June 26, 2011

Junior and I take a backseat to no-one when it comes to Atlantic Salmon conservation. And yet during the last four decades or so, when a handful of pioneers helped put the cause on the map, the story hasn’t always been a comforting one. In many areas conservation efforts have been impressive and fruitful, but the numbers of salmon returning to their native rivers have continued their overall decline.

The causes behind this are the subject of serious debate and occasional controversy, which I won’t get into here; the usual suspects include habitat destruction, short-sighted aquaculture practices, dams, commercial fishing, and alarming oceanic changes as a result of climate change. While some people emphasize some of these obstacles over others, it seems pretty clear to me that all play a meaningful part. It’s also clear that we are operating without enough good information, which has prompted a number of research initiatives designed to help fill in the critical gaps in our knowledge of the species.

Needless to say, with all of this as background I know better than to get too carried away when good news comes along, but good news there is. The Atlantic Salmon Federation has been reporting seeing pretty good returns in a number of watersheds, and while some of the runs are late due to high-water and flooding, the overall picture is heartening.

(Photo by Bridget Besaw, courtesy of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust)

What’s more, I have to give kudos to the ASF for pulling this together on their new blog. For someone who barely knew what a “blog” was a few years ago (thanks Junior!), I have to say that it’s awfully convenient to be able to have this information easily accessible in one place. For many years, we salmon fisherman had to rely mostly on word-of-mouth and reports from friends (or friends-of-friends) for our information, much of which would be out-of-date by the time we got it. This not only makes it all a little easier but is also a good way to help get out some of the good stories, and to combat some misinformation with actual facts and figures.

Penobscot Returns to Veazie by June 22, 2011 – Atlantic Salmon Federation

Anyway, you can find some of the latest higlights here. Of particular note, are the impressive numbers at the Veazie dam on the Penobscot (more than 2,000 fish already!) which comes on the heels of the great news earlier this year about the upcoming dam removal on the watershed which I wrote about some months back.

If you get a chance take a look at the new part of their site and help spread the word!


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