Salmon Get Endangered Status in 3 ME Rivers - ASF reacts [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Salmon Get Endangered Status in 3 ME Rivers - ASF reacts

06-16-2009, 08:52 AM
ASF Response to Expanded Salmon Endangered Listing in Maine
June 15, 2009

Brunswick, ME: Although the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) believed a threatened listing was more appropriate than an endangered listing for Atlantic salmon in Maine's large rivers, it will support the decision of the federal agencies.

"Now is the time to move on and continue the progress already being made on the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers to restore Atlantic salmon," said Andrew Goode, Vice President of US Programs for the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

ASF believed a threatened status would be more effective at maintaining local involvement in salmon restoration while still providing the same levels of protection as an endangered status. According to ASF, a major reason a threatened status became part of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it was originally crafted was to keep key stakeholders involved in the recovery process. In other words, if the federal agencies believed the angling community was important to the restoration of Atlantic salmon in Maine, then a threatened status was justified.

"The angling community in Maine is the primary reason there are still Atlantic salmon in our rivers," said Goode. He added, "For much of the past 40 years, salmon anglers have been the sole voice for restoring Atlantic salmon. Their passion and concern for the species have been responsible for maintaining the political will and funding needed to sustain the restoration work."

While a threatened status could have allowed a catch and release angling season in a river such as the Penobscot where there was a run of 2000 fish last year, an endangered status will preclude any type of angling for years to come. "It is an unfortunate fact that the future of the three salmon clubs on the Penobscot River is now very much in doubt," Goode added.

For 30 years, ASF and the salmon clubs on the Penobscot have fought to improve the health of the river. From defeating the rebuilding of the Bangor Dam in the 1980s to defeating the proposed Basin Mills Dam in the 1990s, the work of the angling community helped set the stage for the Penobscot River Restoration Project that, when successfully implemented, will remove three additional barriers to salmon migration.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation's Fish Friends education program is another example of the role anglers play in maintaining public support for salmon restoration. Fish Friends, which educates school children about the life history of Atlantic salmon is in more than 350 New England schools and has reached more than 100,000 students. This program is delivered 100% by volunteer salmon anglers.

The recommendation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries to expand the endangered species listing of Atlantic salmon to include the Androscoggin, Kennebec and Penobscot River drainages is based on the results of a 2006 Status Review of Atlantic salmon, conducted by a team of federal and state fisheries biologists. It concluded that the salmon in these three rivers are part of Maine's original genetic stock and their continued survival is fully warranted.

In 2004, a National Academy of Sciences report on Atlantic salmon, commissioned by Senator Snowe and Senator Collins, concluded that dams must be removed from these rivers for Atlantic salmon to have a chance of being restored in Maine. ASF is not aware of any self-sustaining run of Atlantic salmon above three dams in North America; yet the Androscoggin, Kennebec and Penobscot have a minimum of five dams each on their main stems and many more on their key tributaries.

"These rivers have been largely managed for industry for the past two hundred years," Goode said. "We must find creative ways to achieve a balance between fisheries restoration and continued industrial use of these rivers."

Goode noted that ASF and others have already created a national model for river restoration on the Penobscot. When implemented, the Penobscot Project will remove three dam passages while allowing the dam owners to increase energy generation at their remaining dams on the river. This project represents the last, best chance of restoring a self-sustaining run of Atlantic salmon in the United States.

Over the past decade, the Atlantic salmon restoration program has been a model of cooperation between federal and state governments and the environmental community. Progress is being made. Dams are being removed, habitat is being restored and protected, the Downeast salmon rivers are being protected from excessive water withdrawals, and, just this past year, the Penobscot had its largest run of salmon in 15 years. The Atlantic Salmon Federation believes that the ESA listing must be accompanied by a significant increase in restoration funds if it is going to make any contribution to Atlantic salmon recovery in the future.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) is an international, non-profit organization that promotes the conservation of wild Atlantic salmon and their environment. Based in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, and Brunswick, Maine, the Federation was founded in 1948 by individuals who shared a commitment to conservation and a respect for the majestic and severely threatened Atlantic salmon. Today, ASF is a powerful conservation network of seven regional councils and 120 local river-based organizations representing more than 40,000 dedicated conservationists in eastern Canada and the United States. For more information visit ASF's website at

06-16-2009, 09:03 AM
Right on! Some hope for stateside salmon.