The New Brunswick Salmon Council (NBSC) is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of wild Atlantic salmon and supporting the restoration and enhancement of Atlantic salmon and their habitats on all their native watersheds in New Brunswick.

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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.

This video of striped bass moving upstream and into fresh water was taken at head-of-tide on the NW Miramichi on June 1, 2019.  This was the same day the peak of the Atlantic salmon downstream smolt run was documented at the rotary screw traps.  This bass migration occurred for several hours.  They could be caught on virtually every cast with a streamer fly, so were definitely feeding.  DFO claims striped bass have no effect on the NW Miramichi salmon population.  Draw your own conclusion.

Striped bass on the Northwest (YouTube)

August 20, 2021 

The significance of salmon to the Mi’gmaq and Wolastoqey cannot be overstated. Community members rely on this fish to sustain themselves and their families. The health of the salmon is essential to our ecosystem and a significant food source for our People. Smallmouth bass were introduced in Miramichi Lake to provide sport fishers with a recreational opportunity and without consideration of the negative impacts on the already threatened Miramichi Atlantic Salmon. In 2019 we discovered smallmouth bass had spread to a small section of the Southwest Miramichi River. The negative effects of smallmouth bass on salmon have been devastating where not addressed, and along with other factors could result in the decimation of the salmon. For the past 13 years, attempts have been made to contain and physically remove invasive smallmouth bass from Miramichi Lake, but such efforts have failed to eradicate this species. After significant research and working with world experts in the field, it was determined the application of rotenone is necessary to ensure the protection and preservation of the Miramichi ecosystem.
See the entire article here