Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards, as per the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Atlantic Salmon (Lake Ontario population) in Canada

Special Significance of the Species

Few fish have attracted the attention given to the Atlantic salmon, known as the “King of Fish”.

"Prized by the Gauls, then by the Romans, an abundant commercial fish in the British Isles, mentioned in the Magna Carta, revered by sportsman and esteemed by gourmets, its relation with man has been truly unique" (Scott & Crossman,1973).

Dunfield (1985) suggests that it was the Atlantic salmon that encouraged the territorial expansion and European settlement of the interior of Canada.  The availability, in great abundance, of such a fish varied the diet of native North Americans, settlers and military personnel alike.  An entire fishing industry was developed in the early 1800s in North America, supporting thousands of commercial fishermen (Dunfield 1985).  Atlantic salmon continue to be highly valued by anglers.  However, commercial harvesting of North American wild Atlantic salmon has ceased due to the continental-wide decline in harvestable numbers and efforts by conservation organizations (e.g., Atlantic Salmon Federation) to protect remaining numbers.

Atlantic salmon are an ecologically important species that once contributed significantly to the offshore pelagic fish community in Lake Ontario.  They also bring nutrients from the lake into the rivers of the watershed and thus enrich the biotic life forms that can exist there.  While the Atlantic salmon is important ecologically it has and continues to be a highly prized species worldwide for its cultural and economic significance.  The restoration efforts currently being undertaken for Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario are also consistent with a recent Biodiversity Strategy for Ontario.

Although the original Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon DU is extinct, the species still exists, although at reduced numbers, in its global range.