We’ve given up trying to bring the Atlantic salmon back to New Hampshire – decades-long programs on the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers were abandoned a few years ago because they weren’t accomplishing diddly-squat – but they’re still trying hard in Maine.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries just released what they’re calling “a new final recovery plan for endangered Atlantic salmon.”
Atlantic salmon grow to maturity in marine waters and return to freshwater rivers and streams to spawn. The Gulf of Maine population has been declining since the 1800s, when an estimated 100,000 adult salmon returned to the Penobscot River alone. Since 1967, there have been very few years when more than 5,000 salmon have returned to Maine. In 2017, just over 1,000 salmon returned to spawn in Maine rivers. Today, natural spawning of returning fish is supplemented by a conservation hatchery program designed to preserve the genetic diversity of the Gulf of Maine population and increase abundance.
This recovery plan addresses the Gulf of Maine distinct population segment (DPS) of Atlantic salmon, which are the only remaining wild Atlantic salmon in the United States.
You can read more about it online here.
Anadromous fish – those that live partly in the ocean and partly in freshwater – face a ton of obstacles, starting with dams that block their migration, but also pollution in fresh water, acidifiation and temperature rise in the ocean and competition from other species (striped bass, introduced for fishing, just love to eat little salmon).
As I’ve noted in stories, herring seem to be rebounding in New Hampshire despite all these problems, so maybe there’s hope.