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

Due to the pervasive and vast decline of Atlantic salmon populations in Maine over the last one hundred fifty years, and since they're on the subject of extinction, a complete statewide motion might be taken now to make sure their survival. The populations of Atlantic salmon have declined significantly, 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 determine priorities, overview innovations and coordinate plans for retaining and restoring the salmon.

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Additional research on hatcheries and scientific guidance for their use is needed, because hatchery-based restoration of wild salmon populations remains an unproven technology. The committee was asked to provide estimates of the approximate relative costs of the various options. Although it has not been able to provide detailed cost estimates for all of its recommendation, it does estimate that dam removal would cost between $300,000 and $15 million per year; and liming would cost on the order of $100,000 per stream initially plus $50,000–$100,000 per year.

For years, the Penobscot 8 ATLANTIC SALMON IN MAINE was the major source of brood stock for salmon hatcheries. The Kennebec, Androscoggin, Saco, St. Croix, St. John, and other non-DPS rivers also are environmental assets for salmon. Biologically, a restoration program for Maine salmon would not make sense if it did not take advantage of those rivers as well as the DPS rivers. Dams Dams obstruct adult and juvenile salmon passage and alter riverine habitats, including water quality. As a result, they degrade or eliminate spawning and rearing habitat for Atlantic salmon in Maine.

Derived in part from European Atlantic salmon, the genetic strains used for fish farming are even more different from native strains than are hatchery strains. Farm fish escape at all life stages, despite the efforts of producers to prevent escapes. In some years and in some rivers, more escaped farm fish return to spawn than wild fish. The impact of escapees on the genet- 5 SUMMARY ics of wild populations is not well documented in Maine. Both hatcheryand pen-reared fish compete poorly with wild fish in other rivers that have been studied, but because there are so many escaped farm fish compared with wild fish in some rivers, some impact is likely to have occurred.

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