February 4, 2012

Salmon restoration: Maine on the way to making it happen

A Maine biologist's efforts could lead to a national Atlantic salmon recovery.

By Deirdre Fleming dfleming@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Paul Christman, a biologist with the Department of Marine Resources in Hallowell, places salmon eggs in a tributary of the Sandy River in Avon. With Christman are, from left, Jed Wright, with the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, Craig Knights and Chris Domina, with U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Salmon eggs are placed in a tube, where they will sink to the river bottom and be covered over with rocks when the tube is pulled out.

"(Christman's eggs) should be more viable in their natural environment than the hatchery produced smolts. There should be more going out to sea. But we're not sure what's going on with marine survival and why marine survival has been so low. Something is going on out in the ocean that the United States, Iceland, Canada and Greenland are trying to figure out, too," said Trial in Maine's Bureau of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat.

OUT TO SEA

The first egg planting done by Christman was in 2009. But in the Atlantic salmon's life cycle, those fish won't return to their native rivers, where the salmon emerge from the eggs until 2014. At that point, everyone at DMR will be watching to see if they do. If all goes well, lots of salmon should return.

In 2009, Christman planted 130,000 in the Sandy River; in 2010, he increased the number to 450,000; and again to 860,000 last year. This year, 1 million Atlantic salmon eggs will be planted in salmon habitat in Maine.

His work has shown success with survival rates. The emergence rate from eggs is upward of 40 to 50 percent in some places, he said, which is as good as egg planting projects anywhere.

But the telltale sign will be if the salmon return in 2014. Christman thinks they will return from the sea and run up Maine rivers to where he has planted eggs.

"The idea is that they are more in tune with the river than hatchery fish. Their performance should be better, and their survival better. And from what we're seeing, yes, they are behaving much better," Christman said.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

dfleming@pressherald.com

Twitter: Flemingpph

 

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