Early salmon counts bring about cen­tral op­ti­mism

Fluc­tu­a­tions ex­pected in salmon re­turns

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - News - BY ADAM RAN­DELL

It’s still too early to de­ter­mine if it will be a suc­cess­ful year for salmon pop­u­la­tions, but the first run num­bers have brought about some op­ti­mism in Cen­tral New­found­land.

Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans (DFO) At­lantic Salmon Fish­way counts, as of June 17, three cen­tral rivers have ex­ceeded or are on par with num­bers recorded the same time in 2017.

On the Ex­ploits River there were 99 salmon counted, op­posed to 12 last year, Camp­bell­ton had 29, the pre­vi­ous year there were zero. Salmon Brook re­mained the same with one.

How­ever, salmon are noted to have en­tered the prov­ince’s wa­ter­ways ear­lier as a re­sult of less ice in the coastal bays, and none of the rivers have sur­passed the five-year av­er­age to­tal – 2013-2017 for the June 17 date.

Calvin Fran­cis, with the Gan­der Bay In­dian Band Coun­cil, who over­sees the Salmon Brook Fish­way, near Glen­wood, says the in­di­ca­tion on Salmon Brook since June 17 have been en­cour­ag­ing.

“The ma­jor­ity of what we’ve been see­ing is adult salmon, over 63 cen­time­tres,” he said. “So far, it’s been pos­i­tive.”

Fran­cis calls this a cru­cial year for salmon, given the yearover-year de­clines in re­turns, and the an­gling re­stric­tions put in place by DFO that only al­lows for the re­ten­tion of one salmon, pend­ing a mid-sea­son re­view.

“This is a do or die year so I’m happy with the re­turns as we speak, and the weather con­di­tions have been great, but time will tell what kind of sea­son it will be.”

Newly elected pres­i­dent for the Ex­ploits River’s En­vi­ron­ment Re­sources Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (ERMA) Bruce An­drews is look­ing at the early in­di­ca­tions pos­i­tively as well.

And while the Ex­ploits River stock hasn’t caught up with its five-year av­er­age – 156 by June 17 - An­drews said there have al­ways been fluc­tu­a­tions re­gard­ing salmon re­turns.

“I think some­times peo­ple over re­act when the num­bers go back a bit, and be­come overly cau­tious,” he said. “I’ve been fish­ing the ex­ploits for a num­ber of years, and I’ve been study­ing the stats since 1992, so to see num­bers drop and fluc­tu­ate is noth­ing new.”

DFO is speak­ing to the early num­bers, but ac­knowl­edged it is closely mon­i­tor­ing the num­bers as they come in.

“We have re­cently started to re­ceive in­for­ma­tion on At­lantic salmon from fish­ways and count­ing fences through­out the prov­ince,” read a state­ment. “It is too early to com­ment on the sta­tus of At­lantic salmon stocks at this time. An up­date on the At­lantic salmon stock will be pro­vided in late July for the in­sea­son re­view and at that time, a man­age­ment de­ci­sion for the re­main­der of the sea­son will be an­nounced.”

FILE PHOTO

While early into the sea­son, Salmon counts on three Cen­tral new­found­land rivers are above their last year’s av­er­age for June 17.

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