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Annual Report

Determined to save wild Atlantic salmon

Dr. Tommi Linnansaari

For Tommi Linnansaari, the fight to save the Atlantic salmon population on New Brunswick’s fabled Miramichi River is urgent.

Once a place where salmon populations thrived, the mighty Miramichi is now recording its lowest levels in its history.

Dr. Linnansaari, a fish ecologist with almost 20 years of experience in Atlantic salmon research across a number of countries, is the UNB CAST Atlantic Salmon Research Chair – charged with coordinating research that will allow for a greater understanding of how Atlantic salmon behave, what is threatening the stocks and what might be done to revive them.

Precipitous decline

Wild Atlantic salmon populations have been on a precipitous decline since the 1980s in North America, with populations in some rivers now facing extinction. The work will focus on the Miramichi, one of the great Atlantic salmon rivers of the world but the techniques developed and knowledge generated will be applicable wherever the species range.

Dr. Linnansaari, who has worked in various research positions at our university since 2009 and is now an associate professor of biology and forestry & environmental management at UNB, says he is honoured to be chosen for the research chair.

“We, and our partners, have important work to do in the years ahead.”

CAST, or the Collaboration for Atlantic Salmon Tomorrow, is a partnership of scientists, environmental groups and industry participants focused on saving wild Atlantic salmon.

It is investing $1.3 million in UNB – $500,000 to establish the research chair and the remainder to conduct innovative research projects for CAST aimed at curbing the alarming decline of salmon stocks.

Ground-breaking research

Centre stage for that research are scientists with the Canadian Rivers Institute at UNB.

“For more than 16 years, scientists at CRI have conducted ground-breaking international research into wild Atlantic salmon, and have mentored a generation of new aquatic scientists eager to make every river a healthy river,” says Dr. Frederick Whoriskey, chair of the Canadian Rivers Institute management board.

“The addition of Dr. Linnansaari to the faculty at UNB will ensure that the university and the Canadian Rivers Institute remain on the front lines in tackling the pressing challenges faced by the iconic Atlantic salmon.”

CAST President Brian Moore says the organization is “proud to have world-class scientists at the University of New Brunswick and the Canadian Rivers Institute with us on this mission to save wild Atlantic salmon.”