Groups urge state to protect last wild Atlantic salmon in US

Jul 24, 2021, 5:00 AM | Updated: 5:03 am

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine is home to the last wild Atlantic salmon populations in the U.S., but a new push to protect the fish at the state level is unlikely to land them on the endangered list.

Atlantic salmon once teemed in U.S. rivers, but now return from the sea to only a handful of rivers in eastern and central Maine. The fish are protected at the federal level under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, but a coalition of environmental groups and scientists said the fish could be afforded more protections if they were added to Maine’s own list of endangered and threatened species.

State law allows Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher to make that recommendation, but his office told The Associated Press he does not intend to do it. The department has done extensive work to conserve and restore the fish, and the commissioner “does not believe a listing at the state level would afford additional conservation benefits or protections,” said Jeff Nichols, a department spokesperson.

The environmentalists who want to see the fish on the state list said they’re going to keep pushing for it and other protections. Adding the fish to the state endangered list would mean conservation of salmon would be treated as a bigger concern in state permitting processes, said John Burrows, executive director for U.S. operations for the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

“The state of Maine and a handful of our rivers are the only places in the country that still have wild Atlantic salmon,” Burrows said. “It’s something that should happen, and should have happened.”

Atlantic salmon have disappeared from U.S. rivers because of damming, pollution and others environmental challenges, and they also face the looming threat of climate change. Nevertheless, there have been some positive signs in Maine rivers in recent years.

More than 1,400 salmon returned to the Penobscot River in 2020. That was the highest number since 2011, the Maine marine resources department found. The Penobscot is the most productive river for the salmon. It averaged only about 700 fish per year from 2012 to 2019.

Attempts to repopulate Atlantic salmon in other states have stalled. The federal government ended an attempt to restore Atlantic salmon in the Connecticut River basin in 2012 after several decades because of lack of success.

Getting the fish listed on the Maine endangered list has long been a goal of many environmental groups. The Maine Endangered Species Act includes 26 endangered species and 25 threatened ones. The list includes two fish: the endangered redfin pickerel and the threatened swamp darter.

The list is designed to provide state-level protection to jeopardized species and is a complement to the U.S. Endangered Species Act. A few species, including the piping plover, are listed on both.

Environmentalists supported a bill in the Maine Legislature earlier this year that would have required the marine resources commissioner to recommend a state listing for any species that is federally listed as endangered or threatened. The proposal died in committee in June.

A group of 19 organizations and 10 scientists and conservationists sent a letter to the state that said Maine is one of the few states that doesn’t mandate or recommend state-level listing of federally listed species. Dwayne Shaw, director of the Downeast Salmon Federation, said wildlife advocates will continue pushing for salmon protections.

“There would be great symbolism in this, but there would also be direct implications, positive implications for the species,” Shaw said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Germany seeks to boost immigration of skilled workers

BERLIN (AP) — The German government said Wednesday that it plans to ease entry rules for immigrants from outside the European Union to help meet Germany’s demand for skilled workers. Experts say Europe’s biggest economy needs about 400,000 skilled immigrants each year as the country’s ageing workforce shrinks, particularly to fill vacancies in the health […]
6 hours ago
FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2019, file photo, Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg talks to th...
Associated Press

Gaetz friend says lighter sentence deserved for cooperation

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal investigation of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz learns this week how much prison time he gets on charges of sex trafficking a minor and identity theft, but not before trying to persuade a judge that his cooperation in several probes should […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Four of the cooling towers of the Dukovany nuclear power plant rise high above the natural s...
Associated Press

3 energy companies vying to build new Czech nuke reactor

PRAGUE (AP) — Three energy companies including U.S. Westinghouse, France’s EdF and Korea’s KHNP will by vying to build the Czech Republic’s newest reactor at the Dukovany nuclear power station, authorities said Wednesday, as the country strives to become more energy independent and wean itself of fossil fuels. State-controlled power company CEZ says final bids […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

6 ways to boost your credit card rewards this holiday season

Get your wallet ready — it’s that time again with the holidays right around the corner. An estimated 91% of Americans will celebrate in some form this holiday season, a November report from the National Retail Federation shows. And for most people, celebration means spending. According to a September study by the Deloitte Center for […]
6 hours ago
This photo provided by Hyundai shows the 2022 Hyundai Tucson, a small plug-in hybrid SUV with an el...
Associated Press

Edmunds: Toyota RAV4 Prime vs. Hyundai Tucson Plug-in

Since its debut for the 2021 model year, the Toyota RAV4 Prime has served as a benchmark for what a small SUV with a plug-in hybrid powertrain can be. It’s efficient, fast and nearly as practical as a regular RAV4. But now SUV shoppers have another choice to consider: the Hyundai Tucson PHEV. It too […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, founder of the local newspaper Apple Daily, arrives a dist...
Associated Press

Hong Kong rags-to-riches publisher facing Security Law trial

HONG KONG (AP) — Jimmy Lai broke into Hong Kong’s rambunctious media world 30 years ago armed with the belief that delivering information equates with protecting freedom. Lai’s own freedom is at stake as he fights charges of endangering national security as former publisher of his now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. Already serving a 20-month […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Groups urge state to protect last wild Atlantic salmon in US