News from the Regions

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Eye in the Sky on West River Sheet Harbour
by Atlantic Salmon Federation on 

by Lewis Hinks, ASF Director of Programs for Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

There is a lot of cool work being done on the West River Sheet Harbour.

This week researchers from Dalhousie were on-site to aid in mapping and recording river habitat prior to some major work being conducted on the river. They used a drone to map the river channel and record habitat details. It was quite impressive to watch and to see some of the images that were being recorded. This will provide a valuable record of pre-treatment work and a good way to see the changes that will occur with the work.

The drone controller mechanism allows for both control and real-time viewing of the scene being caught by the drone itself. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Drones have been used in habitat mapping work in other areas, but this is my first real experience with them. It is incredible technology with many potential uses.

Drone's view of the river can give phenomenal detail from a perspective that was costly to acquire just a few years ago. It allows effective mapping of river habitat in West River Sheet Harbour. Photo Dr. Jeff Barrell, Dalhousie University.

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25 Years of Fish Friends
by Atlantic Salmon Federation on 

by Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of New Brunswick Programs

Twenty five years ago, in 1992, the Fish Friends program began in New Brunswick.

Twenty five years ago I was in grade one, and among the first cohort of students to receive Atlantic salmon eggs in an aquarium in my classroom.

Over the coming months, my fellow classmates and I learned about their complex life cycle and watched the eggs hatch, develop into alevin, and then fry. We would go on to release the fish into a nearby stream in June so they could continue their life cycle and we could move on in our lives as young environmental stewards. Fast forward to 2017 and this week elementary school students from the Oromocto area released their fry on Base Gagetown after the very same process of learning about the wild Atlantic salmon.
Atlantic salmon fry at Camp Gagetown

Not only were the kids excited for the culmination of their project, but on hand were an enthusiastic group of adults representing a diverse range of organizations, including the NB Salmon Council, Oromocto Watershed Association, NB Natural Resources, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Base Commander and personnel, Canadian Rivers Institute biologists, myself from ASF, and last but not least, the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, Her Honour, Jocelyne Roy Vienneau. The adults were nearly as excited as the kids on the cool but optimistic-feeling early June morning.

Now run by the New Brunswick Salmon Council, the program has stood the test of time as an environmental awareness staple in over 100 NB classrooms. Other classes will be releasing their fry over the next two weeks throughout New Brunswick, and in fact, all over Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Maine. Good luck young fry—please return, and thank you to the young students who raised them.

Col. Ormond watches a student release her Atlantic salmon fry.

EExtract from Fish Friends brochure from 2002 - after Fish Friends had been successful in classrooms for ten years already!

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West River Sheet Harbour Counting Fence Installed
by Atlantic Salmon Federation on 

by Lewis Hinks, ASF Director of Programs for Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

This past week, the crew from the West River project along with NSSA staff and  a number of volunteers, installed the Resistance Board Weir counting fence on the West River, as part of the overall monitoring.

The West River Sheet Harbour for a decade has had a lime doser increasing the pH and mitigating the impact of acid rain. This impact was largely due to the coal-fired power plants of the Ohio River valley.

Installing the counting fence weir is a pretty efficient operation, but does require a number of people to help carry the heavy trap sections. The longer fence sections can be floated into place, connected to the bottom rail and joined together pretty smoothly. It was a well choreographed process.

Staff from Parks Canada were also on hand to assist and learn about this fence for potential use in other systems.

As you can see from the photos, a classic case of many hands make light work.

Wildly fluctuating water levels in 2016 (from record drought to flood conditions) resulted in less than ideal operating conditions for the fence, but even the modest returns seen last year are going against the downward trend in the other acid stressed rivers on the Eastern Coast of Nova Scotia, show us that the liming project is working.

With the smolt wheel still running and the fence installed, the West River crew are a busy lot these days.

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Spring Has Sprung and It Is Time to Start Counting Salmon
by Atlantic Salmon Federation on 

by Lewis Hinks, ASF Director of Nova Scotia & PEI Programs

Installing Smolt Wheel on West River Sheet Harbour on Apr. 18, 2017. Photo: Walter Regan

While the ASF Research Team is very busy getting ready for and starting their field work, things are also ramping up in the regions as field work and restoration projects begin.

One of the great parts of this job is getting involved, at times, in the field with many of the great projects.

This week, we started getting ready for more juvenile assessments on the West River Sheet Harbour project.  This exciting project has seen tremendous improvements in numbers of juvenile salmon in this acid stressed river.

I was part of a great crew that installed a smolt wheel and fyke nets to count juvenile salmon migrating to the ocean. We also monitor trout populations.

The adult counting fence will be installed in the next month or so.

Now the counting begins on this great project.

Fyke Net being installed on West River Sheet Harbour. Photo Lewis Hinks.

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Great October for Salmon Restoration in Nova Scotia
by Atlantic Salmon Federation on 
by Lewis Hinks, Director of Nova Scotia Programs

October has been exciting for salmon conservation and restoration programs in Nova Scotia. On Monday Oct. 3, watershed liming began on the West River, Sheet Harbour system as the first loads of powdered lime were dropped by helicopter onto the watershed. This is a joint project with Federal Government, NSSA, Eastern Shore Wildlife, Nova Scotia Government, Adopt-a-Stream, ACOA, Northern Pulp, Nova Scotia Sportfish Habitat Fund  and ASF all as partners.

 Edmund Halfyard explains how the watershed liming will help make long term restoration of the watershed possible.

This exciting project is part of a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project, led by Dr. Eddie Halfyard. With the West River doser in operation for the past 10 years, the watershed liming, a second doser planned for this coming winter and extensive habitat restoration, this will result in one of the most ambitious salmon restoration projects in Nova Scotia’s history. The watershed liming project alone is the largest in of its kind in North America.

On Tues. Oct. 4, partners gathered at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park to celebrate the completion of a 3 year major habitat restoration project on the main channel of the lower Cheticamp River.


This major project focused on a reconfiguration of the main channel in the lower part of the main river, narrowing the channel, re-establishing the proper thalweg, or meander pattern, and helping create and enhance several pools.


I cannot overstate how important this project is and how honoured I am to be part of such a dedicated and committed group. The support of Parks Canada, the expertise of the biologists and the determination of the Cheticamp River Salmon Association all came together to see the project completed.


These two important projects help highlight what can be done when everyone decides to do what is right or the salmon and put good science together with great people. It has been a good month!

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