Tag! You’re It! beer supports salmon conservation in Nova Scotia

by | Mar 31, 2020 | News

The 2019 edition of Big Spruce Brewing and the Ocean Tracking Network’s Tag! You’re It! (TYI) conservation financing beer has raised $29,000 for local marine conservation organizations, thanks to its inclusion in NSLC stores across Nova Scotia last year.

Since its inception three years ago, 50 cents from every can of TYI has been allocated to Maritime groups working on marine research, education, and conservation, and has raised nearly $50,000 to date.

In 2019, TYIaligned with the International Year of the Salmon (IYS)—an initiative formed by the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization and the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission—to help address issues facing wild salmon populations and aid in the development of recovery strategies.

In the spirit of IYS, funds raised from the beer were awarded to six recipient organizations committed to using the contributions for salmon habitat restoration and recovery efforts in their respective communities: Cheticamp River Salmon Association (CRSA), Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP), St. Mary’s River Association (SMRA), Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR), Medway River Salmon Association (MRSA), and the LaHave River Salmon Association (LRSA).

Below, a summary of the recipient organizations and their plans for directing the TYI funding towards salmon conservation in 2020 and beyond.

CRSA and project partners collect data in the Cheticamp River.

The Cheticamp River Salmon Association (CRSA) is a not-for-profit focused on the responsible management and conservation of Atlantic salmon and native trout species. The CRSA works with Cape Breton Highlands National Park and other regional partners to collect data and assess and restore habitats. They’ll be directing TYI funds to conduct thermal mapping–an important activity in evaluating the impacts of temperature changes to salmon habitat given how vulnerable the species are to such fluctuations. The organization is also planning habitat restoration work on a small watercourse outside of Cheticamp to improve stream habitat and the natural function of the floodplain.

“These funds are important for assisting CRSA in the development of a conservation plan for Atlantic salmon on the Cheticamp River, which supports the most northern population of Atlantic salmon. The restoration work will be undertaken on an area that has historically supported salmon runs and is one of only a few remaining spring runs left in Nova Scotia,” said Réné Aucoin, president of the Cheticamp River Salmon Association (CRSA).


CARP installation of rock weir to improve fish passage through a hung culvert.

The Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP) is a charity focused on the ecological health of the Annapolis River watershed through science, leadership, community engagement and fish habitat restoration.

CARP will use TYI funds to advance two projects focused on the recovery of Atlantic salmon: one to address the threat of predation and competition by invasive species and the other to restore natural habitat that has been altered as a result of human activity. These projects will continue until 2022 and are an integral part of CARP initiatives to address threats to aquatic species at risk within the Annapolis River watershed.


SMRA volunteers plant trees along the river.

The St. Mary’s River Association (SMRA) has been actively restoring habitat, protecting and stewarding land, and managing the River’s fisheries since the 1980s.

The SMRA has identified that peak rain and ice events negatively impact salmon habitat by eroding riverbanks and creating wide, shallow flows throughout the seasons. As water levels lower in the summer, the shoreline is exposed, trapping fish in shallow pools and making it difficult for juvenile salmon to survive, given their vulnerability to warm water. During the fall, salmon spawn on gravel beaches, and when the water freezes, the reduced flow exposes the salmon eggs on the gravel beach. In the spring, as the water begins to thaw, the salmon eggs are vulnerable because the ice lifts gravel, which can be deposited on them.

The SMRA will be directing TYI funds to continue habitat restoration work on the West branch of the River by installing structures in narrow stream channels and reducing both the high summertime water temperatures and winter ice conditions that threaten salmon populations.


Atlantic salmon, Nick Hawkins

The Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR) represents Cape Breton’s Mi’kmaw voice on natural resources and environmental concerns. UINR has an ongoing program in the Middle River to understand plamu/salmon life cycles and how long they stay in rivers and at sea. TYI funds will be directed towards scale aging plamu/salmon smolts to determine how local populations grow over time compared to other plamu/salmon populations.


MRSA members taking water samples; testing pH, temperature, and turbidity of the river.

The Medway River Salmon Association (MRSA) is a not-for-profit dedicated to the conservation, protection, and enhancement of Atlantic salmon and trout. The MRSA will use TYI funds towards a smolt capture-and-release study to determine the quantity and health of the salmon stocks in the Medway River. This information will serve as a baseline to determine the number of smolts needed to increase salmon populations in the River, and data gathered will be used as a blueprint for all southern upland rivers in Nova Scotia to increase salmon stocks over the next several years.


The LaHave River Salmon Association (LRSA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Atlantic salmon in the LaHave River. The LRSA is currently in the process of establishing detailed watershed recovery and stewardship plans for the next year, which will be centred around supporting aquatic species at risk, including Atlantic salmon.