Predators cause salmon populations in Miramichi River to hit record low


The number of adult Atlantic salmon returning to the Miramichi River has reached an “all-time low,” according to the Miramichi Salmon Association.  There are about 15,000 small and large Atlantic salmon in the Miramichi River this year, said Mark Hambrook, president of the association. That’s a significant drop from the 75,000 recorded in the river in 2011.

“I don’t know how low the numbers have to get for people to give their head a shake,” Hambrook said.

The most recent numbers are the lowest recorded since 2014, when only 12,000 salmon returned to the river. The Miramichi Salmon Association attributes the decline to grey seal predation in the bay, striped bass predation in the river and estuary and habitat degradation. Striped bass are eating a significant portion of Atlantic salmon making their way from the ocean to the river, Hambrook said.

Fifteen years ago, salmon had a 70 per cent survival rate of making it out to Miramichi Bay and into the river. But Hambrook said the survival rate has decreased to 20 per cent. In other places, like Chaleur Bay, the survival rate of salmon making it there was 75 per cent about 15 years ago and remains the same today.

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