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Monday, October 17, 2011

Good News for New England's Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic salmon are showing some of the highest returns in decades to some of New England's salmon rivers.  By no means a recovered population the higher returns none the less show promise after years of decline.

On Maine's Penobscot River,  more than 3,100 salmon have been counted at the Veazie dam so far. That more than doubles the number that returned last year and makes this year the highest return since 1986.  Also in Maine, the Narraguagas River has already shown 186 salmon returned compared with last years return of 76 fish.  Fisheries personnel on the Kennebec River have counted 63 fish, a small number but an improvement over last years return of just 7 salmon.

Maine isn't the only place showing improved Atlantic salmon returns.  Massachusetts and New Hampshire's Merrimack River is having the best run in more than 30 years with over 400 salmon entering the river.  Many Canadian rivers are having larger runs this year too, but perhaps most exciting is that in Ireland, the Tolka River is having its first Atlantic salmon run in more than a century!

These returns aren't even close to signaling a recovery of this migratory fish that is listed as endangered in the state of Maine.  But, it is a sign that recovery efforts are beginning to pay off.  Better survival in the open ocean is cited as one of the reasons for better returns.  Dam removals and better fish passage structures on existing dams in the salmon rivers have had their positive impact too.

Fisheries managers would like to see increasing salmon returns for at least four or five more years before declaring a positive trend.  but that still doesn't detract from this years positive salmon return news.

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