mi-atlantic-salmon

A male Atlantic salmon is shown swimming in salt water. (CBC)

The opening of fishing season in southern New Brunswick has some anglers concerned about Atlantic salmon, an off-limit species in waters flowing in to the Bay of Fundy.

Atlantic salmon populations in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the inner Bay of Fundy have declined by 90 per cent or more in recent years, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

But Dean Magarvey says he saw people out fishing for trout on the Hammond River who were also targeting salmon.

He said many who hooked salmon accidentally didn't know how to handle them properly.

"People taking the salmon out of the water, taking them right in to their boats and not knowing how to handle a salmon. They were out of the water for long periods of time. I've seen them drug right up onto the shore. I've seen them holding them up to have pictures taken with them." 

Those caught by accident must be released immediately, but there are concerns people aren't being careful enough.

There has already been one found dead on the bank, Magarvey said.

Tom Benjamin, a Hammond River Angling Association member, said there are steps anglers can take.

"It's much easier to release the fish if you're using a barbless hook, and also if you happen to get the hook stuck in your clothing — or yourself," Benjamin said. "It's a lot easier and less painful to get it out if it doesn't have a barb on it."

The process is underway to have Atlantic salmon in some provincial waterways listed as endangered.