Gathering Mi’gmaq knowledge on smelts

The Restigouche river runs year round and is abundant with resources vital to our everyday being as Mi’gmaq people. During the summer it provides us with the salmon run which is considered around the world one of the best. The salmon is deep in Mi’gmaq history and is part of our culture. But once the river freezes over and the salmon are gone, our fishers are still out there.

During the winter and into spring before the thaw another run occurs, but little is known about it. Or is there?

Being an anadromous species (meaning that growing and maturing happens out at sea and in shallow coastal waters and migrates up freshwater streams to spawn) the Atlantic Rainbow smelt makes it way up the Restigouche. The purpose of this study is to find out more about the species, since it plays such an important role during the winter months, and to provide the community with this knowledge.

The GMRC has conducted interviews in Listuguj and Eel River Bar over the course of a couple weeks and met with local elders and fishermen out on the ice to experience and gather this information first-hand. Combining western science with Mi’gmaq ecological knowledge we’re trying to piece together a better picture of the smelt species in our region.

We’re pleased with the hospitality that we’ve received and can’t wait to share this information with everyone. Be sure to stay tuned to our Facebook page and Twitter account and we’ll make sure to keep you updated on when this information will be ready.

Greg Wysote,
Communications, GMRC