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2022 Impact Report

Aug 2, 2023
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“Since our birth in 1948, we have done more than anyone for Atlantic salmon conservation. You can chart this success by looking at the expansion of our programs. The research team has created the largest and longest-running database of Atlantic salmon migration data in the world, and we have removed more dams than any organization we’re aware of.” – Bill Taylor

We have made great progress on our 2018-2023 strategic plan and have been very successful with several of our initiatives. 2022 was a great year where we can proudly say that we made a huge impact on wild Atlantic salmon conservation.

Here are some of our highlights from 2022:


The Research & Environment department had its most successful year yet tagging salmon in West Greenland. Fishing took place over the course of a month in early Autumn. In total, 209 fish were tagged; 96 with satellite tags, 95 with acoustic tags, and 18 with both. These tags are in addition to the 102 tags that were deployed between 2018 and 2021. In total, we’ve collected 7529 days of position, temperature, and depth data. We are beginning to analyze these data to determine where each fish has been travelling, along with the temperature and depth, to understand the daily habits and environmental preferences of wild Atlantic salmon at sea. The more we know about the habits and behaviours of Atlantic salmon at sea, the better we’re able to advocate for their protection.

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ASF researchers fishing in Greenland as part of the tagging program.


ASF has been an active partner in the Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF), an initiative of Natural Resources Canada whereby prospective industry funds the investigation of its potential impacts on species and ecosystems. The ESRF salmon project is an extensive collaboration with over 50 partners that will research the movements of wild Atlantic salmon in the offshore areas of Atlantic Canada. In 2022, we helped tag (using acoustic tags) 1162 smolt and 221 kelt in 39 Atlantic Canadian rivers. We began expanding receiver arrays into the Labrador Sea with lines extending up to 32 km off the coast. More than 400 acoustic receivers will be deployed in the Labrador Sea as part of the ESRF program. This project will reveal regional differences between smolt survival, timing, and behaviour, and will assess possible impacts of the development of the oil and gas industry there.

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A researcher retrieving a receiver.


Thousands of salmon from North American rivers are harvested in the interceptor fishery off West Greenland every year. ASF and our partners at the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF) has been working on diplomacy initiatives in Greenland to curtail the mixed-stock subsistence salmon fishery, where professional fishers are able to sell catches in a limited way in Greenland. We put pressure on Canadian and American officials to lower the total allowable catch (TAC). The resulting international agreement limits the TAC to 27 tonnes and includes several provisions to prevent overharvest and improve regulation of the fishery. The 2022 harvest at West Greenland amounted to 27 tonnes – the lowest in more than a decade. Through the Greenland Salmon Conservation Agreement, we will continue to work towards a target of a 20-tonne harvest. Regulation and oversight of the West Greenland fishery continue to improve, and ASF’s strong advocacy is playing an important part.
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ASF, NASF, and KNAPK signing the Greenland agreement.


ASF partnered with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the conservation council of New Brunswick to commission a 300-person survey on protected areas. 78% of people polled want New Brunswick to match Canada’s commitment of 25% protected land by 2025. The government of New Brunswick announced 100,000 hectares of new protected areas in July 2022, then another 277,900 in December 2022. ASF worked closely with government staff to ensure that many of the new conservation zones are focused on the headwaters, cold-water features, and other sensitive riparian areas of Atlantic salmon rivers. This more than doubles New Brunswick’s protected areas and therefore provides real, meaningful, and permanent habitat protection for wild salmon and other cold-water species.
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A river winding through the Acadian forest.


ASF helped to bring together and organize a large coalition of groups opposed to the massive salmon farms, proposed by the Norwegian company American Aquafarms, for Maine’s Frenchman Bay. The State of Maine rejected the project last spring because the company failed to meet disease and genetic standards for their source of brood stock. ASF provided input to the federal government on the proposed Aquaculture Act; legislation that would enhance regulation of the industry and help ensure adequate environmental protections. As always, ASF represented and advocated for the best interest of wild Atlantic salmon.
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Open-net pen aquaculture farm.


ASF made major progress on the Miramichi Invasive Smallmouth Bass Eradication Project. Early in 2022, staff made presentations to the municipal councils of Miramichi City, Boiestown, Doaktown, and Blackville (the major communities along the Southwest Miramichi watershed), who passed unanimous motions of support for the project, demonstrating wide public approval. We worked closely with our partners in the Working Group for Smallmouth Bass Eradication to install a migration barrier fence, create a purpose-built deactivation sluiceway at the lower extent of the treatment area, and navigate the dozens of regulatory and logistical hurdles. In early September of 2022, nearly 100 project personnel worked together to eradicate smallmouth bass from Lake Brook and a 17 km stretch of the main Southwest Miramichi. The source of the biological invasion – Miramichi Lake – remains untreated and ASF will continue to pursue all options to complete the project.
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Smallmouth bass, an invasive fish that is a voracious predator of Atlantic salmon.


We completed the removal of the Walton’s Mill dam on Temple Stream, reconnecting more than 52 miles of stream habitat with the Sandy River in the mountains of western Maine. Temple Stream, with its extensive salmon spawning and rearing habitat, is now free flowing for the first time in over 240 years. In November 2022, ASF received the exciting news that we have been awarded a $7.5 million grant from the NOAA Restoration Center. Disbursed through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this funding will support more than 30 habitat restoration and connectivity projects throughout the Penobscot River watershed over the next three years. These projects include dam removals, culvert replacements, and fishway construction. Altogether, ASF secured commitments of more than $10 million (USD) in public and private funding for the Maine Headwaters Project in 2022.
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Dam removal on the Penobscot River in Maine.


ASF has been working with the North Shore Micmac District Council, Anqotum, the Miramichi Salmon Association, and the University of New Brunswick to implement a cold-water refuge enhancement program on the Miramichi River. The program is designed to help the river become climate resilient so that Atlantic salmon and other cold-water species, like brook trout, can survive increasingly warm periods. Our partnership secured approximately $1 million to enhance 11 sites throughout the watershed. Using geomorphic engineering methods, our projects blend into the riverscape and help establish deep, cool thermal refuges. In 2022 we added Morse Brook to the growing list of completed sites. The final five projects are slated for completion in 2023.
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Atlantic salmon swimming in a stream.


Wild Salmon Watersheds is a new conservation program with a long-term focus aimed at the northern portion of Atlantic salmon’s range – places where populations are healthy and abundant, where fisheries are active, and where multiple confounding threats don’t exist. ASF believes this is a paradigm shift for conservation of Atlantic salmon by focusing on maintaining healthy populations before they encounter significant and expensive-to-remedy impacts. The program will prevent decline and extirpation from the combined impacts of current and future threats like climate change. Wild Salmon Watersheds will allow us to partner with and support leading local conservation groups and Indigenous communities to act now to secure the future of Atlantic salmon populations. Activities are underway in four initial watersheds where leadership teams are working through the initial phases of information gathering, review, and planning.
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The Margaree River, one of the pilot sites for the Wild Salmon Watersheds program.
ASF remains North America’s foremost Atlantic salmon conservation organization. Over the past 75 years, we have seen several successful projects make history for Atlantic salmon conservation. Check out our historical timeline to learn more about our major milestones between ASF’s inception and now. 2022 was a banner year for us, and we are excited to see what the next 75 years holds.