The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has publicly released their Science Advisory Report detailing the
Review of Risks and Benefits of Collaboration for Atlantic Salmon Tomorrow’s (CAST) Smolt-to-Adult Supplementation (SAS) Experiment Proposal.
The brief summary indicates there were
negligible risks to the long term integrity, survival and recovery of the wild population in 2 parts of the program, namely the sub-basin genetic structure analysis and the laboratory experiments associated with collecting of smolts and adult salmon for the program. There was a
associated with the experimental river where the releases of wild and SAS fish will be closely monitored.
5 potential risks identified on the SAS impacts on a natural river and 4 have mitigation plans in place, for example:
Disease transfer risk – a disease monitoring plan is in effect to detect and treat any diseases or destroy the fish if a serious disease
Too many SAS fish to wild fish – wild fish will be counted with the Aris sonar counters to ensure that we never exceed a 1:1 ratio of SAS to wild
Risk of reducing genetic diversity by collecting smolts from one local area – smolts are collected in the lower sections of each river and collected during the entire run to provide a representative sample
Risk of inbreeding – mating will be carefully monitored in the experimental stream to observe if this phenomena occurs.
The last risk identified is the risk to the wild population increases as the geographical footprint of the experiment increases and we are proposing 2 Miramichi tributaries, the Little SW Miramichi and the NW Miramichi for smolt collection and adult distribution and we have already are growing 3 separate year classes from each river starting in 2015.
The CAST team and DFO will be meeting, along with First Nations, on the details of the SAS program and hopefully permits will be issued in a timely manner so the program can begin with the first SAS adult stocking in 2018.