JUVENILE ATLANTIC SALMON POPULATION ASSESSMENT
In 2020 we completed electrofishing at all 12 locations and expanded the program to include 3 additional sites. We also assisted DFO with their Genomics Project, in Collaborations with Indigenous Partners in Science (CIPS), to electrofish 4 additional sites. In total, we were able to provide 17 salmon parr adipose finn clips for their genomics project from electrofishing a total of 19 sites. We noted that the salmonid brook trout populations remained relatively close between 2020 and 2019’s electrofishing survey, with an increase of 8.3% in 2020; an Atlantic salmon parr increase of 100%, and a surprising observation of American Eel increase of 333%. In total, 700 individual fish were documented, and 14 fish species were observed in the 2020 electrofishing season. We complemented our electrofishing work by taking 10 eDNA samples to determine presence or absence of salmon DNA. We used eDNA in locations where electrofishing did not yield any salmon, and in sites where there was no previous electrofishing data, to determine if these areas are worthy of expanding in our electrofishing program. While we are still awaiting results from eDNA, we believe that this is a new, cost-effective tool that will compliment electrofishing and redd count data.
This project continually monitors the juvenile (fry and parr) Atlantic salmon population in the Hammond River. In recent years between 13 and 17 sites have been electrofished annually. These datasets watershed to build on historical data that dates back to 1979! Since 1979, the Atlantic salmon population has been slowly declining (see figure below).
In 2016, we found more than twice as many Atlantic salmon than in 2015. However, in 2017 the number of fry found declined. The HRAA assessed 15 sites in 2017. Overall the Brook trout population increased..
Populations of Atlantic Salmon and Brook trout are known to fluctuate. Overall, there has been a significant decline in the Hammond River Atlantic salmon population since 1979. The HRAA will continue to conduct these surveys annually, and we hope to see this positive trend continue into the future. Several years of increasing salmon counts would be needed to conclude that the population is improving.
Our project (Hammond River Juvenile Atlantic Salmon Population Assessment) is funded in part by the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund. This Wildlife Trust Fund obtains a portion of its revenue from the purchase of conservation plates by New Brunswick residents who are interested in conservation. Seven dollars ($7) from each conservation plate purchase goes into that fund annually. These funds are awarded to projects such as ours by the Minister of Natural Resources following review and recommendation by an independent board of 17 volunteers. Revenue from license plates is critical in furthering conservation efforts in our province so please consider purchasing conservation plates with your next car purchase to enable the NB Wildlife Trust Fund to continue to provide financial support for worthy projects.