Habitat destruction blamed for falling salmon populations


Habitat destruction blamed for falling salmon populations

7 of 24 P.E.I. salmon rivers found to have stable populations

Kevin Yarr CBC News Posted: Jun 12, 2018 12:12 PM AT

The population of salmon is falling in most of P.E.I.'s spawning rivers, says the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and it places the blame squarely on the degrading habitat.

A report from the federation released this week found stable salmon populations in seven of 24 rivers surveyed.

"The Atlantic salmon are the canaries in the coal mine, and when we lose salmon from more and more rivers we are also losing an indicator of the health of these rivers," said Scott Roloson, president of the P.E.I. Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

"The rivers themselves over the course of time have had their habitat degraded to a point where it's no longer suitable to Atlantic salmon."

Policy needed

Most of the healthy rivers on the Island, said Roloson, are in northeastern P.E.I., which he describes as more isolated and protected. He also noted the community there is very engaged in taking care of the rivers.

Sediment is a big problem in Island rivers, he said. Salmon need clear gravel river bottoms for spawning. He said rivers can be restocked, but it won't be a long-term solution if the habitat isn't restored.

"What we need in order to restore populations in other areas is policy, policy to protect and ensure that the degree of the pristine nature of these rivers is protected," Roloson said.

The report estimates the number of spawning salmon in North America decreased five per cent from 2016 to 2017.