Catch and release remains in place for the 2017 Atlantic salmon recreational fishing in the Gulf Region to maintain conservation benefits

News Release

April 13, 2017

Moncton, New Brunswick – Atlantic salmon is a species of importance throughout Atlantic Canada and the Government of Canada is ensuring there are strong management measures in place to continue to protect Atlantic salmon populations. Fisheries and Oceans Canada today announced that the current catch and release management measures for the recreational fishery in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence will remain in place for 2017 in order to maintain conservation benefits.

Returns of Atlantic salmon in the Gulf Region improved in 2015 and 2016, compared to the record lows of 2014. However, scientific data indicates that abundance of Atlantic salmon has declined over the past twelve years – or two generations of fish - in most of the rivers in the Gulf Region. The decision to maintain the catch and release measures from last year was made based on this science, in addition to input from consultations held in the fall 2016 and winter 2017. During that period, DFO met with First Nations, Indigenous organizations, fishing organizations and Provincial governments and held online consultations for the public.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada remains committed to implementing a precautionary approach for all fish stocks and to establishing limit reference points for various salmon stocks based on scientific advice. As outlined in the Forward Plan for Atlantic salmon, published in June 2016, DFO is working on establishing limit reference points for key index rivers in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence with the goal of developing a precautionary approach framework within 2017-2018. 

Other measures to protect Atlantic salmon

Since 1984, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has implemented a series of conservation measures to limit fishing mortality and to help increase Atlantic salmon numbers in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. These measures include the closure of the commercial fishery and, in the recreational fishery, mandatory release of large salmon, reducing as well as eliminating tags for small salmon.

DFO has been monitoring and studying salmon stocks in the Atlantic provinces for more than half a century. For the past number of years, DFO has been collaborating closely with various groups such as First Nations and non-governmental organizations to monitor Atlantic salmon stocks. The 2016 federal budget invested $197 million in ocean and freshwater science which is allowing DFO to engage with partners to further understand Atlantic salmon. Last October, DFO announced funding of more than $600,000 for Atlantic salmon science and conservation experts for research on Atlantic salmon and to help make decisions on current management and potential recovery strategies.



“Atlantic salmon is an iconic species that is of cultural, recreational and economic importance throughout Atlantic Canada. As such, the management measures for the 2017 season reinforce the need to protect the declining stock of Atlantic salmon. We will continue to work diligently, in collaboration with all partners, toward furthering our understanding of this species with the goal of protecting Atlantic salmon now and for future generations.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Associated Links


Steve Hachey
Communications Advisor
Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Gulf Region

Laura Gareau
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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