09/16/2014 07:51 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:54 EDT

Conservation groups call on Ottawa to investigate disappearing salmon

ST. ANDREWS, N.B. - Two groups that represent salmon fishermen are calling for immediate action to address what they say is a crisis facing the survival of wild Atlantic salmon.

The Miramichi Salmon Association and the Atlantic Salmon Federation issued a joint statement Tuesday demanding the federal government appoint a panel to create a plan to save the fish.

The groups say the famous Miramichi River is experiencing a salmon decline that is among the worst on record.

They also say the problem is much the same in many wild salmon runs throughout Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Studies show the average number of salmon returns to the Miramichi River has declined rapidly from 82,000 annually in the 1990s to 23,000 a year since 2011.

Spokesman David Wilson says the latest numbers are frightening.