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Debbie Norton Finally Receives the 2019 New Brunswick Salmon Council’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation

DATE:             October 25, 2021

BY:                  John Bagnall, NBSC Communications Chair

On Oct 22, 2021, Mrs. Debbie Norton (Debbie) of Miramichi River fame, finally received the Covid-delayed 2019 New Brunswick Salmon Council’s (NBSC’s) Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation.  (Typically, the award is conferred to the recipient in May for accomplishments through the previous year.  There will be no 2020 award.)

Debbie was presented the award by Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Brenda Murphy, at a ceremony at Government House.  The event was attended by approximately 60 invited guests, including friends and family of the recipient, NB Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister, Mr. Mike Holland, and several past award winners.  Debbie was introduced by fellow Northwest / Little Southwest Miramichi friend and neighbor (and student – Debbie was a teacher), Kevin Harris. The NBSC’s President, Kevin Davidson was the Master of Ceremonies.

Debbie’s qualifications for receiving the award are indisputable.  Over the past 30+ years, she has held executive-level positions with numerous Atlantic salmon conservation organizations, including the Northumberland Salmon Protection Association, The Miramichi Salmon Association, the Miramichi Watershed Management Committee, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and the NBSC, with whom she is a past-president.  For a number of years, Debbie ran the NBSC’s Fish Friends program, an educational endeavor which rears Atlantic salmon eggs in school classrooms, with the resulting fish released to local streams.  By her calculation, Debbie has now travelled an equivalent distance of more than three times around the Earth in support of Atlantic salmon conservation.

In her acceptance speech, Debbie was frank in saying that the Miramichi salmon numbers have been in free-fall since the early 1990s, and it was time for all salmon conservation organizations, and by extension government regulatory agencies, to pull together to reverse the trend.  Her main point was that the species composition of the drainage and near-shore marine environment have to be brought back into balance so that all can thrive.  This was undoubtedly a reference to the Northwest Miramichi River’s out-of-control striped bass population, which is having a huge predatory effect on juvenile salmon.  Excellent point Debbie!

In closing, thank-you to the Honorable Lt. Governor, Brenda Murphy for hosting the award ceremony, and congratulations to Mrs. Debbie Norton, an upper echelon recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation!

On the Steps of Government House NBSC members surround Debbie Norton in celebration of her receipt of the 2019 New Brunswick Salmon Council’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation.