Maine's endangered salmon will need restored habitats, removal of dams, aggressive hatchery programs and other conservations actions if its population is to rebound, according to a federal government plan to save the fading and iconic fish.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a recovery plan for the Gulf of Maine salmon, listed as endangered in 2000, that is intended as a roadmap to sustainability for a fish whose populations have plummeted since the 1800s.
Recovery will take time and patience — the plan estimates 75 years and $350 million, which would have to come from some combination of federal, state and private money. The wildlife service estimates 100,000 adult salmon returned to the Penobscot River each year in the 19th century, and less than 750 of the fish returned to spawn in Maine rivers last year.
Maine's salmon face numerous threats, and one of the biggest is the continued presence of dams that prevent them from spawning, said Dan Kircheis, a fisheries biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service. He said there are 400 dams in the state in areas that affect salmon.