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Atlantic Salmon - Newfoundland and Labrador Region

Salmon swimming in shallow water
Atlantic Salmon
(Salmo salar)


The purpose of this Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) is to identify the main objectives and requirements for the Newfoundland and Labrador Region Atlantic salmon fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the management measures that will be used to achieve these objectives. This document also serves to communicate basic information on the fishery and its management to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) staff, legislated co-management boards and committees, and other stakeholders. This IFMP provides a common understanding of the basic “rules” for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource.

This IFMP is not a legally binding instrument which can form the basis of a legal challenge. The IFMP can be modified at any time and does not fetter the Minister's discretionary powers set out in the Fisheries Act.  The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify any provision of the IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

Where DFO is responsible for implementing obligations under land claims agreements, the IFMP will be implemented in a manner consistent with these obligations. In the event that an IFMP is inconsistent with obligations under land claim agreements, the provisions of land claims agreements will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

As with any policy, the Minister retains the discretion to make exceptions to, or to change, this policy at any time. It is, however, DFO’s expectation and intention to follow the management process set out in this IFMP, with a view to contributing to increased certainty and direction for the recreational Atlantic salmon fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

This IFMP will be in effect until it is replaced. While the elements of this plan will remain in effect indefinitely, retention and catch and release limits are subject to annual review and may be adjusted based on updated Science information. This could include changes to annexes and website listings.

Signed: Jacqueline Perry, Regional Director General, Newfoundland and Labrador Region

Table of contents

1. Overview of the fishery
2. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge
3. Economic, social and cultural importance of the fishery
4. Management issues
5. Objectives
6. Access and allocation
7. Control and monitoring of removals
8. Shared stewardship arrangements
9. Compliance plan
10. Performance review
11. Glossary of terms
12. References

1. Overview of the fishery

1.1 History of the fishery

Atlantic salmon is an iconic fishery for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). Atlantic salmon fisheries in Atlantic Canada have faced enormous change over the past 50 years. All commercial Atlantic salmon fisheries have closed due primarily to declines in stock abundance; the commercial fishery for the island portion of the province closed in 1992 and in Labrador in 1998.

Management measures aimed at conservation and rebuilding were introduced in the 1980’s and 1990’s and are currently ongoing. In the NL Region, those management measures for recreational Atlantic salmon angling include season dates, closed areas, gear restrictions, licences and tags, river classification system, catch and release angling and individual river watershed management plans.

The Labrador resident and Indigenous fisheries are managed by an allocation to the respective groups, licences, and tags.

1.2 Type of fishery

There are two Atlantic salmon fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador:

Note: By-catch of Atlantic salmon is permitted in the Resident subsistence trout fishery in Labrador.

1.3 Participants

Based on licences sold, participation in the recreational salmon fishery by resident anglers declined from the mid-to-late 1990’s to a low of approximately 15,000 to 16,000 in the early 2000’s. Resident angling has increased in recent years, with 24,474 individual resident licences sold in 2017. The rate of non-resident angling has increased from approximately 1,300 in 1995 to 1,600 in 2005, and further increased to 2,592 in 2017.

Most anglers participating in insular Newfoundland rivers are residents, while Labrador rivers are mostly fished by non-resident anglers, primarily as guests at outfitting lodges. For more information on salmon licence sales, see Section 6.2.1.

In Labrador, there are three indigenous groups: Nunatsiavut Government, Innu Nation and NunaKutavut Community Council. A total of 17,200 salmon tags are issued annually to these groups for FSC harvesting.

In addition, there are 275 Labrador resident subsistence trout fishery licences issued annually which permit the by-catch retention of three Atlantic salmon per licence holder.

In insular Newfoundland the Miawpukek First Nation hold an FSC for various species, however, Atlantic salmon is not currently a species on this licence.

1.4 Location of the fishery

There are 394 rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador with anadromous Atlantic salmon populations, 186 of these rivers are scheduled rivers. Since 2018, retention of salmon is permitted on scheduled rivers only. Of the 186 scheduled rivers, 158 are located in insular Newfoundland and 28 are located in Labrador. The highest concentrations of angling effort are on the Gander, Exploits, and Humber Rivers in insular Newfoundland, and the Eagle and Sand Hill Rivers in Labrador (Appendix 2). There are also a number of non-scheduled rivers with salmon populations, especially in Labrador. Catch and release angling is permitted on non-scheduled waters, however, it is prohibited to retain salmon.

The Indigenous FSC fishery and the Resident subsistence trout fishery occurs mainly in estuaries and coastal areas in Labrador.

1.5 Recreational fishery characteristics

Fishing techniques used in the recreational salmon fishery include a single barbless hook with an artificial fly. Fishing from piers, shores, or beaches is most common, but anglers may also fish from boats. Salmon may be taken in inland waters only by angling using hook and line.

An artificial fly must be used for salmon angling on scheduled salmon waters throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. Only one hook may be used at a time. Regulations describe an artificial fly as a single barbless hook dressed with materials to attract fish. It is not baited, does not have a weight attached to sink it, and does not have a spinner or similar device attached. A barbed hook may be made barbless by cutting or filing off the barb or by pinching the barb flat so that it is in complete contact with the shaft of the hook. No person angling in any inland waters may use more than one rod and line at any time.

The recreational fishing season has a standard opening date of June 1 and a closing date of September 7 for all management zones in Insular Newfoundland (Zones 3-14A). In Labrador, (Zones 1 and 2 and 14B) there is a standard season date of June 15 to September 15. In addition, there is a fall catch-and-release only angling on the Gander, Exploits and Humber Rivers from September 8 to October 7. Fall angling retention on the main stem of lower Gander River is permitted subject to an in-season review.

1.6 Governance

The Newfoundland and Labrador recreational Atlantic salmon fishery is governed by the Fisheries Act, regulations made pursuant to the Act, and departmental policies. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages this fishery, and the Province is responsible for access following the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Regulations.

Fisheries in non-tidal waters within the province are a shared jurisdiction. The issuance of inland fishery licences, salmon licences, and guiding requirements are the responsibility of the Provincial Department of Fisheries and Land Resources.

The Labrador subsistence trout fishery that permits a by-catch of Atlantic salmon is managed by DFO. FSC licenses are issued under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licenses Regulations (ACFLRs) pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

The key regulations and policies that apply include, but are not limited to:

The Angler's Guide is published by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). It provides anglers with information on regulations pertaining to salmon angling in Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition, the Provincial Department of Fisheries and Land Resources provides anglers information on salmon tags, salmon licences, and guiding requirements.

1.7 Approval process

This Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) is approved by the Regional Director General of the NL Region. Management measures are developed and implemented throughconsultation with stakeholders, the provincial government, and Indigenous groups. Issues that arise will be addressed through the consultative processes. Proposed changes to management measures are tabled at the Labrador Salmonid Advisory Committee (LSAC) and the Salmon Advisory Committee (SAC) meetings.

Unless there are conservation issues, the intent is to manage the fishery based on the measures outlined in this IFMP. Stakeholders seeking new management measures for insular Newfoundland rivers are required to table their requests at DFO’s Salmonid Inland Compliance and Resource Management Salmon Workshop. These recommendations are tabled at the next SAC meeting. Stakeholders seeking new management measures for Labrador rivers are required to table their request at the LSAC advisory.

2. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge

2.1 Biological characteristics

Atlantic salmon are found throughout the North Atlantic Ocean. In Canada, they occur throughout the Maritime Provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador, eastern Quebec and the Ungava region of northern Quebec. There is also a small population in eastern Hudson Bay, the Nastapoka River, where some salmon migrate to the estuary, but these fish differ from the estuarine salmon of Ungava Bay.

