Atlantic Salmon (Southern Uplands 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, 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). Southern Upland Atlantic Salmon typically spend two to four years in freshwater as juveniles before migrating to the north Atlantic Ocean. After staying at sea for one to three years, adults return to freshwater to spawn. 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 Southern Upland DU of Atlantic Salmon consists of a grouping of salmon populations that occupy rivers in a region of Nova Scotia extending from the northeastern mainland near Canso, along the Atlantic coast of the province and into the Bay of Fundy as far as Cape Split.

Threats

The Southern Upland DU of Atlantic Salmon has been assessed by COSEWIC as Endangered. A Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA) in 2013 indicated the abundance of adult salmon from four assessed rivers in the DU has declined 88 % to 99 % since the 1980s. Data from more than 50 rivers in the DU also show significant declines in the abundance of juvenile Atlantic Salmon between 2000 and 2008/2009, with evidence that salmon no longer occur in some rivers that they historically occupied.

The RPA identified numerous threats to Southern Upland Atlantic Salmon. The threats identified as highest concern in freshwater include, in no particular order, acidification, altered hydrology, invasive fish species, habitat fragmentation due to dams and culverts, and illegal fishing and poaching. In the estuarine and marine environment, threats of high concern are, in no particular order, salmon aquaculture and marine ecosystem changes. 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 currently protected under the fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act.

All commercial, recreational, and Food, Social and Ceremonial fisheries for Southern Upland DU 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 Nova Scotia, Aboriginal organizations and stewardship groups.

Visit the Species at Risk (SARA) Public Registry.

Atlantic Salmon (Southern Uplands 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 Southern Upland Atlantic Salmon population relative to three other Atlantic Salmon populations 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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