Souris and Area Branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation

December 3, 2015

With all of the news about declining wild Atlantic salmon stocks over the past few years, it’s hard to imagine that that there are any success stories when it comes to the iconic “king of the fighting fish.” But there are, and some of them are the result of the diligent work of the Souris and Area Branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation (SAB).

“SAB has achieved many positive results, with significantly improved salmon returns since they began habitat restoration work in their management area,” says Stephen Chase, executive director of ASCF.

That management area coversapproximately 62,000 hectares (about 12 percent of PEI) and includes some 27watersheds.

Since 2009, ASCF had supported SAB’s work in these watersheds with over $153,700 in funding. And the results have been impressive, with significant habitat restored, and increased salmon stocks in North Lake Creek, Cross River, Priest Pond Creek and Naufrage River.

“Back in 2008, the total redd count in those four rivers was just 431, and they were considered the best salmon rivers on PEI,” says Fred Cheverie, Watershed Coordinator of SAB. “Those waterways were then, and still are, in dire need of nurturing and continuous enhancement.” Thanks to SAB’s efforts, that’s just what they’ve been getting. And the results have been excellent, with redd counts having almost quadrupled to some 1205 in 2013.

“Even more impressive are the results SAB has realized in the Cow, Bear and Hay rivers, waterways where studies indicated that salmon had all but disappeared since 2002,” says Stephen Chase. In 2011, when SAB first started counting, there were just five redds in those rivers; in 2013 there were 109.

How has SAB managed to achieve these results?

“Our experience indicates that what is ‘tried, tested and true’ is the route to follow,” says Fred Cheverie. “Our salmon numbers have shown annual increases in each of our systems, so we continue to do what works: brush matting, installation of digger logs and baffles, thinning alders or planting trees on riverbanks, removing blockages such as beaver dams, debris and blowdowns; generally doing anything and everything to improve fish habitat.”

“That’s the kind of straightforward watershed improvement and management that leads to success,” says Stephen Chase, success that has been recognized municipally and provincially, and in 2012 garnered SAB the “Canada’s Recreational Fisheries Award” presented by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for their “outstanding contribution to the conservation and protection of the recreational fisheries.”

“We feel that we share that award with everyone who has been involved with SAB through the years,” says Cheverie. “We are fortunate to have the cooperation and assistance of landowners, and an army of volunteers and supporters who do everything from assisting us in the field to organizing and providing all the goods for our annual fundraising dinner (for example, the lobster – 600 pounds of it – was donated by 56 fishers from five harbours located in our management area).”

That kind of support is the result not only of SAB’s hard work and positive results in the field, but also of its efforts to engage its community through outreach programs in area schools, tours and public presentations, as well as via its constantly updated website and Facebook page, its quarterly newsletter, and its outreach to media.

“We also owe our success to excellent funding support, including that from ASCF,” Cheverie adds.

“Our experience with the ASCF has proven highly rewarding. Since entering our initial partnership in 2009, we have been able to produce incredible results. This success can be attributed to the commitment of ASCF to funding rehabilitation initiatives and supporting new and innovativeefforts.

“We look forward to even more, and greater, successes in the future.”