Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Atlantic Salmon Landings

Atlantic Salmon 1964-2010The following is abridged from Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife internet site at http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/species/endangered_species/atlantic_salmon/ (accessed December 2, 2012)

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In Maine, Atlantic salmon were historically found in all major river systems and many of their tributaries with suitable spawning habitat. Today, they have disappeared from much of their historic range. In Maine they are still found in the Saco, lower Kennebec, lower Androscoggin, Sheepscot, Penobscot, Cove Brook, Passagassawakeag, Ducktrap, Narraguagus, Pleasant, Machias, East Machias, Dennys, and St. Croix Rivers. Freshwater habitat includes clear, coldwater streams and rivers having relatively unobstructed passage to the sea.

Atlantic salmon usually migrate from the ocean to fresh water to reproduce in the river of their birth in the spring. Migration peaks in June, but continues into the fall. Adults stop eating when they enter fresh water and live off fat reserves for up to one year. They seek coldwater areas to spend the summer and move to swift-running, gravelly tributaries to spawn in October and November.

Traveling thousands of miles to the North Atlantic near Greenland and Labrador, the young salmon remain in feeding grounds for 1-3 years before returning to their birth streams to reproduce.

Many factors influence the survival of Atlantic salmon. Dams impede migration, expose fish to increased predation by birds and anglers, alter water chemistry, increase temperature, and reduce flow. Beavers may prevent access to some spawning habitat. Land use adjacent to spawning rivers can be a source of siltation, water withdrawals for irrigation, and chemical contaminants – all of which can affect survival. Additional threats include predation by seals and cormorants, commercial fishing, recreational angling, poaching and sport fish (smallmouth bass, pickerel, brown and rainbow trout).

Atlantic salmon aquaculture may be a source of genetic contamination, disease, and parasites. Global warming may affect surface temperatures in the ocean and trigger ecosystem-level changes, including loss of forage fish. Acid precipitation may affect young fish that are sensitive to changes in water chemistry.

The salmon have been the focus of restoration efforts for over 150 years. Historic runs in the U.S. were about 500,000 fish; but, by the mid-1850s Atlantic salmon were gone from most of the rivers in southern New England and had declined noticeably throughout Maine. Hatcheries were established in Maine as early as the 1870s. The Craig Brook hatchery in Orland was established in 1890 for the purpose of stocking salmon. Since that time, million of young and adult salmon have been stocked in Maine rivers and millions of dollars have been spent on restoration.

The number of adults returning to Maine rivers has fluctuated, but remained at several thousand into the 1980s. From 0.5-15 percent (average 3-5 percent) of the young survive to return as spawning adults. In the mid-1990s, survival at sea declined dramatically, causing salmon runs to plummet. The sport catch of wild salmon on the Downeast rivers dropped from several hundred per year to just a few dozen.

In 1999, the US Fisheries and Wildlife Service listed the Atlantic salmon as endangered in eight Maine rivers. The Atlantic salmon has no state listing status at this time.

Fishing for sea-run salmon is now prohibited in all Maine waters. Habitat is being protected through agreements with forest and blueberry landowners and land acquisition along Downeast rivers. Research is being conducted to better determine factors limiting salmon. Hatcheries are being managed to preserve the Downeast genetic stocks. Salmon aquaculturists are taking measures to eliminate escapes and reduce disease and parasite transmission to wild stocks. Weirs are installed on Downeast rivers to count returning fish and cull aquaculture escapees.

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Since 1990 the data in this table represent cultured (aquaculture raised) fish.

YEAR METRIC
TONS
LIVE
POUNDS
VALUE PRICE/LB
1964 0.21 454 $385 $0.85
1965 0.09 208 $161 $0.77
1966 0.13 292 $236 $0.81
1967 0.11 232 $211 $0.91
1968 0.03 61 $61 $1.00
1969 0.01 18 $18 $1.00
1970 0.08 182 $182 $1.00
1971 0 0
1972 0.05 100 $100 $1.00
1973 0.03 63 $69 $1.10
1974 0.03 68 $84 $1.24
1975 0.12 269 $342 $1.27
1976 0.02 43 $69 $1.60
1977 0.03 70 $100 $1.43
1978 0.22 474 $1,115 $2.35
1979 0.07 145 $77 $0.53
1980 0.06 126 $149 $1.18
1981 0.01 30 $90 $3.00
1982
1983
1984
1985 0.01 29 $24 $0.83
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990 2,081.90 4,589,809 $16,064,331 $3.50
1991 4,703.93 10,370,379 $30,000,000 $2.89
1992 5,837.59 12,869,672 $45,315,788 $3.52
1993 6,743.41 14,866,654 $42,554,384 $2.86
1994 6,128.71 13,511,472 $35,619,618 $2.64
1995 10,027.83 22,107,550 $56,686,710 $2.56
1996 9,988.53 22,020,910 $46,287,953 $2.10
1997 12,231.06 26,964,843 $49,484,451 $1.84
1998 13,138.37 28,965,124 $60,438,625 $2.09
1999 12,240.35 26,985,331 $58,197,870 $2.16
2000 16,351.79 36,049,476 $78,948,352 $2.19
2001 13,202.06 29,105,536 $58,211,072 $2.00
2002 6,798.38 14,987,837 $16,936,256 $1.13
2003 6,007.12 13,243,419 $28,208,482 $2.13
2004 8,515.32 18,773,038 $39,986,571 $2.13
2005 5,262.78 11,602,436 $23,204,872 $2.00
2006 4,673.80 10,303,944 $20,607,888 $2.00
2007 3,883.79 8,562,277 $21,405,693 $2.50
2008 9,014.40 19,873,323 $56,638,971 $2.50
2009 5,992.50 13,211,196 $36,330,789 $3.50
2010 11,127.06 24,530,940 $76,781,842 $3.83

Source of data: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/commercialfishing/documents/salmon.table_002.pdf (accessed December 2, 2012)

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This entry was last modified: December 03, 2012 02:46 AM

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