Atlantic Salmon Habitat Assessment

For the past three years MREAC, with the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation (ASCF) support, has completed Atlantic Salmon habitat assessments on the Bay du Vin River, Bartibog River and Barnaby River systems respectively. In 2015/16, with Habitat Stewardship Program support, MREAC completed the “Bartibog River Watershed Recreational Fishing Management Plan”. Implementing several recommendations from this plan is our target in 2016/17. ASCF support would make this possible.

This project brings MREAC into partnership with the Bartibog Fish and Game Association (BF&GA) who have been actively protecting and promoting sustainable recreational fishing on the Bartibog since ­1989. This group have provided the guidance to complete the work achieved to date and will continue in this role throughout the implementation of the management plan recommendations.

The Barnaby River Drainage Basin

The Miramichi River Environmental Assessment Committee (MREAC) engaged in an Atlantic
salmon habitat assessment on the Barnaby River drainage basin in the spring and summer of
2015 in order to determine if the drainage basin maintains habitat requirements that sufficiently
provide an important contribution to regional stocks of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

Three representative river reaches were surveyed using the DNR&E / DFO – New Brunswick
Stream Habitat Inventory field form. The three reaches (Barnaby @ HWY 126, Barnaby @
Semiwagan Road, and Semiwagan Stream @ Semiwagan Road) had a combined linear distance
of 3000 meters. Of the 51.5 kilometer Barnaby River meander length, 30 kilometers were
travelled by canoe. Visual observations were noted and points of interest were recorded for
further investigation.

Three sites were also monitored for water temperature via data loggers (HOBO U20 and TidbiT
v2) which were deployed early in the field monitoring season and extracted late in the season.
Understanding the thermal regime was important since cooler water temperatures are important
to maintain a healthy environment for salmonids.

A set of water quality samples were collected near the three data logger sites and analyzed for
various parameters (*B package and E.coli) at the Department of Environment and Local
Government’s (DELG) laboratory in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Land-use and available
historical data and events were taken into consideration during the assessment process.

Based on the collected data, analytical results, visual observations, and with guidance from
expert advisers, the Barnaby River and major tributaries, do not appear to maintain habitat
requirements that sufficiently provides an important contribution to regional stocks of Atlantic
salmon. Elevated stream temperatures in the heat of summer and relatively few deep cool-water
pools to serve as refugia for salmonids appear to be significant factors. As with other rivers of
similar type and comparable size on this New Brunswick Eastern Lowlands eco-region, the “fall
run” of Atlantic salmon is important to maintain the resident salmon population. Additional
work on this run and spawning success/density of Atlantic salmon is worthy of consideration.

The Bartibog River Drainage Basin

The Miramichi River Environmental Assessment Committee (MREAC) engaged in an Atlantic
salmon habitat assessment on the Bartibog River drainage basin in the spring and summer
months of 2014. Three representative reaches were surveyed using the DNR&E / DFO – New
Brunswick Stream Habitat Inventory field form. Two suites of water quality samples were
collected at selected sites and analyzed for the Department of Environment and Local
Government’s (DELG) *B package and E.coli. Historical data and events were also taken into
consideration during the assessment process.

The assessment focused on three reaches (top, middle, and bottom) having a combined linear
distance of 3000 meters. Of the 60 kilometer meander length of the Bartibog River, 21
kilometers were travelled by canoe. Other points along the river, access via forestry roads, were
also investigated. Visual observations were noted and points of interest were recorded for further
investigation.

Based on all collected data, analytical results, visual observations, and assistance from expert
advisers, it can be concluded that the Bartibog River and major tributaries, such as the Little
Bartibog River and Green Brook, appear to maintain habitat requirements that provide an
important contribution to Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). This can be attributed to cool water
refugia during periods of critically high temperature conditions. The relatively intact state of
riparian habitat, and limited anthropogenic disturbance also contribute to good habitat
conditions.

It should also be noted that the full and part-time residences along the Bartibog River and other
avid recreational fishers are passionate about the well-being and state of the Bartibog River.

The Bay du Vin River Drainage Basin

The Miramichi River Environmental Assessment Committee (MREAC) engaged in an Atlantic
salmon habitat assessment on the Bay du Vin River drainage basin in the spring and summer
months of 2013. The DNR&E / DFO – New Brunswick Stream Habitat Inventory field form
was adopted as the main component of the assessment. MREAC staff and volunteers applied
this inventory to three representative reaches. Two sets of water quality samples for Department
of the Environment and Local Government’s (DELG) *B package and E.coli were collected at
these three reaches. Historical data and events were also taken into consideration during the
assessment process.

Of the 50 km meander length of the Bay du Vin River, 32 km were travelled by canoe. Many
other points of access were visually inspected off of Highway 440 and the Bay du Vin River
Road. The assessment focused on three reaches; top, middle, and bottom, having a combined
linear distance of 3 kilometers.

Based on collected data, visual observations, assistance from expert volunteers we conclude that
the Bay du Vin River does not appear to maintain habitat requirement to provide an important
contribution to regional stocks of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). We assess the main limiting
factors to be the warm summer temperature regime and the river bed geology.

Comments are closed