Our Project

The Survival Of A Species

Wild Atlantic salmon are critically low in all inner Bay of Fundy rivers due to a variety of factors including overfishing and habitat change. Today, the inner Bay of Fundy salmon is listed as an endangered species under the Species at Risk Act.

The disappearance of wild Atlantic salmon poses a real environmental issue and threatens the culture, history, and economy of New Brunswick and the First Nations communities.

Their survival now depends on human intervention, new thinking and the collaboration of our dedicated project partners. Our goal is to recover and preserve this species of salmon for future generations.

 

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The inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon are different from other Atlantic salmon populations because of the number of years they spend at sea. Where Atlantic salmon would normally leave the rivers and spend up to five years feeding off the coast of Greenland, the bay of Fundy provides so many nutrients from its iconic tides that the iBoF Atlantic salmon only have to venture as far as the mouth of the bay, for only one year, to feed.

Nurturing Wild Atlantic Salmon In Nature

In the past, Atlantic salmon conservation efforts have focused on a number of initiatives, including knocking down obsolete dams, adding fish ladders and releasing young salmon into the wild. But these efforts have not made a significant difference to wild Atlantic salmon returns.

Fundy Salmon Recovery takes a different approach.

Our research shows that Atlantic salmon that spend their early lives in rivers or streams act and grow very differently than fish raised in a hatchery. Ultimately, they have a much better chance of survival.

Fundy Salmon Recovery is the first project in the world to collect young fish that have spent the critical early life stages in the wild and then cares for them in an ocean environment at a dedicated marine farm site operated by Cooke Aquaculture. When the salmon have grown to adult size and are ready to spawn, they are released back into their home rivers, the Upper Salmon River and the Petitcodiac river system.

 

The Recovery Process

A young salmon is influenced throughout its development by its early experiences.  Research has shown that Atlantic salmon that have maximum exposure to the wild produce stronger fish. This means that young Atlantic salmon that are exposed to life in a river are better equipped to survive in the wild. Scientists have also learned that the younger a fish can be released from captivity into the rivers, the better. The best result comes from fish that have been hatched in the wild. And for that to happen, you need adult salmon to spawn in the rivers.

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The project relies on a number of industry and government experts and resources to help with critical logistics. Trucking companies with specialized fish transfer tanks, helicopter pilots, fish health experts and numerous volunteers contribute to the success of the Fundy Salmon Recovery Project. In addition, local law enforcement officers have formed a protection initiative to protect the salmon once they are returned to the rivers.