Since the 1970s, wild Atlantic salmon have all but disappeared from eastern Canada, decimated by overfishing, infrastructure development and other threats. But recently, endangered Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon have been returning to two rivers in Fundy National Park in numbers not seen for 20 years, thanks to a somewhat unlikely partnership between Parks Canada and the aquaculture industry.
The Fundy Salmon Recovery Project grew out of a simple enough premise: the less time a young salmon spends in captivity, the greater its chances of survival in the wild, so why not restock the rivers with adult salmon that will spawn naturally, producing offspring that have never experienced captivity?
In the late 2000s, the park and its Fisheries and Oceans Canada partners approached Cooke Aquaculture, which operates commercial salmon farms in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Maine. “They grow millions of Atlantic salmon, so we asked if they would grow wild Atlantic salmon for us,” explains Corey Clarke, a Parks Canada ecologist.
Cooke agreed and has since established the world’s first marine farm dedicated to growing wild Atlantic salmon near Grand Manan, N.B., and last fall celebrated the release of more than 500 adult salmon into Fundy National Park. (See an infographic about how the program works in the January/February 2017 issue of Canadian Geographic.)
While the project is a first for Fundy National Park, it joins a growing number of initiatives centred in Canada’s national parks to conserve endangered and at-risk species within — and beyond — their borders.
“There are currently hundreds of endangered species in Canada and some of these species exist completely or in part within the boundaries of our national parks and national marine conservation areas,” says Dena Rozon, a spokesperson for Parks Canada. “Our goal is to give each of these species the best chance at long-term survival in the wild.”
Here are five more species that are the focus of Parks Canada-led conservation and recovery programs:
Blanding’s turtle, Rouge Urban National Park