There have been no salmon in the Hay River system for about 10 years. (CBC)

Four hundred salmon were dropped in P.E.I.'s Hay River Monday in the hopes of restoring a healthy population of the fish there.

There have been no salmon in the Hay River, in the far northeastern corner of the province, for about 10 years. The effort to restore the fish in the river is coordinated by the Souris and Area Branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation. Branch co-ordinator Fred Cheverie said there was little chance at this point of the fish returning on their own.

"Usually Atlantic salmon returns to the same river in which it was born to spawn," said Cheverie.

"There's been no salmon born in Hay River for the last 10 years or so. The chances of any return is pretty unlikely."

The restocking of the fish, which were taken from North Lake Creek, was the final step in a long process of restoring the habitat. Obstructions on the river, like beaver dams, had kept the salmon from reaching the streams where they would spawn.

View Hay River in a larger map

Atlantic salmon are a species at risk. Cheverie said establishing the salmon in another river system should mean more salmon.

"If we spread out salmon on a larger habitat, as a result there should be less competition for them," he said.

The introduced salmon are ready to spawn. The hope is they will spawn in the Hay River system, their descendents will return to the Hay River to spawn again, and a new population will be established.

It will be about three years before the group will know if the restocking of the river worked.