First, thank you for inviting us today. This is an opportunity for us to discuss the future of striped bass, a valued species that presents great potential but that should, at the same time, remain the subject of close monitoring.
The Gulf Region includes a wide area covering 240,000 square kilometres, bordering 7,000 kilometres of coastline. It has less than 1% of Canada's waters but accounts for 15% of the total catch value of all Canadian fisheries. In 2017, a total of 11,261 fish harvesters caught 83,014 tons of fish and crustaceans worth an approximate landed value of $838 million.
The importance of fishing and aquaculture in our corner of the country cannot be understated. Entire communities are built around those industries and they expect us at DFO to help protect and manage the resource. To that effect, one-third of our workforce is dedicated to science. Our scientists work in labs, conduct surveys in the field or do research on various species, marine protected areas or species at risk. Ongoing consultation and engagement with our partners from fishing communities, industry and first nations allow us to make the right decisions based on scientific data and facts.
However, science itself is insufficient. The gulf region has more than 100 fisheries officers working in communities and coastal areas to enforce regulations under the Fisheries Act.
The recent history of striped bass is a good news story. From depleted populations in the mid-1990s, striped bass has now rebounded to the levels we see today.
Now, some have suggested that there may be a link between that increase in striped bass populations and the decreased populations of Atlantic salmon.
However, studies by DFO have not been able to establish such a direct causality. In fact, a decline in the abundance of Atlantic salmon has taken place in all areas of eastern North America, including places where there are no striped bass, or the phenomenon of striped bass increase has not taken place. Similar declines in the population of Atlantic salmon are also being recorded in the European range.
A variety of factors could explain the decrease in salmon populations. For instance, we can no longer ignore the warming climate, which led to unprecedented angling closures in 2018 as rivers reached temperatures lethal to Atlantic salmon, a species best suited to colder water. Striped bass is native to the Miramichi River system, but it ranges all the way to Florida and has proven well adapted to warmer waters.
The study of aquatic species is very intricate. In managing one species, the realities of other species occupying a same ecosystem have to be taken into account. More studies are needed if we are to understand what is going on, and that's what our scientists are doing.
We believe in an adaptive approach to improving resource management, exploring alternatives to meet management objectives, predicting outcomes and using the results to update knowledge and adjust management actions. As part of our adaptive approach, we've increased recreational access to striped bass and established a pilot for commercial access for first nations.
Striped bass is a valued species that does have the potential to become a considerable economic driver in our region. Its recovery is a positive story, but we must remain prudent. The population of spawners decreased by two-thirds between our 2017 and 2018 stock assessments, possibly due to the thicker than usual ice coverage during that winter. This is reminder that bass populations are much more variable than those of salmon, and a few bad years could result in a catastrophic decline.
On this, my colleague Doug Bliss will now add more scientific insight on the subject.
Thank you, members of the committee, for allowing me to speak to you today concerning what science knows about striped bass and planned science activities moving forward.
My name is Doug Bliss, and I am the director of the science branch for the gulf region of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It's our scientific staff, located in Moncton, New Brunswick, and our Miramichi River research station, located at South Esk, who conduct the federal government's striped bass science program in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.
I'll start by briefly showing the range and distribution of this native species. Striped bass is a saltwater bass, and is native to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Striped bass, with all other diadromous species that live in both fresh and salt water, including Atlantic salmon, have evolved together in rivers in eastern North America since the retreat of the last ice age. You can see in this range map a graphic showing the extent of striped bass, ranging from northern Florida to Canada. We are at the northern extent of its range.
Generally speaking, our striped bass are shorter, smaller, and shorter-lived than those found in the United States, where the the core of their population live. Many of you will know of the seasonal movements of striped bass in the Miramichi River. After spawning, they leave the river and migrate to coastal areas to feed. In the late fall, they return to estuaries, not just the Miramichi, and spend the winter under the ice in what we call a torpid state. That means they do not move very much, nor do they feed until waters start to warm up. Upon spawning in the northwest Miramichi River, typically mid-May to mid-June, they rapidly move to the sea and repeat their annual cycle.
We have records of striped bass being harvested commercially in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence dating back 102 years, as illustrated in this graphic. Note the pattern of high harvest being followed by declining harvests a hundred ago in the 1920s, and more recently in the 1980s. Through such harvest records, we infer that population levels follow similar trends.