Atlantic salmon are an iteroparous species (capable of spawning multiple times) and return to their natal river for spawning. Depending on the population, spawners returning to rivers are comprised of varying proportions of ‘maiden fish’ (spawning for the first time) and ‘repeat spawners’. For the majority of rivers in Newfoundland, small adult spawning salmon are predominantly grilse (1SW, one-sea-winter) that have a fork length less than 63 cm and have spent one year at sea before returning to spawn for the first time. Large salmon (fork length ≥ 63 cm) consists mainly of repeat spawning grilse or ‘multi-sea-winter’ fish (MSW), which spend two or more years at sea before spawning.

Adult Atlantic salmon generally return to their natal rivers from May to August after feeding in the ocean, although in some places salmon may return to rivers later in the fall (up to November). Spawning usually occurs in mid-October to early November in gravel-bottomed riffle areas of streams. Fertilization of eggs can involve both adult males and sexually mature juvenile males (precocious parr). Spawned-out, or spent, adult salmon (kelts) return to sea immediately after spawning or remain in freshwater until the following spring. Eggs incubate in the spawning nests (redds) over the winter months and hatch in April or May. Young salmon (parr) typically rear in fluvial (riverine) and lacustrine (standing water) habitats for two to five years in Newfoundland, and three to seven years in Labrador prior to undergoing smoltification (physiological change required to live in salt water) and migrating to the ocean as smolts in the spring (April to June).

Atlantic salmon are opportunistic feeders that consume a variety of organisms as juveniles in freshwater as well as post-smolts and adults at sea. In freshwater, juvenile salmon eat a variety of food organisms from surface drifting insects to benthic invertebrates, including mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, chironomids, and black flies. In the ocean, salmon commonly feed on different species of fish and fish larvae as well as various planktonic crustaceans and juvenile sand lance, capelin, herring, and cod.

2.2 Ecosystem interactions

In southern areas of the Atlantic salmon’s North American range, higher summer freshwater temperatures and lower minimum flows (drought) as a result of climate change will negatively affect production by limiting the amount of suitable habitat, increasing habitat fragmentation, and reducing egg and parr survival. Projected increases in spring and summer freshwater temperatures over longer durations in northern areas will increase growth rates and the production of smolts, although at a younger age and smaller size. However, population benefits gained through increased freshwater production in these areas are likely to be offset by reduced post-smolt growth, survival, recruitment and the condition of maturing adults due to concurrent increases in sea surface temperature (Robertson et al. 2013).

Climate warming is also expected to result in changes in phenological events in salmon life history such as timing of the return migration to freshwater from the sea, time of spawning, subsequent hatching and emergence of young fish, and the timing of smolt migrations to sea. Warming temperatures have already resulted in earlier smolt migrations to sea (Kennedy and Crozier 2010; Russell et al. 2012; Otero et al.2014), which could result in a mismatch with optimal conditions in the marine environment. Changes to earlier adult salmon run timing have also been observed in some North American populations where median date of return of some populations is progressively becoming earlier at a rate of about 0.5 - 0.9 d y-1 (Juanes et al. 2004; Dempson et al. 2017).

2.3 Aboriginal traditional knowledge

Aboriginal traditional knowledge (ATK) and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in the form of observations and comments from Aboriginal groups are considered in management decisions when provided.

Although DFO Science staff do not directly collect ATK/TEK, individual log books are submitted to DFO from the various Aboriginal groups which include information on fishing dates, specific fishing locations, as well as catch and effort. These data are compiled and used in the stock assessment process as noted below.

2.4 Stock assessment process

A peer-reviewed Atlantic salmon Science Regional Advisory Process (RAP) is conducted every two years with various stakeholder groups resulting in the production of a Science Advisory Report (SAR). In interim years, DFO Science prepares a Stock Status Update for Atlantic salmon through a Science Response Process (SRP). Documents from both CSAS processes can be found on our website. A summary of the most recent stock assessment can be found in Appendix 1.

Indicators of adult and juvenile (smolt) Atlantic salmon stocks are derived from data collected at monitoring facilities and fisheries catch statistics.


In 2016, the Department began implementing a 2-year science management cycle for the Atlantic salmon recreational fishery in the NL Region. Although management measures outlined in this plan were expected to remain the same over the 2-year period, changes could be warranted if there was a dramatic change in salmon stocks, particularly declines. To this end, Science identified ‘triggers/indicators’ that would warrant revisiting the salmon management plan earlier than the planned 2 years. Thus, these triggers mainly reflect significant conservation concerns related to the health and abundance of salmon stocks within the region.

If ‘triggers’ were met this would mean reconvening the Salmon Advisory Committee (SAC) and,depending on the circumstances, might also involve holding a Science Regional Advisory Process (RAP).

There are two scenarios where Science would ‘trigger’ revisiting the two-year plan earlier:

  1. >30% decline in total returns on ≥50% of DFO’s monitored rivers in any given year; or
  2. >25% decline in total returns on ≥50% of DFO’s monitored rivers in two consecutive years.

All comparisons will be made using both the previous 5-year mean (shorter-term trends) as well as the previous 10-year mean (longer-term trends).

For both these scenarios, Science would conduct an in-house review to consider other factors such as:

With respect to dramatic changes involving increases in stock abundance, rather than declines, it was felt that two years was a reasonable time frame when considering management changes that might result in increased harvests as well. This is mainly due to the inherent year-to-year variability on most rivers and taking a precautionary approach. It is important to note that any changes involving increased harvests would require an in-season review during the year of the proposed change.

The status of Atlantic salmon populations is assessed by comparing estimated egg deposition (calculated from salmon counts at monitoring facilities, recreational angling data, and biological characteristics of sampled fish) to the river-specific conservation egg requirement that is considered a limit reference point in the context of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Precautionary Approach Framework (O’Connell et al. 1997; Reddin et al. 2006; Chaput et al. 2012; Chaput 2015). Comparisons are made with reference to time periods during the Atlantic salmon commercial fishery (pre-moratorium years, prior to 1992 for Newfoundland and 1997/1998 for Labrador), commercial fishery moratorium years, and the previous generation of Atlantic salmon (a mean of five years for Newfoundland and six years for Labrador). It is important to note, however, that since there were two consecutive years of low returns in 2016 and 2017, which is highly unusual for the NL Region and has not been seen in the years since the commercial salmon moratorium in1992, it was decided during the annual Atlantic salmon RAP that comparisons of annual returns would be made relative to the generation mean prior to the significant declines observed in 2016 and 2017 (e.g. 2011-15 rather than 2013-17). This was decided as it was felt comparing 2018 returns to its previous five-year mean would not likely provide a true indication of the 2018 stock status (e.g., salmon returns might appear better than they actually were).

Scientific advice is provided for the management of Atlantic salmon stocks through an annual stock assessment for selected rivers throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. Currently, stock assessments are carried out on 18 monitored rivers distributed among nine of the 15 Salmon Fishing Areas (SFAs) in Newfoundland:

And 4 watersheds in Labrador:

These monitored rivers represent approximately 20% of the scheduled salmon river drainage area for the island portion of the Province, and 3% for Labrador. Smolt abundance is also monitored at five of these locations (Campbellton River, Rocky River, Garnish River, Conne River, and Western Arm Brook) providing estimates of marine survival. Counts of Atlantic salmon as well as biological samples (fish length, age, sex) are used in the annual Science assessment processes both regionally and international (ICES Working Group on North Atlantic Salmon - WGNAS). DFO Science also incorporate data from other rivers if presented at thestock assessment and deemed to be scientifically sound.

