Atlantic salmon conservation benefits economy as well as fish

July 4, 2013

Quick quiz. When you hear the words “wild Atlantic salmon conservation,” what comes to mind?

Fish leaping up streams? Fish ladders? Tagging?


Fishing camps? Fly fishing? Tourism?

Correct, but what about economic value, employment and volunteerism? Not so much, maybe?

The fact is, when the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation (ASCF) funds projects aimed at restoring and conserving wild Atlantic salmon stocks, the benefits go far beyond assuring survival of this vulnerable species.

Here are some interesting statistics:

Since 2008, ASCF has awarded a total of $1,750,000 in grants to some 69 different conservation organizations in Atlantic Canada and Québec.

Each of these organizations has hired people to work on their conservation projects. ASCF records show that over 475 people have been employed on the 142 projects that have received funding over the past six years. As a matter of fact, this year alone, some 160 people – project leads, students, seasonal workers, members of our Aboriginal communities, and others – will find jobs with this summer’s 38 projects, which are now underway.

As well, over the last six years some 1700+ volunteers have contributed in excess of 53,400 hours of their time to help our delicate salmon stocks grow and survive. Not only do such volunteer opportunities help raise awareness of the need for salmon conservation, they also help people to learn new skills, gain experience and develop new relationships that could benefit them in a number of ways: with future employment, for example.

ASCF’s statistics also show that the Foundation has established partnerships with over 400 community, institutional and Aboriginal groups or organizations, and that more than 10,000 individuals have participated in ASCF-funded educational and awareness-raising programs on salmon conservation across the five Atlantic provinces since 2008.

On the conservation side, approximately 50 per cent of the Foundation’s funded projects addressed the need for restoration of fish habitat. The other 50 per cent addressed the Foundation’s other four priorities: watershed plans, rebuilding stocks, restoration of access, and education and/or awareness.

“The economic, social and environmental benefits of our funding program are significant,” says Stephen Chase, executive director of ASCF. “We estimate that the leveraging average of our projects is almost 4 to 1. That means that our $1.7 million investment has realized about $6 million in overall project value in terms of habitat conserved, jobs created, salmon stocks restored and other benefits.”

Other good news is that the Foundation has managed its endowment fund to its best advantage. Established with a federal grant of $30 million in 2007, the fund has produced excellent returns for ASCF to fulfil its mandate of awarding $300,000 in grants each year.

Chase concludes: “When all the benefits are added up, it’s evident that conservation projects such as those funded by the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation are very important, not only to the environment and the future of one of the world’s vulnerable species, but also to our region’s overall economy and social structure.”