In the interest of time, I will not dwell on this slide about the status of species at risk or of striped bass, but I will just say that in 2012, seven years ago, all the populations of striped bass in Canada were assessed to be at some level of risk of extinction.
With regard to striped bass abundance, Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists have been monitoring the spawning population of striped bass in the Miramichi since 1994. This is a 24-year dataset consistently measured in the same way every year, and so it is the only reliable indicator of whether the striped bass population in the southern gulf is growing or shrinking. You will notice that we started monitoring striped bass in 1994, before the population crash. The population crashed in 1996, and was at critically low levels for five years. This was followed by some modest growth for another six years, after which there was consistent growth trend after 2006, peaking in 2017.
If we have learned something about this species in the last two decades, it is that it can go through rapid population increases and decreases in relatively short periods of time. Why this happens is something we are seeking to understand. This is why it is important, when considering the status of a population of fish or other wildlife, to look at the trend over a number of years. The population estimates for the upcoming year, 2019, which we will produce at the end of this calendar year, will be very important for us to assess whether the population seems to be continuing to increase, decrease, or stabilize.
Last, I would like to take a moment to explain our federal science activities and to let you know of our plans to conduct more science on this species. We have been monitoring the adult striped bass in a consistent way since 1994. We tag striped bass every year in order to monitor their movements in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and, more recently, farther north. We have tried to determine whether there are other established spawning areas for striped bass a number of years ago, but we will undertake such studies once again. We have directly measured the consumption of salmon young, or smolts, and many other species by striped bass. We have worked in partnership with other organizations, such as the Atlantic Salmon Federation, on determining indirect estimates of predation. We plan to continued such collaborative studies on diet. We are using technologies that were not available to us even a few years ago to better understand striped bass and their habitats.
Currently, we are undertaking proof-of-concept development of environmental DNA to easily test for the presence or absence of striped bass in rivers. We are transferring our expertise in acoustic measurements of fish for marine species such as herring and applying this technology on the river, advancing technology on the river to see if we can more accurately and rapidly assess the population of striped bass adults before the fishing season. The picture on the lower right corner of the slide indicates our crew out there in the winter testing this technology through the ice on the Miramichi River.
We intend to do much of this new science in collaboration with interested research and science partners. Our proposed science plan is split into three parts to provide biological reference points for the species; to examine or re-examine recurring questions about the species, such as striped bass diet measurements and assessing whether other spawning areas exist; and finally, to undertake focused studies to understand the environmental stresses and ecosystem dynamics influencing this and many other species.
Thank you to the officials, Monsieur Serge Doucet and Doug Bliss, for being here with us today.
This study of striped bass is something that I wanted to get in, because I live on the Miramichi and I have been talking to the people, the stakeholders. I've been to several meetings. We're going to have a chance to question some of the stakeholders after this second hour.
One of the questions I'm always asking, which people are sometimes confused about, is how the science is applied and how the numbers come about. Before the explosion of the population, for instance, one of the major questions.... We never closed the river for the spawning season, and now we are in this...over a million spawners, and we decided to close the river. Those things are not very consistent with science.
Can you explain that? Do you have a reference number for when you start doing things to manage the population?
Either of you can answer, Serge or Doug.
We'll suspend for a moment just to change for the next group.
The Chair: We'll get started again.
Here with us for the next hour we have a number of witnesses.
From the Miramichi Salmon Association Inc., we have Mr. Mark Hambrook, president. From the Miramichi Watershed Management Committee Inc., we have Deborah Norton, president. From the North Shore Micmac District Council, we have chief executive officer Chief George Ginnish. From the Atlantic Salmon Federation, we have Mr. Bill Taylor, president and chief executive officer.
As well, there was a last-minute addition. There are two witnesses from the New Brunswick Salmon Council joining us by telephone, Mr. John Pugh and Mr. John Bagnall.
We'll go to Mr. Taylor, first, for seven minutes or less, please.
Great. Thank you, and good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, vice-chairs, and members of the committee.
I'm Bill Taylor, president of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. It's a pleasure of mine to present to you today on the topic of striped bass in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and in particular their impact on wild Atlantic salmon.
