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Atlantic Salmon, a species at risk
The consultation is underway
Atlantic Salmon
D. Danvoye

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is studying whether to list five Atlantic salmon populations on the List of Wildlife Species at Risk under the Species at Risk Act and invites people and organizations to share their views before March 1, 2013.

Populations Concerned

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has divided Atlantic salmon into 16 populations. This consultation focuses on five of these populations, in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island:

Population with "endangered" status:

  • Anticosti Island

Populations with "special concern" status:

  • Quebec Eastern North Shore (between the Checatica and Kegaska rivers)
  • Quebec Western North Shore (between the Natashquan and Escoumins rivers)
  • Inner St. Lawrence (between the Bras-des-Murailles and Jacques-Cartier rivers)
  • Gaspé–Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (from the southwest portion of the river in Quebec to the northern tip of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia)

According to the COSEWIC report, these populations are threatened by fishing, environmental changes in the ocean, freshwater obstructions such as dams, agriculture, urbanization, aquaculture and aquatic invasive species. Further consultations are planned for the other Atlantic salmon populations considered at risk.

An amazing fish

Atlantic salmon spawn in fresh water, generally in the river where they were born. Juveniles spend one to eight years in fresh water before migrating to salt water in the North Atlantic. After being at sea for one to four years, adults return to fresh water to spawn.

Current situation

The commercial Atlantic salmon fishery was gradually closed in Canadian waters between the mid-1980s and 2000, when it closed completely. Aboriginal peoples and recreational fishers still fish in several salmon rivers, but restrictive management measures are  in place, by river, depending on the population estimates.

If the populations are listed...

For the endangered Anticosti Island population, a recovery strategy would be developed to identify threats and the measures to be implemented. Additional automatic prohibitions may apply. Killing, harming, taking, possessing, catching or trading this Atlantic salmon population would therefore be banned. The critical habitat (i.e. the habitat necessary for the survival and recovery of the Anticosti Island Atlantic salmon population) would be protected if listed.

Listing populations of special concern would lead to the development of a management plan aimed at reducing threats resulting from human activity. For these populations, there would be no automatic prohibitions.

Share your thoughts and concerns

A fact sheet on Atlantic salmon and the Species at Risk Act is accessible from the Species at Risk Public Registry website. You will also find a questionnaire that you can fill in with your comments. For more information, contact the Species at Risk Management Division at 1-877-775-0848.

Factsheet on the Atlantic Salmon

Consultation Documents

Jacinthe Beauchamp and Marthe Bérubé
Ecosystems Management