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article imageReduced research funds hamper study of declining Atlantic salmon

By Igor I. Solar     May 20, 2010 in Science
Saint Andrews - DFO funds allocated to study the decline of wild Atlantic salmon populations in the Maritime Provinces are declining along with the salmon. The Atlantic Salmon Federation claims that this could worsen the already precarious situation of the fish.
Bill Taylor, president of the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) says Atlantic salmon numbers continue to decline and the species could face extinction. More funds are required to conduct studies to determine the threats Atlantic salmon are facing. However, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' budget for relevant programs has been cut significantly by the federal government.
Taylor said that in recent years, salmon adults haven't returned to their native spawning rivers in the numbers required to sustain a healthy population, but the reason for it is unknown. He says that more research is needed to determine all the problems Atlantic salmon are up against.
For some unknown reasons not enough fish are surviving at sea which results in lower numbers of reproductive salmon returning to rivers to spawn. The causes are varied and may include increase in predator populations, a decline in food sources and changes in the ocean's temperature.
"In the mid-1990s you could find 100,000 salmon spawners in the Mirimichi River; now there's around 30,000. Scientists are telling us it's a mystery," Taylor said. "Salmon are leaving the Miramichi and Restigouche rivers in good numbers, but they're not surviving at sea. They're not being caught in nets; they're dying of natural causes, but we don't know why. We need to do comprehensive ocean research."
According with the ASF, if DFO doesn't receive more research funding, the Atlantic salmon population will continue to decline. ASF is pleased that, after years of lobbying, finally a federal Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation Policy has been developed. “The problem is that it's not being funded”, Taylor says.
An international meeting on the subject of declining wild Atlantic salmon stocks is coming soon. The Twenty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) will be held in Québec City from 1 - 4 June, 2010. The meeting is open to representatives of all NASCO Parties, States not party to the Convention, and accredited NGOs.
Currently, NASCO has seven Parties: Canada, Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands & Greenland), the European Union, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States of America. Iceland withdrew from NASCO at the end of 2009 because of financial considerations, but has indicated that it intends to re-accede to the Convention when the economic situation improves.
Adult Atlantic salmon used in reproductive research
Adult Atlantic salmon used in reproductive research
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