Atlantic Salmon Returns to Credit River After 100-Year Absence


Photo: Flickr, CC

Because we can't write only about bad news...

While it seems like Pacific salmon off the West coast of Canada is in serious trouble (and scientists who study it are possibly getting muzzled), there are some good news coming from the other end of the country. After an absence of more than 100 years, Atlantic salmon are finally coming back in good numbers to Credit River in Ontario. For that small miracle we have to thank the Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources. It has release close to a million Atlantic salmon fry in the Credit River since 2007, and it is now starting to pay off.


Photo: Public domain

The town nearest that fry's gravel nest is called Terra Cotta. It used to be called Salmonville, but that point of civic pride went belly up in the 19th century. Chris Robinson of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters says tens of thousands of salmon used to climb the Credit annually to spawn. Archives show contracts for local farm labourers that limited how often employers could feed their boarders the apparently too plentiful pink flesh. It was said you couldn't ride a horse through the Credit River without fear of it getting tripped up by salmon.

The bounty didn't last, however. A combination of overfishing, dam construction and deforestation left the river degraded and the salmon a figment of fishermen's tales. [...]

Fisheries are now studied and regulated. Up and down the watershed, dams are being decommissioned to keep water temperatures down and allow fish mobility. Though less than half of the watershed is forested, there are more trees now than there were a century ago. Forest cover is critical to a healthy river because it helps a watershed absorb rainwater into the ground where it is cooled and cleaned before entering a stream through a spring. (source)

No Short-Term Thinking Allowed

Congrats to all those who participated in efforts to help bring back the salmon. It is an important piece of the complex ecosystem on which everything around the river depends. Now the goal is to avoid repeating past mistakes. The danger is always that when there's a positive development, some will say "all right, we're out of the woods" and stop caring. That would be a terrible mistake.

See also: Is the Canadian Government Muzzling a Scientist Over a West Coast Salmon Collapse Study?

Via Globe & Mail

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