Fisheries and Oceans Canada collaborate on new research to study Atlantic salmon migration

News release

June 7, 2021                                                

St. John’s, NL - In order to study Atlantic Salmon migration patterns, the Government of Canada is contributing to a multi-faceted community-based marine science research project funded by the Environmental Studies Research Fund. The shared goal is to enhance our understanding of Atlantic salmon migration in the offshore waters of Eastern Canada.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan is pleased to announce along with the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr. that Fisheries and Oceans Canada received $11.8 million from the Environmental Studies Research Fund (ESRF) administered by Natural Resources Canada. The ESRF supports environmental and social research and is funded by levies paid by lease-holding oil and gas companies active in Canada’s frontier lands.

Dr. Martha Robertson, a Fisheries and Oceans Canada research scientist from Newfoundland and Labrador, and her team are using this funding to track Atlantic salmon migration patterns in the offshore regions in eastern Canada over a five-year period. New science-based information on Atlantic salmon migratory patterns at sea will inform regulatory decision making in the offshore Atlantic Fisheries.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will collaborate with over 50 partners in this project. This includes 30 federal and provincial government partners, 14 Indigenous organizations and governments, and seven industry, academic, and non-governmental organizations. Working together, partners will advance knowledge on wild Atlantic salmon by sharing expertise and resources, and generate knowledge that can improve conservation and management of this iconic species.

Funding will be provided to a number of key research partners including The Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) at Dalhousie University, who will receive $2.4M for acoustic telemetry work; the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UNIR) will receive $1.1M to support the incorporation of essential Indigenous knowledge, and coordination with local communities; and the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) will receive $2.5M for fieldwork involving satellite telemetry.

This important work builds upon the investments already made in Atlantic salmon science by the Government of Canada. This includes the Atlantic Salmon Research Joint Venture, and the Coastal Restoration Fund, which supports improving salmon habitat and restoring and protecting marine and coastal habitats.


“Salmon are an iconic and important species from coast to coast to coast. It is our responsibility as a Government to ensure that we better understand our Atlantic salmon populations, not only to set them on a path for strong recovery, but so they are able to fully thrive one day. This research project is an excellent example of how we are working with local communities, leveraging our collective resources and ingenuity to help better understand Atlantic salmon populations.”

 The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“We need to know more about the migratory patterns of wild Atlantic salmon. It helps us understand impacts on fisheries so we can protect them for future generations. This research project increases data available so we can make better decisions on managing our ocean resources.”

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources Canada

“On behalf of the ESRF Management Board, I would like to congratulate Dr. Martha Robertson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the multidisciplinary team of over 50 partners on the award of this project. This is a testament to the ESRF Management Board’s commitment to identifying and supporting research priorities that build multidisciplinary collaboration and a collective understanding of migration routes of Atlantic salmon. “

Jennifer Matthews, Chairperson, ESRF Management Board

Quick facts

  • The Environmental Studies Research Fund is a legislated research fund that supports environmental and social research related to oil and gas development in frontier areas, including the Atlantic offshore. Funds are collected annually through levies paid by lease-holding oil and gas companies active in Canada’s frontier lands.

  • The research project is taking place from Labrador North to Northeast Newfoundland to the Scotian Shelf and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Over 1,300 salmon will be fitted with telemetry tags which will allow researchers to map the migration routes of Atlantic salmon at three different life stages: juvenile salmon (smolt) leaving freshwater to go to sea, post-smolt feeding off West Greenland and returning to river of origin, and, previously spawned adults (kelt) reconditioning at sea.

Associated links


Jane Deeks
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador Region

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