The Department of Fisheries and Oceans will enforce a catch-and-release policy only on the Northwest Miramichi River this season as it tries to boost dwindling salmon stocks.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is imposing a catch-and-release only policy this summer on the Northwest Miramichi River, one of New Brunswick's famous salmon fishing rivers.

The federal decision will be announced this week and will be implemented on June 30. The federal action is coming in response to concerns from conservation groups about declining salmon stocks.

Mark Hambrook, president of the Miramichi Salmon Association, said the federal department's intervention may help halt the falling salmon numbers.

"Will this help? Yes it will. Will this solve everything? No, we're still going to be short this year if the prediction is true," Hambrook said.

"But at least we're doing something to address the issue and getting more eggs out there, but it's not the total answer."

The number of salmon eggs in the Northwest Miramichi River has dropped dramatically in the past decade.

The salmon association says that last year only 34 per cent of the required number of eggs needed to preserve a healthy population was met.

Famed salmon river

The Miramichi River has attracted some big stars to the region in search of landing its prized salmon. Former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney was in the region last year and former baseball great Ted Williams was also famous for coming to the Miramichi.

Private camps along the Miramichi River and its tributaries offer anglers from around the world a chance to fish in the prized waters. At those private fishing lodges, a catch-and-release policy is already encouraged.

However, much of the river is public and used by anglers who often keep their catches.

Anne Bull Monteith, a spokeswoman with the Department of Natural Resources, said the provincial department has already sold regular Crown reserve licences to more than 1,300 anglers for the Northwest Miramichi and its tributaries this season.

"There will be an announcement from DNR pertaining to refunds after there has been an official announcement by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans," she said.

First Nations fishermen from Eel Ground and Metepenagiag also use the river to fish for food and ceremonial purposes, but the changes will not apply to them.