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Salmon counts down across Newfoundland, ice may be factor: DFO scientist

With salmon counts down across the province, DFO scientist Geoff Veinott says the next two weeks will be critical in determining the numbers for the year.
With salmon counts down across the province, DFO scientist Geoff Veinott says the next two weeks will be critical in determining the numbers for the year.

GANDER, N.L. - While some areas are showing better signs than others, salmon counts across the province are down.

“It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but overall it’s low,” Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) scientist Geoff Veinott said of the province’s counts.

Newfoundland fishway counts to July 2.

Fishway counters on the west coast indicate that salmon are doing better there than Central areas. Labrador data isn’t yet available as water levels are still extremely high and counting fences aren’t out yet.

Veinott said the lower numbers are relative to the time of year and the extreme ice conditions impacting the north east coast, which he believes is playing a key factor in the delay.

“For it to be affecting so many rivers, on a large geographic scale, the only thing obvious to me is the ice cover,” he told the Beacon Thursday.

This can be a worrisome factor when considering the overall population for the year, as Veinott noted heavy ice usually means weaker runs (fewer fish) at later dates.

Related story

Exploits River salmon counts down by 8,000


“We don’t really understand why the ice would keep the salmon away from the coastline, but it seems like when we have heavy sea ice, the salmon come late, and when they come late there are fewer fish,” he said.

Unable to track adult salmon during their 15 months at sea, the Department isn’t sure if salmon continue on in saltwater or if they die.

“We’ve tried to track them at sea as adults but it hasn’t been very successful,” he said.

Next two weeks

The next two weeks will be ‘critical for the island’ with regards to how the overall population is affected, according to Veinott.

If the run is good, it can turn fishway numbers around fairly quickly.

“Places like the Exploits can see from 700 to 1,000 fish per day, so if that starts to happen, then it may be ok,” he said. “By the third week of July we should have most of our runs in the rivers … so the next two weeks will be very critical.”

Adam.randell@ganderbeacon.ca

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