First, as a bit of history on the Atlantic Salmon Federation, we've been around for 71 years. We're a true federation. We have regional councils in each of the five eastern provinces and the state of Maine. We represent more than 100 local, river-based conservation organizations with more than 25,000 members and volunteers; and throughout our history, we've made a number of important contributions to Atlantic salmon conservation both in Canada and internationally.
Today, one of the greatest challenges facing Atlantic salmon conservation, especially on the Miramichi, comes from striped bass.
I ask you to picture this just for a second, if you would. Three weeks every spring from the end of May or early June the entire population of striped bass in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, up to a million spawners, are jammed into a six-and-a-half kilometre stretch of the northwest Miramichi. At the same time, little salmon smolts are trying to migrate out to sea. What happens when the two meet? Well, ASF is in a pretty good position to shed some light on that.
Since 2003 we've tagged and tracked nearly 3,000 smolt leaving four Gulf of St. Lawrence rivers. In recent years the number of smolt from the Miramichi that survive their migration to the estuary has spiralled downward. Survival in other rivers has remained relatively constant.
We know striped bass aren't fussy eaters. They eat juvenile salmon and species like alewives and smelt. There have been several studies carried out and discussed by this committee. However, their results are often taken out of context and sometimes misunderstood.
Take, for example, DFO's stomach analysis content study that you heard about just recently. It was never designed as a salmon predation study. It was a very first look at what the bass eat and it had its limitations. The takeaway is 2%. Two per cent of the stomach content was Atlantic salmon. Okay, so that's not a big number, but obviously as the striped bass population increases, the predation of smolt, the number of smolt eaten, increases.
You've also heard about ASF's predation study, and we built upon our existing smolt tracking program to determine when smolt are eaten by bass, based on movement patterns.
You often hear of the figure in our study of 2% to 18% predation of salmon smolts in any given year. Those are absolute minimum values. The bass had to hold the tag smolt in its belly for four days for the model to work. This is a significant limitation and it needs to be recognized. So, the study shed more light on striped bass predation of smolt, but it's not the full story.
The best and most complete picture to date comes from ASF's long-term smolt tracking data. Using this information, ASF and DFO recently published the world's longest peer-reviewed study on wild Atlantic salmon, looking at 14 years of smolt tracking from the Gulf of St. Lawrence rivers: the northwest Miramichi, southwest Miramichi, the Restigouche and the Grand Cascapédia. We found that in the Restigouche and Cascapédia, smolt survival through their estuaries was relatively high and consistent, ranging between 70% and 95% over the length of the study.
On the Miramichi, smolt survival was similar to the Cascapédia and Restigouche up until about 2010 when the striped bass population exploded. Between 2010 and 2017, bass abundance climbed from 60,000 to a million spawners, and smolt survival plummeted.
Through the estuary, from a consistent 70%—the same as the Cascapédia and Restigouche—smolt survival went down to just 8%. All the while, in Restigouche and Cascapédia the survival rate stayed at that same 70% or so.
How can we expect the Miramichi to recover, if only 8% of the smolt are making it out through the estuary?
Your committee is studying where to set many different reference points, where humans should intervene when it comes to striped bass for the benefit of the overall ecosystem. We're encouraged by this inquiry, and we have been requesting clear management direction, information and objectives from DFO for a long time.
The number of adult spawning striped bass in 2018 was estimated at 330,000—the second-highest on record. So, despite the one-year decline from 2017 from a million to 333,000, that 333,000 is still 10 times the recovery target that was set back by DFO, and this warrants action.
It's reasonable for people to ask for a mix of species in their fisheries and for DFO to manage towards that. We're not asking for favouritism of one species over another, but in effect, this is exactly was has happened as a result of DFO inaction. Striped bass have recovered and are still protected to the point where native fish populations like salmon, alewife, smelt, and sea-run brook trout are at risk.
ln fairness, we have been encouraged by the small steps the department has taken, such as increased recreational bag limits and the issuance of the licence for Eel Ground First Nation's commercial bass fishery. However, in our view, this is not enough given the urgency of the salmon crisis on the Miramichi.
