Fort Folly Habitat Recovery

The Big Salmon River

Smolt Wheel/RST Monitoring

A smolt wheel, also known as a Rotary Screw Trap (RST) is designed to catch a portion of the spring time juvenile salmon who are migrating out to the sea for the first time.  Any salmon which swim into the smolt wheel are held and unharmed within its ‘live-well’ until technicians arrive to sample them.  Data such as length and weight, and scale and tissue samples are collected from all salmon caught.  A percentage of those fish captured are held for transport to the Live Gene Bank (LGB) at the Mactaquac Biodiversity facility where representation of surviving iBOF Atlantic salmon families are being maintained.  Finally, some of the captured salmon are tagged using an upper caudal punch and recycled upriver to be recaptured by the smolt wheel once again.  This helps determine the percentage of the smolt run that the smolt wheel is catching which allows us to estimate the size of the overall run.

A summary of the 2016 smolt wheel monitoring is as follows: 

The RST or “smolt wheel” was installed in the Amateur Pool of the BSR, located approximately 500 meters above the head-of-tide. The smolt wheel was installed on April 28th and began fishing on May 1st, 2016 and was raised for the season on June 14th with removal on June 16th, 2016. The RST was operated in joint partnership between FFHR and the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group (MCG) with fishing occurring 7 days a week from May 1st until June 14th, 2015. The total RST smolt catch was 1,328. The assessment of origin, wild versus hatchery, of out migrating smolts carried out by field technicians is done by making note of the presence/ absence of the adipose fin. Hatchery reared juveniles released as un-fed fry would still have their adipose fins present where as hatchery reared juveniles released as fall fingerlings would have their adipose fins clipped. In the field, many smolts identified as wild would actually have been released from the hatchery as un-fed fry (with adipose fin intact) in previous years. Through genetic analysis of tissue samples taken during processing, DFO can differentiate between smolt resultant from LGB fry releases and those resultant from wild spawning. The number of wild smolt, as determined by the presence of their adipose fin, captured in the RST in 2016 was 1,328. The number of hatchery origin smolt, as determined by the absence of an adipose fin, captured in the RST was 0. The total number of smolt marked and recycled for the mark/recapture experiment was 678. Of those 678 marked fish, 90 were recaptured.

Two out of every five ‘wild’ smolt captured in the RST were sampled and retained in a live box prior to being transported to the Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility (MBF) for incorporation into the LGB program. The wild smolt were sampled for tissue, scale, length, weight and were implanted with a Passive Integrated Transponder or PIT tag. With a protocol to collect 2 of 5 smolt and a total number of 1328 wild salmon, a total of 513 iBoF Atlantic salmon smolts were collected, sampled, tagged and retained for inclusion into the LGB program. With an initial target collection number of BSR smolts of 300 we were successful at not only meeting but exceeding this target with 513 retained for inclusion into the LGB for 2016.

Snorkeling Surveys/Seining

Adult snorkeling surveys are carried out yearly in order to assess the number of returning fish to iBOF rivers.  If possible, the seining of adults is attempted in order to provide scale and tissue samples for analysis.  These surveys are conducted by technicians wearing dry suits and snorkel gear while snorkeling over main pools in the river.  Seining involves using a net which hangs in the water using weights attached to the bottom of the net, while the remainder floats on top with small buoys.  This creates a fence type structure which encircles fish, allowing technicians to capture and process them in a harmless manner.

2016 snorkel and seine surveys are in the process of being done and we will have this data available by October.

The Pollett and Little Rivers

Smolt Wheel/RST Monitoring

A smolt wheel, also known as a Rotary Screw Trap (RST) is designed to catch a portion of the spring time juvenile salmon who are migrating out to the sea for the first time.  Any salmon which swim into the smolt wheel are held and unharmed within its ‘live-well’ until technicians arrive to sample them.  Data such as length and weight, and scale and tissue samples are collected from all salmon caught. From 2012 to 2013 all of the smolts caught at our Pollett River wheel were held and transported to the Mactaquac Biodiversity facility where they were retained for grow out and spawning, and released as either fry or adults back into the Petitcodiac system. As of 2014, all smolt caught are held and transported to the Huntsman in St.Andrews where they are then transport to sea cages in Dark Harbour, Grand Manan. They are then grown out to adults and released back into the Petitcodiac system after 16-18 months. Please see ‘Atlantic Salmon Projects’ under the ‘Projects’ tab for more information on our sea cage rearing project.

The smolt wheel was installed on the Pollett River April 26th and began fishing 7 days a week on May 1st. Due to periods of low flow it was raised periodically throughout the season, before it was raised for the season on June 21st, with removal on June 22nd, 2016. In addition to the smolt wheel, there were two fyke nets placed in the Pollett River. One fyke net was placed on May 5th upstream of the RST, and one placed downstream of the smolt wheel on June 1st, both remained fishing until July 7th, 2016. The number of wild smolt, as determined by the presence of their adipose fin, captured in the RST/Fyke nets in 2016 was 22. The number of hatchery origin smolt, as determined by the absence of an adipose fin, captured in the RST was 0.

Additionally, two fyke nets were installed in the Little River adjacent to Route 895 downstream of the bridge. Both fyke nets were installed on May 2nd and fished 7 days a week. While the downstream net was removed and relocated to the Pollett River on June 1st, the upstream net remained fishing until July 7th, 2016. The number of wild smolt, as determined by the presence of their adipose fin, captured in the fyke nets in 2016 was 5. The number of hatchery origin smolt, as determined by the absence of an adipose fin, captured was 0.

All wild smolt captured in the RST and Fyke Nets were sampled for tissue, scale, length, weight and were implanted with a Passive Integrated Transponder or PIT tag. In total, 27 out migrating smolts were captured (22 from the Pollett River and 5 from the Little River). Upon sampling, the smolt were retained in a live box prior to being transported to the Huntsman Marine Science Centre (HMSC) in St. Andrews for incorporation into the salt water rearing program. Through the course of the project smolt were transported to the HMSC four times to ensure smolts were not held in the live box longer than 5 days. Unfortunately, 4 smolts died prior to being transported leaving the total number transported at 23.

Snorkel Surveys

Adult snorkeling surveys are carried out yearly in order to assess the number of returning fish to iBOF rivers.   These surveys are conducted by technicians wearing dry suits and snorkel gear while snorkeling over main pools in the river.

A summary of the 2015 surveys on the Little and Pollett River are as follows: The Little River was snorkeled on Sept.23rd with no sightings of salmon. Water level was very low and not many pools were available to snorkel. The Pollett River was snorkeled on Aug 25th with 4 grilse observed in the upper pools by Gibson Falls. On Oct.8th, 2 grilse were observed and on Oct. 9th no fish were observed.

2016 snorkel surveys are being conducted in September and data will be available in October.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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