Endangered Salmon Released Back into Petitcodiac River

Endangered salmon released back into the Petitcodiac river
By Alexandra Abdelwahab     Global News

MONCTON, N.B. – Hundreds of salmon were released into the headwaters of the Petitcodiac River Thursday, as part of a program to repopulate the river.

The adult Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon were nurtured at a biodiversity facility in Mactaquac with the hope that they would be able to spawn in the wild.

“It would be amazing to see salmon returning naturally on their own and to see the fish spawning in our rivers again,” said Courtney Smith, an environmental technologist with the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance, one of the groups helping with the recovery effort.

This initiative, which is managed by the Petitcodiac Fish Recovery Coalition, is part of the same recovery effort as a program being run by Fundy National Park that received federal funding earlier this month.

Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon are a distinct population and are endangered. On Thursday, 250 of them were released in two tributaries of the river.

“The Petitcodiac river used to be an important producer to that whole population,” said Tim Robinson, the manager of Fort Folly Habitat Recovery, also involved in the project. “Producing 20 per cent of all the Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon population.”

But until the causeway gates were opened in 2010, the salmon were unable to migrate along the river back to their spawning grounds in the headwaters, which impacted the population greatly.

“We’re hoping that if we can produce large smolt runs out of multiple rivers, that it might make a difference,” Robinson said. “It might aid in the recovery of the species.”

The adult salmon should be ready to spawn and the coalition hopes it will result in more fish in the river, but there’s a risk it won’t work.

“There’s no guarantee that these juveniles that result from the spawnings would survive once they go out to sea on their own,” Robinson said.

The coalition previously released juvenile salmon into the river in 2010 and 2011 and released adult salmon in 2012 and 2013.

They hope to be able to continue with the initiative for the near future.