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Eastern Cape Breton

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Eastern Cape Breton is one of 16 designable units of Atlantic salmon assessed by COSEWIC. It includes rivers that drain from the Highlands into the Bras d'Or Lakes, and low land rivers that drain into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Eastern Cape Breton designatable unit includes all rivers on the island flowing into Bra d'Or Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. The Margaree and rivers west flow into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There are 30 known salmon rivers in the area.

In its 2010 report, COSEWIC estimated that there were 1,150 adult salmon in the population based on angler reports and counts from swim surveys on two rivers. The authors found the data was insufficient and recommended gathering more to get a true sense of population dynamics in the area.


There are active Indigenous and recreational fisheries for Eastern Cape Breton Atlantic salmon. A recreational live-release fishery takes place on three rivers, the North, Middle, and Baddeck in October each year. A Species at Risk Act listing would surely close these rivers and hardly save a single salmon.

Nova Scotia has a proud river culture with active watershed groups that deliver effective programs and projects . The Nova Scotia Salmon Association is a leader in conservation. Estimated spending on Atlantic salmon related activities in Nova Scotia tops $10,000,000.

River closures don't lead to recovery, they lead to apathy and further declines. The recreational fishery in Eastern Cape Breton has little to no impact on Atlantic Salmon populations yet it is an important part of the province's angling economy.

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