Conservation efforts credited for highest N.B. wild salmon numbers in over 30 years

A large Atlantic salmon is shown in Nova Scotia's St. Mary's River in this undated handout photo. Salmon conservation groups say rare video that captures wild Atlantic salmon spawning in a Nova Scotia brook near a proposed gold mine site should help convince governments to reject the project. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - ATLANTIC SALMON FEDERATION, Nick Hawkins & Tom Cheney)

Researchers at the University of New Brunswick say the future is looking brighter for the endangered Atlantic salmon population in the inner Bay of Fundy.

Kurt Samways, Parks Canada research chair in aquatic restoration, says researchers have detected more than 100 endangered Atlantic salmon returning to Fundy National Park rivers this year, the highest number since 1989.

He said today in a statement from the university that researchers this year have observed the largest wild-hatched smolt run in 20 years, with estimates of more than 4,000 smolts migrating from Fundy National Park to the ocean.

Samways says the increase is the result of the Fundy Salmon Recovery Project, which collects juvenile salmon -- also known as smolts -- that have spent their early lives in the rivers.

The young fish are taken to a marine conservation farm on Grand Manan Island, N.B., where they grow to maturity.

Samways says the fish are then returned to their native rivers, where they spawn naturally.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 12, 2021.