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4/18/16

Fishing Industry: Saving Atlantic and Gulf of Maine salmon will require Greenland's help - by P. Whittle

Maine, where most of America’s 
last wild Atlantic salmon spawn
Preventing the long-imperiled Gulf of Maine Atlantic salmon from disappearing from American waters will require the U.S. to put pressure on Inuit fishermen in Greenland to stop harvesting a fish that has fed them for hundreds of years, federal officials say.

The salmon were once found from Long Island Sound to Canada, but their population has cratered in the face of river damming, warming ocean waters, competition for food with non-native fish and, officials say, continued Greenlandic fishing.

Now, federal officials have outlined an ambitious plan to try to save the Atlantic salmon that they say will require removing dams, creating fish passages and fostering cooperation with Inuit fishermen some 2,000 miles away from Maine, where most of America’s last wild Atlantic salmon spawn.

“We’ve tried everything possible to negotiate with Greenland to find alternatives to find out how they can lessen impacts on U.S. fish,” said Dan Kircheis, a fisheries biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

“This is part of their culture, this is part of who they are, this is something they’ve always done. We are trying to work with them to realize the fish they are fishing for originate in Canada, in U.S. waters, in Europe, and these populations are in decline.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said the final remnants of the wild Atlantic salmon population in U.S. waters live in a handful of rivers and streams in central and eastern Maine. 

A 2014 count found less than 300 salmon in the Penobscot River, which has the largest wild Atlantic salmon population in the country.

Federal authorities listed the Gulf of Maine’s Atlantic salmon population as endangered in 2000. 

They were once found in almost every river north of the Hudson, but since the 18th century they have declined to just 11 rivers, NOAA has said. The Atlantic salmon and the Pacific Chinook salmon are the largest salmon species.

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