Salmonid harvests (Atlantic salmon, Arctic charr and Trout)

DFO works closely with the three Indigenous groups in Labrador (Nunatsiavut Government (NG), Innu Nation, and NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC), as well as Labrador resident fish harvesters to determine the harvest of Atlantic salmon, Arctic charr and Brook trout in the Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) or subsistence fisheries. As a condition of the licence, each participant receives a catch log and records their catch. At the end of the fishing season, the catch logs are returned to the issuer for data entry. Science receives this data from the various user groups and incorporates it into the annual stock assessment processes.

Labrador Atlantic salmon FSC and Subsistence Fisheries Sampling Program

Biological information and samples (fish length, weight, scale, and tissue) are collected from Atlantic salmon harvested in the Labrador FSC and subsistence fisheries by members of the various groups. Samples are sent to Science for analyses and the information is incorporated into the annual stock assessment processes.

Recreational (angling) catch statistics in Newfoundland and Labrador

Recreational anglers are requested to complete the Licence Stub portion of their salmon licence and return it to DFO at the end of the fishing season. Commercial salmon camps are also requested to provide catch and effort data to DFO. This data is compiled and analyzed by Science and incorporated into the annual stock assessment processes.

2.5 Precautionary approach

The Precautionary Approach in fisheries management is about being cautious when scientific knowledge is uncertain and not using the absence of adequate scientific information as a reason to postpone or fail to take action to avoid serious harm to fish stocks or their ecosystems. This approach is widely accepted as an essential part of sustainable fisheries management. Applying the Precautionary Approach to fisheries management decisions entails establishing a harvest strategy that:

DFO science uses river-specific percent conservation achieved (egg deposition) on monitored rivers to provide consistent advice to fisheries managers.

Salmon stocks are assessed based on two reference points: a Limit Reference Point and an Upper Stock Reference Point. These reference points are based on river-specific percent conservation achieved (i.e. the number of eggs deposited per square meter of habitat). The Limit Reference Point is set at 100% river-specific conservation, while the proposed Upper Stock Reference Point is 150% of the river-specific conservation.

Figure 1. For details, refer to description that follows.

Figure 1: Precautionary Approach Framework for Atlantic salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Precautionary Approach Framework indicating “Healthy/Harvest” zone in green, above the USR of 150% conservation achieved. The “Cautious” zone in yellow, between the USR and LRP, and the “Critical/No Harvest” zone in red, below the LRP of 100% conservation achieved. The Management Target is indicated at 150% conservation achieved.

The consequence of egg depositions below conservation to the long-term sustainability of the stock are unknown, however, the general premise is that the further below the limit reference point a stock is and the longer it remains at this level, the greater the risk of irreversible damage to the population. Stocks above the upper stock reference are considered healthy and, therefore, available for some predetermined maximum exploitation. In between these two points is the cautious zone, where the stock should be managed to promote increased population numbers to prevent the stock from falling into the critical zone.

Conservation requirements for Atlantic salmon rivers were calculated previously based on accessible habitat area and threshold egg deposition rates (O’Connell and Dempson 1995; O’Connell et al. 1996b). Egg deposition rates for conservation were set at 2.4 eggs per m2 of river rearing habitat and 368 eggs per hectare of lake habitat in SFAs 3-13. Lake habitat for SFA 14A was set at a lower rate of 105 eggs per hectare (O’Connell and Dempson 1995; O’Connell et al. 1997), while 1.9 eggs per m2 of river rearing habitat was established for Labrador rivers (Reddin et al. 2006).

2.6 Research

A primary goal of the DFO Science branch is to provide high quality knowledge, products, and scientific advice on Canadian aquatic ecosystems and living resources, with a vision of safe, healthy, productive waters and aquatic ecosystems. DFO conducts research activities both independently and in collaboration with other organizations.

Genetics of Atlantic salmon mixed-stock fisheries

DFO has created the first range wide Atlantic salmon single nucleotide polymorphism baseline to estimate stock-specific fishery associated exploitation of Atlantic Salmon in the Labrador Food, Social, and Ceremonial fishery (2006-2018), the west Greenland fishery (1968-2018), and the Saint Pierre and Miquelon Fishery (2004-2018) using genetic mixed stock approaches.  In general, this database can be used to identify the region of origin of salmon harvested at sea in Canadian waters and abroad. Composition of these harvests has been an ongoing issue of concern both nationally and internationally and these studies revealed significant differences in stock-specific exploitation. Failure to identify the composition of mixed stock harvests risks the over-exploitation and extinction of small and vulnerable salmon populations. The loss of which may threaten the inherent biodiversity of Atlantic salmon as well as its ability  to respond to changing environmental conditions and ultimately the stability and persistence of populations and fisheries.

Genetic structure of Atlantic salmon populations in Labrador, with emphasis on Lake Melville

In collaboration with Dalhousie University genetic analysis is being used to explore population structure among salmon rivers within Labrador, specifically Lake Melville, and to assign individuals harvested within the lake back to their river of origin. This will help inform joint DFO and Aboriginal fisheries management in the region.

Genetic structure of Atlantic salmon populations in Atlantic Canada

Using recent advances in genome scanning approaches, DFO has been able to identify multiple designatable units (DU’s) (i.e. populations) of Atlantic salmon along Newfoundland’s south coast and in Labrador.  This research used thousands of new genetic markers and identified the presence of multiple distinct groups, thus providing evidence for splitting the current management units in both cases.  COSEWIC will re-evaluate Atlantic salmon in 2021 and this work will directly inform the identification of populations as part of that effort. 

Genetic impacts of farmed escaped salmon on wild Atlantic salmon populations

DFO has developed genomic tools to accurately identify escaped farmed salmon and hybrids resulting from interbreeding between farmed and wild salmon. These tools have been used to examine impacts following an escape event in southern Newfoundland in 2013 and have detected significant levels of interbreeding and hybridization following this event. We continue to see escapees and hybridization each year that cannot be attributed to the 2013 escape event. Escape events have happened in both 2015 and 2018, and escapees are detected at the Garnish River counting fence in most years irrespective of whether an escape event has been reported or not.

These genomic tools and their application will be critical to identifying appropriate mitigation measures required to ensure that aquaculture is carried out in a sustainable manner in Atlantic Canada (i.e., ensures long-term sustainability of Atlantic salmon stocks).

Atlantic salmon telemetry research

DFO Science, in collaboration with various partners, are applying telemetry techniques to determine the migration routes and survival of Atlantic salmon in both freshwater and marine environments.  The telemetry techniques include passive integrated transponders (PIT), radio, acoustic, data storage and pop-off satellite (PSAT) tags. Projects are currently being conducted in Placentia Bay (various rivers), Garnish River, Campbellton River, Western Arm Brook, Lake Melville (various rivers), northern Labrador (2 rivers), southern Labrador (St. Lewis River) and a PSAT project tagging fish at West Greenland.

Remote sensing of salmon species using drone imagery

DFO Science is investigating the utility of drone imagry to detect and monitor the movement and habitat use of co-occurring salmonid species in remote northern Labrador rivers.

