Scientific Name: Salmo salar
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2010
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
The Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) is a member of the family Salmonidae. This species has a fusiform body shape and matures at sizes ranging from 10 to 100+ cm. Atlantic Salmon exhibit plastic life histories and may have multiple reproductive and migratory phenotypes within a population, including freshwater resident and oceanic migrant forms. All phenotypes reproduce in fresh water. The oceanic migrant (anadromous) form is the best known phenotype, and with the exception of the extinct Lake Ontario population, is the only form considered in this report. Juveniles spend 1-8 years in fresh water, then migrate to the North Atlantic for 1-4 years, and then return to fresh water to reproduce. Demographically functional units tend to be at the watershed scale, but population subdivision may occur within watersheds. The Canadian range of this species was subdivided into 16 designatable units (DUs) based on genetic data and broad patterns in life history variation, environmental variables, and geographic separation.
This species requires rivers or streams that are generally clear, cool and well-oxygenated for reproduction and the first few years of rearing, but undertakes lengthy feeding migrations in the North Atlantic Ocean as older juveniles and adults. This population breeds in rivers from the southeast tip of the Avalon Peninsula, Mistaken Point, westward along the south coast of Newfoundland to Cape Ray. The numbers of small (one-sea-winter) and large (multi-sea-winter) salmon have both declined over the last 3 generations, about 37% and 26%, respectively, for a net decline of all mature individuals of about 36%. This decline has occurred despite the fact that mortality from commercial fisheries in coastal areas has greatly declined since 1992; this may be due to poor marine survival related to substantial but incompletely understood changes in marine ecosystems. Illegal fishing is a threat in some rivers. The presence of salmon aquaculture in a small section of this area brings some risk of negative effects from interbreeding or adverse ecological interactions with escaped domestic salmon. Genetic heterogeneity among the many small rivers in this area is unusually pronounced, suggesting that rescue among river breeding populations may be somewhat less likely than in other areas.
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”.
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.
As part of the consultation process, the Government of Canada would like to hear your comments on the potential impacts of listing Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), South Newfoundland Designatable Unit (DU), as threatened under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has prepared this summary to provide information on the state of the South Newfoundland DU of Atlantic Salmon.