Frequently asked questions about Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic Salmon is a keystone species, integral to the history and culture of many First Nations, Indigenous, and Atlantic Canadians communities. However, in many geographic areas, Atlantic salmon stocks have been declining and continue to be the subject of significant research. We make every effort, through research and management measures, to ensure that Canadians continue to enjoy the cultural, social and economic benefits of Atlantic Salmon for generations to come.

1. Question:

Do I need a fishing licence to fish Atlantic Salmon?

 

1. Answer:

Yes, please click on the following links for all the details pertaining to each province :

2. Question:

What are the Atlantic Salmon returns for the Gulf Region in 2020?

 

2. Answer:

In 2020, fieldwork challenges and reduced angling effort associated with COVID-19 resulted in insufficient data to produce an annual update of Atlantic Salmon returning to the three index rivers in the Gulf Region where stocks are typically assessed annually (the Miramichi, the Restigouche, and the Margaree rivers). The most recent indicators are those available up to 2019, which confirmed the current trend of decreasing salmon returns. This is consistent with the general declining trends throughout the North Atlantic (North America and Europe) over the past two decades.

Here are the most recent indicators for 2019 : Update of indicators of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) in DFO Gulf Region Salmon Fishing Areas 15 - 18

3. Question:

When was catch-and-release only implemented for the Gulf Region Atlantic Salmon recreational fishery?

 

3. Answer:

Since 2015, the Atlantic Salmon recreational fishery has been a catch-and-release only fishery in the Gulf Region due to decreasing trends in salmon returns. Prior to 2015, anglers were able to retain a certain number of grilses (48-63 cm in length) depending on the province, via a tag system.

4. Question:

What is the daily catch and release limit?

 

4. Answer:

In 2020, the daily catch and release limit in New Brunswick for the Restigouche and Miramichi river watersheds was reduced from ten to five Atlantic Salmons during the Spring fishery from April 15 to May 15, 2020 and reduced from four to two for the remainder of the season. For Prince Edward Island, the catch and release limit is two salmons per day and for Nova Scotia it is four salmons per day.

Most Indigenous communities in the Gulf Region are still allowed to catch both adult salmon and grilse for food, social or ceremonial (FSC) purposes. Voluntary conservation measures have been adopted by some Indigenous communities in recent years to reduce pressure on adult salmon.

5. Question:

Do Striped Bass eat Atlantic Salmon?

 

5. Answer:

Striped Bass feed opportunistically on a wide variety of plankton, insects, fish, and crustaceans. The size of the prey increases as striped bass grow, starting with zooplankton and larval fish, then progressing to small fish, shrimp and other crustaceans as the bass develop. Striped Bass are generalist predators and will eat available prey in proportion to its availability in the environment.

Recent studies on the predator-prey interaction between native Striped Bass and Atlantic salmon (smolts) in the Miramichi River have provided direct and indirect evidence that Striped Bass consume variable numbers of emigrating salmon smolts annually. It is not clear whether this natural predator-prey dynamic is limiting the number of returning adult salmon to the Miramichi river as the survival of smolts in the ocean environment continues to be very low across the species range.

6. Question:

What is the precautionary approach for Atlantic salmon?

 

6. Answer:

A precautionary approach is a measure that provides predetermined rules for decision-making that dictate reasonable fishing effort based on the state of the stocks. Under a precautionary approach framework, management measures must promote stock growth and removals must be kept to the lowest possible level until the stock has cleared the critical zone.

Departmental representatives made presentations on the precautionary approach at the annual meeting of the Eastern New Brunswick Recreational Fisheries Advisory Committee held in January 2020 in Moncton and virtually in January 2021.

DFO continues to work with Indigenous groups and stakeholders on a precautionary approach framework to manage the Atlantic salmon fisheries, with the goal to establish one for the Miramichi River system as a first step in the coming years, and for other salmon rivers draining into the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence in the future. In the meantime, cautious management must continue to avoid aggravating the situation of low salmon returns seen in recent years.

7. Question:

What are the stressors that impact the survival of Atlantic Salmon?

 

7. Answer:

Factors influencing salmon survival include the continued stress from high water temperatures and various other ecosystem changes in rivers and oceans due to climate change and other human-induced pressures. The resulting ecosystem changes range from modifications in ocean temperatures, currents and primary productivity to alterations in habitats, water quality, food chains and predators.

8. Question:

We have been hearing about a new form of collaboration for Atlantic Salmon for some time now. What work has been taking place?

8. Answer:

In 2019, Fisheries and Oceans Canada formed a partnership with the Province of New Brunswick and Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Incorporated (MTI) to allow for improved collaboration, decision-making, and planning with respect to the management of Atlantic Salmon and other key species and their habitat in the Miramichi watershed.

The goal is to develop an integrated watershed management plan for the Miramichi watershed. The ecosystem-based, multi-species plan will enumerate management actions to address key threats to fish and fish habitat, namely overexploitation of fish; habitat degradation and modification; aquatic invasive species; climate change, and pollution. The plan is expected to be completed by 2022.