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Updated: Apr 27, 2021

The Eastern US was once home to Maine Atlantic salmon. Can the majestic fish make a comeback there?

The Wading List is an online publication about fly fishing culture and philosophy depicting the way of life of fly fishermen around the world.. They recently spoke to Dwayne Shaw, Executive Director of the Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF), and asked him about the situation of Maine salmon and what needs to be done to secure a future for the “King of Fish” in the Eastern United States.

What’s the current status of Atlantic Salmon on the American East Coast?

Since 1994 Atlantic salmon have been listed as endangered under the U.S. federal Endangered Species Act. That designation has only prevented extinction, not recovered populations. The political will needed to turn things around does not exist and remains our greatest hurdle. We know what to do and how to do it. But finances are preventing us from taking aggressive action.

Over the last 50 years there have been heroic efforts to develop breeding stock by several states in the New England area of the U.S. There once were bountiful supplies on many rivers. For instance, in Connecticut the fish had completely disappeared. The state embarked on a 45 year $25 million project developing a hatchery. It caught migrating salmon and used the eggs for parr development. The project ended in failure. Similar projects in neighboring states Massachusetts and Vermont also failed.

In Maine, there have been similar efforts with processes like other hatcheries. Between 1976 and 2011, natural spawning and fed fry programs had some minimal growth. Not until DSF introduced the Peter Gray unfed, streamside process in 2012 did results begin to grow noticeably. Today, the DSF hatchery parr stocking program produces 2X the smolt production as the region’s largest stocked river.

You can read the complete story here:

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