Science Advisory Report 2017/035
Stock Assessment of Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Salmon – 2016
- Seventeen river populations of Atlantic Salmon were assessed in 2016. Adult salmon were enumerated on four rivers in Labrador and 13 rivers in Newfoundland. Three of the 13 assessed rivers in Newfoundland also enumerated juvenile salmon (smolt) migrating to sea.
- In 2016, Atlantic Salmon conservation egg requirements were achieved on one (25%) of the four assessed rivers in Labrador and seven (54%) of the 13 assessed rivers in Newfoundland.
- Seven of 14 (50%) monitored rivers recorded declines in total returns of greater than 30% in 2016 compared to their previous five-year mean. Declines of this magnitude over a wide geographic range are highly unusual for the NL Region warranting caution in managing stocks in 2017.
- Marine survival appears to be the major factor limiting the abundance of Atlantic Salmon within the region. Inter-annual variation in marine survival continues to fluctuate with survival in 2016 averaging 7.1% across three monitored rivers.
- Labrador Aboriginal and subsistence fisheries harvest was inferred from logbook returns (70% return rate) at 13,252 salmon (39 t) in 2016, which was 7% less, by number, than the previous six-year mean (2010-15) of 14,266 salmon (38 t).
- Recreational catch statistics for NL have been highly variable since 2005. Estimates of retained salmon in 2016 was 31,191 (55 t) and total catch (68,493 salmon, retained + 37,302 released) were 19% and 26% greater by number, respectively; than the previous five-year mean (2011-15).
- Genetic analysis of mixed stock Atlantic Salmon fisheries in coastal Labrador (2006-14), West Greenland (2011-14), and St. Pierre et Miquelon (2004, 2011-14), revealed significant differences in stock composition with Labrador exploiting 95.3% Labrador origin salmon. The other two fisheries exploited mixtures of migratory individuals.
- Total exploitation of the NL salmon populations by the three mixed stock fisheries (Labrador, West Greenland and St. Pierre et Miquelon) was less than 10% for large and 5% for small salmon.
- Genetic analysis of juvenile Atlantic Salmon from southern Newfoundland revealed that hybridization between wild and farmed salmon was extensive throughout Fortune Bay and Bay d’Espoir (17 of 18 locations), with one-third of all juvenile salmon sampled being of hybrid ancestry.
- The long-term consequences of continued farmed salmon escapes and subsequent interbreeding with wild Atlantic Salmon include a loss of genetic diversity.
- With respect to reference points it was proposed that the lower Limit Reference Point be set at the current conservation limit (100% CL) and the interim Upper Stock Reference point be set at 150% CL.
This Science Advisory Report is from the February 28 to March 1, 2017 Regional Peer Review Process “Assessment of Atlantic Salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador.” Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Advisory Scheduleas they become available.
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