcement of $4.7 million in federal and provincial funding.

In what Collaboration of Atlantic Salmon Tomorrow or CAST president Brian Moore described as a first, the groups are working together to save wild Atlantic salmon "as a team."

"I've been involved in recreational salmon industry through the Miramichi Salmon Association and Atlantic Salmon Federation for 15, 20 years and we've never ever seen everybody come together at the same time," he said.

"We just realized that enough is enough, we've got to take the bull by the horns and move on."

MP Pat Finnigan and N.B. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser announced the money Saturday in Miramichi.

Moore said it will help with a number of CAST initiatives already underway. They include a predator tracking study to determine the impact striped bass is having on the Miramichi River and the impact cormorants on the Restigouche River are having on juvenile salmon.

Accurate count

He says the money will also help expand work the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Miramichi Salmon Association are doing on salmon ocean tracking.

The coalition of groups is using a new method to count salmon as they come into the river. Moore said five Aris sonar cameras will be set up in various locations to help determine a more accurate count of how many salmon are in the river at one time.

Moore said those counts will help determine if there should be hook and release for salmon or if anglers should be able to keep a fish.

Data for future decisions

Other science projects include conducting thermal imaging on the river. Moore says that allows them to located the cool pools "where the salmon would be holding up during these warm weather spells."

He said all stakeholders involved will be putting all their data on wild Atlantic salmon into an aquatic data warehouse so that it can be accessed when decisions are made to protect the stock.

But Moore said the biggest part of the project is the adult salmon release program. They'll be collecting smolt or young salmon before they leave the river and raising them for two years.

Raising young salmon

"At this point in time there's only three per cent of the smolt that leave the Miramichi River that actually make it back as a grilse or a salmon," Moore said.

The hope is they will go up the river and spawn when they're released.

"It's a very exciting project and if this works we can see this being moved on to other rivers in Atlantic Canada and the around the world. This is state of the art," he said.