Mi’kmaw name: Plamu
English Name: Atlantic salmon
Scientific name: Salmo salar
What does Atlantic salmon – Plamu – mean to you? Some of us enjoy fishing salmon and eating the nutritious traditional food. Others buy the tasty bright pink salmon fillets at the grocery store or at restaurants. Salmon is popular, healthy and easy to find. Because salmon seems to be everywhere, many people don’t known that Atlantic salmon is a Species at Risk. The wild salmon has been having trouble for a long time due to many changes to its habitat and overfishing.
In every region, salmon are unique and the proof is in their genes. They are specially adapted to live and thrive in the streams where they are born and where they return to spawn, after feeding in the ocean. They like cool deep pools to feed and rest and smooth cobble to lay their eggs. When they travel upstream to reproduce, anything that makes their journey harder can affect whether they succeed in the journey and make more salmon for the future.
So what happened to the Atlantic salmon? Dams, culverts and other barriers sometimes prevent salmon from moving upriver, cutting them off from valuable habitat. Forestry and farming have both contributed to erosion, and when too much soil rushes into rivers if can suffocate eggs and make the rivers too warm for adult salmon. Many of us think of acid rain as a problem of the past. But acid rain has hurt salmon in Nova Scotia, reducing the population by 90% in ten streams. And salmon aquaculture can also hurt wild salmon, by introducing diseases and parasites to the wild salmon.
Can we help the Atlantic salmon? The Petitcodiac River is a river that was once completely cut off from the Bay of Fundy by a causeway. Just two years ago, the causeway gates were lifted to allow that natural connection between the Bay and the river. Fort Foley FN has been keeping an eye on the river to learn whether salmon are able to recover. They were excited to find healthy young salmon in their smolt wheel, which allows them to observe the fish in the river. Only time will tell them whether the population recovers, but they do know they have made the salmon’s journey a little bit easier.
What do you think we could do for the Atlantic salmon in Nova Scotia to ensure it is here for future generations?