Atlantic Salmon in Maine by National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life

By National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life Studies, Ocean Studies Board, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, Committee on Atlantic Salmon in Maine

As a result of pervasive and immense decline of Atlantic salmon populations in Maine over the last one hundred fifty years, and since they're just about extinction, a accomplished statewide motion can be taken now to make sure their survival. The populations of Atlantic salmon have declined tremendously, from an predicted part million grownup salmon returning to U.S. rivers every year within the early 1800s to possibly as few as 1,000 in 2001. The record recommends enforcing a formalized decision-making method of identify priorities, review recommendations and coordinate plans for keeping and restoring the salmon.

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Extra resources for Atlantic Salmon in Maine

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At first, no attention was paid to genetics. Fish used for brood stock came from various Canadian and Maine rivers. Canadian fish or eggs were not used in Maine after 1967 except in 1985 and 1986, but many nonnative fish were introduced in the earlier decades. In 1992, river-specific stocking was instituted for the eight DPS rivers. Even with river-specific stocking and the best available breeding protocols, hatcheries change the genetic makeup of salmon populations. Despite the efforts and money spent on rearing fish in hatcheries and stocking Maine’s rivers, salmon populations are now at the lowest levels ever recorded.

Hatchery practices should be evaluated in an adaptive-management context to further reduce adverse genetic and ecological effects and modified as needed. • The monitoring of water quality and gauging of streams should be augmented. A network of metereological-monitoring, stream-gauging, water-quality-monitoring, and biological-monitoring sites should be linked to a geographic information system and an online database within 2 years. • Government, industry, and private organizations and landowners should cooperate to evaluate forestry best-management practices and forest-road networks.

Hundreds of thousands of adults returned to Maine’s rivers and streams each year in historical times. In 2002, it is estimated that only 871 salmon returned to spawn in all Maine rivers. Atlantic salmon were listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in November 2000. The listing covers the wild fish in eight Maine rivers (Figure S-1) as a single “distinct population segment” (DPS). Only 33 fish returned to those eight rivers, often called the DPS rivers, in 2002. ) The controversy in Maine that accompanied the ESA listing led Congress to request the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) advice on the science relevant to understanding and reversing the declines in Maine salmon populations.

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