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Updated: Apr 27, 2021

In the first major shift in stocking strategies for endangered Atlantic salmon in the U.S. in 20 years, state and federal agencies are now recommending broad adoption of parr stocking based upon the results of the DSF Peter Gray Parr Project (PGPP). The PGPP has now stepped from a 10-year proof of concept experiment to expansion and scaling of the program into other rivers.

Data from the project has led to the Downeast Salmon Habitat Recovery Unit Committee calling for widespread adoption of the use of parr in the Downeast SHRU. This will be immediately implemented and accelerated in 2021 by the recent award made to DSF by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for a $770,000, 5-year 1:1 matching Recovery Challenge Grant.

The PGPP is a pilot/proof-of-concept conservation hatchery. The stocking program raises endangered Atlantic salmon from eyed-egg (supplied by USFWS) to parr life stage in a unique environment that closely replicates the natural river environment. DSF has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Maine Department of Marine Resources (MDMR), and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) since 2012 on this public-private recovery project.

Analysis of data from the project indicates that PGPP salmon return from the sea to spawn up to 14 times the rate of fish raised and stocked using other hatchery techniques. Given the PGPP’s superior performance, the Downeast Salmon Federation and agency partners proposed implementing an expansion project by adding a second, river-specific genetically distinct strain of Atlantic salmon to the PGPP. The second strain of fish will be specific to the Narraguagus River, also located in the Downeast SHRU.

EXCERPT FROM THE DOWNEAST SALMON HABITAT RECOVERY UNIT COMMITTEE REPORT 2021 'The Coordinating Committee recommends shifting production as soon as possible with additional drainages receiving 0+ parr as early as 2021 and full implementation no later than 2025.'

Download to read the USFWS Recovery Challenge Grant Statement

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