Students Say Farewell to their Fish Friends


7 June 2017
Hadeel Ibrahim

Students say farewell to their fish friends

Over 300 students from eight Oromocto schools said goodbye to their fish friends Tuesday morning.

Four students from local elementary schools pose with dignitaries before releasing Salmon into the water at the 10th annual Fish Friends event at the Lindsay Valley Lodge at the 5th Canadian Division Support Group (5 CDSG) Gagetown, in Oromocto, New Brunswick on 06 June 2017. First row (students) L-R: Alex, Andrew, Alexis, Jansen. Second row L-R: Nathan Wilbur, Ronald Vienneau , The Lieutenant-Governor, The Honourable Jocelyne Roy Vienneau, Peter Cronin, Robin Hanson Back row L-R: Andy Smith and Colonel (Col) Keith Osmond.
Image by: Joseph Comeau GN26-2017-0562, Combat Training Centre, 5th Canadian Division Support Group Gagetown ©2017 DND-MDN Canada

The 10th Annual Fish Friends Field Day took place at Lindsay Brook on Base Gagetown, where students released baby salmon they've been raising since March.

Created in partnership with the New Brunswick Salmon Council and Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Fish Friends program is meant to teach children about fish ecology and the importance of protecting New Brunswick waterways said Andy Smith, Aquatic biologist at 5th Canadian division support group at Base Gagetown.

"It's a hands-on learning program," he said.

The children start off with eggs from the Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility.

"They care for the eggs and the young alevins [newly spawned salmon] ... and then in June they come here and release them," Smith said.

He said teachers incorporate this into their lesson plans.

"They can do math, they can do ecology, whatever they want to incorporate," Smith said.

He said it also teaches the children about survival and mortality.

"Not all the eggs will survive, they do have some mortality in the tank, that's all part of what wild animals go through."

He said each school gets about 100 eggs.

"As they're released the fry stay in the stream hopefully and the objective is for them to grow and Atlantic salmon will typically stay two or three years in fresh water and the they will go through a smoltification process and that's when they'll move to the ocean where they'd spend usually one or two years in the ocean and we hope that they come back through the stream."

He said this is a learning project and won't have much of an immediate impact on the environment.

"It's not an official stocking program that Fisheries and Oceans would do or the province would do. It's an education program," Smith said.

Grade 2 student Alley Smith said she learned a lot about fish from this project.

"I learned that when they're frys that's when they have to go into the stream," said the seven-year-old.

She said "it was fun" to release the fish in the stream.

Jocelyne Roy Vienneau, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, was present at the event. Speaking to the children, she said she was proud to see so many participating.

"I get to see so much of our province and meet so many people, but I am especially happy to be here for this event because you students are doing something so valuable for this beautiful place and for your futures," said Vienneau, who is also the Honourary Patron of the New Brunswick Salmon Council.