Atlantic Salmon (Outer Bay of Fundy Designatable Unit)

Salmo salar

SARA Status
No Status
NS
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

SARA Status

  • No Status NS
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
COSEWIC Status
Not at Risk
NR
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

COSEWIC Status

  • Not at Risk NR
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX

Description

The Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) is an anadromous fish that is part of the family Salmonidae. Its characteristics include:

  • Fusiform shaped body (tapers at both ends);
  • Juveniles typically grow up to 18cm in length; adults from 50 to 100 cm in length;
  • Juveniles are slender and develop 8-11 narrow pigmented parr marks on each side with a red spot between each parr mark along the lateral line. Fish become silvery and parr marks are lost when they become smolts and migrate to sea;
  • When at sea, Atlantic Salmon are silvery on sides and their back colour varies through shades of brown, green and blue with numerous black spots scattered along the body and;
  • As they approach spawning, they become darker in colour and take on a bronze and dark brown colouration and sometimes have reddish spots on their head and body.

Habitat

Atlantic Salmon adults spawn in freshwater, generally in the same river in which they were born (natal river). Juveniles from the Outer Bay of Fundy (OBoF) designatable unit (DU) usually spend two to four years in freshwater before migrating to the north Atlantic Ocean. Adults usually return to freshwater to spawn after one to three years at sea. Rivers that support Atlantic Salmon are generally clear, cool and well-oxygenated, with gravel, cobble and boulder substrates.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has identified 16 different designatable units (DU) of Atlantic Salmon based on their specific adaptations to their natal rivers (e.g., difference in genetics, morphology, life cycle and behaviour). COSEWIC has assessed the biological status of all of the Atlantic Salmon DUs and determined that 11 DUs are considered to be at risk.

The Atlantic Salmon of the OBoF DU consists of a grouping of salmon populations that occupy rivers on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy, from the U.S. border up to and including the Saint John River.

Threats

The OBoF Atlantic Salmon DU has been assessed by COSEWIC as Endangered. Population models from the Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA) for this DU indicate that the number of 1SW (one-sea-winter) and MSW (multi-sea-winter) salmon have declined over the last 15 years, (68-73% and 52-68%, respectively) for a net decline of all mature individuals of about 64%. This decline represents a continuation of historical declines.

The causes of the widespread decline of Atlantic Salmon are not well understood. Several major reviews have attempted to identify and prioritize the causes of this situation, with the low rate of survival at sea cited as the primary cause. The reason for the poor marine survival of salmon from the OBoF DU is uncertain.

The RPA identified numerous threats to OBoF DU Atlantic Salmon. The threats identified as highest concern in freshwater were, in no particular order, habitat alteration due to hydroelectric dams and illegal fishing. In the estuarine and marine environment, threats of high concern include, in no particular order, shifts in marine conditions, salmon aquaculture, depressed population phenomenon, and uncertainties around the occurrence of disease and parasites. Note that some activities identified may not represent a threat, or may be ranked at a lower severity, after the application of mitigation measures.

Further Information

Atlantic Salmon are managed under the Fisheries Act, via the Atlantic Fisheries Regulations 1985, Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations, Fishery (General) Regulations, as well as through licenses issued under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licence Regulations. Atlantic Salmon habitat is protected from serious harm under the fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act.

All commercial, recreational and Aboriginal Food, Social and Ceremonial fisheries for Outer Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon are currently closed for conservation reasons. Further conservation, monitoring and research efforts are ongoing, and are being undertaken through collaborative efforts between Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Province of New Brunswick, Aboriginal organizations and stewardship groups.

Visit the Species at Risk (SARA) Public Registry.

Atlantic Salmon (Outer Bay of Fundy Designatable Unit)

Two Atlantic Salmon swimming

Scientific name: Salmo salar
SARA Status: No Status
COSEWIC Status: Endangered (2010)
Taxonomy: Fish (marine)
Region: Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic Salmon distribution

Range of the Outer Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon population relative to three other Atlantic Salmon population groups in the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Maritimes Region.

Did You Know?

The Atlantic salmon's scientific name is Salmo salar, meaning “the leaper”. These fish can jump up 12-14 feet in the air, allowing them to leap waterfalls and other obstacles when travelling upstream to spawn.

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