6/19/2000 -- -- Contact: Jeff Reardon, New England Conservation Director, Trout Unlimited, (207) 882-4791
Steve Moyer, Vice President for Conservation Programs, Trout Unlimited, (703) 284-9406
June 15, 2000. Brunswick, Maine...Trout Unlimited and other conservationists have agreed to suspend a lawsuit against federal fisheries agencies, through which they sought an emergency endangered listing for Atlantic salmon, in exchange for an agreement to complete the listing process for Atlantic salmon by November 17, 2000.
"The whole point of our lawsuit was to ensure that Atlantic salmon received the protections of the Endangered Species Act. Although we believe the salmon should have been listed two years ago, this agreement will help ensure that the current listing process is finished promptly," said TU President and CEO Charles Gauvin. "It is time to take a step back from the rhetoric of the listing fight and do what we need to do to restore these fish. Precious time and resources have been wasted fighting a listing decision when they could have been spent on providing Maine residents with the resources they need to help save the salmon."
Said TU's New England Conservation Director Jeff Reardon, "Trout Unlimited commends the efforts of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for working hard to complete the listing process by the legal deadline. We hope that all parties can work together to take credible action to save Maine's wild salmon."
Although wild populations in Maine are at the brink of extinction, there have been several recent actions to bring resources to saving salmon:
"Since Trout Unlimited and the Atlantic Salmon Federation joined forces to pursue endangered species protection for Maine's Atlantic salmon in August 1999, a series of positive steps have been taken to save the fish," said Reardon. "Sadly, we wasted three years to get to the point where the state recognized the need to fund salmon recovery efforts. The federal listing effort has helped us focus on the need to act now."
Historically, 500,000 wild Atlantic salmon returned and spawned in New England rivers each year. In 1999 an estimated 250 wild salmon returned to spawn in seven of Maine's wild salmon rivers, representing a decline of 99.9 percent from historic levels. Adult salmon returns on some of Maine's most important wild rivers are 90 percent lower than they were just 15 years ago. In the last two decades a complex set of natural and human-caused problems have brought these last wild runs to the brink of extinction. Overfishing, dams and other causes of habitat loss, water withdrawals for irrigation, changing ocean conditions, and a growing aquaculture industry throughout the North Atlantic are all blamed in part for the decline.
Trout Unlimited is a national conservation organization whose mission is to conserve, protect and restore coldwater fisheries and their habitat. It has over 125,000 members in the U.S. In Maine, TU is represented by seven chapters with a combined membership of over 1,100. Each chapter sends representatives to the all-volunteer Maine Council, which coordinates activities at the state level.