TU Calls on State, Federal, Local Officials to
11/14/2000 -- -- Contact:
Brunswick, Maine . . . Trout Unlimited (TU) applauded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service today for listing Maine's Atlantic salmon under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Trout Unlimited and the Atlantic Salmon Federation had sued the federal government to compel it to put the fish on the endangered species list.
"This is the right decision. Today's endangered listing substantiates the dire biological status of Maine's salmon populations and meets the legal requirements of the ESA," said Charles Gauvin, TU's President and CEO.
The Services announced an "endangered" listing for the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic salmon, and gave formal protection to salmon in eight Maine rivers. This year, only 27 wild adult salmon returned to three of those rivers with counting facilities.
TU cautioned that listing would not be enough to save the salmon. "Endangered status gives salmon the recognition and legal protection they need, but it won't do anything by itself," said Jeff Reardon, TU's New England Conservation Director. "We need to continue to work together to address the threats that last year's federal Status Review identified." Those threats include escaped fish from salmon farms and water withdrawals for irrigation.
TU praised state and federal government officials for progress in funding and implementing Maine's voluntary Salmon Conservation Plan. Maine recently stepped up local efforts on salmon rivers, and President Clinton recently signed a $5 million appropriation for salmon conservation, a measure that was spearheaded by Senators Snowe and Collins. The purpose of the $5 million is to support "on the ground" projects like land or easement acquisition, fish passage, and habitat restoration.
"The State of Maine, the Watershed Councils, and those who fought for the $5 million appropriation -- including Governor King and Senators Snow and Collins -- should be applauded for their efforts," said Reardon. "Legal protection under the ESA will ensure that those efforts are extended and continued for the long term."
"Maine residents and Atlantic salmon supporters have traveled a long, hard road to secure these protections. It is essential, no matter which side of the argument you were on prior to today's decision, that we all pull together and make life after listing a success for both the salmon and the residents of Maine. We only have one shot to make this work," said Gauvin.
TU expressed concerns about recent efforts by the State of Maine to delay a listing decision. Citing concerns about the effects of listing on Maine's blueberry and salmon farming industries, Governor King recently requested a six-month delay of the listing decision for the state to conduct new studies on salmon genetics.
"We're already at the 11th hour," said Dick Walthers of TU's Maine Council. "Maine's efforts would be better spent working on solutions that protect both salmon and Maine businesses than on another effort to delay listing."
For more information on Atlantic salmon, please see the following:
Trout Unlimited is the nation's leading coldwater conservation organization with125,000 members and 500 chapters nationwide working to conserve, protect and restore trout and salmon watersheds throughout North America. TU has 1,500 members in Maine.