The Atlantic Salmon Federation recommends that DFO immediately establish an upper stock reference point for striped bass and a management target for the benefit of the broader native ecosystem. The primary mechanism for controlling the striped bass population should be Eel Ground's commercial fishery. It provides an economic opportunity while helping achieve management targets. DFO should eliminate the slot size altogether in Eel Ground's commercial fishery, eliminate the upper slot size for the recreational fishery and allow any bass in inland waters to be retained as a precautionary measure to help salmon.
ln conclusion, I ask that you consider what's at stake. The Miramichi alone supports important indigenous food fisheries, as well as a recreational salmon fishery valued at $20 million that supports more than 600 full-time equivalent jobs.
Yes, Atlantic salmon on the Miramichi face a lot of challenges. We know that. Salmon populations throughout the north Atlantic face challenges, but predation by striped bass is by far the biggest threat right now. There are general declines, but if you look at the Miramichi compared with the Restigouche and Gaspé rivers, the north shore rivers or the Labrador and Newfoundland rivers, there is a general decline, but nowhere is that decline more pronounced than on the Miramichi.
We may not be able to do anything about climate change and some of the problems of the north Atlantic, but on the issue of striped bass in home waters, right in our backyard, we can do something about it.
Thank you. Good afternoon. I appreciate the opportunity to present to you all today.
This striped bass explosion has had a massive impact on my community for the past number of years. When Mr. Taylor was speaking about a six-and-a-half mile stretch where these fish land every spring, it's right in front of my community.
I have to give you a little background so you understand how this impacts our community economically.
Natoaganeg is a community of 600 people. They depend on the programming that we provide, and opportunities. Our median after-tax household income is $25,000. You go a few miles down the road to Miramichi, and that doubles to $51,000. Our unemployment rate is 21%, and that's of those who are still looking for work and haven't given up entirely.
We participated in the “First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment Study” two years ago with the University of Ottawa. It shows that the lack of access to nutritional foods is causing great health issues for our first nations people.
The volume of food that we're able to access for them is the equivalent to one tablespoon per day when we look at all the moose and fish we're able to access as a community. That's what it works out to: one tablespoon a day. We have diabetes, heart disease, and so many other things that I'm not going to be able to cover in seven minutes.
The Miramichi has a great history and reputation for a sport fishery. Our community has been excluded from much of that, and continues to be. When the striped bass populations dropped, the department asked us to voluntarily halt our salmon food fishery until the striped bass spawning could happen. For three of the most productive weeks, for a number of years, we did not put our traps in to feed our communities.
The drop in the bass population also put a complete halt on millions of dollars of investment that was occurring through the Marshall decision agreements. The community built a lodge that was meant to be sustained by infrastructure scheduled to be built for a recreational fishery. We were to build a wharf. All of that stopped when that bass was listed.
You have heard about the explosion of striped bass from DFO's perspective, from Mr. Taylor. You will hear it from the MSA and the watershed committee. We used to be able to count on salmon as a food source for our community. Over the past couple of years, there have been very few salmon. The few that we get, we share with our elders, because the numbers are barely a hundred.
We have agreements that allow us to catch up to 2,000 salmon. There aren't 2,000 to catch. Our fishers voluntarily removed their gillnets from the Miramichi last year because the numbers were so poor.
We have been telling DFO for years that they need a better process. They need to consult with the people on the river. This impacts our lives. We've been asking for funding for an indigenous knowledge study. That needs to be part of this process.
They need to relook at the way they do this. They make these decisions in isolation. They are not consulting with us when they decide how this process is going to work. There may be meetings once a year, but the season is gone, and it's another year with less opportunity for food.
We've been asking for a diversified food and commercial fishery for our people to help us combat these economic ills that the Marshall decision was supposed to help us with: a moderate livelihood, commercial access. If you go back to the 2012 census, five of the poorest postal codes in Canada are Mi'kmaq first nations in northern New Brunswick. Why this did not factor into the decision-making process is beyond me.
The bass were allowed to explode. The numbers were massive, and still we were denied commercial access that could have helped our community. It has only been over the past three years that we've actually been allowed 2,000 fish to retain for food. Up to that point, it was 200 fish a year in bycatch, even when there were hundreds of thousands of bass in the river. What type of process is that?
We've made these presentations to minister after minister, government after government. They fall off the table and we find ourselves right back where we were.
I had the opportunity to present to the Senate in December. We shared these exact concerns with them as well. Also, at MP Finnigan's request, we presented at the standing committee on salmon. There were some recommendations there. Good recommendations haven't been implemented. Why not?
