WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Marine Fisheries Service has found that naturally spawned Atlantic salmon whose freshwater range runs from from the Androscoggin River northward along the Maine coast to the Dennys River are endangered and in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The Fisheries Service has also designated 12,161 miles of river, streams and estuary habitats and 496 square miles of lake habitat as critical to the conservation of the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment.
The Services first listed the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic salmon as endangered on November 17, 2000. The Gulf of Maine population was defined as all naturally reproducing wild populations and those river-specific hatchery populations of Atlantic salmon having historical, river-specific characteristics found north of and including tributaries of the lower Kennebec River to, but not including, the mouth of the St. Croix River at the U.S.-Canada border. The Services now include fish that inhabit the mainstem and tributaries of the Penobscot River above the site of the former Bangor Dam, the upper Kennebec River, and the Androscoggin River within the Gulf of Maine population.
Sea-going Atlantic salmon populations have been damaged by contemporary and historic land and water use practices such as damming of rivers, forestry, agriculture, urbanization, and water withdrawal all of which have caused the degradation and loss of suitable spawning habitat.