- Pets and Animals
Atlantic Salmon Information
The Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is one of the most highly sought after gamefish in the Northeast USA.
Atlantic salmon spawn in rivers, hatch and grow before returning to the ocean to reach adulthood.
Atlantic salmon were once native to nearly every American river north of the Hudson. Wild populations have since been reduced to only 11 rivers in the Northeast.
Restoration and rehabilitation efforts, in the form of stocking and fish passage construction, are underway in the Connecticut, Pawcatuck, Merrimack, Saco, Kennebec, Penobscot, and eastern Maine rivers.
Gulf of Maine Atlantic salmon has been on the endangered species list for almost a decade, yet the population has not shown signs of recovery. Tagging data for New England stocks indicate that US salmon migrate as far north as Greenland.
Although wild Atlantic salmon are in decline, the species is one of the most common types of farm raised fish. Atlantic salmon aquaculture operations exist in the USA, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Scotland, Chile and other countries.
The landlocked Atlantic salmon is the state fish of Maine.
Atlantic Salmon Life Cycle
Unlike Pacific salmon species which die after spawning, Atlantic salmon may spawn two or more times during their six or seven year lifespan.
After spending two to three years in the ocean, adult salmon return to spawn in their natal freshwater streams, where the eggs hatch and juveniles grow through several stages.
When the juveniles develop into smolts, they migrate downstream to the ocean where they remain for several years until returning to spawn.
Maine Atlantic Salmon Restoration
In 1994, Salmon Habitat and River Enhancement (S.H.A.R.E.) was established by a coalition of private companies, organizations, individuals, and state and federal agencies.
The organization was created to help conserve and enhance Atlantic salmon habitat and populations in Downeast Maine.
Since its inception, the organization has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies to restore Atlantic salmon in Maine.
photo credit NOAA
Gulf of Maine Atlantic Salmon Protection
On June 15, 2009, NOAA's Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended Endangered Species Act protection to more Atlantic salmon by adding fish in the Penobscot, Kennebec, and Androscoggin rivers and their tributaries to the endangered Gulf of Maine population first listed in 2000.
Endangered status under the ESA will now apply to all anadromous (sea-run) Atlantic salmon whose freshwater range covers the watersheds from the Androscoggin River northward along the Maine coast to the Dennys River, an area which includes the Penobscot and Kennebec rivers. It also applies wherever these fish occur in these rivers' estuaries and marine environment.
Listed species receive the full protection of the Endangered Species Act, including a prohibition against take. Take is defined to include harass, harm, pursue, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect.
Hatchery fish used to supplement these natural populations are also included under this rule. Landlocked salmon and salmon raised in hatcheries for aquaculture are not included in the listed population.
Atlantic Salmon - Fresh or Smoked
Farm raised Atlantic salmon has a milder, more delicate flavor than wild salmon. The flesh is lighter colored than wild salmon, moderately firm and flaky. Atlantic salmon steaks, fillets and whole fish can be baked, broiled, poached or grilled.
Landlocked Atlantic Salmon
A number of landlocked Atlantic salmon populations exist in Canada, especially in Newfoundland, Labrador, and Quebec.
- Atlantic Salmon Federation
The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) is an international non-profit organization that promotes the conservation and wise management of wild Atlantic salmon and their environment.
- World Record Set for Landlocked Atlantic Salmon
The IGFA has recognized an Atlantic salmon caught at Torch Lake in Michigan as a world record for land-locked Atlantics.
- Salmon Habitat and River Enhancement (S.H.A.R.E.)
A coalition of private companies, organizations, individuals, and state and federal agencies created to help conserve and enhance Atlantic salmon habitat and populations in Downeast Maine.
Atlantic Salmon of the Great Lakes
Atlantic salmon were once a top predatory fish in the Great Lakes although they are now considered to be extinct in the region. Efforts to re-introduce the species and establish breeding populations are underway in several American lakes.
Miramichi River Atlantic Salmon
The Miramichi River in New Brunswick, Canada, is known as "The King of All Salmon Rivers". The river sees some of the largest Atlantic salmon runs in the world.
According to the Miramichi Salmon Association, the Miramichi river system has more miles of salmon angling water and holds larger and healthier populations of Atlantic salmon than any other river in North America. The organization promotes releasing Atlantic salmon.
Recently, about half of recreational catches of Atlantic salmon in North America are landed on the Miramichi River and its tributaries. Atlantic salmon fishing is restricted to fly fishing only and all large salmon caught must be released alive to protect the spawning population.