Le projet de restauration du saumon a été mis en place afin de rétablir le saumon dans la Richibucto et ainsi permettre aux Migmags de retrouver leur principale source de nourriture. 

C’est la Première nation Elsipogtog qui est à l’origine de cette initiative rendue nécessaire une fois que le saumon soit presque disparu après des années de pêches intensives.


The Restoration of Atlantic Salmon in 
Richibucto River by Elsipogtog First Nation

Eric Tremblay, Mary-Jane Peters and, Charles Legresley
June 2006 

l.gif (280 bytes)he word “Elsipogtog” literally translates into “Great Fire”. It is said that Elsipogtog was once the gathering place for the seven districts of the Migmag Nation. 

Migmag people lived along the Richibucto River, on the coast and far inland for thousands of years. Nature provided everything the families needed for food, medicines, shelter, clothing, transportation and tools.

photo (Eric Tremblay)

After the arrival of European settlers on the territory, life changed gradually for the Migmag people, and wars between the British and the French resulted in the establishment of Reserves. When it was created in 1802, the Richibucto River area Reserve covered an area of 51,200 acres. Today, the Elsipogtog Reserve occupies an area of 2,222 acres. Formerly known as Big Cove, Elsipogtog has a population of 2781 of which at least 300 reside off reserve, which makes it the largest native community in New Brunswick. Over the years, this First Nation community has established all the necessary services and modern facilities for their people.

Despite modern day challenges affecting First Nations People everywhere, Elsipogtog continues to grow and prosper. Many recent initiatives such as the Salmon Restoration Project, brings hope and pride to residents that value the importance of creating health, wellness and sustainability for their people and their community.

In the past, fishing, hunting and gathering was an important aspect of the Migmag way of life, permitting them to live in harmony with nature for thousands of years. The most valuable fish for the Migmag was the Atlantic Salmon or ‘Pulamoo’ in the Migmag language, which they could find in abundance in rivers across their territory. Being one of their main food supplies, Salmon has always been closely related to their culture.

For the past few decades, the Richibucto river has not been able to sustain a healthy salmon population like it had for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Salmon fishing had to be closed or limited in order to preserve the resource and save it from being extinct like in other rivers.

From arising concerns for this fish species and its effects on the people of their community and the region’s ecosystems, the Salmon Restoration Project was initiated by the Elsipogtog First Nation. This was undertaken in their efforts to claim back their Migmag heritage, and the empowerment of their river; the Richibucto River. This heritage is traditional values that are based on laws of livelihood, which have been passed on for generations. Those values promote health and wellness for the people and the environment in which they live.

Firmin LeBlanc (left) from Kouchibouguac National Park and Blayne Peters (right) from Elsipogtog First Nation are fishing the nets for salmons.
(photo: Eric Tremblay)

The main goal of this project is to conduct a scientific assessment of the fish stocks of the Richibucto River. Several objectives were defined so as to reach that goal. The objectives are as follows;

  • Acquire data on the status of Atlantic Salmon in the Richibucto River.

  • Acquire data on all other species caught during the study.

  • Collect Atlantic Salmon brood stocks for restoration purposes.

  • Use Traditional Ecological Knowledge and “western science” during the course of this study.

In collaboration with its partners, Elsipogtog First Nation can establish the best practices of ecosystem management that are necessary for the restoration and protection of salmon populations.

The restoration work involves capturing salmon brood stock during fall migration from the Richibucto River and transferring them to the Miramichi Salmon Conservation Center for spawning. Once the eggs are collected and fertilized they are placed in trays within tanks and they grow to become small fry. The small salmon grow in tanks at the hatchery for one year until the next fall until they are released at various sites that have suitable habitat within the watershed.

The other important aspect of the project is the salmon population assessment. The mark-recapture method is being used to conduct this assessment. This method calls for the use of two fish traps. There must be several kilometers between the two catching sites. The fish caught in the downstream trap are measured, sexed and a scale sample is taken for aging the fish. They are tagged and then released into the river with the hope that we will catch them again in the upstream trap.  The data collected are then processed and analyzed which allows population estimates to be calculated.

The release of small salmon (parrs) into the Richibucto River on Oct 7, 2005 as part of the celebration during Elsipogtog Day.
(photo: Lea Anne Steal)

The project has a strong education component.  Children from Elsipogtog Elementary School are involved in salmon restoration in various ways including; visits to the hatchery, growing small fish in the classroom, and releasing small parrs into the river. Results from the project are regularly published in the community newspaper ``Elsipogtogoei`` and other local newspapers. A website is being developed and will be launched on June 16, 2006 at the Elsipogtog Elementary School.  Elders are also Involved and consulted during the process and there is a large part of traditional ecological knowledge used in the project, along with a scientific approach.

We hope this project will bring back the salmon or "Pulamoo" to Richibucto River  to a level where Elsipogtog First Nation people, and others, can appreciate the presence of this species for several generations to come.

To quote Councilor Kenneth Francis "If you understand conservation, then you don't have to limit you’re activities."

Salmon Restoration Project Website: http://elsipogtog.ca