Atlantic Salmon Fishery

fish are friends, NOT FOOD!


People around the world are increasingly turning to fish as their primary source of protein and Atlantic Salmon is one of the most-consumed fish in North America as it has numerous health benefits. However, due to the unsustainable fishing practises that were employed earlier in the century, Atlantic salmon populations have declined dramatically, leaving them endangered and even extinct in some parts.

fish are friends, NOT FOOD

Why do we need Atlantic Salmon?

Atlantic salmon is a very important part of the Canadian economy as well as an increasingly popular delicacy in the diets of many Canadians. In Eastern Canada, the Wild Atlantic Salmon industry is worth $255 million. Catching Wild Atlantic salmon is illegal in the US as they have been declared endangered so anglers from the US visit Canada to catch salmon, boosting tourism in rural communities. Over 3800 full-time jobs were created in 2010 as a result of the salmon fishery ("Gardner-Pinfold Report," 2012).

Atlantic Salmon consumption in the US increased nine times between 1987 and 1999, four times in Europe and doubled in Japan from 1997 to 2002. Salmon is a source of high protein and omega-3 acids, which are linked to a decrease in cardiovascular problems (, 2010).

Impacts of Farmed and Atlantic Wild Salmon

The major impact of harvesting wild Atlantic salmon is that's since are the so few left due to previous instances of overfishing, the species is endangered and there is a high risk of them becoming extinct if not harvested sustainably. Wild Atlantic salmon, though a salt-water species, adapted to the environment of Lake Ontario but now they are all gone because of acid rain and overfishing.

A solution to save the Wild salmon was farmed salmon. In the 1980s, extensive aquaculture of wild Atlantic salmon began in efforts to efficiently produce more Atlantic salmon and preserve the wild ones. However, most salmon farms are offshore in open pens and often they escape and breed with wild salmon. The farmed salmon are genetically modified so it lowers the genetic base of the wild salmon. It makes wild salmon more prone to disease, reduces adaptability and generally threatens their likelihood to survive in the wild.

Responsibly Farmed Pangasius: A Taste of Things to Come - WWF

What are we currently doing to sustainably harvest Atlantic Salmon?

In efforts to restore wild Atlantic salmon to the rivers and lakes, extensive salmon aquaculture was employed during the 1980s. Wild salmon eats upto 4 times its own weight to gain a kilogram of weight whereas farmed salmon can gain one kilogram of weight by eating one kilogram of feed. Salmon farms are highly efficient as they can produce more salmon in a smaller area of water. Salmon farms are entirely exclusive from wild salmon so the numbers of wild salmon are allowed to rise, while still producing fish for consumers.

Governments have set up commissions and plans in order to restore salmon to the lakes, but the budgets have only went down since the 1980s. Citizens in Quebec and Eastern Canada are willing to pay tax dollars to support plans which are likely to accomplish bringing back salmon out of endangerment ("Gardner-Pinfold Report", 2012). There are bans on fishing for wild salmon in US states like Maine, where Atlantic Salmon has been declared endangered, or even extinct in most rivers.

What can we do in the future to save the salmon?

In the future, to save Atlantic Salmon from going extinct, it is necessary to move on to another type of fish, and harvest it sustainably starting from the beginning. North American consumers are very dependent on big name grocery stores and used to having access to all types of food all year round. Limiting aquaculture and harvest of wild salmon and making them available only seasonally is a smart choice as the salmon will have plentiful time to respawn and allow for future harvests. Limited harvesting fish in sync with their natural migration routes and breeding cycles is key to the success of restoring salmon to the lakes.