Atlantic Salmon (Inner Bay of Fundy)

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

At A Glance

While its historic spawning grounds once encompassed more than 40 rivers and streams in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon populations have declined by 90 percent or more in recent years—putting this fish at risk of extinction.

About the Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon

The Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon is anadromous—that is, a fish that spawns in fresh water, but spends much of its life at sea.

Inland, this fish favours natural stream channels with rapids, pools and gravelly bottoms in which hatchlings can hide from predators. The fish prefer cool water that is free from chemical and organic pollution, and that maintains temperatures between 15ºC and 25ºC in summer.

When living in the Bay of Fundy itself, these salmon prefer relatively stable water temperatures—between 1ºC and 15ºC year round. It is possible that the salmon’s low marine survival may in part be due to fluctuations in sea-surface water temperature.

How to recognize Atlantic salmon

With its pointed head, well-developed teeth and silvery sides, the Atlantic salmon is instantly recognizable. When at sea, the salmon’s back varies through shades of brown, green and blue, and it has numerous black spots scattered along its body. When spawning, the fish becomes bronze-purple in colour and develops reddish spots on head and body.

Why Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon are at risk

Salmon runs that totaled 30,000 to 40,000 in the mid 1980s declined to less than 500 in 1998—and declined below 200 in 2008. In fact, juvenile salmon have not recently been detected in nearly half of this fish’s historic spawning grounds.

A growing body of evidence suggests that the rapid decline in numbers of Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon is due to low marine survival rather than an inability to spawn and live successfully in freshwater rivers and streams. The reasons for the salmon’s low marine-survival rates are unknown, but may be due to ecological changes in the Bay of Fundy. Tidal barriers placed at the mouths of rivers and streams may also be a factor, as might commercial salmon farms, which can attract predators, alter habitat, obstruct migration and harbour disease. Illegal fishing of wild salmon remains a problem.

What’s being done

The inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon has been listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act since June 2003. A recovery strategy that includes identification of their critical habitat has been developed.

To prevent the imminent extinction of the fish, a gene-banking program and a gene-pedigree program has been developed to maximize the inner Bay of Fundy population’s genetic diversity. Several key populations are harboured and protected in DFO Biodiversity Centres in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. When threats to the salmon’s survival have been identified and rectified, self-sustaining populations of the fish will be restored to Bay of Fundy rivers.

What can you do?

Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon will get the protection they need only if all Canadians work together to reduce threats. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to ensure that we do everything possible to protect and recover all species at risk. If you live near rivers close to the Bay of Fundy and want to take active steps to protect the species check out groups like the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) and the Nova Scotia Salmon Association (NSSA).

NSSA is involved in many projects and programs to conserve Atlantic salmon. The Adopt-a-River program and River Watch, for example, helps community-volunteer organizations undertake projects to repair and improve local rivers and streams to restore habitat and increase fish populations. Another way to help is to educate yourself and others: you can learn more about the species, the threats to its survival and conservation issues by exploring websites and reading the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon Recovery Strategy.

For more information, visit the Species at Risk (SARA) Public Registry.

Atlantic Salmon (Inner Bay of Fundy)

Atlantic Salmon

Scientific name: Salmo salar
Taxonomy: Fishes (marine)
SARA Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
Region: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia (rarely Newfoundland) Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic salmon

Illustration by Jeffrey C. Domm

Did You Know?

A complex cycle of life

From humble beginnings as pea-sized orange eggs in riverbeds, Atlantic salmon undergo many changes during their lives. Two to six years after being born as freshwater fish, they spontaneously adapt themselves to saltwater life and head out to sea. After a year or more, they return to the rivers where they were born—sometimes leaping obstacles as much as three metres high to travel upstream and spawn in the shallow tributaries where they hatched. After spawning, most salmon die, although some live to spawn twice. A very few live to spawn three times.

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