Fundraiser to help groups trying to save wild Atlantic salmon
CHRIS MORRIS Legislature Bureau
Mon, 21 Oct 2013
SAINT JOHN — An important fundraising dinner will take place later this month to help two conservation groups at the forefront of the fight to save the wild Atlantic salmon.
Well-known businessman Lino J. Celeste is honorary chairman of this year’s annual Autumn Run salmon conservation fundraising dinner, taking place Oct. 29, at the Delta Brunswick in Saint John.
Brian Moore, spokesman for the dinner, said the fundraiser will help research projects being co-ordinated by the Miramichi Salmon Association and the Atlantic Salmon Federation.
Moore said people who care about the salmon are feeling a sense of urgency as fish numbers continue to plummet in the province’s rivers.
“For many years now, we have been fighting to keep our Atlantic salmon rivers alive,” Moore said.
“We’ve seen and experienced many challenges, but none more alarming than those of the last two years as many of our local rivers, including the Miramichi, have experienced some of the lowest numbers of returning salmon ever recorded – down almost 90 per cent in just the past 20 years alone.”
Mark Hambrook, president of the Miramichi Salmon Association, said in an interview the Miramichi and Atlantic salmon organizations are trying to fill the gap created by the federal government’s decision to scale back on its research.
“We really have to come up with answers over the next few years if we want to make sure there are salmon for the future,” Hambrook said.
“The pressure is on us as salmon lovers to find solutions. We had hoped the federal government would take an interest as well and put some research money in because they virtually don’t do any research anymore. It really now is up to conservation groups like the Miramichi Salmon Association and the Atlantic Salmon Federation to do what government used to do.”
Among the research being supported by the Saint John dinner is the continuing effort to discover why so many fish leaving the Miramichi River die before they get to the ocean.
Both salmon organizations are tracking the movements of smolts and adult fish as they leave the river and enter the estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where predation appears to be a major factor in high mortality rates.
Hambrook said seals, cormorants and bass are prime suspects.
“What we are discovering is we are having the most mortality in our estuary and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” he said.
“Everyone has been worried about what is going on in Greenland, or in the Labrador Sea and the truth is probably 75 per cent of our fish have died before they ever got out there.
“We want to narrow down the factors that are killing them.”
This year’s dinner kicks off at 6 p.m. with a reception and silent auction followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m.