Science Advisory Report  2013/054

Important Marine and Estuarine Habitat of Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon

Summary

  • Using the Bounding Box approach, important marine and estuarine habitat of inner Bay of Fundy (iBoF) Atlantic salmon is proposed as: the tidal portions of 19 inner Bay of Fundy salmon rivers and the entire Bay of Fundy outward to the northern Gulf of Maine and the US/Canada boundary, southward to latitude 43°46’51.
  • The 19 iBoF rivers for which the tidal portions have been identified as important estuarine habitat are the Gaspereau, Shubenacadie, Stewiacke, Salmon (Colchester), North (Colchester), Chiganois, Debert, Folly, Great Village, Portapique, Bass (Colchester), Economy, Harrington, Apple, Maccan, Petitcodiac, Upper Salmon, Point Wolfe, and Big Salmon. These are the same rivers identified as the long-term recovery target in the iBoF salmon Recovery Strategy; 10 of these rivers are identified as containing freshwater Critical Habitat. 
  • This recommendation is consistent with the initial focus of the long-term recovery target for iBoF salmon and is primarily based on information on iBoF salmon that mature after one year at sea (the most common life-history strategy).
  • The description of important marine and estuarine habitat includes information on the important biophysical functions, features, and attributes for each relevant iBoF salmon life-history stages (smolts, post-smolts, mature adults, and kelts).
  • Important functions identified for the marine and estuarine habitat of iBoF salmon are migration, feeding, and staging.
  • Important features identified for the marine and estuarine habitat of iBoF salmon are migration corridors, estuarine holding pools, surface waters, upwellings, and food availability.
  • Important attributes of these features include temperature, salinity, water flow, depth/volume, forage species, (e.g. sandlance, herring, euphausiids, amphipods), and predator abundance.
  • The area identified as important marine and estuarine habitat for iBoF salmon was disaggregated into eight smaller areas (the boundaries of which are only roughly defined) in order to more clearly describe the spatial distribution of important functions, features and attributes by life-history stage. These areas are: Area 1 - the tidal portions of 19 iBoF rivers; Area 2 - the Minas Basin and Chignecto Bay; Area 3 - Bay of Fundy New Brunswick coastal outflow; Area 4 - Passamaquoddy Bay/Fundy Isles; Area 5 - middle of the Bay of Fundy; Area 6 - northern Gulf of Maine; Area 7 - coastal southwest Nova Scotia: Yarmouth to Port George; and Area 8 - coastal southwest Nova Scotia: Port George to Hall’s Harbour.
  • It was suggested that these areas could be prioritized using the following criteria: number of life-history stages using the area, importance to the life-history stage, and whether there were alternative habitats available. Based on a cursory evaluation of these criteria, Areas 1, 2 and 8 were identified as the highest priority areas; Areas 3, 4, 5, and 7 were identified as the next highest priority areas; and Area 6 was considered to be data deficient. 
  • The most complete information to assess important marine and estuarine habitat for iBoF salmon is for post-smolts from the May to August period.  The greatest uncertainty is in the fall and winter period. 
  • Overwintering habitats of all life-stages are as yet unknown, but are hypothesized to be off the Scotian Shelf or in the southern portion of the Gulf of Maine.

This Science Advisory Report is from the November 21-22, 2012, review of the Identification of Important Marine and Estuarine Habitat for Inner Bay of Fundy Salmon. Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Advisory Schedule as they become available.

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