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ASF Rivernotes 16 Apr 2021


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On Apr. 15, 2021 Katie Patles watches an Atlantic salmon just brought in on the Northwest Miramichi. It will be taken ashore, anesthetized, and an acoustic transmitter embedded. It will then be returned to the water to continue its migration out to sea. Nathan Wilbur/ASF


The travel situation is changing every day. In Atlantic Canada there was hope that the “Atlantic Bubble” would open in the next few days, but with new Covid-19 cases, especially in northwest New Brunswick, that has been put off until mid-May, or even later.

For those in Quebec, Ontario, and further west, getting into Atlantic Canada rivers is almost impossible. And in Quebec, with rising Covid-19 numbers, lockdowns are an increasing issue.

Internationally, there is still no resolution on Vaccination Passports in North America. Issues such as privacy, prevention of counterfeiting, and sharing data are all likely to slow things down. But international air travel needs some way to filter travellers, and both the industry and governments agree it is needed in some way.

In Europe, some countries are already using Covid-19 passports, and the European Union is looking at ways it might implement a wider, EU-wide system. It would appear that pressure to have an acceptable system will definitely increase, worldwide.

Iceland Requirements

Iceland has now said it will open up for those with vaccinations, but the requirements will make it difficult to visit those wonderful Icelandic rivers.

The Iceland Government will require of a vaccination certificate:

  • Language must be Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, English or French. A certificate in another language may be valid if a translation stamped by a certified document translator accompanies the original document in one of the required languages.
  • First name and last name (comparable to travel document).
  • Date of birth.
  • Name of vaccinated disease (COVID-19).
  • Where and when vaccination (s) took place (date).
  • Vaccination must be completed; see below for the number of doses required to complete the vaccination for each vaccine.
  • Issuer of certificate (healthcare professional / institution), with signature and stamp if the international vaccination certificate.
  • Name of vaccine or vaccines.
  • Manufacturer of vaccine and batch number for all doses.
More about vaccines that have a marketing authorization from the European Medicines Agency: (name of vaccine; marketing authorization holder / manufacturer; number and interval of doses for vaccination to be considered valid)
  • COVID-19 mRNA vaccine; Pfizer / BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH; 2 doses at least 19 days apart.
  • COVID-19 Moderna Vaccine; Moderna Biotech Spain SL; 2 doses at least 28 days apart.
  • COVID-19 AstraZeneca Vaccine (ChAdOx1-s); AstraZeneca AB; 2 doses at least 4 weeks apart.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen (Ad26.COV2-S); Janssen-Cilag International NV; 1 dose.
  • If different vaccines are used for the first and second doses, the period between doses applies to the previous vaccine used to make the vaccine valid without antibody testing.
  • Note that although these certificates are valid at the Icelandic border for exemption from disease control measures upon arrival in the country, they do not necessarily apply in general to other countries.
Looking at Iceland’s requirements just brings up added questions. Does Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine count? Do others meet the criteria?


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PAL Airlines will be greatly expanding its routes, to and from areas of interest to Atlantic salmon anglers.

Within the last week the air travel situation has changed beyond recognition in Atlantic Canada.

Air Canada has had its arm twisted by the Federal Government as part of a bailout, with coming reinstatement of routes that include Fredericton, Saint John, Gander, Goose Bay and other airports that involve travel to and from Atlantic salmon rivers.

The greater excitement is the expansion of PAL Airlines to new airports, including Fredericton, Halifax and Ottawa. It makes easier transfers to salmon-rich destinations such as Deer Lake, NL for the Humber, St. Anthony’s for the rivers of the Northern Peninsula, and Goose Bay, for rivers like the Eagle and Hawk.

See the most recent outline of the schedules of PAL Airlines in the pdf below.




As to international flights, most airlines are thinking beyond the massive implosion of service they suffered. Now they are looking at expanding again.

But it all still requires international agreement on what documents will be required, and Covid-19 tests required, to make the international travel possible.


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Volunteer anglers Derek Whiteway and Deirdre Green captured this 38-inch kelt. Tom Cheney/ASF
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The St. Mary's River is proving to be a very resilient Atlantic salmon river, with good numbers of kelts showing this spring. Tom Cheney/ASF

Tom Cheney of ASF accompanied videographer Tim Myers to the St. Mary’s River last weekend. Volunteers there were assisting with ocean tracking efforts by angling for kelt.

