National Academy Of Sciences Review: Maine’s Wild Salmon Are Genetically Distinct
Trout Unlimited Calls on State and Federal Officials to Move Forward on Recovery Plans
New England Conservation Director
1/11/2002 -- Brunswick, ME -- On January 7th, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its eagerly anticipated review of the genetics of Maine’s last wild Atlantic salmon. The review had been requested by Maine Governor Angus King and other critics of the November 2000 federal decision to list Atlantic salmon in eight Maine rivers as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act. Opponents of the federal listing have maintained that over a century of stocking had eliminated any “distinct” genetic characteristics of Maine salmon, leaving behind a “mongrel” of uncertain lineage.
In the report, the NAS found that even with decades of stocking of foreign fish, Maine’s salmon have remained unique.
“Despite [the stocking], the evidence is surprisingly strong that wild salmon in Maine are genetically distinct from Canadian salmon,” the NAS panel wrote. “[T]he natural salmon spawning in Maine’s [Distinct Population Segment]-designated rivers are ‘Maine salmon,’ not just ‘salmon in Maine.”
Salmon advocates were cheered by the review. “We hope this lets us put the genetics wars behind us,” said Jeff Reardon, New England Conservation Director for Trout Unlimited. “The nation’s premiere scientific review organization has put its stamp of approval on the genetic data that led to the salmon listing. Now it’s time to stop arguing about whether these fish are worth saving and get on with the business of saving them.”
Last year fewer than 200 salmon are believed to have spawned in the 8 rivers where salmon were listed. A draft “Recovery Plan” is due to be released by the National Marine Fisheries Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service this winter.
Founded in 1959 in Grayling, Michigan, Trout Unlimited is the nation’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization. TU’s 125,000 members in 500 chapters nationwide are dedicated to the conservation, protection, and restoration of North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds.