Lauren Owens Lambert
Lauren Owens Lambert

Atlantic Salmon

A fish that once ran in the hundreds of thousands from Cape Cod to Canada in the Gulf of Maine, the Atlantic salmon are now a federally endangered species in the U.S. with the last remaining wild populations found in only eight rivers in Maine. They are considered extinct throughout the rest of New England.  Atlantic salmon, once known as the King of Fish, was an annual gift to the President of the United States each spring. That event ended in 1992 when the salmon run was too small to support this tradition. Commercial and recreational fishing for wild Atlantic salmon is still prohibited in the United States. All Atlantic salmon in the public market and on your plate is commercially grown, mostly in Canada and Norway. Some people are working to create new aquaculture techniques to make salmon sustainable and local within the State of Maine. Conservation efforts include the removal of dams and the opening of waterways, restoring riparian areas and increasing buffer zones along the rivers. Hatcheries can therefore release thousands of fry each season. Maine is launching a new program to help pay for conservation work that benefits Atlantic salmon with money from fees for road and bridge projects. Maine's most active location for salmon is the Penobscot River, which is home to America's largest remaining run of the fish. The number of salmon returning to the river every year is closely monitored and has wavered between a few hundred and 2,000 over the past 10 years. Both the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Nation have worked to restore salmon and other sea-run fish habitat on the St. Croix and Penobscot Rivers. Even with all of these efforts to revitalize the Atlantic salmon population, Federal officials estimate it will take 75 years — about 15 generations of fish — to be delisted entirely.

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