Effects of climate on long term changes in migratory timing of Atlantic salmon

There is increasing evidence illustrating changes in the migration timing of adult Atlantic salmon in various Newfoundland and Labrador rivers.  Overall warmer climate conditions in the Northwest Atlantic were associated with earlier salmon run timing.  Migration timing has also been shown to be a heritable trait.  Thus the consistent differences observed among several Newfoundland populations lend themselves to a comparative study examining the otsClock1b gene locus that could potentially provide a better understanding of environmental versus genetic mechanisms responsible for these differences, both informing and improving the conservation and management of Atlantic salmon populations.

Utility of angling data to infer trends in abundance of Atlantic salmon

The Salmonid section obtains information on adult Atlantic salmon abundance from 19 monitoring facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador from which the status of salmon populations is determined.  In addition to these facilities, recreational catch and effort data are available from an angling licence stub system from over 100 rivers; however; this data are not routinely used to infer trends in salmon abundance.  In 2013, a preliminary analysis examined the utility of angling data as an additional cost-effective approach to infer trends in salmon abundance across three spatial scales: local (individual rivers), intermediate (Salmon Fishing Areas) or broad (all Newfoundland). This research is continuing.

Angler response to changes in management measures on Harry’s River

Since 1997 four different harvest regimes have been employed in the management of Harry’s River salmon stock. These include: catch and release angling only; allowed recreational harvest after a mid-season review; recreational harvest for the entire fishing season; and recreational harvest for the entire season with additional harvest permitted after a mid-season review. Understanding how anglers respond to different management measures and the impact such measures have on the stock is critical to understanding the effectiveness of management decisions in controlling catch and effort.

Recall bias in angling logs

Catch and effort data obtained from salmon anglers is used to estimate harvest and exploitation rates, which in turn are used to assess the status of the stocks and estimate total abundance provincially. Work is ongoing to understand the bias that may be occurring in the angling data as a result of the time that elapses between the end of the fishing season and the reporting of catch and effort by the angler. A preliminary recall bias study was conducted in 2015 via a phone survey, where data submitted voluntarily by anglers through the licence stub program were compared to data provided by the same anglers up to six months after the fishing season ended. DFO Science aim to improve the study design and conduct a follow-up study in 2019 to better quantify the degree of angler bias in the recreational salmon fishery and potentially correct river-specific angling estimates for this.

Warm water angling protocols for the conservation of Atlantic salmon

Dependant on handling practices, studies have shown that mortality rates following catch and release range between 0 and 12% at water temperatures ≤ 18°C; however, at water temperatures > 18°C significant increases in mortality are more likely, as the synergistic effects of high water temperature and exhaustive exercise (associated with the capture process) impede recovery. Fisheries Managers implement angling closures when water temperature is high. The 2019 protocol is outlined in Section 7.3. DFO is currently developing a model to predict mortality rate for caught and released Atlantic salmon at a various water temperatures. Additionally DFO is comparing temporal trends in river temperature and environmental closures across Newfoundland and Labrador to help predict future impacts of climate change on the fishery, and to inform furture management decisions.

3. Economic, social and cultural importance of the fishery

3.1 Socio-economic profile

Estimates based on salmon licence log returns indicate that for 2016, angling effort was 146,000 rod days and resulted in the retention of 30,000 salmon, and the catch and release of about 36,000 (of which 11,000 were large salmon). In 2017, angling effort was estimated at 41,056 rod days and resulted in the retention of 19,000 salmon, and the catch and release of approximately 30,000 (of which 8,000 were large salmon). In 2018, angling effort was estimated at 31,263 rod days.

From 1994 to 2016, rod days in Newfounland and Labrador generally exceeded 100,000 rod days. The decrease in rod days in recent years may be attributed to hot and dry summers in 2017 and 2018 leading to more river closures, as well as a reduction in seasonal retention limits which may deter anglers who prefer to retain fish.

The following table summarizes salmon licence sales in Newfoundland and Labrador from 2014 to 2018. This data is estimated from refunded licenses from vendors to the Province of NL:

Table 1: Salmon licence sales in Newfoundland and Labrador from 2014 to 2018.
Licence type 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
Salmon (Non-Resident - Family) 70 375 487 480 450
Salmon (Non-Resident - Individual) 1,811 2,217 2,490 2,487 2,215
Salmon (Resident - Family) 691 2,972 3,469 3,619 3,733
Salmon (Resident - Individual - Senior) 0 4,532 4,562 4,041 3,891
Salmon (Resident - Individual) 26,060 16,920 19,474 19,177 18,472
Total 28,632 27,016 30,482 29,804 28,761

3.2 Viability and market trends

The national Surveys of Recreational Fishing in Canada provide an indication of some of the economic activity generated by salmon fishing activity in NL. The most recent survey for which data is available provides estimates for 2010. In this year in NL, recreational salmon expenditures and investments, wholly attributable to salmon angling, totalled about $20 million. The portion of this contributed by non-resident anglers was about $3.5 million. If expenditures partially attributed to salmon angling are included, the total salmon expenditures and investments by all anglers in NL in 2010 increases to approximately $31 million.

3.3 Cultural significance

Indigenous Peoples play an important role in wildlife conservation and it is necessary to consider Aboriginal traditional knowledge (ATK). There are five Indigenous groups in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador. These Indigenous groups have long depended on Atlantic salmon for FSC purposes. DFO supports Indigenous groups by providing funding and working closely together on Indigenous-led projects that address and conserve species such as salmon. Atlantic salmon is an iconic fishery for the indigenous people of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL).

4. Management issues

4.1 Conservation

Conservation of Atlantic salmon stocks is of utmost importance in NL as salmon are important to the culture and socio-economic fabric of NL. Specific actions are taken to ensure protection of fish and freshwater and marine habitats. Continuation of a management strategy that is responsive to rivers with salmon populations and addresses conservation concerns on rivers is crucial.

In order to achieve this, management of Atlantic salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador is adaptive in nature in order to respond to stock status and environmental changes to ensure the conservation of Atlantic salmon is achieved. As such DFO strives to maintain stock sustainability and stability in the recreational salmon industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

4.2 Marine conservation targets

The Government of Canada is working with provinces, other federal departments/agencies, Indigenous groups, industry and environmental organizations, and other stakeholders to increase the amount of ocean area formally protected by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other effective conservation measures.   While some conservation areas, such as the Gilbert Bay MPA in Labrador, include measures that provide some protection to salmon, none of the marine conservation areas currently in place around Newfoundland and Labrador were established with a specific objective of protecting Atlantic Salmon.  The Department is working to consider and include Atlantic Salmon as a priority or objective for possible additional marine conservation areas that may be established in the future.

4.3 Habitat considerations

DFO seeks to conserve and protect fish and fish habitat that supports Canada’s fisheries resources through the application of the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act. Key provisions of the Fisheries Act include:

The DFO-Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program (FFHPP) works with proponents that conduct projects near water to avoid HADD or death of salmon at all life stages. As a result, FFHPP has developed specific timing windows for in-water work in NL to avoid impacts to salmon and salmon habitat. In-water work should be avoided in:

For projects occurring in or near water in which a HADD or death of fish cannot be avoided, FFHPP undertakes athorough review to ensure proponents implement appropriate mitigations measures and minimize the HADD to salmon at all life stages. Where a HADD or death of fish cannot be avoided or mitigated, FFHPP ensures compliance with the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act by issuing authorizations and permits, when appropriate, with conditions for offsetting, monitoring, and reporting. As well FFHPP undertakes monitoring to ensure compliance with conditions of Authorizations or conformity to advice provide in Letters of Advice.

