More Effort Need to Help Wild Stocks

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
18 June 2007, at 1:00am

CANADA - Prince Edward Island is doing practically nothing when it comes to preserving and conserving Atlantic wild salmon. The province had its knuckles wrapped during an international conference in the US earlier this month - some say that without help the fish could become extinct in regions rivers.

Giant beauties like this wild salmon once began life in a hatchery and stocked an Island river. But those days are gone and many fear the loss of wild Atlantic salmon without the return of salmon enhancement projects. This photo taken by The Guardian in 1997 shows former Cardigan fish hatchery manager and biologist Randy Angus with a fin king.

Islanders want the wild fish to regain its natural throne and are hoping the new Liberal government will not ignore the pending crisis faced a species - which some conservationists say is at the brink of extinction.

Since the 1970s, populations have dropped by 90 per cent.
“Prince Edward Island is home to valuable salmon spawning runs and a recreational fishery, and should monitor the number of fish that return to spawn on the Island,” said Sue Scott of the Atlantic Salmon Federation at the international conference in Bar Harbour, Maine.

But that’s not being done. And for the record, fish are no longer being raised, numbers are not being counted and Island rivers are not being stocked.

The Cardigan Fish Hatchery, once operated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to produce thousands of fish for public restocking programs, was decommissioned 10 years ago and is now privately owned for commercial fish production.

The latest report card from the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation gives the United States a perfect score for its efforts to protect the fish, while Canada barely earned a passing grade.

“Our province is doing nothing,” says Steve Murphy, president of the Morell River Management Co-operative which looks after the best salmon river in the province.

“Most Islanders still think that rivers are being stocked, but they’re not. All the programs were cut and we’re hoping the new government takes this into consideration.”

Public restocking once saw school children experience the thrill of taking fish from the hatchery and setting them free in the rivers.

Source: The Guardian