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International Atlantic Salmon Research Board
Unravelling the mysteries of the salmon at sea to promote their recovery




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Conservation Organization (NASCO)


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SALSEA-West Greenland


NASCO's Parties to the West Greenland Commission (WGC) have worked co-operatively over the past three decades to collect biological data on Atlantic salmon harvested at West Greenland. An enhanced West Greenland sampling programme involving extensive sampling on a set number of fish harvested from the waters off West Greenland has been conducted from 2009 to 2011.  This sampling was in addition to the baseline sampling programme (biological characteristics [length, weight, and age], continent of origin, and in some cases, river of origin via tag recoveries.).  The intention of the enhanced sampling was to increase the nature and extent of the baseline sampling programme at West Greenland and integrate it with marine research survey programmes in other oceanic areas. Arrangements were made with individual fishermen for the delivery of fresh whole fish to the individual samplers on an agreed upon schedule.  Sampling was organized in both time and space across the fishing season and the coast of West Greenland to maximize the temporal and spatial resolution of the data collected.

The enhanced sampling programme provided biological data related to the health and status of all sampled individuals.  Paramount to the sampling programme was the ability to identify the origin of each individual with a high level of precision to large stock complex groupings through genetic analysis.  Once the data have been collated by stock complex groupings, comparisons between complexes can be made and inferences can be developed related to stock complex performance (i.e. marine survival).

The whole fresh fish required for scientific analysis (e.g. stomach content, isotope analysis) are fish that are part of the existing internal use fishery.  Strong coordination and cooperation with the Greenland Home Rule Government and the KNAPK in carrying out this scientific research programme was necessary to fully integrate the sampling programme into the internal use fishery.


  • To conduct an enhanced sampling programme of salmon harvested off the west coast of Greenland in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and combine these data with data collected on these same cohorts of salmon sampled during concurrent oceanic surveys and subsequent in-river sampling programmes in home waters to make inferences related to the causal mechanisms behind stock-specific performance in the ocean (i.e. marine survival).

Investigators and Collaborators

  • NOAA Fisheries Service (USA) – Project Coordinator
  • United States Geological Survey (USA)
  • Greenland Nature Institute (Greenland)
  • Greenland Home Rule Government (Greenland)
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Canada)
  • The Marine Institute (Ireland)
  • Fisheries Research Services (UK (Scotland))
  • Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (UK (England & Wales))
  • North Atlantic Salmon Fund and the Atlantic Salmon Federation (Iceland, Canada, USA)
  • NASCO’s International Atlantic Salmon Research Board



Scale sampling
Courtesy of Ruth Haas-Castro,
Manitsoq Glaceier
Courtesy of Ian McLaren, FRS, UK
WGC Sampling
Courtesy of James Hawkes,
Net marker
Courtesy of Mark Ives, CEFAS, UK
Courtesy of Mark Ives, CEFAS, UK
Nuuk Nature Institute
Courtesy of Rory Saunders, NOAA, US