4.4 Catch monitoring

Return of logbooks and catch reporting are mandatory in this fishery. These are important tools for the overall management of the fishery and the science assessment process. Logbook information is dependent upon the return of accurate information by anglers. Return rates have fallen between 20-25% over the past 5-10 years, which is considered low.

4.5 Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) was formed in 1977 to provide Canadians with a single, scientifically sound classification of wildlife species at risk of extinction. COSEWIC began its assessments in 1978 and has met each year since then to assess wildlife species.

COSEWIC proposed Designatable Units (DU) for Atlantic salmon populations in Canada with five identified for Newfoundland (4) and Labrador (1). South Newfoundland DU 4 (SFA’s 9-12) was recommended as threatened in November 2010. A Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA) for DU 4 salmon was conducted in 2012. This DU has not been listed to Schedule 1 of SARA registry. For more information on the COSEWIC process and documentation (PDF 2.7 MB), please refer to registry.

4.6 International issues

The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) is an international organization formed to promote the conservation, restoration, enhancement and rational management of Atlantic salmon stocks in the North Atlantic Ocean.  It plays a leadership role amongst Regional Fisheries Management Organizations by providing guidelines and conducting research on the management of the Atlantic salmon.

Canada is a member of NASCO. As such, Canada’s national goals and objectives are to restore and maintain healthy wild Atlantic salmon populations. This will be achieved by rebuilding and protecting the biological foundations of wild Atlantic salmon while taking into consideration the social, cultural, ecological and economic benefits of wild salmon for now and for the future generations of Canadians.

Representatives from Canada participate in various working groups of NASCO. These include the Scientific Advisory Council, the International Atlantic Salmon Research Board, and the Future Reporting under Implementation Plans and Evaluation of Reports. As well, Canada actively participates on the North American Commission and the West Greenland Commission.

5. Obectives

DFO strives to manage the recreational Atlantic salmon fishery based on the principles of stock conservation and sustainable harvest, ecosystem health and sustainability, and stewardship. Using the following short and long-term objectives as guideposts, various management measures have been implemented or are being developed to maximize the benefit of this resource.

A review of the short-term and long-term objectives during the planning cycle is an integral part of assessing the performance of the fishery. During the regional assessment process on the status of the stock, DFO Science may consider the applicable objectives in providing its advice. For fisheries management, the advisory meeting with stakeholders is a formal setting to review both short and long-term objectives. In addition to these formal reviews, DFO officials and industry representatives have an on-going dialogue on the fishery on a year-round basis. These informal discussions provide opportunities to review objectives and identify issues for discussion at the salmon advisory meetings.

DFO NL Region completes an annual internal post-season review with participation from Resource Management, Conservation and Protection, and Science staff. Regional headquarters and area-based staff participate in this process to identify local, area, and regional fishery performance issues. DFO undertakes every effort to outline steps to address the issues, including assigning responsibility and setting timelines for completion. Those items not resolved during the post-season review are carried forward to the following year to be addressed.

5.1 Stock conservation and sustainable harvest

Conservation and the long-term sustainability of the salmon stocks is one of the most important objectives for DFO. It is vital that the stocks grow and provide benefits for all stakeholders in the short and long-term. DFO will work with all stakeholders to ensure this objective is achieved and that the salmon stocks support an economically viable and self-reliant fishery.

Harvest levels will be set that allow for the stock to grow and the mature biomass to increase. Consideration will be given to the level of recruitment in this stock. Furthermore, the recreational Atlantic salmon fishery will be managed such that catches are not concentrated in ways that result in high exploitation rates on any of the stock components.

5.2 Economically viable and self-reliant fishery

The Government of Canada recognizes that wild Atlantic salmon is an important iconic species for Canadians. It is fished for food, social, and ceremonial (FSC) purposes by more than forty First Nations throughout Canada and many Indigenous communities. In central and coastal Labrador, it is relied on for local community food fisheries. Salmon angling is also a valued recreational activity by both local residents and non-residents.

Atlantic salmon is important to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador both culturally and economically. Our management approaches strive to balance conservation and socio-economic considerations and takes into account stakeholder input and science advice.

In addition, our decisions take into account the impacts on the tourism industry and local communities near rivers open to angling.

5.3 Ecosystem health and sustainability

Ecosystem health is essential for effective fisheries management. The sustainability of salmon as a species within the food web as both a prey species and a predator will strengthen the long-term health of the ecosystem.

To do so, DFO promotes fishing practices that avoid or mitigate impact on bycatch species, and continuously works towards improving the accuracy and completeness of reporting to improve understanding of species interactions and management.

5.4 Stewardship

The shared stewardship management objective is key to management of Atlantic salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador. It recognizes that participants and all stakeholders must become involved in fisheries management policy development and the decision-making process. It also recognizes that achievement of the conservation objective requires that governments, resource users and other stakeholders share responsibility for the implementation of fisheries management decisions and for their outcomes.

There are several stewardship groups throughout Newfoundland and Labrador who are committed to Atlantic salmon conservation. These groups have become custodians of Atlantic salmon in their own areas. As a result, many groups have been involved in restoring salmon rivers and habitat, actively provide educational awareness, and take an active role in managing their areas. This local management includes consultation and recommendations that feed into DFO’s larger consultative process.

DFO is committed to consultation with resource users and stakeholders on a wide range of issues to allow an opportunity for stakeholders and members of the public to share their views and perspectives regarding salmon, salmon habitat, and associated ecosystems.

Stewardship groups in NL Region hold area consultations whichfeed into the department’s consultation process.

6. Access and allocation

The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify access, allocations and sharing arrangements as outlined in this IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

6.1 Food, Social, and Ceremonial (FSC) fishery

In response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision interpreting Section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982, Fisheries and Oceans Canada provided resource access to Indigenous Groups of Labrador for Food, Social, and Ceremonial (FSC) purposes. In Labrador, there are three Indigenous groups who participate in FSC fishery: the Nunatsiavut Government, the Innu Nation, and the NunaKutavut Community Council. In Newfoundland the Miawpukek First Nation and the Qalipu First Nation Band have access to salmon for FSC purposes through the recreational fishery.

In Labrador, a total of 17,200 salmon tags are issued to these groups for the annual FSC harvest. Reported annual harvests of salmon from the Labrador FSC fishery have ranged from 15.6 metric tonnes (t) to 42.4 t during 2000 to 2017, representing between 4,800 to 11,100 small salmon (< 63 cm fork length) and 1,400 to 6,400 large (≥ 63 cm fork length) salmon annually. Each year, the reported harvests have been less than the maximum tags available for these fisheries.

DFO has conducted analysis on the genetic component of this fishery, as outlined in Section 2.6. Genetic stock identification of the catches indicates that the majority (>96%) of the catches originate from the Labrador designatable unit.

6.2 Recreational fishery

DFO is responsible for the management of Atlantic salmon fisheries in NL. Management measures for recreational salmon fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador are developed in consultation with user groups and stakeholders including anglers, outfitters, conservationists, Indigenous groups, and the Provincial government as described in Section 5.3. The management of FSC fisheries is negotiated with the specific Indigenous group.The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard may make changes to management measures for conservation reasons.

The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, Wildlife Division is responsible for the issuance of licences for inland fisheries including Atlantic salmon.

6.2.1 Licensing

Inland fishery licences are issued by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Licences may be obtained from commercial vendors such as sporting good shops, services stations, other small local retailers throughout the province, or from the Provincial Government Service Centres. Licence fees and implementation are subject to change over the life of this plan.

