Children from the Millbrook Early Education Centre joined Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff to release Atlantic salmon fry from the Coldbrook Biodiversity Facility. Each child was able to scoop up a few fish in a net and release them into the flowing water.
“We have endangered stocks of salmon in our inner Bay of Fundy Rivers, of which Stewiacke is one,” said Beth Lenentine, of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “The numbers have declined at such a rate it’s important that we protect these species. The information we are trying to get out is – they are protected, they are endangered.”
The Coldbrook Biodiversity Facility, as well as one in Mactaquac, N.B., have a ‘live gene bank’ to maintain the genetic diversity of the Inner Bay of Fundy (iBoF) Atlantic salmon populations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Juvenile fish were captured from the wild and raised at the facilities to produce brood stock. Their young were then released.
About 200,000 will be released into the Stewiacke River this spring, with a similar number being released in the Gaspereau River, in Kings County.
“Atlantic salmon have a unique life cycle,” said Lenentine. “They spend part of their life in fresh water and part in a marine environment out in the ocean. What we’re releasing today is fry. They will stay in the Stewiacke River here for two or three years.”
She noted that the survival rate is quite low, as the young have to forage for feed and are subject to predation.
The fry hatched this spring and have been living on their yolk sacs, but they will soon need to find other sources of food.
Fifteen salmon smolts, which are about two years old, were also released Wednesday.
Illegally fishing salmon can result in high fines and seizure of vehicles.