FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22nd, 2020
MIRAMICHI SALMON ASSOCIATION URGES ACTION ON DEVASTATING RETURN NUMBERS
SOUTH ESK, NB – One of Canada’s leading salmon conservation groups is urging immediate action to address the dramatic decline of Atlantic salmon on the Miramichi River.
The Miramichi Salmon Association (MSA) says today’s report, by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that adult salmon returns to the Miramichi have reached an all-time low, is devastating news. The last time adult salmon numbers were this poor was 2014 and this year’s numbers are the worst in recorded history for the Miramichi River. “We were expecting bad news based on our observations and unfortunately that’s what we received,” said Mark Hambrook, MSA president. “After seeing the live-trap numbers through the season, hearing what the catches were like on the river, and knowing the natural life cycle of the salmon (5 years), we fully expected the numbers to be poor this year but perhaps increase slightly next year, similar to 2014 and 2015. However, the trend is the numbers keep spiraling downwards and action must be taken to reverse this.”
The MSA believes the decline can be attributed to three main factors: predation, habitat degradation, and stock-management issues. “Some of the biggest problems include grey seal predation in the bay, striped bass predation in the river and estuary, the warming of the river, invasive species and illegal removals. Hambrook states, “it’s time for everyone to work together to ensure these problems get solved. “We see a conservation plan happening for the Miramichi watershed that includes both short-term solutions, like restocking programs, and longer-term measures such as a sustainable seal harvest and a commercial striped bass fishery, both proposed and executed by First Nations.”
Hambrook also said preserving habitat areas along the watershed, eliminating invasive species like smallmouth bass, protecting cold-water sources along the Miramichi are key to saving Atlantic salmon in the Miramichi. “We don’t want to be like the St. John River, where there is no recreational fishery and no First Nation food and ceremonial fishery,” he said.
Hambrook said the MSA is particularly impressed with proposals put forward by their First Nations partners. “Our First Nation partners want to lead many of these conservation initiatives and have already been successful with the cold-water habitat enhancement project and are leading the smallmouth bass eradication project.” Hambrook said. “We will continue to work closely and cooperatively with all our partners to restore the salmon and the river,” he concluded.
The Miramichi Salmon Association (MSA) is a conservation charity based out of South Esk, NB with over 2,500 members and supporters. MSA has invested over $1 million on its river programs in the past five years.