Nor-West Salmon Barrier
I worked at the DNR Nor-West salmon protection barrier in the summer of 2019. Part of our job was to count and record salmon passing through the salmon protection barrier and counting trap. There was a fish trap that the salmon and trout would swim into on their way up river to spawn. They could not get out of the trap until we release them upriver from the trap. We would check the trap every hour, count and record the fish and release them on the upper side of the barrier. To give you some idea of the decline in the salmon population the final count for season was a bit over 200 salmon. In the glory years there were more than 2000. Doing the math that is about 10 percent of what it was. Please keep in mind that this is one tributary of the Miramichi and does not represent the total count of the Miramichi. It does however represent the declining population of the species. It is questionable if the species will survive.
Causes of the Salmon decline.
So what is causing the decline? Well that is up for debate but many believe it is a death by 1000 cuts.
Commercial fishing in Greenland. When the salmon migrate to Greenland they commercial fish for Atlantic Salmon. Greenland legally harvests 20 to 40 metric ton a year.
Poachers. It is estimated that there is 25 tons of salmon taken by the Poachers every year.
Logging. Logging opens up the bogs, warms the water, and reduces the flow of the cold water into the river systems. Years ago they say that the log drives down the river very much declined the salmon stock. Apparently the bark of the logs, the dynamite that was use to free log jams and other activities cause a big decline in salmon stocks.
Price of food. I suspect due to the price of food people will have a tendency to keep more fish instead of releasing them.
Anglers - Improper handling of the salmon cause mortality. Most anglers respect the rules and is quick to speak out for the species. It has been said many times without the anglers fighting for the species many salmon would be lost. The Miramichi Salmon Associations and other associations are anglers that raise money for salmon conservation. The average angler donates and fights for salmon conservation and respects the conservation rules.
Salmon Conservation Efforts include logging restrictions, salmon protection initiatives like the counting fences, restrict fishing when the salmon count is down, restrict angling when the pools are warm, clean up the river, policing poachers, environmental rules, barbless fly fishing only, catch and release only.
In summary we still have productive salmon fishing but you have to work hard to catch and release a salmon. We go more for the comradery with good friends.
We use barbless hooks, fight the fish quickly and properly release them back into the river. If this is done correctly, the fish will survive. If the fight is prolonged and the fish is not properly released then the survival of that fish is greatly reduced.
Despite the efforts there is no guarantee that the salmon will survive. For more information you can go onto the DNR web-site.