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Atlantic salmon fisheries have been an important part of our Canadian social heritage for more than 150 years. Spawning in over 1000 rivers in eastern Canada, Atlantic salmon are actively fished for Food, Social and Ceremonial purposes by dozens of First Nations and Aboriginal organizations and recreational fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. These fisheries contribute over $100 million to the Canadian economy and support up to 3,500 jobs in eastern Canada.
Due to declines in abundance of Atlantic salmon observed in the 1980s, numerous measures have been implemented to promote partnerships, conservation, protection and research, including a full moratorium on all commercial fishing in Eastern Canada, implemented in 2000.
The Government of Canada is strongly committed to the conservation and protection of such a vital resource to all Canadians. That is why over the years several measures and investments have been made to support conservation and stocks rebuilding.
On December 18, 2014, the Government announced the establishment of a new Ministerial Advisory Committee on Atlantic salmon, made up of key industry stakeholders who will provide recommendations to the Minister on the future direction of Atlantic salmon conservation.
The committee will meet on at least four occasions, in various provinces, between February and June 2015. There will also be opportunities for written submissions to the Advisory Committee.
The committee, supported by officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will focus discussions on the following aspects:
- Conservation and enforcement measures
- Strategy to address foreign over-fishing
- Focused areas for advancing science
Conservation and Habitat Protection
A one-time $30 million conditional grant was used to establish the Atlantic Salmon Endowment Fund to invest in the conservation and enhancement of wild Atlantic salmon and its habitat.
Additionally, close to $4.1M have been awarded to 73 projects benefitting Atlantic salmon conservation and habitat throughout Atlantic Canada since the creation of the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program (RFCPP) created by the Government in 2013.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists are actively monitoring Atlantic salmon populations in key index rivers of eastern Canada, working closely with stakeholder groups to undertake rigorous counts of salmon returns in rivers throughout Atlantic Canada.
Management measures are based on the most up-to-date science advice, which provides a recommended level of removals which individual populations can sustain.
Departmental scientists are currently working to update key reference points for Atlantic salmon, which will help guide future management under the Precautionary Approach. The Government has also invested in the Live Gene Bank program for the Endangered Population of Atlantic salmon in the Inner Bay of Fundy.
The Department also held the Atlantic Salmon Marine Threats workshop with stakeholders in early December with the focus on better understanding at-sea threats faced by salmon originating from rivers in Atlantic Canada. This is key work, as juvenile production remains stable in most Atlantic salmon populations, but at-sea mortality is estimated to be high.
Regional Management and Enforcement
Management measures are developed in consultation with Provinces, stakeholders and First Nations and Aboriginal Groups. Some current management measures introduced to compensate for low marine survival include: reduced daily and seasonal bag limits, mandatory catch and release fishing, salmon fishing closures in areas where the Conservation Spawner Requirements are not being met, and restrictions on commercial pelagic fisheries to stop or minimize salmon by-catch.
Enforcement activities are carried out throughout Atlantic Canada, with over 65,000 hours of monitoring and enforcement activities being directed to Atlantic salmon in 2013.
As a member of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), along with other member countries (United States, Norway, Russia, Denmark and the European Union), the Government of Canada reports annually on progress made relative to actions taken on our commitment to implement NASCO Regulations, Agreements and Guidelines. These include guidelines for management of salmon fisheries, minimum standards for catch statistics and the protection, restoration and enhancement of Atlantic salmon habitat.
Canada works closely with NASCO members to limit harvests and strengthen management measures for Atlantic salmon. Of particular concern to Canada is Greenland’s harvest of Atlantic salmon. We continue to work with Greenland both bilaterally and within the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization to address concerns regarding the harvest of Atlantic salmon in the northwest Atlantic.
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