The licence categories and fees are as follows (note these fees do not include the vendor’s processing fee of $3 per licence and applicable HST):

Figure 2. For details, refer to the table that follows.

Figure 2: Salmon licence sales in Newfoundland and Labrador. Source: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Lands Resources.

Licence type 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Salmon (Non-Resident - Family) 450 480 487 375 70
Salmon (Non-Resident - Individual) 2,215 2,487 2,490 2,217 1,811
Salmon (Resident - Family) 3,733 3,619 3,469 2,972 691
Salmon (Resident - Individual - Senior) 3,891 4,041 4,562 4,532 0
Salmon (Resident - Individual) 18,472 19,177 19,474 16,920 26,060
Total 28,761 29,804 30,482 27,016 28,632

6.3 By-catch in the Labrador resident subsistence trout fishery

There is a long-standing tradition of a subsistence trout net fishery in Labrador. A trout net licence is required and available to residents of Labrador to harvest trout for food purposes. Within the trout net fishery, there is an authorized by-catch of Atlantic salmon. Tags for salmon are issued on an individual fish harvester basis to attach to salmon so that legally caught salmon could be identified and accounted. There are approximately 275 licences issued in Labrador. A maximum by-catch of three Atlantic salmon can be retained per licence. When three salmon have been taken the individual must cease fishing for trout and remove their gear from the water.

6.4 Commercial fishery

There is no commercial fishery for Atlantic salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador. A moratorium on commercial salmon fishing began in 1992 for the island portion of the province and 1998 in Labrador.

7. Control and monitoring of removals

7.1 Season limits, daily bag limits, and tag use

Seasonal retention limits may be set on rivers where retention of Atlantic salmon is permitted. Generally, river classification reflects the number of salmon that can be retained. On Class 2 rivers anglers can retain two salmon, on Class 4 and unclassified rivers anglers can retain four salmon, and on Class 6 rivers anglers can retain six salmon. Retention limits may change subject to DFO science advice. Due to low returns in 2017/2018, the classification of rivers were changed to allow for a lower retention of salmon for conservation purposes.

The assigned river class is based on a number of factors, including salmon population, spawner returns, river size, angling pressure, and remoteness of the river. Salmon retention is not permitted on Class 0 rivers and unscheduled rivers. In addition, retention of salmon is not permitted in coastal waters.

Salmon tags are issued with the licence. Tags must be immediately and securely locked through the gills and mouth of retained salmon, and the month and day must immediately be clearly cut out and removed from the vinyl portion of the tag.

7.1.1 Catch and release

Catch and release angling is a management tool that is utilized throughout the North Atlantic. DFO considers this to be a viable management option. Catch-and-release limits are in addition to the retention limits. Three fish are permitted to be caught and released on all scheduled rivers in NL with the exception of Class 0 rivers where the catch and release limit is two fish per day.

DFO promotes the safe and responsible practice of release techniques to help ensure salmon survival. These techniques are outlined in the Anglers Guide, and are also available in an educational video: Catch and release practices.

7.2 Fishing seasons/areas

Table 2: Season dates for recreational salmon fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Zone Description Opening date Closing date
Zone 13 Cape Ray to Cape St. Gregory June 1 September 7
Zones 9-13 Cape Race to Cape Ray June 1 September 7
Zones 3-8 Cape Bauld to Cape Race June 1 September 7
Zone 14A Cape St. Gregory to Cape Bauld June 1 September 7
Zones 1-2 Labrador North and East June 15 September 15
Zone 14B L'Anse au Clair to Cape Charles June 15 September 15
Fall Season Gander River, Exploits River and Humber River September 8 October 7

Fishery openings and closings will be communicated through DFO’s Notice to Anglers’ system.

7.3 Environmental protocol

Due to increasing water temperatures and the trends of declining returns of Atlantic salmon in the rivers of Eastern Canada, measures are in place to limit angling activity and mitigate fishing mortality. In Newfoundland and Labrador, an environmental protocol is implemented such that rivers may close or partially close due to extremely low water levels and/or extremely high water temperatures. Rivers closed in-season may reopen as conditions improve.

The department implemented a one-year environmental protocol pilot project in 2019. The management actions are as follows:

When the water temperature in a river exceeds 20.0 degrees Celsius (< 20.0°C) over two to three days, the department will consider closing the river to angling from 10:01 a.m. each day to one hour before sunrise the following day, until conditions improve. Therefore, the river would be opened daily from one hour before sunrise to 10:00 a.m. when water temperatures are typically at their coolest. Secondary parameters such as water levels and weather forecast will also be considered.

The river could re-open when the temperatures fall to 20 degrees Celsius or below (≤ 20.0°C). Secondary parameters such as water levels and weather forecast will also be considered.

Following a precautionary approach, an additional management action will be applied to rivers that are open for catch and release only angling (Class 0 rivers) as follows:

When the water temperature in a Class 0 river exceeds 18.0 degrees Celsius (< 18°C) over two to three days, the department will consider closing the river to angling from 10:01 a.m. each day to one hour before sunrise the following day, until conditions improve. Therefore, the river would be opened daily from one hour before sunrise to 10:00 a.m. when water temperatures are typically at their coolest. Secondary parameters such as water levels and weather forecast will also be considered.

The Class 0 river could re-open when the water temperatures decrease to 18.0 degrees Celsius or below (≤ 18.0°C). Secondary parameters such as water levels and weather forecast will also be considered.

7.4 Labrador mixed stock fishery

A mixed stock fishery is one that takes fish from different river stocks. The FSC fisheries for Atlantic salmonare considered mixed stock fisheries. These fisheries take place in estuaries and coastal areas using gillnets. The majority of the salmon harvested occurs in fishing locations categorized as estuaries with a reduced potential to intercept salmon from non-local stocks.

In order to protect the abundance and diversity of the stocks intercepted in this fishery, there are several management measures in place. The management measures include a number of conditions related to gear, seasons, weekly fishery closures, carcass tagging of harvested salmon, a logbook program for reporting catches, a limit on total harvest using tags, and a prohibition on sales of Atlantic salmon.

7.5 Logbooks

Anglers are required to record information about fishing catch and effort, and submit this data in the form of a licence stub as specified in the conditions of licence or submit their angling activity online at Salmon Angling Log. Anglers are responsible for submitting their own logbook data to the department. Information that is recorded in logbooks includes: river, date, number of hours angled, fishing zone, and number salmon retained / released. A log must be submitted even if there was no fishing activity.

8. Shared stewardship arrangements

8.1 Watershed management plans

Individual watershed management plans have been developed to improve angling opportunities and to help meet conservation objectives by taking into consideration the health of individual river stocks. Regulations may affect bag limit, season length, fish length, and limit of fish retained.

The following rivers currently have watershed management plans:

9. Compliance plan

9.1 Conservation and Protection Program description

The deployment of Conservation and Protection (C&P) resources in the fishery is conducted in accordance with management plan objectives, as well as in response to emerging issues. The mix of enforcement options available and over-riding conservation objectives determine the level and type of enforcement activity. 

Work plans at the regional, area, and detachment levels are designed to establish priorities based on management objectives and conservation concerns. The monitoring and evaluation elements of enforcement work plans facilitate in-season adjustments should conservation concerns and/or significant occurrences of non-compliance emerge.

The NL Region Fishery Guardian program has 90 fishery guardians dedicated to inland fisheries and account for approximately 55,000 hours annually.

