Incorporating human impacts into conservation plans is critical to protect natural resources. Using a model that examines how anthropogenic changes might be proactively influenced to promote conservation, we argue that a denser human population does not spell inevitable doom for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Humans affect the Atlantic salmon ecosystem deleteriously through landscape alteration, exploitation, external inputs, and resource competition. An intact ecosystem provides positive feedback to society by providing food, ecosystem services, and improving the quality of life. As Atlantic salmon and associated ecosystem benefits are increasingly valued by society, policies, laws, and regulations that protect salmon populations and habitats are codified into a 'control system' or institutional infrastructure. Via research that helps maintain wild salmon populations and in informing the public about the benefits of a healthy Atlantic salmon ecosystem, scientists can influence public attitudes and facilitate the implementation of environmental policies that moderate harmful anthropogenic changes. Because exchange among scientists is of paramount importance in increasing our understanding of important interrelationships between humans and fish, we recommend the establishment of an international salmon organizational for research.