We met with the Premier of New Brunswick last week. We had the opportunity to meet with him and we told him that we want to be part of the recovery of salmon on the Miramichi. The people on the Miramichi need to be part of that. Going forward, that has to be the way. We told him, “Listen, we are rights holders; you need to consult us.” The consultation has been sketchy, very sketchy. We've been trying for a number of years.
In New Brunswick, we have a trilateral treaty implementation table. That process has been ongoing for 12 years, and DFO has just come to the table within the last couple of years. We're very frustrated with the approach. It seems to be, “Let's drag this out; let's delay it; let's not really deal with the concerns of the people whose livelihood is that river.”
We have 40% food insecurity in my community. When you see the anecdotal and the scientific evidence of what the bass are doing to the salmon, which have been our cultural connection to that river and our food for so long, it angers me, but anger is not going to solve this. At some point, common sense has to step in and say, “Come on!”
Thank you very much for allowing us to make a presentation here today. I'm not going to take very long because I agree with every word that Bill Taylor and Chief Ginnish said.
We absolutely concur with the recommendations that Mr. Taylor suggested.
The Miramichi Salmon Association is a river organization. We've been around for 66 years, and we have support from contributors from the United States and Canada. We took over the former federal fish hatchery. We operate it today, and we participate in science activities like the smolt tracking program that Mr. Taylor referred to. We were partners in that.
We just find that the striped bass population is too high. Yes, there are ecosystem changes occurring, but this, to me, was a simple, straightforward problem. We were killing all bass that came into the river by allowing them to be caught in the gaspereau nets with no limits. As soon as they stopped that, the population took off. It took a few years because it was down so low, but once the striped bass kept spawning and spawning again, that population took off. Unchecked, it continues to grow. It would be very easy to bring it back in balance. If it gets down a little too much, we can shut it down and it will grow again. We know that it will.
My big concern is with the population in 2017. Prospecting in Labrador is actually creating an invasive species in that province. You know, by letting that population get too large, we are creating a problem. We have invasive species legislation, but letting that population get too large is creating an invasive species for other places. Prospecting? We don't want that. We want these fish to be in balance and to stay where they belong.
It is a great industry. It is a great recreational fish. We'd like to see a strong striped bass population on the Miramichi, but it has just gone too far. We need to get it back to a balanced situation. There are enough fish for a proper harvest—a commercial harvest and a recreational harvest. It's a success story, but you just can't stop. You can't let it get out of hand. It has to be balanced.
That's my statement. Thank you.
I too agree with everything that's already been said, so I'm going to carry on from there.
I carry a bit of a different torch, because I'm president of the Miramichi Watershed Management Committee, and we're not a conservation group. We are a group of stakeholders looking to utilize the resources and create as much economics from the Miramichi River as possible. We are not there to pick one species over another, but we definitely want our river to be in equilibrium. We want all of the species that are native to the river in equilibrium.
I would say that we are fortunate in the Miramichi Watershed Management Committee, because we have a memorandum of understanding with DFO and our energy resource development department in the provincial government to co-manage the Miramichi watershed. I would look to our having a bigger voice at that table and getting more done there.
The four species that we look to utilize for economic development are salmon, trout, shad and striped bass. The striped bass is a wonderful fish and wonderful species. We just don't want a kazillion of them and two of something else. I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. You know that the population crashed. It went down as a result of the bycatch—that's my opinion as well—and then there was a wonderful good news story. Wow. It rebounded.
When it rebounded, we, the people on the Miramichi, wanted to go fishing. We wanted to fish for these hundreds of thousands of fish we were seeing in front of our noses. It was a wild time. There were a lot of town hall meetings and we had DFO resources from the gulf region come to these meetings—not the two gentlemen who spoke here; it was before their time—to try to explain the management of the resource to us. We actually had one individual stand up and tell us that perhaps the job of DFO was to see how high they could raise the population of striped bass. In my opinion, that's not managing a species.
You know what happened. As somebody said, they went prospecting. They went on a walkabout. They went to the Strait of Belle Isle and up to Labrador. I don't know how many thousands or hundreds of thousands didn't come back, but they didn't come back. Why did they go there?
