Sustaining North American Salmon: Perspectives Across Regions and Disciplines

Chapter 4: The Atlantic Salmon Recreational Angling Industry: Economic Benefits

F. G. Whoriskey and J. Glebe


Humans and Atlantic salmon Salmo salar have been interacting in North America for thousands of years. Human populations have grown; by contrast, both the productive capacity and the range of wild Atlantic salmon have been drastically reduced since European colonization (Watt 1988,1989). Many factors have contributed to these declines, including overfishing, habitat destruction, blockage of migration routes with dams, and poor forestry and agriculture practices. Pressures continue on the remaining salmon populations, and returns of two-sea-winter (2SW) maiden Atlantic salmon to North America, which provide most of the eggs needed to seed the rivers, are now believed to be at the lowest levels ever recorded (ICES [International Council for the Exploration of the Sea] 2000; Figure 1). In 2000, in Maine, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced the listing of the Downeast River populations of salmon as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In Canada, an endangered designation by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada is being sought for populations in rivers draining into the Inner Bay of Fundy (Kenchington 1999).

Economics can be a powerful force for conservation. People conserve the things from which they draw benefit. There is nothing new in this idea; it has been a central tenet of wildlife management since the early years of the science (Leopold 1933). The chances of successfully conserving and restoring species are greatly enhanced when people derive direct economic benefits from the species. The ideal situation occurs when market and conservation forces support each other.