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Group braces for ‘really bad year’ for salmon population in Sackville River

Click to play video: 'Group expects ‘really bad year’ for salmon population in Sackville River' Group expects ‘really bad year’ for salmon population in Sackville River
The Sackville Rivers Association says it’s concerned about the water level in the Sackville River as Nova Scotia deals with dry weather conditions. As Global’s Steve Silva explains, the main worry is for the sensitive salmon population – Aug 13, 2016

A group dedicated to protecting and restoring the Sackville River in the eponymous Nova Scotia community says it’s concerned about the river’s lowering water level and subsequent impact on the salmon population.

“Unfortunately, the numbers of salmon have drastically reduced and are getting worse,” said Walter Regan, president of the Sackville Rivers Association. “Today we have water but, a month out from now, [if] this dry season continues, it’s going to be terrible for the river.”

Last year, Regan said there were 31 salmon counted; so far this year, there are 11.

The river, which runs through several communities, is about one foot lower than normal, according to Eddie Halfyard, who is a research scientist with the Nova Scotia Salmon Association.

“Without question, we are in one of the most severe droughts we’ve had in at least a decade and a half,” he said.

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The low water level can result in less food for salmon and the inability to migrate via the river.

“Probably the biggest impact is the direct impact of low water and heat,” said Halfyard. “That water can soar up to even 30 degrees C, which is lethal for many of our fish and our aquatic organisms.”

Regan said the hope is that small pools of water, which are formed by installed rock sills, will act as a temporary havens for salmon until the water level rises.

“I’ve got to lobby the government to do more good regulations, and I’m just not doing enough, but the salmon and the trout are wearing our mistakes,” he added. “We suspect this year will be a very bad year.”

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