The Newfoundland south coast is vast and varied with small towns and outports hugging the shoreline. The province's aquaculture industry, which has had more than 750,000 industry salmon escape in recent decades, is concentrated near communities like St. Alban's and Pool's Cove.
The South Newfoundland designatable unit contains 104 watersheds that contain Atlantic salmon, including 58 scheduled salmon rivers which generally have populations capable of supporting recreational fisheries. The area stretches 500-kilometres from Mistaken Point in the east to Cape Ray in the west.
In 2011, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed the South Newfoundland population as Threatened. Committee members used data from four counting sites and found in the fifteen years between 1993 and 2008, adult salmon returns declined by 36 per cent.
In a 2012 Recovery Potential Assessment, scientists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada stated the assessment data used was "heavily biased" toward the Eastern portion. Further, rivers with no counting fence and no angler data were not included in the COSEWIC assessment.
Two of the four monitored rivers in the area, Conne and Little, are in Bay d'Espoir which is occupied by the province's troubled open net pen salmon aquaculture industry. These Bay d'Espoir rivers experienced the most dramatic decline in spawning escapement during the assessment period, a fact that "strongly influenced the trend in total abundance," for the South Newfoundland area.
While the Conne has been closed in recent years due to low returns, rivers elsewhere in South Newfoundland support active recreational fisheries and are considered by anglers to be relatively healthy.
A Threatened listing could close all South Newfoundland salmon fisheries regardless of the population status in individual rivers.