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Know your Native Fish

Ted Williams writes in the June 2021 issue of Downeast magazine about the good and the bad in this article.




THE GOOD

Atlantic salmon once abounded in all New England states. Now they’re restricted to Maine, where they’re federally endangered. Fishing for them is illegal. Throughout history, the species has intrigued and inspired. Twenty thousand years ago, Cro-Magnons marveled at this torch of life flashing through European rivers and rendered it on cave walls. Until recently, the U.S. population appeared doomed, but the Downeast Salmon Federation is achieving stunning success by raising fish with “tough love,” exposing them to real-world rigors including unfiltered river water. On the Penobscot, vastly improved fish passage is spiking runs. Last year, 1,426 salmon returned.


THE BAD Have you heard of “doose,” deer-moose hybrids concocted to occupy habitat unfit for either parent and to provide more venison and larger antlers?


No, you haven’t, because creating such monstrosities from wild mammals would be unthinkable. But because fish are too rarely considered wildlife by the public, or even most fisheries managers, hatchery-produced “frankenfish,” mostly sterile, are all the rage across the U.S. and Canada. Maine managers, for example, fertilize lake trout eggs with brook trout sperm to make “splake,” aptly described by Native Fish Coalition executive director Bob Mallard as “the hair in a $100 meal.” Advocates for splake would have us believe they and other frankenfish benefit sportsmen, that they’re needed to create quality fisheries in waters where other hatchery species struggle. But splake stocking has long been opposed by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.


Ted provides a lot more detail in his article which can be found here: https://downeast.com/land-wildlife/know-your-native-maine-fish/