The number of salmon returning to New Brunswick rivers and the jobs associated with the industry are steadily increasing, according to a new report from the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

The federation commissioned an economic impact study from Gardner Pinfold Consulting that examined how many wild Atlantic salmon are returning to rivers in the region.

The New Brunswick numbers pointed to strong returns in several river systems.

The report indicated 34,090 large salmon returned in 2011 compared to 17,970 in 2010 in the Miramichi River.

In the Southwest Miramichi River, the number of fish required to sustain the species was 220 per cent of the number required and in the Northwest Miramichi River it was 108 per cent.

Salmon returns to the Little Main Restigouche River were also double the number of any of the previous five years.

Geoff Giffin, the program director for the Atlantic Salmon Federation, said the numbers show an important trend.

"The last few years we've been quite encouraged by the numbers. Last year, I think we had a great combination of good returns, as indicated by the numbers, but we also had a lot of happy anglers because the angling conditions were excellent," Giffin said.

"We had good water levels, cool temperatures throughout the season and it made for great fishing conditions."

More anglers

The increased salmon numbers are also leading to a stronger industry, according to the report.

The Gardner Pinfold report said that improved salmon runs in the past two seasons have doubled the numbers of anglers and jobs compared to five years ago.

"Miramichi, as everyone knows, brings anglers in from all over the world and not just within the province," Giffin said.

"There was over $20 million worth of spending by the recreational fishery and there were over 630-odd full-time job equivalents that were supported by that."

The federation’s report also said its numbers show that the recreational salmon fishery is worth $40 million a year to New Brunswick.

The federation said it could be worth a lot more if the federal government would invest more than the $12 million it currently spends on the industry.

"Unlike other industries, such as forestry, mining, and aquaculture, that negatively impact the environment, the recreational fishery is a green industry that requires a pristine environment," according to the federation.