Moncton, N.B. - Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) wishes to inform the public of changes in management measures for Atlantic Salmon angling on the Northwest Miramichi River (NWM) and Little Southwest Miramichi River (LSWM).

Effective June 30, 2010, the lower portion of the system, up to and including Little River on the NWM, and up to and including Catamaran Brook on the LSWM, and all tributaries on those stretches, will become mandatory catch and release until July 31 inclusive. The upper portion of the system, including the tributaries, will become a catch and release area for the entire season. This includes upstream from Little River on the NWM (includes all Crown Reserve stretches), upstream from Catamaran Brook on the LSWM (includes all Crown Reserve stretches), and all of the Sevogle River, including the Crown Reserve waters on this river. The use of barbed hooks will remain authorized in all these waters.

These management measures are being implemented in order to improve the egg deposition in the Northwest Miramichi and Little Southwest Miramichi Rivers. The Northwest Miramichi River met 34% of its spawning requirements last year, and about 50% over the last 10 years. Stakeholders have expressed concerns to DFO over this situation. The decision to change the management measures has been made after extensive consultations with the Miramichi Watershed Management Committee, the New Brunswick Wildlife Federation, the New Brunswick Salmon Council, the Province of New Brunswick, the resident First Nations of the Miramichi, and other affected Aboriginal groups.

The food fishery that some Aboriginal groups are allowed to exercise with recreational fishing gear remains unchanged, and is still subject to regulations such as the obligation to tag every fish retained.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will continue to work in cooperation with affected Aboriginal groups so they may pursue their food, social and ceremonial fishery, and at the same time encourage the live return of female Salmon and non-targeted species. DFO is currently helping the Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation (Red Bank) in setting up a first trapnet that will allow for a more selective means of harvesting. The Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation has indicated it will encourage its fishers to remove gillnets from the river once the trap is set. Aboriginal catch data is being monitored at the same time by the Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation and by DFO fishery officers.

Anglers practicing catch and release play an important role in the conservation of the resource. The measures announced today will allow anglers to continue their participation in the recreational fishery and to also become a part of the solution to address the low returns of salmon in the Northwest Miramichi River system.