This farm salmon, measuring just over 75 centimetres and weighing in at 5.2 kilograms, was among roughly two dozen DFO collected in Garnish River last month. Photo Courtesy of DFO
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is looking to anglers for help in collecting information about escaped farmed salmon in Garnish River.
BY PAUL HERRIDGE
The Southern Gazette
DFO received reports of farmed salmon in the river last month, and during a visit to the area, collected about two-dozen samples that had indeed escaped from an aquaculture site.
According to regulations, recreational salmon fishery anglers are not allowed to keep any fish they catch greater than 63 centimetres in length. However, the department has announced it will issue a ‘special exemption license’ for Garnish River.
The experimental permit will allow anglers to retain and tag any large salmon they catch.
In return, they must collect some biological information about the fish, such as length, weight and sex, along with the location in the river where they were caught.
The recreational salmon season opened this past Saturday in the province.
If enough anglers express an interest, DFO’s regional aquaculture co-ordinator Geoff Perry said they will determine participants through a draw.
Mr. Perry noted the recent salmon samples taken from the river were between 70-83 centimeters in length, and were all found in the barasway area.
“Right now there doesn’t appear to be any farmed fish there. So we’re wondering have they died, have they left the river altogether, have they moved further up? So we’re hoping that anglers will be able to identify where those are.
“In the last week or so, we haven’t had any new reports or any new observations of fish.”
He explained size restrictions in the recreational salmon fishery protect multi sea winter salmon, which he said are relatively rare in the region.
Mr. Perry indicated the experimental salmon permit, which can only be used in conjunction with a valid inland fishery license for large salmon, is a first for the province.
“We think it’s the first time it’s ever been done in Atlantic Canada. We’ll use that information to determine if these fish are posing any risk to wild salmon in the river, and we’ll also be able to use this to evaluate whether angling could be a mechanism to help mitigate escapes when they do occur from marine cage aquaculture in Fortune Bay. It’s an interesting project for us.”
Anyone interested in receiving the special large salmon permit should contact Chris Hendry at DFO at (709) 772-6674, or email ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
Mr. Perry reiterated DFO doesn’t believe there are many farm salmon in Garnish River, but acknowledged help from anglers would be greatly appreciated.
“If we find that they have moved around in the river, we’ll do some follow-up surveys in the fall.”