Miawpukek First Nation

October 6, 2017

Remember the song from Sesame Street, “Who are the people in your neighbourhood?” Well, Miawpukek First Nation (MFN) wants to know who are the fish in their neighbourhood.

The MFN is working on the Little River in Newfoundland conducting a project dubbed Miawpukek First Nation Escapee Monitoring (MAEM). They have received $40,000 in 2017 grant funding from the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation to help with their efforts.

MAEM involves sampling all Atlantic salmon that enter the Little River watershed area to determine if they are farm origin. All other farm fish species will also be recorded, sampled, and removed from the system. As requested by DFO and other agencies, samples will be taken for further genetic, disease, toxic, and parasitic analysis.

Ross Hinks, of the MFN, notes such monitoring contributes greatly to the identification and removal of farm salmon in an area where Atlantic salmon are being classified as threatened by species at risk. He adds it will help to protect a culturally significant species for the MFN.

The aim is to prove that farm salmon are entering local rivers after escaping their open pen sea cage confinement year-round and that this escapement is having detrimental effects on local salmon stocks.

Data and samples collected by MAEM have proven that farm salmon are entering their rivers, that they are able to survive and reproduce in the wild, and are reproducing with their wild counterparts as well as other farm salmon.

“The ultimate goal of the project is to protect, preserve, and enhance a culturally significant species (plamu) that Mother Earth has bestowed upon all for future generations,” said Hinks. “And to minimize the effect that farm salmon is having on local populations and the ecosystem as an whole. For the MFN, MAEM represents its collective interest in social, educational, economical, spiritual, and cultural development. It’s a way for MFN to protect and preserve a valuable resource.”