9.2 Compliance performance

The Conservation and Protection program promotes and maintains compliance with legislation, regulations, and management measures implemented to achieve the conservation and sustainable use of Canada’s aquatic resources, and the protection of species at risk, fish habitat and oceans.

The program is delivered through a balanced regulatory management and enforcement approach. Specifically:

Pillar 1: Education and shared stewardship

Conservation and Protection officers actively participate in consultation processes with stakeholders, the fishing industry, and Indigenous groups to address compliance issues. Informal meetings with stakeholders also occur on an ad-hoc basis to resolve in-season matters, in addition to regular interaction with fish harvesters. The consultative process may include C&P membership on area integrated management planning committees which are comprised of fish harvesters, representatives from the provincial and federal governments, and other community groups with an interest in fishery conservation issues.

Fishery officers also visit local schools and educational institutions to present and discuss fisheries conservation issues and use this information as part of the C&P planning process.

Pillar 2: Monitoring, control, and surveillance

Compliance monitoring

C&P promotes compliance with management measures governing the fishery through:

For Atlantic salmon, air craft surveillance is used for monitoring illegal netting along coastal waters, as well as larger inland bodies of water. Patrols by vehicle, vessel, and fixed-wing aircraft are conducted in accordance with operational plans which are developed based on available intelligence. ATV and on foot patrols are also utilized for inland waters.

Each C&P detachment ensures that monitoring and inspections are carried out on a routine basis.

C&P supplies best-known available local information to the National Fisheries Intelligence Service for processing and uses this intelligence to combat all types of illegal fishing activity. 

Compliance performance

C&P conducts post-season analysis sessions to review issues encountered during the previous season and to make recommendations on improving management measures. The initial sessions are conducted at the area level, followed by a regional session with other DFO sectors. Additionally, C&P co-hosts an annual inland compliance workshop with DFO Fisheries Management which includes a review of C&P strategies and resources.

Pillar 3: Major case

C&P recognizes the need to focus attention on high-risk illegal activities that pose significant threat to the achievement of conservation objectives, which usually cannot be addressed through education or routine monitoring. Some individuals, usually motivated by financial gain, persist through various complex and well-coordinated means in hiding illegal activities which put Canada’s aquatic resources at risk.

C&P will focus on high-risk illegal activities that pose significant conservation threats. Detailed analysis of licence holders and possibly companies will be completed using:

Targeting of high risk violators and / or processing facilities will be also be a primary focus should intelligence gathered warrant such action. Any resulting operations will be conducted in conjunction with NFIS staff, additional field staff, and area resources as required.

9.3 Current compliance issues

Compliance issues in the recreational Salmon fishery include:

Illegal harvesting of salmon will be a primary focus of C&P efforts for the duration of this IFMP.

C&P will focus enforcement efforts on compliance issues such as illegal harvesting of salmon, use of proper catch and release, closed rivers/monitoring environmental conditions, and covert operations.

9.4 Compliance strategy

C&P has developed an operational plan that outlines monitoring and compliance activities that will be carried out by C&P personnel adjacent to their patrol area of responsibility based on Detachment boundaries. The plan provides guidance for C&P, promotes effective monitoring of the fishery, and enables C&P personnel to effectively maintain compliance with management measures governing this fishery. The objective of the plan is to collect information for ensuring compliance and conducting investigations.

The objective is to collect information for ensuring compliance and conducting investigations. Sources of information used by C&P include:

10. Performance review

The Performance Review outlines the activities and controls that are used in achieving fisheries management objectives outlined in Section 5. Objectives. Table 3 identifies the specific strategies that are used to achieve fisheries management objectives.

Table 3: Measurable Objectives/Activities and Fisheries Management Strategies.
Objectives Fisheries management strategies
Conservation and sustainable harvest
To conserve the Atlantic salmon resource to provide recreational and subsistence sustainability to fish harvesters
  • Fishing season
  • Daily limit
  • Season limit
  • Environmental protocols
To mitigate the impacts on other species, habitat and the ecosystem where Atlantic salmon fishing occurs, protecting biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function
  • Prohibit the use of monofilament netting material in commercial gillnet fisheries where applicable
To promote the development of sustainable fishing practices
  • No retention of small salmon (<30 cm)
  • No retention of large salmon (>63 cm)
To employ effective monitoring and surveillance tools and mechanisms that ensure compliance with conservation measures and provide scientists with appropriate information and basic data required to manage the Atlantic salmon fishery
  • Accurate completion of logbooks
  • Fishery Guardian program
  • Aboriginal Fishery Guardian Program
Benefits stakeholders 
To promote the continued development of a viable and self-sustaining fishery
  • Where possible, early decision made
To provide fish harvesters with increased opportunity to develop long-term business stability
  • Evergreen management plans
  • Where possible, early decision made
To promote a co-management approach, providing stakeholders and indigenous groups with an effective sharing of responsibility, accountability and, decision making within the constraints of the Fisheries Act
  • Establish an effective consultative process for indigenous groups, stakeholders and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to participate in the decision-making process
  • Improve management of fishery through co-management with indigenous groups, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and stakeholders

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) measures the performance of the fisheries that it manages through the Sustainability survey for fisheries (SFF). The survey is published every year and currently includes 170 fish stocks, with more added each year. The fish stocks were selected because of their economic or cultural importance; they represent the majority of total catch of fisheries managed by DFO.

The sustainability survey for fisheries reports on the status of each fish stock and DFO’s progress to implement its Sustainable Fisheries Framework policies, a set of national policies to guide the sustainable management of Canada’s fisheries.

11. Glossary of terms

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge: knowledge that is held by and unique to Aboriginal peoples. It is a living body of knowledge that is cumulative and dynamic, and adapted over time to reflect changes in the social, economic, environmental, spiritual and political spheres of the Aboriginal knowledge holders. It often includes knowledge about the land and its resources, spiritual beliefs, language, mythology, culture, laws, customs and medicines.

Abundance: number of individuals in a stock or a population

Age composition: proportion of individuals of different ages in a stock or in the catches

Anadromous: a species such as Atlantic salmon that spends most of its life at sea but returns to fresh water grounds to spawn in the river it comes from

Angle or angling: Fishing, or attempting to fish, with a hook and a line with the line held in the hand, or with a hook, line and rod held in the hand. This includes casting and trolling.

Area/subarea: an area defined by the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries by NAFO, and as described in the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985.

Biomass: total weight of all individuals in a stock or a population

Bioregion: a biogeographic division of Canada's marine waters out to the edge of the Exclusive Economic Zone, and including the Great Lakes, based on attributes such as bathymetry, influence of freshwater inflows, distribution of multi-year ice, and species distribution. Canada’s marine protected areas network is being advanced in five priority marine bioregions: the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Scotian Shelf, the Newfoundland-Labrador Shelves, the Western Arctic, and the Northern Shelf.

By-catch: the unintentional catch of one species when the target is another species

Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE): the amount caught for a given fishing effort, e.g. tonnes of shrimp per tow or kilograms of fish per hundred longline hooks

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):  committee of experts who assess and designate which wild species are in some danger of disappearing from Canada

Communal commercial licence: licence issued to Aboriginal organizations pursuant to the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations for participation in the general commercial fishery

Discards: portion of a catch thrown back into the water after it is caught in fishing gear

Ecosystem-based management: taking into account species interactions and the interdependencies between species and their habitats when making resource management decisions

Fishing effort: quantity of effort using a given fishing gear over a given period of time

Fishing mortality: death caused by fishing, often symbolized by the mathematical symbol F

Fixed gear: a type of fishing gear that is set in a stationary position. This includes traps, weirs, gillnets, longlines, handlines, bar/beach seines and modified bar seines (known as tuck seines)

Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC): a fishery conducted by Aboriginal groups for food, social and ceremonial purposes

Hooks or hooked: means to be in possession of a hook and line with the line held in the hand, or a hook, line and rod with the rod held in the hand, when a fish takes the attached bait, lure, or artificial fly.

