Friends of the KouchibouguacisSeptember 2, 2016
In an effort to understand more about the life cycle of Atlantic salmon in the Kouchibouguacis River watershed, the Friends of the Kouchibouguacis have embarked on an ambitious project.
In 2016 the group received a $25,000 grant from the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation. The project covers a number of components that will benefit the Atlantic salmon population and its habitat in the Kouchibouguacis River watershed. Different monitoring methods will be used to collect data on salmon (and other fish species) population, available habitat, migration, and age, along with water quality and environmental parameters. Salmon eggs/milt will be collected for incubation purposes. An environmental consultant will provide the land owners with further guidance for future restoration work. Public education will be part of this effort as well.
Anita Doucet, coordinator of The Friends of the Kouchibouguacis, says the Kouchibouguacis River is one of the many treasures Kent County residents hold dear.
“The river is used for swimming, boating, canoeing, and fishing. A big part of the regional economy rely on commercial fishing; lobster, mackerel, herring, cod, American eel, smelt, and gaspereau fishing are the targeted species. Recreational fishermen have known to target trout, eel, smelt, whitefish, yellow perch, and just recently, the striped bass. Salmon fishing has been closed on the Kouchibouguacis River since 1998; this represents a great disappointment to many local fishermen.”
Doucet notes there are several stress factors at play, but there is hope fish populations can be improved.
The group has also had great success in the past using Jordan-Scotty incubators which are designed to protect eggs from environmental pressures, sedimentation, and predators. Doucet says incubators that were set out in the brook last fall have been retrieved. Results from the 2015 incubation have been calculated and show good egg survival ranging from 76.3% to 90.3%, with an overall average of 89.5% survival.
An incubation workshop was held in June of 2015 and Doucet said the event was exciting for everyone involved.
“The participants got the opportunity to prepare the equipment and load up Jordan-Scotty incubators with green eggs! OK, not real eggs – we used green peas as eggs and it worked like a charm. White peas were used to simulate dead eggs that one may encounter during the process. We wanted the participants to be able to leave us with enough knowledge and some practice to comfortably set up their own incubation exercises.”
“Our experience with the Jordan Scotty incubators and the methods we use for the preparation and installation of the incubators will be compiled in a document that will be posted on the ASCF Hub page; a French and English version of this document will be made available soon.”
Doucet also notes students from different schools in the area have been participating in the Fish Friend Program for a number of years, and it’s having an impact on the students and the fish population.
“We provided the different schools with salmon eggs and the students took care of the eggs until they hatched. The students made their way to the Kouchibouguacis River to release their small friends in June. The students were then brought to another site where they were introduced to a sampling method we use to determine the health of our estuary. The activities we offer to the school are always popular with the students, and we look forward to them every year!”
Doucet says the overall project will eventually lead to the return of the salmon population in the watershed, the reopening of its sport fishing, and contribute to a better quality of life for people in the area.
“We have received $5000 from the NB Wildlife Trust Fund as matching funds for this project. We also have wonderful partners who offer plenty of in-kind support towards this project.”