Wild Atlantic Salmon Need Improved Management and Reduced Harvest to Survive

ASF State of the Populations Report 2016 1.0MB
Chart of 2SW Atlantic Salmon Decline 546.4KB

Mon., May 30, 2016

Wild Atlantic Salmon Need Improved Fisheries Management and Reduced Harvest To Survive

ST. ANDREWS - Leading into the annual meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) is urging progress by Greenland and Canada in controlling, monitoring and reporting their harvests of wild Atlantic salmon.  NASCO will meet from June 7 to 10 in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler Germany, where ASF will be represented on the Canadian and US delegations and in the role of co-chair of the accredited NGOs.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) indicates that there is no surplus of large North American salmon and advises NASCO that no fisheries should be operating on mixed stocks (salmon from multiple rivers that are mingling during migration), and that in-river fisheries for Atlantic salmon should occur only on those stocks exceeding conservation limits. The fisheries at Greenland and some of the First Nations fisheries in Labrador, Quebec and New Brunswick are considered to be mixed stock as they intercept salmon migrating to multiple rivers by gill nets with no ability to selectively harvest from healthy populations.

“The Greenland fishery is especially concerning,” said Bill Taylor. It is entirely mixed-stock and cannot differentiate between the harvest of healthy and endangered North American salmon populations. The harvest of 45 tonnes that Greenland set for its fishery from 2015 to 2017 is far too high to begin with and the Greenlanders actually exceeded it by 12 tonnes in 2015. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of NASCO ensuring that Greenland stick to its agreement to reduce its harvest in 2016 by the amount of the overrun, that further progress be made in monitoring, reporting and control and that the fishery be subsistence, rather than factory, oriented.”

While 44.6 t (13,500) of Greenland’s harvest were large North American salmon in 2015, Canada killed 54 t of large salmon (11,433).

Canada’s harvest of large salmon is mostly in-river but there is some harvest of mixed stocks off Labrador. Canada also allows harvest of large salmon in some river systems that are not meeting conservation limits

Canada needs to take steps to follow the advice of ICES and allow no harvest of salmon that migrate to Greenland in mixed-stock fisheries and to allow no in-river harvest from salmon populations that are not surpassing their conservation limits. Canada needs to adopt precautionary and river specific management, like the Quebec system, consistently across eastern Canada. ASF is also urging Canada to improve its system of assessing the number of salmon returning to Labrador as only 4 rivers of more than 100 are assessed. Canada needs to improve reporting of salmon catches by both the aboriginal and recreational salmon fisheries. Reporting by anglers, except in Quebec, is low. While log books provided by aboriginals are available in some instances, others do not report.

Mr. Taylor concluded, “Greenland has embarked on a system of mandatory reporting of catches that includes non-issuance of a license the following year for those who do not comply. Canada needs to improve its system of reporting in all fisheries to get better data on harvests and the health of wild Atlantic salmon to support effective management measures.”

In addition to discussion on fisheries management measures, NASCO will hold a full day Theme-based Special Session entitled “Addressing impacts of salmon farming on wild Atlantic salmon: challenges to and developments supporting achievement of NASCO’s international goals. Canada will present at this special session.


Thomas Moffatt
Education and Communication Specialist
506-529-1022 office
506-469-1033 mobile