St. ANDREWS, N.B. — The Atlantic Salmon Federation has engaged Gardner Pinfold Consulting Economists Ltd. to carry out the most comprehensive study of the economic benefits of wild Atlantic salmon to eastern Canada ever undertaken.

The results are expected by midsummer with a September media launch, according to a press release.

ASF has long-term plans to share the study’s findings with the general public, anglers, First Nations, community leaders, elected officials and politicians, government officials, legislative committees, fisheries and critics, and internationally through the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization.

The study is a past, present and future analysis, the scope of which includes the worth of wild Atlantic salmon to recreational fishing, First Nations, tourism, conservation and education, and the existence and other nonuse values of the species.

Bill Taylor, president of ASF, said, “Federal funding for the restoration of wild Atlantic salmon has collapsed. Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s priority appears to be toward developing commercial ventures, such as the salmon aquaculture industry, rather than to restore wild Atlantic salmon. This is driven by the view that the aquaculture industry has measurable contributions that appeal to elected officials and communities.

“Government needs to understand that the recreational and First Nations food fisheries for salmon are important industries that provide economic benefits, jobs, and have significant cultural importance. We hope that the data that Gardner Pinfold provides will convince government to put more money into conservation and restoration of this species, and we will embark on a long-term plan to convince government leaders to do so,” Taylor said in a press release on Wednesday.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada publishes economic surveys on the value of all recreational fishing in Canada, including Atlantic salmon, every five years. “The Gardner Pinfold study may provide additional data that gives a fuller picture, resulting in a higher value for the recreational salmon fishery than is reported by [the Department of Fisheries and Oceans],” Taylor said. “But the trend that the DFO reports portray, regarding an alarming loss of benefits from the recreational salmon fishing industry since 1995, is alarming and cannot be ignored.”

The 1995 DFO survey indicated that the revenues from recreational salmon fishing in Quebec and Atlantic Canada at that time was $191 million. That value had decreased to $62 million by 2005, according to the DFO survey. This represents a 68 percent drop in the value of the recreational salmon fishery in terms of today’s dollars.

According to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, recreational salmon catches in Canada were about 30 percent higher in 1995 than in 2005.  “It is reasonable to conclude that even restoring salmon runs to 1995 abundance will help restore about $100 million in annual revenues through recreational fishing alone,” Taylor said. “Other benefits to First Nations and the general public reinforce the need for attention to wild salmon,” he added.

The study components are a review of existing data and literature, two surveys — one of anglers and one of the public — and interviews with key informants such as First Nations, private camps and nongovernment organizations. It also includes case studies of the local salmon economies of four rivers: Grand Cascapedia, Quebec; Miramichi, New Brunswick; Margaree, Nova Scotia; and Exploits, Newfoundland. The study will take into account the value of the conservation movement and restoration activity by volunteers and the corporate sector and provide a value for salmon fisheries when salmon populations are restored.

Taylor concluded, “ASF expects the study to provide valuable information on the true worth of the species now and when restored, information that should help strengthen government policy and actions to conserve wild Atlantic salmon.”

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their well-being and survival depend.

ASF has a network of seven regional councils — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Maine and Western New England. The regional councils cover the freshwater range of the Atlantic salmon in Canada and the United States.