Mixed-stock fishery: A fishery taking salmon from two or more river stocks

Population: group of individuals of the same species, forming a breeding unit, and sharing a habitat

Precautionary approach: set of agreed cost-effective measures and actions, including future courses of action, which ensures prudent foresight, reduces or avoids risk to the resource, the environment, and the people, to the extent possible, taking explicitly into account existing uncertainties and the potential consequences of being wrong

Quota: portion of the Total Allowable Catch that a fleet, vessel class, association, country, etc. is permitted to take from a stock in a given period of time

Recruitment: the number of individuals growing large enough to become part of the exploitable stock, e.g. that can be caught in a fishery

Resident angler: Any Canadian citizen residing in the province six consecutive months or more, or any person residing in the province 12 consecutive months or more, or a member of the RCMP or Canadian Armed Forces stationed in the province (no minimum time), or a member of the RCMP or Canadian Armed Forces who was born in the province, but is stationed elsewhere and is visiting the province

Non-resident angler: An angler who is not a resident angler.

Species at Risk Act (SARA): a federal law enabling the Government to take action to prevent wildlife species from becoming extinct and secure the necessary actions for their recovery. It provides the legal protection of wildlife species and the conservation of their biological diversity.

Spawner: sexually mature individual

Spawning stock: sexually mature individuals in a stock

Stock: a population of individuals of one species found in a particular area, and used as a unit for fisheries management, e.g. NAFO area 4R Herring

Stock assessment: scientific evaluation of the status of a fish stock within a particular area in a given time period

Traditional Ecological Knowledge: a cumulative body of knowledge and beliefs, handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and with their environment

Validation: the verification by an observer of the weight of fish landed

Year-class: individuals of a same stock born in a particular year, also called "cohort"

12. References

CAFSAC 1991. Definition of conservation for Atlantic salmon. CAFSAC Advisory Document 91/15.

Chaput, G., A. Cass, A.-M. Huang, and G. Veinott. 2012. Considerations for defining reference points for semelparous species, with emphasis on anadromous salmonid species including ineroparus salmonids. Canadian Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2012/146.

Chaput, G. 2015. Considerations for defining reference points for Atlantic salmon that conform to the precautionary approach. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2015/074.

Chaput, G., E. Prevost, J. B. Dempson, M. Dionne, R. Jones, A. Levy, M. J. Robertson, and G. Veinott. 2015. Hierarchical Bayesian modelling of Atlantic salmon egg to smolt time series from monitored rivers of eastern Canada to define and transport reference points. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2015/075.

COSEWIC. 2010. COSEWIC assessment and status report on Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa, 136 pp.

Dempson, J. B., C. J. Schwarz, I. R. Bradbury, M. J. Robertson, G. Veinott, R. Poole, and E. Colbourne. 2016. Influence of climate and abundance on migration timing of adult Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) among rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador. Ecology of Freshwater Fish doi: 10.1111/eff.12271

DFO. 2015a. Stock Assessment of Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Salmon – 2013. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2014/023

DFO. 2015b. Atlantic Salmon (Salmo Salar) Stock Status Update in Newfoundland and Labrador for 2014. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2015/023 (Erratum: December 2015).

DFO. 2015c. Development of reference points for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) that conform to the Precautionary Approach. DFO Canadian Scientific Advisory Secretariat Science Advisory Report 2015/058.

Gardner Pinfold. 2011. Economic Value of Wild Atlantic Salmon. Prepared for Atlantic Salmon Federation, September 2011. Retreived from Atlantic Salmon Federation website (PDF 2.4 MB)

Juanes, F., Gephard, S. and Beland, K. F. 2004. Long-term changes in migration timing of adult Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) at the southern edge of the species distribution. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 61: 2392-2400.

Kennedy, R. J. and Crozier, W. W. 2010. Evidence of changing migratory patterns of wild Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolts in the River Bush, Northern Ireland, and possible associations with climate change. Journal of Fish Biology 76: 1786-1805.

O’Connell, M.F., and Dempson, J.B. 1995. Target spawning requirements for Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar L., in Newfoundland rivers. Fish. Manag. Ecol. 2: 161-170.

O'Connell, M.F.; Reddin, D.G.; Mullins, C.C. 1996b. Status of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar L.) in eight rivers in the Newfoundland Region, 1995. DFO Atlantic Fisheries Res. Doc. 96/106.

Otero et al. 2014. Basin-scale phenology and effects of climate variability on global timing of initial seaward migration of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Global Change Biology 20: 61-75.

Appendix 1 - Stock assessment results

The stock assessment of Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Salmon from 2017 is available on our website.

Science advice, proceedings, and stocks assessments/scientific evaluations resulting from Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) meetings are also available in the CSAS publications section.

Appendix 2 - Map of Atlantic salmon fishing areas

Map of Labrador salmon fishing area boundaries
Map of Newfoundland salmon fishing area boundaries

Appendix 3 - Enforcement data for Atlantic salmon

Salmon violoations from the Inland Program. For details, refer to the table that follows.
Salmon violations from Inland Program from 2014 to 2018
Occurrence type 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
Other legislation 34 10 30 10 6
Area/time 17 9 21 30 24
Gear - illegal/used illegally 41 47 80 78 6
Assault/obstruction 3 2 2   1
Illegal buy/sell/possess 16 27 31 24 30
Illegal transportation 0 0 1    
Inspection 11 14 2 3  
Quota/bag limit 0 5 3 6 1
Registration/licence 11 17 25 10 18
Reporting 11 4   6  
Species/size limit 0 5 1   2

Appendix 4 - Departmental contacts

Contact Telephone Fax E-mail
Regional headquarters, St. John's
General information 709-772-4423 709-772-3628 P. O. Box 5667
St. John’s, NL, A1C 5X1
Jackie Kean
Senior Resource Manager
709-772-2045 709-772-3628
Chelsea Austin
Resource Manager
709-772-4968 709-772-3628
Kristin Loughlin
Section Head - Salmonids
709-772-2112 709-772-4105
Nicholas Kelly
Aquatic Science Biologist
709-772-4553 709-772-4105
Kerry Bungay
Chief - Conservation & Protection
709-772-0468 709-772-4327
Patricia Williams
709-772-6151 709-772-3625
Frank Corbett
Policy Analyst
709-772-6935 709-772-4583
Helen Griffiths
Manager: Integrated Planning,
Partnerships, Indigenous
Engagement, Species at Risk
709-772-4088 709-772-5562
Jason Kelly
Manager, Project Reviews, Fish &
Fish Habitat Protection Program
709-772-4126 709-772-5562
David Coffin
Regional Manager, Aquaculture
709-772-1739 709-772-2046
Area offices - Resource management 
David Small
Area Chief
Eastern & Southern
709-292-5167 709-292-5205
Wayne King
Senior Area Representative
709-896-6157 709-896-8419
Laurie Hawkins
Area Chief
Southern, Western & Straits
709-637-4310 709-832-3015
Area offices - Conservation & Protection 
Chad Ward
Area Chief, Eastern and Southern
709-772-5857 709-772-8469
Brent Watkins
Area Chief, Western
709-458-3083 709-458-3096
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