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COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Atlantic Salmon (Inner Bay of Fundy populations) in Canada


Global Range

The freshwater breeding range of wild Atlantic salmon is shown in Figure 6a.  WWF (2001) has suggested salmon occupy 2,615 rivers worldwide. The current range has contracted northward on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean; in North America, the species has been eradicated from two-thirds of its US distribution (e.g., wild populations no longer exist in Connecticut), and is endangered in Maine (National Research Council 2004).  Today, most Atlantic salmon exist within aquaculture fish farms distributed throughout the world, but in a diverged form that has been termed Salmo domesticus (Gross 1998).

Figure 6.  Native freshwater range of Atlantic salmon and the iBoF DU

Figure 6.  Native freshwater range of Atlantic salmon and the iBoF DU.


(a) Map showing approximate freshwater breeding range of anadromous Atlantic salmon.  From Baum (1997).  (b) Map showing approximate freshwater boundaries of three genetically differentiated Atlantic salmon regions in Canada.  Redrawn from figure provided by Larry Marshall (DFO, Bedford Institute of Oceanography).


The Canadian range is roughly one-third the area of the total global range, and extends northward from the St. Croix River (at the border with Maine) to the outer Ungava Bay of Quebec, plus one population in Eastern Hudson Bay (MacCrimmon and Gots 1979, Scott and Crossman 1998).  WWF (2001) has suggested that Atlantic salmon occupy about 550 Canadian rivers, which would be 21% of the global river number.


iBoF DU Range 

The entire iBoF DU exists within Eastern Canada.  It includes all rivers draining into the Bay of Fundy, starting with the Mispec River (the first river northeast of the Saint John River in New Brunswick) and extending around the bay to the Pereaux River (the first river northeast of the Annapolis River in Nova Scotia) (Figures 3 and 6b).  Records of recreational catch indicate that 32 rivers within this region contained Atlantic salmon adults (Amiro 2003), but over 40 rivers are suspected to have contained salmon (National Recovery Team 2002).

The extent of freshwater occurrence is roughly 40,000 km2 based on estimation of total watershed area (area calculated from map in Gibson et al. 2003a).  The potential area of freshwater occupancy will exceed 9 km2, which is the calculated area across the 22 rivers for which habitat areas are estimated (Amiro 2003).  The extent of marine occurrence and marine occupancy cannot be realistically calculated, given the considerable uncertainty regarding marine migration of iBoF salmon, but includes at least the Bay of Fundy and outlying oceanic waters.