Unique Salmon Being Tracked in Pollett River


Unique salmon being tracked in effort to increase population

Two devices being used to track salmon in Pollett River

By Kashmala Fida, CBC News Posted: Nov 14, 2016 7:00 AM AT

After releasing hundreds of salmon into the Petitcodiac tributaries, the Fort Folly Habitat Recovery Program is now tracking the progress of the spawning process of the fish.

In early October, 130 Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon were released into the Pollett river with tracking devices.

"It's going to inform us what's working," said Tim Robinson, manager of Fort Folly Habitat Recovery Program.

"That's our hope, that we are going to build the numbers of fish that we are bringing back to the Petitcodiac river and we are going to scientifically prove and show that they are spawning successfully."

The team uses two types of devices to track the salmon: a smaller passive-integrated transponder (pit) tag and a larger radio tag.

The pit tag was implanted in all the salmon while only 15 females had the radio tags surgically implanted in them.

Collecting data

Data is collected for the pit tag using antennas placed in key spots in the river that record the movement of the salmon up and down the stream.

The recovery team has to actively wade through water holding transmitters in order to pick up the signals off the radio tags on the females.

"They are on females because females choose the spawning habitats and location so that's important for us to know where the salmon are spawning," said Robinson.

"We can actively track them and we know the location of where they have spawned and that's really important information to have. It lets us know which areas in the river the salmon chooses to spawn in so those zones end up being critically important habitats."

Although salmon tracking usually happens in the month of October and November, the team will try to push their luck until December.

Declining salmon population

The Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon have been on the verge of extinction since the early 2000s.

Although efforts by organizations, habitat recovery programs and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have resulted in putting a halt to the species going completely extinct, the population is still in danger.

Atlantic salmon do not survive in the marine environment anymore, which is the main reason for its decline, although the reasons for why they don't survive vary.

Robinson said habitat recovery programs such as theirs are researching the salmon and tracking their responses to different types of environments.

Fish grown in conservation sites are released into the Petitcodiac at spawning age where their movement and spawning activity is tracked.

"We are hoping with large numbers of adults spawning successfully, producing the next generation, large number of juveniles that this might begin to make a difference in bringing this population back from the edge of extinction," Robinson said.