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Friday, November 30, 2012

Salmon run disappointing in Maine, after surprisingly strong 2011 numbers

Bringing Atlantic salmon back to the rivers of New England and eastern Canada is an uphill struggle (some say it's doomed), so the surprisingly strong returns last year were good news.

Locally, the program that released hatchery-raised salmon into the Souhegan River was halted because there were signs that wild salmon were spawning there - a very good thing. (Here's my story.) In Maine, the removal of some dams allowed more anadromous fish (spawn in fresh water, live in sea water) to return, producing rare enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, salmon numbers this year are way, way down, as this Bangor Daily News report says: it calls them "dismal." More dams are being removed in Maine, which should help fish return upriver to spawn, but a big problem remains at sea, where changing water acidity and temperature, changing food webs and commercial fishing make it hard for these fish to thrive.