Atlantic Salmon (Quebec Eastern North Shore population – DU7)

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 has a fusiform body shape that is somewhat compressed laterally and has an average length of about 457 mm. Its back is blue-green, its sides are silvery with several markings that are either round or x-shaped, and its belly is white. During the reproduction period, the Atlantic Salmon loses its silver colour and takes on a greenish or reddish hue; a few large, white-edged spots then appear on its sides.

Habitat

Atlantic Salmon spawn in fresh water, generally in their native river. Juveniles spend one to eight years in fresh water before migrating to salt water in the North Atlantic. After staying at sea for one to four years, adults return to fresh water to spawn. Salmon rivers are generally clear, cool and well oxygenated, with gravel, cobble and boulder substrates.

Because Atlantic Salmon have a high degree of fidelity to their natal rivers and given their adaptation to the stream they frequent (e.g., difference in morphology, life cycle and behaviour), the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has identified 16 designatables units (DU) of Atlantic Salmon, 11 of which are considered at risk. Atlantic Salmon of the Quebec Eastern North Shore population (DU7) reproduce in the tributaries of the St. Lawrence River's north shore between the Checatica River and the Kegaska River. This population has 20 known salmon rivers.

Threats

The causes of the widespread decline of Atlantic Salmon are not well understood. Several major reviews have attempted to identify and prioritize the causes of this situation. The low rate of survival at sea was cited as the primary cause of the decline. The populations are also threatened by climatic changes and environmental changes in the ocean; Aboriginal, recreational and illegal fishing; obstacles in fresh water (e.g. dams); agriculture; urbanization; aquaculture and invasive species. In some cases, the habitat used for freshwater spawning is degraded.

The small size of the Quebec Eastern North Shore population (about 5,000 individuals in 2008) is cause for concern. The number of small individuals (that spent one winter at sea) decreased over the past three generations while the number of large individuals (that spent more than one winter at sea) increased during the same period. The total number of mature individuals saw a decline of approximately 14%.

Further Information

The Atlantic Salmon commercial fishery was closed progressively in Canadian waters from the mid-1980s until the complete closure in 2000. Aboriginal peoples continue to fish in several salmon rivers for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Salmon represents an important cultural tradition to which they attach great value. Lastly, recreational fishing is still authorized. Restrictive management measures are imposed for each river based on abundance estimates. These measures include catch limits, mandatory release of large salmon to the water, and closures of certain watercourses. Salmon habitat is protected under the fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act.

Visit the Species at Risk (SARA) Public Registry.

Atlantic Salmon (Quebec Eastern North Shore population – DU7)

Atlantic Salmon

Scientific name: Salmo salar
SARA Status: No Status
COSEWIC Status: Special Concern (November 2010)
Region: Quebec

Distribution range for the Quebec Eastern North Shore population of Atlantic Salmon

Distribution range for the Quebec Eastern North Shore population of Atlantic Salmon
S. Proulx, DFO 2012.

Salmon life cycle

Salmon life cycle

Did You Know?

Since the year 2000, the Government of Quebec has established a new conservation threshold for each salmon river. This threshold is based on the minimal number of eggs required to preserve the species while ensuring a level of abundance that enables the optimal use of the resource in the long-term.

School of Atlantic Salmon

School of Atlantic Salmon
D. Danvoye

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