ASF Helps Launch International Year of the Salmon

International Year of the Salmon launched in eastern North America
Nov 16, 2018
16 NOV 2018

International Year of the Salmon launched in eastern North America

The International Year of the Salmon will focus increased attention on salmon species and the challenges and uncertainties facing them throughout both the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans and the native rivers in which the salmon spawn.

The pace of scientific efforts to support our understanding of these charismatic and keystone species has not been fast enough, and broad enough to keep them from declining.

The International Year of the Salmon taking place in the year 2019, but extending through multi-year projects to 2022, will strive to expand the scientific efforts and improve ways we share the derived information in both the scientific and the general communities in order to benefit the salmon.

In the Atlantic Ocean the Atlantic salmon is the native species, and the largest on record has been a massive 40 kg. In the Pacific Ocean there are seven species, with five known to return to North American rivers, and include King, Sockeye, Silver, Pink, and Chum – each having alternate names in different locations and cultures. Masu and Amago Salmon are Pacific salmon that occur only in Asian rivers.

For both Atlantic salmon, and the species of Pacific salmon, legends and cultural heritage have surrounded these creatures of the oceans and rivers. All these species need our understanding and better long-term protection, but none more so than our own Atlantic salmon.

For more on the International Year of the Salmon, go to:

Robert Otto, Chief Operating Officer of the Atlantic Salmon Federation provided a perspective from ASF at the eastern North America launch of International Year of the Salmon in Saint John on Nov. 15, 2018.

I am extremely pleased to be here on behalf of everyone at the Atlantic Salmon Federation to address this important gathering today. I first would like to thank Patricia Saulis and the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council, as well as DFO staff for organizing today’s wonderful event. As the last in a series of speakers, I will try to be reasonably brief with my comments.

To Parliamentary Secretary Sean Casey, Elders and other honoured guests, and all Attendees; there’s clearly lots of enthusiasm in the room today in support of the launch of International Year of the Salmon, and I am very happy to hear messages of partnership and the need for work to be done. Collectively we can use this opportunity to do good things for wild salmon, and action is what will be needed.

Because inaction can be, and has been, harmful for Atlantic salmon. Whether it is 200 years of commercial netting in this wonderful river right beside us here today, to the construction of dams without any thought given to fish passage, we’ve seen salmon runs reduced from in the hundreds of thousands to just a few thousand in the living memory of many people in this room. In Atlantic Canada, commercial fisheries existed to almost the turn of the 21st century even when there was strong evidence of declining numbers. These problems continue today with the open net-pen salmon aquaculture industry, and although DFO recognizes the industry as a high-level marine threat to wild salmon, action to address the problems is slow or non-existent. IYS should not be about just telling the story of the current situation with wild salmon, it should be about action to address the issues.

Because when action is taken, salmon often respond positively! In the Gulf of Maine, ASF has spent nearly two decades removing dams and improving fish passage for not only Atlantic salmon but for 10 other anadromous species. Alewife runs previously counted in the few thousands now number in the millions, and shad and sturgeon are returning. Salmon are holding their own.

When commercial fisheries close, some populations rebounded and remain healthy.

DFO needs to be congratulated for their recent efforts with Atlantic salmon, particularly their much needed and appreciated re-investment in salmon science like with the Atlantic Salmon Research Joint Venture, as well as the recently granted commercial striped bass license for Eel Ground First Nation which will hopefully provide some much needed relief for an increasingly beleaguered Miramichi salmon population.

But we also need help with management and policy, and I am heartened to hear the comments from Secretary Casey on implementation of the Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation Policy and the revised Fisheries Act which will restore previously lost protections for fresh water habitats. And we need to reach our internationally-stated commitments regarding the aquaculture industry including preventing 100% of escapes and ensuring no transmission of sea lice and disease to wild salmon populations. Transparency and accountability will be absolutely key in achieving these goals.

The success of IYS will be determined by action and measurable progress for wild Atlantic salmon. And I hope that this starts today with all of the people and groups in this room.

Jonathan Carr Releases Salmon in Greenland Waters
ASF's Jonathan Carr releases an adult with satellite tracking tag in southern Greenland waters in Oct. 2018, part of ASF's effort to understand high Atlantic salmon mortality at sea.

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