I forgot to tell you. I'm not just from the Miramichi. I live on the Miramichi River. It's the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning, so my eyes have a pretty good idea of what's happening in the river. A smolt wheel catches everything that comes down. We're using them to count baby salmon and get an estimate of the population, but everything else goes into that smolt wheel too. Three years ago it was impossible to put that wheel down at night without standing there and bailing smelt out of it all night long. Sometimes two men were not able to do that, so we would have to stop fishing it. I was saying earlier how many smelt we caught in three wheels last year. We caught a grand total of 15.
The striped bass is not a bad fish. It just has to eat. It's like us, so it has to eat, and it has. It's eaten everything. It's eaten all of our forage fish. We have no smelt left. We have no gaspereau left. It's eaten everything, so people ask how many striped bass we should have in the Miramichi. I'm not a biologist. I don't know, but it would appear to me that 300,000, as Bill pointed out, is 10 times more than the lower reference point. Maybe that would be a good upper reference point. We sure have to get that upper reference point developed, and we have to start managing around it.
That's all I have to say.
Thanks, John, and no, not really. I agree with everybody who spoke: Bill, Debbie, Chief Ginnish and Mark.
I think the priority should be getting an upper stock limit for bass. From what we see in interpreting the numbers from DFO, I think that probably a number south of 100,000 striped bass spawners would be appropriate, and 300,000 is far too many. We did an analysis. As you know, we prepared a written submission that interpreted a bunch of data from DFO and ASF, and it shows with little doubt that the striped bass are having a major effect on salmon smolt survival through Miramichi Bay.
The numbers we see are that only 66% mortality on average is through Miramichi Bay in recent years, whereas before it was less than half of that. When you have half as many fish going out, you're going to get half as many fish coming back, everything else being equal.
Again, I think the upper stock limit should be less than 100,000 striped bass. DFO can do wonders with stock recruitment models. I think that probably they can adapt and manage and make sure the population is sustained at that. That way, we can have two good fisheries. We could have good salmon fisheries, and we could have good striped bass fisheries.
Thank you very much.
I come from New Brunswick and I live in the village of Charlo, next to Chaleur Bay, at the head of the Restigouche River. We are concerned, and my friend Pat Finnigan has been telling me about the striped bass issue in the Miramichi River for a long time. This is of great interest to me for reasons of culture and heritage, and we are also concerned, back home in the Restigouche area, about the salmon fishery.
The figures I hear about the striped bass worry me a lot. The striped bass, which was not present in the waterways around the northwest of Chaleur Bay, is now present in those waters. You can fish them every summer, with both feet on the shore, simply by pulling on your fishing rod. The striped bass is voracious. One of my friends caught a big one last summer. In its stomach, there were six small lobsters of about six inches each, still intact. And yet even though it had these four lobsters in its stomach, the bass took the bait to try and eat more.
My first question is for Mr. Taylor. Are we sure that the striped bass spawning grounds are limited to the Miramichi River? Is there some way we can be sure of that?
Perhaps Mr. Hambrook could also answer that question.
I can answer that question, and Mr. Hambrook can chime in if I get something a little wrong.
You are correct. The only known spawning location as of today is the northwest Miramichi, but as Mr. Hambrook mentioned earlier, the Miramichi Salmon Association and the Miramichi Watershed Management Committee have done surveys in other areas and there has been confirmed spawning in the main southwest Miramichi.
You're absolutely right. I know a lot of camp owners and supporters of the Atlantic Salmon Federation who angle Atlantic salmon on the Restigouche. Over the past several years now, quite a number of striped bass have been caught in the Restigouche during salmon season, while people are fishing for salmon. In some cases, the striped bass have been cut open, and in some cases, there have been several salmon par or brook trout. We work very closely with David LeBlanc of the Restigouche Watershed Management Committee.
We're hearing that from all rivers. Along the north shore of Quebec, in the Godbout and Moisie rivers, the striped bass are there. When they are caught by anglers, they are opened up and there are numerous par in the stomach contents.
Going back to the prospecting in Labrador, I would suggest that those striped bass that were going up through the Strait of Belle Isle in northern Newfoundland and the north shore of Quebec and Labrador weren't just going there for exercise. They were looking for food, and they're running up rivers and eating salmon par in a lot of rivers along the coast.