Native leaders in Nova Scotia say they are taking legal action against the government in an effort to protect salmon in two Cape Breton rivers.

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs and the Wagmatcook and Waycobah First Nations have applied to a federal court for judicial review of a Department of Fisheries decision to reopen the Middle and Baddeck rivers this fall for recreational fishing.

The recreational catch-and-release salmon fishery on the two rivers has been closed while Mi'kmaq leaders and the government discussed conservation methods.

Native leaders say salmon stocks in the area are in danger and that recreational fishing along those two rivers should remain off limits until a healthy population of Atlantic salmon returns.

The Fisheries Department says research shows the salmon will survive a catch-and-release.

In announcing the legal action, the native leaders say DFO is not following the priorities for resource allocation as set out in a 1990 Supreme Court decision.