Freshwater Fisheries in Canada: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Resources and Their Management

Chapter 11: An Overview of the Freshwater and Diadromous Fisheries of Atlantic Canada

Keith D. Clarke


The Atlantic Region is a relatively small area within Canada having less than 10% of the landmass and human population of the country, it is also a region where fisheries are a significant part of the social fabric. When Atlantic fisheries are discussed, most of the attention, invariably goes to the large commercial fisheries (e.g., Atlantic Cod Gadus morhua, American lobster Homarus americanus, snow crab Chionoecetes opilio, etc.) but there are also long standing and important fisheries that are conducted in the many streams, lakes and estuaries of the region.

The focus of this book is on freshwater fisheries but the connection to the marine environment is hard to separate in the Atlantic Region. This connection to the sea is evident not only in the fisheries, but also in the physical geography, climate, and zoogeography, which defines the fish and fish habitats. Likewise, many of the species that are targeted in commercial, recreational, and Indigenous fisheries either have a diadromous life history or can use brackish/estuarine habitats for some part of their life cycle.

This paper will therefore provide an overview of both freshwater and diadromous fisheries of the Atlantic Region, focusing on fisheries that are conducted, at least for the most part, in freshwaters. The primary goal of this chapter is to provide the reader with a general understanding of the physical attributes and fisheries of the region, including their management. This will be followed by a brief account of the most common threats and a future outlook for the species and habitats that make up these fisheries.