A local environmental group is trying to make Eastern Kings the sports fishing capital of P.E.I. 

They hope to do so by extending the season for Atlantic salmon in four Island rivers, Priest Pond, North Lake, Naufrage and Cross River.

Staff at the Souris and area branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation have been strolling through these rivers for years trying to protect fish populations, like the Atlantic salmon. 

And after the release of a new report, they feel that work may be paying off. 

The report was done by the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation.

It says Atlantic salmon are showing stronger returns in eastern P.E.I. than previous years.

"It showed that on P.E.I. there's only four rivers exceeding conservation requirements for Atlantic salmon and these four rivers actually happen to be within our management area,” said Jillian MacPhee, assistant watershed coordinator of the Souris and area branch. 

“Part of our organizational goal is to increase recreational fishing opportunities within our management area and hopefully to attract more visitors as well,

“Recreational fishing is a huge, huge money maker in Canada, so we're kind of hoping to capitalize on some of that.”

'Recreational fishing is a huge, huge money maker in Canada, so we're kind of hoping to capitalize on some of that' - Jillian MacPhee, P.E.I. Wildlife Federation

If the numbers remain strong, it means an extended catch and release industry could begin in those rivers as early as next year.

Right now, the Morell River is the only place on P.E.I. where you can catch and release salmon after September 15.

But some hope to change that. 

The new sports fishing capital of P.E.I.?

Fred Cheverie, coordinator of the Souris and area branch of the federation, said it’s their goal to try to make the Eastern Kings Area the sports fishing capital of P.E.I. 

Staff at the federation hope extending the season would bring tourists to the area and give big exposure to these small Island towns.  

"Many people are centralized in large cities, so the situation for them to get the opportunity out to a rural area, in our case, northeastern P.E.I. and to experience the type of habitat we have here, it's a wonderful thing to have the opportunity to do,” said Cheverie.

Jillian Macphee

Jillian Macphee of the Souris and area branch of the federation said four rivers in P.E.I. actually exceeded conservation requirements for Atlantic salmon. (CBC)

MacPhee said a longer season would bring a much-needed financial boost to communities in the Souris area. 

“It's a great compliment to the catch and release tuna industry, which has taken off here in the past few years here as well,” she said.

Spawning surveys will continue this fall. 

If there are enough salmon, the province can then approach Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which will make the final decision on whether or not the season will be extended.