The Fisheries and Marine institute of Memorial University

February 17, 2017

Not too hot, and not too cold, but what is just right?

Waterfall upstream of thermographs

The Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University is working on a project to find out what is desirable.

The project, entitled, “Salmon in a changing environment: developing a water temperature monitoring program in the Northern range of Atlantic salmon,” began i

n May 2016 and is scheduled to continue until December 2017.

The project is being funded by a grant of $20,000 in 2016 awarded by the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation.

Marie Clément is a research scientist with the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research,
Fisheries and Marine Institute in partnership with the Labrador Institute

Memorial University of Newfoundland, and one of the leads on the project.

“The general objective of this project is to develop a water temperature monitoring network in salmon rivers in Labrador, Quebec’s Lower North Shore, and northern rivers that show potential to be colonized,” she said.  “Salmon range is expected to shift northward as river water temperatures increase due to climate change. However, this overall trend may not apply to all regions.”

Clément notes, for example, rivers draining into Lake Melville, a saline lake supporting important food, social and ceremonial fisheries for three aboriginal groups, may experience higher water temperatures than Labrador’s coastal rivers.

“It is therefore important to understand water temperature variability and salmon distribution changes throughout the entire actual and potential distribution range.”

In 2016, Clément and André St. Hilaire from the I’institut national de la recherche scientifique, teamed up with the  Nunatsiavut Government, NunatuKavut Community Council, Labrador Hunting and Fishing Association, Torngat National Park,   AMEC, Coaster Association, outfitters (St. Paul’s Salmon Fishing Club, Napetipi River Outfitters and Pourvoirie Mecatina) and the  Department of Environment and Climate Change to develop the water temperature monitoring network in the northern range of Atlantic salmon.

“In total, 23 people actively participated in the deployment and retrieval of thermographs and water temperature data that were successfully collected from 35 rivers located in the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area (13 rivers), Lake Melville (10 rivers), NunatuKavut (7 rivers), and Quebec Lower North Shore (5 rivers). The ultimate goal of this project is that the monitoring program becomes community-driven and produce a long-term water temperature time series for better predicting the effects of climate change on salmon populations.”

Clément stresses none of the work being done would be possible without the cooperation of many partners.