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What We Are Working On

ASF is committed to returning wild Atlantic salmon to historic levels.

This is a realistic goal, as shown by the progress that has been made, especially over the past decade, after Atlantic salmon numbers reached a low point in 2001.

With your support, and that of other conservationists, and our progress in unravelling the mysteries of Atlantic salmon migration and mortality at sea, it will be possible to achieve these goals in the years ahead.

ASF is focused on the most important issues to achieve these goals.

Aquaculture

Salmon farming has grown to more than 1.2 Million tonnes per year in the countries around the North Atlantic and has proven to cause significant harm to wild Atlantic salmon runs on both sides of the Atlantic. The Atlantic Salmon Federation is working to reduce the impacts, through: pioneering efforts in land-based salmon farming; conducting scientific research to explore and document the impacts of aquaculture; encouraging the industry and government to take greater precautions, and advocating for more transparency in reporting escapes.

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Low Marine Survival

ASF is a leader in tracking wild Atlantic salmon and unravelling the mystery of increased mortality at sea. Now, with two decades of expertise in tracking, we are discovering particular stages of the migration cycle when mortalities occur. ASF uses arrays of sonic receivers as far north as Labrador. As well, kelts are equipped with satellite "pop-off" tags to find more about their movements and the conditions they are experiencing. There have been encouraging signs over the past few years that the large salmon travelling to and from ocean feeding grounds near Greenland are doing better, overall. In part this is due to the Greenland Conservation Agreement originally negotiated by ASF and its partners.

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Freshwater Recreational Fisheries

ASF is following several paths to increase survival of wild Atlantic salmon in freshwater. Recreational anglers are an important part of this effort. When, on the rivers, they are an effective "observation" force, reducing poaching and maintaining a high interest in having the rivers healthy and productive. ASF actively encourages anglers to learn the techniques of live release and to practice them at all times. In 2011, ASF commissioned an economic study of  wild Atlantic salmon, that discovered how important this species was to those who angled - and to the large number of citizens who are not anglers, but who understand the true value of wild Atlantic salmon.

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Dams and Fish Passage

ASF provides expertise in understanding the impact of dams and downstream fish passage on Atlantic salmon rivers. In Maine, ASF was instrumental in developing a consortium that has purchased three dams in order to decommission two and to provide a state of the art fishway around the third. In exchange the power company has moved power generation to other dams and there is no loss of input. In Newfoundland and Quebec, ASF has provided effective advice on various proposals for hydro development. On the St. Croix, boundary river between Maine and New Brunswick, ASF is working to have Maine unblock fishways to alewives, a native species.

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Watershed Habitat and Water Quality

ASF's Regional Councils and Affiliates are extremely active in undertaking projects to safeguard freshwater ecosystems and to restore rivers. In Maine, this has included promoting new fishways; in Nova Scotia, pioneering a watershed liming project; in Newfoundland, promoting better forestry practices. In total, dozens of projects are being undertaken.

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Greenland Interceptory Fishery

ASF works internationally to reduce ocean harvesting of wild Atlantic salmon where some of the fish killed are likely from endangered populations. This type of fishery is called "mixed-stock fishery" since it does not discriminate between the runs from different rivers. Through the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), ASF works to safeguard the future of North America's salmon runs.

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First Nations Fisheries

ASF recognizes the right of First Nations to utilize Atlantic salmon for food and ceremonial purposes. With this right assured, ASF is actively working with several First Nations to undertake conservation programs to increase the runs for the years ahead.

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Labrador Interceptory Fishery

A portion of the food fishery in Labrador takes place in estuaries and coastal waters. These harvests may include  Atlantic salmon en route to their natal rivers in other areas and may include salmon that are from endangered populations.

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Endangered Species Status


In both Canada and the United States, some populations of wild Atlantic salmon have been declared  endangered. In Maine, this includes the Penobscot, which continues to have the single best chance of a healthy U.S. population of Atlantic salmon in the years ahead. In Canada, the populations in the Bay of Fundy, plus those on the open-ocean side of Nova Scotia (acid rain-impacted), are at critically low levels and need assistance. Through a liming project on the West River-Sheet Harbour, ASF and its partners have shown that liming brings back these acid rain-impacted rivers.

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