Miramichi salmon group wants feds to resume sharing water temperature data


The Miramichi Salmon Association is calling on Environment and Climate Change Canada to resume sharing water temperature information with the public.

The data is integral to tourism and conservation of stocks, says Vanessa McLaughlin, the group’s co-ordinator of membership and communications. 

Without knowing the water temperature, the group doesn’t know “what is happening with those salmon and where they’re going to be in the river and how plentiful they’re going to be in the river. So it’s very important information for us.”

With salmon fishing so integral to the area’s economy, McLaughlin said it’s important to know where and when the best times are to fish. She said the group gets calls every day from anglers and outfitters who are asking for information so they can plan fishing trips.

Salmon are sensitive to heat and when the water temperature goes up, they congregate in deep pools where the temperature is lower. If deeper, cooler areas are not available, salmon are in real danger. Salmon pools are closed to fishing when the fish are most vulnerable.

According to a news release from the Miramichi Salmon Association, the federal government’s National Hydrological Service has been the only agency since 2022 “providing real-time monitoring data on the Miramichi River.” 

The Miramichi Salmon Association says tourists and guides have come to rely on real-time monitoring data to make decisions about fishing trips, which have spin-off effects for the local economy. (Shutterstock)

Normally, the data would be shared publicly on the government’s website and was used to decide when to close salmon pools.

“But so far this year, that information has not been made public,” the news release says.

McLaughlin said they were told the decision to stop sharing the information is based on quality-control issues with the data.

Association president Robyn McCallum said she’s been hearing from anglers who are concerned about the lack of publicly available data.

“Our argument, and one that we continue to hear from anglers on the water, is that if the data points are reliable enough to make warm-water protocol decisions on, they are reliable enough to share with the public,” said McCallum.

Salmon integral to tourism

McLaughlin said the Miramichi River system is an important part of the area’s tourism and “there are people from away who are trying to plan fishing trips. … And I mean those trips for them can be quite costly.”

A small fishing boat makes waves on a calm waterway with banks on either side.
When water temperatures climb, salmon seek out deeper pools where temperatures are lower. (Shane Fowler/CBC News)

After all that expense, she said they could be heading to a river that might be shut down because of warm water. 

“Not being able to make those plans because they don’t have that data to be able to anticipate stuff like that, that’s very difficult for them. So we’re getting a lot of complaints from people who use this data all the time,” said McLaughlin.

Environment and Climate Change Canada was asked to provide more information, including why the information is no longer shared publicly and whether the decision is permanent, but the information was not provided by publication time. 

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