Patterns in the abundance and distribution of Atlantic salmon in Maritime rivers

Recipient: University of New Brunswick (Cunjak)
Approved Amount: $40,000

Atlantic salmon populations have been steadily decreasing since the 1980’s. Estimates for 2014 represent historic lows for returning spawners. Consequently, there has been a widespread call to address the decline and devise a comprehensive conservation plan for Atlantic salmon. Key to such an effort is a thorough analysis of the freshwater data to identify temporal and spatial trends in stock recruitment dynamics, and potential bottlenecks to production (e.g. climate warming). Working with DFO and CRI researchers, I propose a three-year, rigorous analysis of DFO’s long-term, electrofishing data and returning adult salmon numbers in the Miramichi and Restigouche Rivers. Using field surveys, statistical analyses and hierarchical (Bayesian) modeling, we will determine whether spawner estimates correlate with indices of juvenile (parr) abundance and freshwater production (smolts). Our efforts will also assess the efficacy of past ASCF-funded projects to enhance salmon abundance, and recommend a standardized electrofishing methodology to ensure compatibility of data generated from restoration efforts.

Contact: Dr. Richard A. Cunjak,, 506-452-6204