Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic salmon populations in the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean have experienced decline for many years. Salmon return to the river of birth for spawning and the number of returns is a major concern. Abundance in rivers of origin vary from healthy stocks to being completed depleted. Canada has closed all commercial fishing and is part of an international organization working to conserve Atlantic salmon. Canada co-manages a domestic salmon harvest in Labrador with indigenous organizations. Canada also monitors salmon returns in four Labrador rivers as an indicator of the health of the species. Overall, returns of salmon to Canadian rivers appear to be in decline, although rivers in Labrador appear to be comparatively healthy.

Polar Bear

The range of the polar bear subpopulation that is found in Nunatsiavut extends across seasonal sea ice from Newfoundland and Labrador to Greenland, Quebec, and Nunavut. Therefore, monitoring such a wide-ranging population is quite expensive and requires inter-jurisdictional partnerships. The Davis Strait subpopulation is surveyed to estimate abundance approximately every ten years and requires two years of data collection. The last population estimate took place in 2007, however, results from the most recent 2017-2018 field seasons will update this estimate soon.

Torngat Caribou

A small, mountain caribou herd occupies much of the land in the northernmost part of Labrador and Quebec. This herd, the Torngat Mountains caribou, are monitored by the Torngat Secretariat, along with partners, using aerial surveys and classifications approximately every three years to estimate abundance. The last population estimate took place in 2017, however, an updated survey took place in March and April 2021, and a new estimate will be released in the coming year. There are also two other types of caribou that play an essential role in the lives of Nunatsiavummiut- the sedentary Mealy Mountain herd and migratory George River herd.

Arctic Char

Arctic char support commercial and domestic fisheries that connect people through harvesting, processing and sharing, and impact food security and family economies in northern Labrador. Char in Labrador is managed under three stock complexes; Voisey’s, Nain and Okak. Most char are anadromous, meaning they travel between freshwater and marine environments, but only spawn in freshwater, while some char occur only in freshwater.

Snow Crab

Snow crab live in the North Atlantic as far north as west Greenland. In Labrador, Snow crab are at their northern range in Nunatsiavut waters. Snow crab supports an important commercial fishery where only the males are harvested. Crabs must be sufficiently past the softshell stage after molting to be valuable in the fishery. After harvesting in traps, Snow crab are kept alive until processed. Snow crab is preyed upon by a multitude of species, including groundfish, which is currently increasing in abundance. In northern Labrador, Snow crab is managed using annual DFO multispecies trawl data and results from TJFB Post-season Trap Survey.


Moose are relative newcomers to Nunatsiavut, but their importance has grown since the initiation of the hunting ban on the George River caribou herd. Moose are surveyed annually, with one or more moose management areas (MMAs) flown each year to estimate abundance. Thus far, all moose management areas have been surveyed. MMA92 (Nain) in 2019 and MMA91-South (Kaipokok) in 2021, and MMA91-North (Hopedale), MMA89 (Rigolet), and MMA88 (Backway) in 2022. Overall, moose exist in extremely low densities in Nunatsiavut with current estimates ranging from 0.2 to 4.4 moose per 1,000 square kilometers.


Shrimp are a crustacean that thrive in the colder waters of the North Atlantic. Northern shrimp can grow to 15 cm and live for 8 years. They are the biggest members of one of the largest fisheries in the world and are studied extensively. Harvesting strategies have been conservative or “precautionary”. Shrimp populations exploded in the early 1990’s when groundfish stocks collapsed and when water temperatures were colder. Northern shrimp sit in the middle of Atlantic Canada’s food web, between the plankton it eats, and the predators like cod and other commercial finfish that eat it. Shrimp are sensitive to water temperatures, plankton blooms and other changes in the ecosystem.

Greenland Halibut

Turbot prefer deep, cold water, muddy and sandy bottom and exceed one meter, 100 kg and live more than 20 years. The turbot resource in Labrador waters may benefit from a reported recent spike in redfish, an important food source. The species is targeted in the Western Atlantic by several countries and managed by NAFO.

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