The Atlantic Salmon’s original range is from Greenland to Cape Cod in the Atlantic Ocean, which stretches down through Canada. And from Russia to Portugal, which includes all of the United Kingdom as well as Ireland.


They’re found in western Europe, but only the northern part of western Europe along with the coastal waters and rivers of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway. They can even be found in the western most parts of the Soviet Union.

Atlantic Salmon, an Anadromous Species

Atlantic Salmon are largely an anadromous species except in some Canadian northeastern lakes where small populations are landlocked. In Canadian lakes, resident landlocked salmon are called ouananiche. One such lake is Trout Lake, Nipissing District, which was recently introduced with Atlantic Salmon.



  • Anadromous means the adult fish live in the sea and migrate to fresh water to spawn.
  • Ouananiche is the term for the variety of Atlantic salmon that are landlocked living in lakes in Labrador and Newfoundland.

Extirpation* from Ontario Lakes

The Atlantic Salmon faced harm from industrial waste and pollution, illegal netting and disrupted spawning habits throughout North American.

United States and Canadian wildlife officials now monitor the water quality of northeastern rivers, constructing fish ladders to bypass dams and other blockages to spawning grounds.


Efforts to restore salmon are largely successful. Restoration and protection of the habitat itself is key to this process but issues of excessive harvest and competition with farmed and escaped salmon are also primary considerations. Current progress in the Great Lakes is considered successful.



*extirpate means the extinction of the species by destruction or removal of its means of propagation.

Lake Ontario Restoration

Lake Ontario used to have a large Atlantic Salmon population. So large that it supported a commercial fishing industry. However over-fishing and degradation of their natural streams and rivers led to them being extirpated. None of the original population has survived.


Recent efforts have been underway due to the improvements in water and stream quality since the 1970s. The focus of current programs is stream rehabilitation. Without doing so, Atlantic Salmon are unable to successfully spawn, which prevents them from being able to sustain their own population.