Atlantic salmon in Eastern Canada experience high marine mortality, which is the main concern in recovering salmon populations. In the last couple of decades, the Miramichi River returning Atlantic salmon population has declined below conservation targets. Traditional juvenile salmon stocking as been conducted by the Miramichi Salmon Association Hatchery (MSA) since 1973. A more recent smolt-to-adult (SAS) supplementation program has been proposed for the Miramichi River. Currently, there are more known benefits for the SAS program compared to traditional stocking, but several risks are not fully understood. Our aim is to conduct experiments on the new smolt-to-adult supplementation (SAS) program in a natural river system, an experimental river system, and in the laboratory.
Getting ready to transport salmon from Miramichi Salmon Conservation Center
David Roth spends his days following SAS Atlantic salmon at the experimental river.
Project 1: River Experiment
A radio-tracking experiment will be conducted to compare summer behavior, migration and spawning behavior, winter behavior, survival, and kelt migration, and survival to repeat spawning of wild and smolt-to-adult supplementation (SAS) Atlantic salmon in a natural river (Northwest Miramichi River). More information about this project HERE.
Project 2: Experimental River
To better understand how SAS Atlantic salmon will respond in a natural environment compared to wild Atlantic salmon, a controlled river experiment is being conducted. Wild and SAS individuals of Atlantic salmon will be released in a small and natural, fenced off stream.
The experiment in its first phase will examine SAS and wild adult behaviour, activity levels and survival. In a second phase, the SAS and wild progeny will be studied to gain knowledge on their behaviour, growth and their survival rate.
Project 3: Laboratory Experiment
The laboratory experiments provide a fully controlled environment, where fundamental data on SAS fish characteristics can be obtained. Important information is collected on fecundity, egg size and fitness of SAS Atlantic salmon, which will then be compared to wild fish. The results help us to find and understand eventual differences between the two groups. The knowledge gained from these experiments will help to develop more detailed strategies for the SAS project in the future.