This document contains a summary of monitoring activities for inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon in 2003. Activities include electrofishing surveys for juvenile Atlantic salmon in 15 rivers, mark-recapture estimates of the number of smolts emigrating from the Big Salmon River and the Gaspereau River, a mark-recapture estimate of the number of adults returning to the Big Salmon River, counts of salmon returning to the Gaspereau River, and a preliminary evaluation of the effectiveness of release of mature, adult salmon in the Salmon River, Colchester County. A summary of Live Gene Bank collections, holdings and releases is also provided.
Electrofishing surveys located age-0 salmon parr in two of 10 rivers without Live Gene Bank support. No juvenile salmon were captured in five of these rivers. Seven adult salmon were counted at an assessment facility on the Gaspereau River, down from 102 salmon counted in 1997. Using a mark-recapture experiment, 21 adult salmon were estimated to have returned to the Big Salmon River in 2003. No repeat-spawning adults were detected in the Gaspereau River, and only one of six salmon sampled from the Big Salmon River had previously spawned. Rivers with Live Gene Bank support contain juvenile salmon and appear capable of producing smolt, but return rates are about one adult returning for every 300 wild smolts that leave the river and between one and three adults returning for every 10,000 smolts released from the Live Gene Bank.
During 2003, an assessment of the status of inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon documented declines in population size during the last 30 years that were greater than 99% for Stewiacke River and greater than 95% for the Big Salmon River. A review of electrofishing data indicated that the declines were widespread throughout the inner Bay, and were ongoing. None of the information collected in 2003 indicates a reversal of these patterns.
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