Then acoustic tags were surgically implanted. They allow scientists to track the movements of adult salmon at sea, providing data that is key to the survival of the species.

Cheney notes:

We documented the entire process—from capturing, to tagging, then releasing the fish—for upcoming presentations and an Atlantic Salmon Journal story that highlight the importance of angler stewardship. 

I was really impressed with how smooth the operation went. The volunteers from the St. Mary’s River Association are so dedicated to helping protect this resource. They’re incredibly careful in the handling and transport of these kelts.

And the scientists tasked with implanting the acoustic transmitters? I’d let them perform surgery on me.  

Everyone involved with the project was overwhelmed by the sheer number of salmon in the river, and their impeccable health. These fish are reconditioning beautifully after their winter in the river. It’s a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Locals are asking if it may be time to reopen a recreational salmon fishery on the St. Mary’s River. In that endeavour, a scientifically validated population study will be a crucial first step.

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After surgery, the kelt is returned to the St. Mary's River to continue its migration out to sea, and on towards feeding grounds in the Labrador Sea and in Greenland waters. Video and photo Tim Myers


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Kathryn Smith measuring temperature using drone technology on the Fence Pool on the Cheticamp.
NSSA awards announced

The NSSA recently announced the winners of their annual awards and scholarship. The Margaree Salmon Association was given the Affiliate of the Year award for their leadership especially around SARA. Kathryn Smith, a Master’s Student at Dal working on temperature monitoring projects, was the recipient of the NSSA Scholarship Award, and Gerry Doucet from Antigonish was awarded the Dave Symonds award for his dedication and volunteerism.

You can learn more about the winners here

Sign up to be a member at and get regular updates from the NSSA.

Let the Fishing Begin

The fishing season opened on Apr. 1 in Nova Scotia and on Apr. 15 in Prince Edward Island.

While fishing is now open, neither province has a Kelt or Black Salmon fishery, except for scientific purposes, so care should be taken early in the season to avoid accidentaly hooking one.

Atlantic salmon fishing season should open in June on the Margaree. You can check out water on the Margaree with the live stream of the river from the Margaree Fish Hatchery.

To find out more about regulations and to purchase your licence please visit the province’s angling website.



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An adult salmon captured and tagged on the West River, PEI as part of UPEI MSc Student Jordan Condon’s research to determine the timing of up river migration. Photo taken in the Fall of 2020 by Haley Cole.


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A large Atlantic salmon in the St. Mary's River in Nova Scotia. Photo Nick Hawkins & Tom Cheney
A few years ago the federal government reintroduced fish habitat to the Fisheries Act.

Over the past few months the Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program with DFO have been asking for engagement to refine several policies and practices that were introduced with these provisions.

Currently up for discussion are a new engagement framework, Cumulative Effects, Habitat Offsetting and Banking, Prescribed Waters and Works Regulations, Codes of Practice, and an updated Fisheries Act Registry.

Last week regional meetings and engagements began. Anyone is able to participate and help shape the direction of how the new Fisheries Act is managed and enforced. 

To learn more about how to get involved and to provide your input visit .

There is an Apr. 30 closing date for input.


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ASF biologist Graham Chafe (left) and Jonathan Carr (right) work quickly and efficiently to implant a sonic transmitter into the abdomen of a kelt on the Northwest Miramichi, 15 Apr. 2021. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
On Thursday the NB Kelt season opened, with river levels excellent. As expected, the water temperatures were cold.

ASF’s Nathan Wilbur and others, including personnel from partners Anquotum Resource Management and Miramichi Salmon Association, as well as some hearty volunteers, were capturing and tagging kelts on fishing season’s opening day on the NW miramichi April 15.

Fishing was excellent and the team tagged 26 kelts. Asf thanks its dedicated volunteers for helping out. Five had both satellite pop-off tags attached and acoustic transmitters surgically implanted. The other 21 kelts had only acoustic transmitters implanted. These large salmon will continue their migration to sea to swim off towards far ocean feeding grounds.

The river was full of life with smelts, eagles, and salmon.

Below is the water level graph for recent days at Blackville, on the Southwest Miramichi.

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Water levels in many salmon rivers has dropped, although there has been flooding in parts of Newfoundland.


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The tracking of both smolts and kelts is providing invaluable information on the migration and issues for Atlantic salmon at sea. In this case a kelt being released back into St. Mary's River will swim thousands of kilometres, and lines of acoustic receivers at sea will hopefully monitor the fish's progress. Photo Tim Myers
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