Corporation du basin de la Jacques-Cartier (CBJC)

October 4, 2014

Since 1979, the Corporation du basin de la Jacques-Cartier (CBJC) has been doing everything it could to bring salmon—and salmon fishing—back to the river. The organization has worked closely with the Quebec government and private-sector partners, operating an incubation center.

Meanwhile, power installation owners along the river were ensuring that fish passages were working properly and helping with transportation of the breeding fish to the best breeding areas in the upper Jacques-Cartier River.

The problem was that some of the precious smolts—those new, small salmon—were being pulled from the water by anglers who were supposed to be fishing trout. The most popular time of year for trout fishing coincides with the downstream migration of the salmon smolts, from mid-May to late June. During this period, smolts leave the spawning grounds of the National Park of Jacques-Cartier, heading for the ocean. Considering that the catch quota for trout is 15 fish in possession, the potential loss of salmon smolts taken mistakenly could be significant, having a negative impact on the efforts to restock and bring salmon back to the river.

The CBJC believed that an education project for anglers could help to stop the loss of migrating salmon smolts. With a $6,000 grant from the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation, they developed the “Catch and Release Smolt Project”. First, they produced a plastic wallet-size card that clearly illustrates the differences between a trout and a salmon smolt. Then the CBJC representative went to the river to talk directly with anglers, giving the card to them and demonstrating how to properly and safely release a salmon smolt back into the water when caught mistakenly. This action is critical to the survival of the smolt so it can continue on its journey to the ocean. The card slips into a vinyl cover that includes a spot for the angler’s fishing license.

“Every smolt saved is good for the river,” says Antoine Bourke, biologist and Executive Director of the CBJC. “A lot of anglers who were not from this region didn’t know it was a salmon river, and they didn’t know how to recognize the salmon from the trout. We wanted to give them a convenient, useful information card that they could carry with them on the river.”

The pocket card also includes the phone number for the Quebec Natural Resources enforcement branch, and anglers are encouraged to call if they need information or to report salmon being taken illegally from the river.

To support the angler education project in the long term, CBJC will erect signs along the river in 2012. The signs will have the same graphic illustrations and information as the hand-out cards.