An Atlantic salmon fry. The Atlantic Salmon Federation is taking part in a new research partnership organized by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Atlantic Salmon Research Joint Venture will coordinate work between government, academic and NGO researchers studying the species. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Atlantic salmon migration map one aim of research

ANDREWS, NEW BRUNSWICK — The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) will play a leading scientific role in the new Atlantic Salmon Research Joint Venture announced recently by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

There has never been a body to coordinate work and pool resources from government, university and non-government organization researchers studying Atlantic salmon. As a result, there are many unanswered questions about the species. This affects conservation efforts and means fewer wild Atlantic salmon for First Nations and other communities that rely on the species for food and income.

The Atlantic Salmon Research Joint Venture, managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), will ensure studies do not overlap and will prioritize spending to answer the most pressing questions. This agreement will supplement and extend existing research areas and programs.

The ASF will receive $250,000 from DFO through the Atlantic Salmon Research Joint Venture in 2016. The money will be used to expand the sonar and satellite salmon tracking program. Since the mid-1990s, The ASF has been tagging Atlantic salmon and recording their migration using sensors in rivers, estuaries, bays and through the Gulf of St. Lawrence to its border with the Labrador Sea. Now we will add another array of sensors in the Labrador Sea to pick up fish further along their journey to Greenland. The ASF also will begin tagging fish from a river in Labrador, adding to its research database.

“With the addition of more sensors, and another study river, we are moving towards completing a precise map of the entire migration route of Atlantic salmon,” said ASF President Bill Taylor. “DFO deserves credit for the action they are taking on Atlantic salmon conservation.”

It’s estimated there are approximately 750,000 adult Atlantic salmon returning to North American rivers today, compared to a peak of approximately 2 million individuals in the early 1970s.

ASF’s tracking program is revealing data on predator-prey interactions, preferred depths and water temperatures, and the speed and timing of migration. This is fundamental knowledge that will improve the effectiveness of efforts to rebuild populations.

“ASF has earned an excellent international reputation for its science and research programs. This joint venture will coordinate the work of everyone and create more partnerships to ensure conservation decisions are backed up by the best knowledge,” said Jonathan Carr, the ASF’s executive director of research and environment.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is an international conservation group founded in 1948 that is dedicated to ensuring the survival of wild Atlantic salmon throughout the North Atlantic.

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